2.23.2009

TS - Gallegos quoted on SART

☛ TS Telemedicine helps prosecute sexual assault cases
A little Eureka facility and a group of doctors a couple of hundred miles away are making a big difference in caring for Humboldt County's sexual assault victims and locking away their assailants.

A telemedicine facility set up at St. Joseph Hospital has been operating for about six years now, letting nationally recognized experts from the University of California at Davis sit in on local sexual assault exams. A study released in the medical journal “Pediatrics” last month found that telemedicine facilities, like Eureka's, greatly improve the quality of sexual assault examinations.

Cassie Burgess, Humboldt County's Sexual Assault Response Team coordinator, explained that Eureka's telemedicine facility allows doctors from UC Davis to telephonically sit in on consultations, offering suggestions and support for local providers and an instant second opinion.

”That's amazing in and of itself,” Burgess said, adding that utilizing telemedicine is like having some of the nation's sexual assault experts in the room with her during an exam.

The recently released study, titled “Using Telemedicine to Improve the Care Delivered to Sexually Abused Children in Rural, Underserved Hospitals,” found that about half of the care providers in rural communities that used telemedicine changed their examination and evidence-collection techniques at the suggestion of a consulting expert.

”Telemedicine is not only a tool for consultation, it's also a tool for teaching rural providers how to examine children and better test for evidence,” said Kristen Rogers, one of the study's authors and a professor of pediatrics at UC Davis Medical Center.

The study looked at the effectiveness of consultations performed at two rural Northern California clinics linked via telemedicine to experts with UC Davis' Children's Hospital Child and Adolescent Abuse Resource Evaluation Center.
UC Davis provided each of the study sites with videoconferencing equipment and coloscopes -- lighted magnifying instruments used to examine the vagina and the cervix. An expert in Sacramento then uses the equipment to “sit in” on consultations, providing guidance on all aspects of the examinations by viewing the local care provider, the patient in the exam room and the images captured by the coloscope.

The study included 42 sexual assault cases, and found that 47 percent of the consultations resulted in changed interview methods and that nine, or more than 20 percent, resulted in better evidence collection.

Asked how telemedicine could make such a large difference, Rogers turned to an example. She recalled a case where a child claimed to have been raped, but went through almost an entire telemedicine exam and doctors couldn't find any physical evidence.

”It was hard to find evidence, but one of the things that she had said during the exam is that (the assailant) kept whispering in her ear throughout the rape,” Rogers recalled. “We were able to say (to the local provider), 'Why don't you swab the child's ear?' Lo and behold, they got DNA evidence off that.”

District Attorney Paul Gallegos said the use of telemedicine locally has been a great asset to his office, as it provides the examinations with immediate peer review and makes their findings carry much more weight in court.

”Peer review augments any potential challenges to the SART conclusions so they are less subject to attack,” Gallegos said. “When it's done, it improves the SART exam, which means it improves the case ... it means it has increased reliability for us, for the court and for those members of the community that serve on the jury.”


According to referral numbers from state agencies, instances of child maltreatment -- a kind of blanket category including neglect, physical and sexual abuse -- are well above the state average in Del Norte and Humboldt counties. Statewide, the instances of maltreatment are about 49 per 1,000 children. That number jumps to more than 86 per 1,000 children in Humboldt and balloons to more than 125 instances per 1,000 children in Del Norte.

Claire Knox, chair of the Child Development Department at Humboldt State University, cautioned that those types of data are always tricky and have a lot to do with nomenclature, but said several factors could contribute to the state's more rural areas seeing higher levels of child maltreatment, and specifically higher rates of child sexual assault.

Isolation, unemployment and emotional and financial stress can contribute to higher child maltreatment rates, Knox said, adding that even a lack of childcare arrangements can play a role. Limited access to resources and the fact that people are more likely to commit those types of crimes when nobody is around are big contributing factors, she said.

”When (people) are emotionally needy, they may turn to behaviors in which they might not otherwise engage,” she said. “Community systems in which there are heightened levels of abuse of alcohol and drugs also reduce barriers and constraints.”

Del Norte County District Attorney Mike Riese said his office deals with lots of child sexual assault cases, many of them without the help of telemedicine.

Rogers said UC Davis made efforts to place one of its test sites in Del Norte, but things didn't work out.

”We offered it to them and the timing wasn't right,” she said. “They weren't ready yet to have telemedicine in their county.”

Riese said emergency room doctors and nurse practitioners handle the majority of his county's examinations. He would not say how often child sexual assault cases are dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Burgess said one of the positives of Eureka's telemedicine facility is that it takes child sexual assault victims out of the emergency room, where they sometimes had to wait for hours to be seen, and into a more comfortable environment. Burgess said it also empowers the local care providers to know they have experts looking over their shoulders.

Gallegos said the results simply speak for themselves.

”About every time we've used (evidence from telemedicine examinations) we've got a conviction,” he said.


Times-Standard staff writers John Driscoll, Sean Garmire, Thadeus Greenson, Jessie Faulkner, Erin Tracy and Sharon Letts contributed to this report.

A Times-Standard Staff Report
Posted: 02/23/2009 01:30:19 AM PST

Comments on TS site:
numbers - "About every time we've ... got a conviction. Grammar aside, just how many such trials have there been? Or plea bargains? Certainly hasn't been a lot of news coverage of such successful outcomes. And why is it that the TS never seems to ask the obvious follow up question?

In the dark - Asked how telemedicine could make such a large difference, Rogers turned to an example. She recalled a case where a child claimed to have been raped, but went through almost an entire telemedicine exam and doctors couldn't find any physical evidence.

"It was hard to find evidence, but one of the things that she had said during the exam is that (the assailant) kept whispering in her ear throughout the rape," Rogers recalled. "We were able to say (to the local provider), 'Why don't you swab the child's ear?' Lo and behold, they got DNA evidence off that.

What'd I miss? Someone was arrested for sexual assault for whispering in a child's ear, based on presence of (I assume) saliva but an absence of (I assume) seminal or physical evidence below the waist?

Not to nitpick....but no clarity given that the whispered remark, "Rogers recalled", is in no way related to Kristen Rogers, quoted in the article.

I'm all for the use of any evidentiary-gathering tools when it comes to catching perps. The best solutions to much of our social ills is good parenting, loving family structure, etc, etc, etc.

Captain Crunch - I applaud the article and the subject of the article. What makes me what to vomit is the quotes from the buffoon who is our DA. Did he even know that SART had this equipment before the interview? Who explained it to him? What about how he singlehandedly dismantled the CAST operation? Cassie Burgess is a fantastic person and should get many, many awards for her work. Gallegos needs to be recalled.

cocoa puffs - Right on captain. Aside from the good news about telemedicine, the article is a puff piece for the DA. The impression is left that his office is cutting edge, but there are no facts to demonstrate that telemedicine has played any role in any Humboldt case, ever. But hey" we got convictions". Really. Name three, and tie
them in detail to telemedicine.


GOOD QUESTIONS! Note that the program set up predates Gallegos.

2.19.2009

TS - Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial

☛ TS Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial 2/19/09

Gunshot residue was found on the hand of the victim in a decade-old murder case, according to the sole witness for the defense who testified Wednesday.

Criminologist Steven Dowell of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office testified about four samples taken from the hands of murder victim Ryan Matthew Dunn, an 18-year-old Eureka man killed on Jan. 4, 1998. Dowell said the samples do not necessarily show that Dunn had fired a gun.

Defendant Yohan Lopez is charged with first-degree murder for his alleged role in Dunn's death. The samples were sent to Los Angeles for testing in December 2007, a month after Yohan Lopez was returned to Humboldt County after being picked up on DUI charges in Stanislaus County.

Yohan Lopez' brother, Santiago Lopez, was caught within weeks of the shooting and sentenced to two years in prison for being an accessory to murder.

Their cousin and the third suspect in the murder, Efren Delgadillo, is believed to have died in a car fire in Mexico several years ago. Defense attorney Jonathan McCrone maintains that Delgadillo was the shooter and leader of the group.

Dowell testified that he found six particles consistent with gunshot residue, or GSR, on Dunn's left hand. No residue was found on Dunn's dominant right hand, which was in a cast at the time of his death.

Dowell laid out three scenarios that may have caused the residue to be disseminated on Dunn's hand. Dowell said residue can be transferred by discharging a firearm, being present in an environment that contained GSR, or having a hobby or occupation working with the particles consistent with GSR. He said all three are equal possibilities, and there is no way of knowing whether the residue was burnt.

The particles, according to Dowell, are antimony, lead and barium. Dowell testified that only lead was found on Dunn's hand.
Dowell told the jury that he has tested for GSR in more than 7,000 cases and in some, the particle count is in excess of 2,000.

He also said firearm discharge varies and particle count is not a reliable source to determine the residues' origin.
Prosecutor Arnold Klein asked Dowell whether he would consider six particles a small number.

”It's small, but not an uncommon or unreasonable number to find,” Dowell replied.

Upon further questioning from Klein, Dowell testified that based on his studies GSR can be transferred from person to person, and the residue can last up to a year on clothing but only hours on skin.

”Generally most surfaces have been refreshed within five hours,” Dowell said of GSR on the skin.

Closing arguments begin today, after which, the jury will begin deliberation.

Erin Tracy/The Times-Standard
Posted: 02/19/2009 01:15:19 AM PST

Related:
☛ TS Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial 2/19/09
☛ TS Witness testimony begins today for defense of murder suspect 2/18/09
☛ TS Testimony continues in Day 4 of Lopez 2/12/09
☛ TS Suspect's ex-girlfriend testifies in day three of murder trial 2/12//09
☛ TS Victim's girlfriend testifies in second day of 1998 murder trial 2/11/09
☛ TS Trial begins in decade-old murder case 2/10/09
☛ TS Homicide suspect facing trial for killing teen 12/21/07
☛ TS Suspect in 1998 shooting returned to Humboldt County
☛ TS Second of three suspects in 1998 homicide arrested 11/07/07
☛ TS 2007: The year in review

TS - Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial

☛ TS Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial 2/19/09

Gunshot residue was found on the hand of the victim in a decade-old murder case, according to the sole witness for the defense who testified Wednesday.

Criminologist Steven Dowell of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office testified about four samples taken from the hands of murder victim Ryan Matthew Dunn, an 18-year-old Eureka man killed on Jan. 4, 1998. Dowell said the samples do not necessarily show that Dunn had fired a gun.

Defendant Yohan Lopez is charged with first-degree murder for his alleged role in Dunn's death. The samples were sent to Los Angeles for testing in December 2007, a month after Yohan Lopez was returned to Humboldt County after being picked up on DUI charges in Stanislaus County.

Yohan Lopez' brother, Santiago Lopez, was caught within weeks of the shooting and sentenced to two years in prison for being an accessory to murder.

Their cousin and the third suspect in the murder, Efren Delgadillo, is believed to have died in a car fire in Mexico several years ago. Defense attorney Jonathan McCrone maintains that Delgadillo was the shooter and leader of the group.

Dowell testified that he found six particles consistent with gunshot residue, or GSR, on Dunn's left hand. No residue was found on Dunn's dominant right hand, which was in a cast at the time of his death.

Dowell laid out three scenarios that may have caused the residue to be disseminated on Dunn's hand. Dowell said residue can be transferred by discharging a firearm, being present in an environment that contained GSR, or having a hobby or occupation working with the particles consistent with GSR. He said all three are equal possibilities, and there is no way of knowing whether the residue was burnt.

The particles, according to Dowell, are antimony, lead and barium. Dowell testified that only lead was found on Dunn's hand.
Dowell told the jury that he has tested for GSR in more than 7,000 cases and in some, the particle count is in excess of 2,000.

He also said firearm discharge varies and particle count is not a reliable source to determine the residues' origin.
Prosecutor Arnold Klein asked Dowell whether he would consider six particles a small number.

”It's small, but not an uncommon or unreasonable number to find,” Dowell replied.

Upon further questioning from Klein, Dowell testified that based on his studies GSR can be transferred from person to person, and the residue can last up to a year on clothing but only hours on skin.

”Generally most surfaces have been refreshed within five hours,” Dowell said of GSR on the skin.

Closing arguments begin today, after which, the jury will begin deliberation.

Erin Tracy/The Times-Standard
Posted: 02/19/2009 01:15:19 AM PST

Related:
☛ TS Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial 2/19/09
☛ TS Witness testimony begins today for defense of murder suspect 2/18/09
☛ TS Testimony continues in Day 4 of Lopez 2/12/09
☛ TS Suspect's ex-girlfriend testifies in day three of murder trial 2/12//09
☛ TS Victim's girlfriend testifies in second day of 1998 murder trial 2/11/09
☛ TS Trial begins in decade-old murder case 2/10/09
☛ TS Homicide suspect facing trial for killing teen 12/21/07
☛ TS Suspect in 1998 shooting returned to Humboldt County
☛ TS Second of three suspects in 1998 homicide arrested 11/07/07
☛ TS 2007: The year in review

TS - Suspect in 1998 shooting returned to Humboldt County

☛ TS Suspect in 1998 shooting returned to Humboldt County

Chris Durant The Times-Standard
Posted: 11/09/2007 01:22:17 AM PST

A man arrested in Stanislaus County on suspicion of killing a Eureka teenager in 1998 was returned to Humboldt County, where he'll face murder charges, officials said Thursday.

The Eureka Police Department said Yohan Perez Lopez is the second of three suspects arrested in the killing of Ryan Matthew Dunn outside a video store in January 1998.

Lopez's brother, Santiago Lopez, was arrested within weeks of the killing at a relative's home in Redwood City.
He was tried and convicted of being an accessory to murder and sentenced to two years in prison.

A third suspect, Efren Erix Delgalliso, is believed to have been killed in a car fire in Mexico, based on information from the FBI.
It's believed the three men tried to pick a fight with Dunn while he was in the store with his mother and girlfriend and Dunn refused. The men left the store, but stayed in the vicinity.

When Dunn left the store, the men allegedly shot him numerous times.

Lopez was pulled over on Oct. 28 by the California Highway Patrol and arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

He allegedly gave a false name of Alejandro Contreras and made bail, but when his fingerprints returned his real identity was revealed.

A few days later, when he tried to pick up his impounded vehicle, police were waiting for him and he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Chris Durant can be reached at 441-0505 or at cdurant@times-standard.com

Related:
☛ TS Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial 2/19/09
☛ TS Witness testimony begins today for defense of murder suspect 2/18/09
☛ TS Testimony continues in Day 4 of Lopez 2/12/09
☛ TS Suspect's ex-girlfriend testifies in day three of murder trial 2/12//09
☛ TS Victim's girlfriend testifies in second day of 1998 murder trial 2/11/09
☛ TS Trial begins in decade-old murder case 2/10/09
☛ TS Homicide suspect facing trial for killing teen 12/21/07
☛ TS Suspect in 1998 shooting returned to Humboldt County
☛ TS Second of three suspects in 1998 homicide arrested 11/07/07
☛ TS 2007: The year in review

TS - Homicide suspect facing trial for killing teen

☛ TS Homicide suspect facing trial for killing teen 12/21/07

Chris Durant The Times-Standard
Posted: 12/21/2007 01:15:28 AM PST

The final one of three suspects in a 1998 killing was held to answer to the homicide charge at the conclusion of his preliminary hearing Thursday.

Yohan Lopez was arrested in Stanislaus County last month after he gave a fake name to an officer in a traffic stop, but his fingerprints came back revealing his true identity.

Lopez, along with Santiago Lopez, Lopez's brother, and their cousin, Efren Erix Degladillo, are believed to have killed Ryan Matthew Dunn,18, in January 1998, outside a Eureka video store.

Santiago Lopez was caught within weeks of the killing, tried and convicted of being an accessory to murder. He was sentenced to two years in prison. Police believe Degladillo was killed in a car fire in Mexico within the last few years.

”But I've seen no official documentation of that,” said Eureka police Detective Neil Hubbard, who assisted Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison during the hearing.

The hearing lasted three days with five prosecution witnesses called -- three former Eureka Police Department detectives and two evidence technicians -- all who originally worked the case.

Dollison said the number of years that past since the killing was not an obstacle for the hearing.

”Some memories were a little foggy, but they reviewed their reports,” Dollison said.

The three men reportedly approached Dunn in the store and tried to pick a fight with him.

Dunn, who was with his mother and girlfriend, refused their challenge, but was killed when he left the store. Dollison believes the motive went back to a few months before the killing.

”The victim and the defendant lived next door to each other for several months,” Dollison said.

He said the three men may have been retaliating against Dunn after he implicating them as dog thieves to another group of men.

The defendant's house was shot up and there was a home invasion robbery against Dunn two months before the killing.

Dunn's family attended the hearing the first two days, Dollison said.

An arraignment date was set for Jan. 7.
Chris Durant can be reached at 441-0506 or at cdurant@times-standard.com .

Related:
☛ TS Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial 2/19/09
☛ TS Witness testimony begins today for defense of murder suspect 2/18/09
☛ TS Testimony continues in Day 4 of Lopez 2/12/09
☛ TS Suspect's ex-girlfriend testifies in day three of murder trial 2/12//09
☛ TS Victim's girlfriend testifies in second day of 1998 murder trial 2/11/09
☛ TS Trial begins in decade-old murder case 2/10/09
☛ TS Homicide suspect facing trial for killing teen 12/21/07
☛ TS Suspect in 1998 shooting returned to Humboldt County
☛ TS Second of three suspects in 1998 homicide arrested 11/07/07
☛ TS 2007: The year in review

TS - Second of three suspects in 1998 homicide arrested

☛ TS Second of three suspects in 1998 homicide arrested 11/07/07

Chris Durant The Times-Standard
Posted: 11/07/2007 01:16:28 AM PST

A drunken driving arrest in Stanislaus County led authorities to the final suspect in the 1998 killing of a Eureka teenager outside a video store.

The Eureka Police Department said the California Highway Patrol pulled over and arrested a man on Oct. 28 who identified himself as Alejandro Contreras.

When his fingerprints came back, the man's real identity was revealed to be Yohan Perez Lopez, who is suspected in the shooting death of Ryan Matthew Dunn,18, in January 1998.

Lopez made bail before his real identity was revealed, but when he went to pick up his car from impound, he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Eureka Police Sgt. Patrick O'Neill said Tuesday that Dunn was in a video store with his mother and girlfriend when the three men tried to pick a fight with him. The three men left and when Dunn exited the store thinking they were gone, at least one of the men allegedly opened fire on him.

The three men took off in a car that was discovered abandoned in the same neighborhood. Santiago Lopez, brother of Yohan Lopez, was arrested at a family member's home in Redwood City in January 1998.

Santiago Lopez was tried and convicted of being an accessory to murder and was sentenced to two years in prison.
The brothers' cousin and third suspect, Efren Erix Degladillo, is believed to have died in a car fire in Mexico in the last few years.

Yohan Lopez is in the Stanislaus County Jail on a FBI hold.

”As soon as that's lifted he'll be brought back for his trial,” O'Neill said.

Humboldt County Superior Court also issued a $1 million murder warrant for him.

Chris Durant can be reached at 441-0506 or at cdurant@times-standard.com .

Related:
☛ TS Witness testimony concludes in 1998 murder trial 2/19/09
☛ TS Witness testimony begins today for defense of murder suspect 2/18/09
☛ TS Testimony continues in Day 4 of Lopez 2/12/09
☛ TS Suspect's ex-girlfriend testifies in day three of murder trial 2/12//09
☛ TS Victim's girlfriend testifies in second day of 1998 murder trial 2/11/09
☛ TS Trial begins in decade-old murder case 2/10/09
☛ TS Homicide suspect facing trial for killing teen 12/21/07
☛ TS Suspect in 1998 shooting returned to Humboldt County
☛ TS Second of three suspects in 1998 homicide arrested 11/07/07
☛ TS 2007: The year in review