Archive for November, 2009

Prosecutors: Oakland man killed girlfriend to cover killing of her son

Posted on November 20, 2009. Filed under: Crime, Parole |

Bay City News
November 17, 2009

Prosecutors have charged Curtis Martin III with the murder of 17-month-old Jashon Williams, shown here, and his mother, 23-year-old Zoelina Toney. Toney’s bludgeoned body was found near the Berkeley Marina on Saturday, and the body of a child believed to be Jashon the next day was pulled from the water nearby. JASHON WILLIAMS WAS LAST KNOWN TO BE WITH HIS MOTHER ZOELINA WILLIAMS, A VICTIM OF A HOMICIDE IN BERKELEY ON NOVEMBER 13TH, 2009. JASHON WILLIAMS HAS NOT BEEN LOCATED. (Family photo courtesy of Oakland Police Department)

OAKLAND — Berkeley police say they believe Curtis Martin III shot and then bludgeoned to death an Oakland woman because she knew he was responsible for the death of her 17-month-old son.

In a probable cause statement filed in court Tuesday, investigators said Martin, a 38-year-old Oakland man, and 23-year-old Zoelina Toney were involved in a dating relationship for three months prior to the death of Toney, whose body was found in Aquatic Park, along the shoreline east of Interstate Highway 80 in Berkeley, about 4 a.m. Friday.

After Toney was identified via her fingerprints, investigators found out that she had a son, Jashon Williams, and it had been more than three
weeks since anyone had seen him, according to the statement.

Investigators believe that a child’s body that was found near the Berkeley Marina on Sunday, about a mile away from the spot where Toney’s body was found, is that of Jashon based on his race, size and age, the statement says.

However, Berkeley police spokesman Lt. Andrew Greenwood said the Alameda County coroner’s bureau is still continuing its work in officially confirming the child’s identity.

Nonetheless, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday charged Martin with murdering both Toney and Jashon because it believes there is sufficient evidence to support both charges.

Prosecutors also charged Martin with two special circumstance clauses that could result in him facing the death penalty: committing
multiple murders and murdering Toney because she was a witness to the murder of her son.

Assistant District Attorney Tom Rogers said Toney wasn’t necessarily an eyewitness to her son’s murder but authorities believe Martin
killed her because she had information that implicated Martin in his death.

For the purpose of potentially increasing the sentence for Martin if he’s convicted, prosecutors also charged Martin with enhancements for
having two prior felony convictions: a 1994 voluntary manslaughter conviction for the death of the 3-year-old son of his girlfriend at the time and a 1992 conviction for possession of an assault weapon.

Toney’s family members packed the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert McGuiness for a short arraignment hearing for Martin.

McGuiness referred Martin to the Public Defender’s Office to see if it will represent him and ordered him to return to court on Thursday to be assigned an attorney and enter a plea. He is being held at the Alameda County Jail in Pleasanton without bail.

After the hearing, Toney’s aunt, Elowis Windeman, said of Jashon, “That was my baby. We called him Pretty Boy Floyd because he had the prettiest eyes in the world.”

According to the probable cause statement, when Toney’s family members and friends asked her where Jashon was she said he was with “Curt,” which was an abbreviated nickname used by Martin.

The statement says an autopsy conducted by the coroner’s bureau concluded that Toney died as a result of massive blunt force trauma to her head, and gunshot wounds to her abdomen and a possible gunshot wound to the back of her head were contributing factors.

However, coroner’s officials haven’t been able to determine the cause of death of the child found at the Berkeley Marina because it was in a
state of “advanced decomposition,” according to the statement.

The statement says only 10 minutes before Toney’s body was found, a Berkeley police officer on routine parole in Aquatic Park came upon Martin, who was wearing rubber gloves and protective booties over his shoes, possibly to avoid leaving his DNA.

Martin was released from the scene because authorities hadn’t yet spotted Toney’s body but he was arrested at his home in Oakland later on Friday.

The statement says when Berkeley police investigators tried to ask Martin about the whereabouts of Jashon he repeatedly replied that it wasn’t his problem.

Martin was charged with murder for the Feb. 11, 1994, death of 3-year-old Devin Brewer, who was the son of his girlfriend.

The probable cause statement says the cause of the boy’s death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head and his mother reported that he had suffered several burns and blunt force injuries in the weeks prior to his death.

However, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office agreed to a plea deal that called for Martin to plead no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and be sentenced to 11 years in state prison.

When he sentenced Martin on Jan. 9, 1995, Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman expressed frustration at the plea agreement and the light sentence but said he was powerless to change it.

“The laws of this state have somehow tragically ignored for the perpetrators of the most hideous crime, the killing of our most precious
gift, our children,” Goodman said.

The judge said of Devin, “Curtis Martin beat the life out of him.”

Goodman said, “An atrocious mistake has been made in our legal system when a murderer of a child gets a mere slap on the wrist.”

He said to Martin, “Why did you do this? Why did you hit Devin? You are the most vile human being. You are a baby killer. How do you sleep?”

Martin was paroled from state prison on Sept. 7, 2000, after serving only about six years.

However, he had to return to state prison for three short stints for violating the terms of his parole.

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Board of Parole Hearings Launches Web Page for Crime Victims Victims Can Now Access Parole Suitability Hearing Transcripts

Posted on November 17, 2009. Filed under: Crime Victim Services |

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  CONTACT: Peggy Bengs
November 17, 2009                                                                                           Cheryl Campoy

(916) 445-4950

 

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Board of Parole Hearings has launched a web page that allows crime victims to request transcripts for Parole Suitability Hearings of inmates sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

 

“Continuing to protect the rights of victims through our criminal justice system is a top priority of my department,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate.  “This new web page will make important information more readily available to victims of crime and their families and help to keep them safe.”

 

Within approximately 30 days upon completion of a prisoner’s hearing before the Board, a transcript of the hearing will be available upon request.  Transcripts may be requested by email at no cost by accessing the web page.  Alternatively, a copy of the transcript will be mailed for a fee of $25.00.  Previously victims were charged per page, which could be costly for transcripts running hundreds of pages, and an electronic version was not available.

 

If a transcript requested by e-mail is not available in the database — for example, transcripts of hearings that took place in the past and are archived – a fee of $25 will be charged for those as well.  The requestor will be contacted if the Board does not have an electronic copy of the transcript and request the fee.

 

Any persons requesting a hearing transcript must be registered and meet the criteria of a victim as identified through the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services.  The registration form is available by accessing the new web page.

 

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 9, the “Victim’s Bill of Rights Act of 2008,” often called “Marsy’s Law,” which expands victims’ rights in parole proceedings for prisoners sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.  The law applies to all hearings for the purpose of setting, postponing, or rescinding of life prisoner parole dates. Marsy’s Law, Penal Code section 3041.5 (a) (4) permits the victim, next of kin, members of the victim’s family, and two representatives designated by the victim to request and receive a stenographic record of all proceedings.

 

Marsy’s Law was named after Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a University of California Santa Barbara student, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only a week after Marsy was murdered, her mother walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter’s grave and was confronted by the accused murderer.  She did not know that he had been released on bail.

 

Victims can request transcripts of Parole Suitability Hearings by accessing the new web page at: www.cdcr.ca.gov/Divisions_Boards/BOPH/psh_transcript.html .

 

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Office of Inspector General Releases Special Report on CDCR Supervision of Phillip Garrido

Posted on November 4, 2009. Filed under: Parole |

After a two month investigation, the Inspector General for the State of California, David R. Shaw, held a press conference today where he released his special report with findings and recommendations on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s
supervision of parolee Phillip Garrido.

It is important to note, as stated in an Associated Press article, that as a parolee, Garrido wore a GPS-linked ankle bracelet that tracked his every movement, met with his parole agent several times each month and was subject to routine surprise home visits and random drug and alcohol tests, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Phillip Garrido’s parole supervision was on a 40 to 1 ratio (40 parolees to 1 parole agent).

Below is a summary of the findings from the report.

The Office of the Inspector General finds that
during the 10-year period the department
supervised parolee Garrido, the department:

·Failed to adequately classify and supervise
Garrido.

·Failed to obtain key information from
federal parole authorities.

·Failed to properly supervise parole agents
responsible for Garrido.

·Failed to use GPS information.

·Provides the public a false sense of security
with a passive GPS monitoring program that
falls short of its potential, raising OIG’s
concerns about the department’s current and
future uses of GPS monitoring.

·Ignored other opportunities to determine that
Garrido was violating the terms of his parole.

·Failed to refer Garrido for mental health
assessment.

·Failed to train parole agents to conduct parolee
home visits.

·Missed opportunities to discover the existence
of Garrido’s three victims, including:
o Failing to investigate clearly visible utility
wires running from Garrido’s house
towards the concealed compound.

o Failing to investigate the presence of a 12-
year old female during a home visit.

o Failing to talk to neighbors or local public
safety agencies.

o Failing to act on information clearly
showing Garrido had violated his parole
terms.

To view the executive summary of the report click here.

To view the response to the report from CDCR Secretary Matt Cate click here.

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