The attorney representing the family of Yoni Gottesman – the four-year-old who drowned while attending a swim camp at the Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club in Goleta in August 2005 – requested that the state attorney general’s office investigate the possibility of criminal negligence in the incident. Unsatisfied with a previous investigation by the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office that found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the family’s attorney, Barry Cappello, pointed to a security video that shows Yoni floating facedown in the water for eight minutes, unnoticed by the several lifeguards on duty. Cappello also faulted swim instructor-led horseplay that preceded the drowning as indicative of criminal negligence.
The driver who hit 12-year-old Jake Boysel as he biked to school in September pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter on Monday. Ernesto Landeros Botello, 24, hit Boysel with his SUV at 7:15 a.m. on September 7, as the La Colina seventh-grader rode in the bike lane on Calle Real south of Highway 154. Botello said he was blinded by the morning sun; if convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.
Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson found Gaviota sniper Keith Tomlinson guilty last week on seven counts of attempted murder and 15 counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The ruling came after Tomlinson requested that the judge, rather than a jury, hear his case. The crimes occurred on two separate occasions in late 2004 and early 2005 when Tomlinson, living near El Capitan Ranch, threw rocks and fired several rounds from a .22-caliber rifle at seemingly random vehicles traveling the portion of Highway 101 near his home. While no one was injured in the incidents, Tomlinson could face life in prison should the judge rule that he was sane at the time of the crimes. A hearing on Tomlinson’s mental state began this week.
On Tuesday afternoon, attorneys gave closing statements in the murder trial of Carlos Varela, who admitted to fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend Holly Lake with a hunting knife the couple had allegedly used to cut methamphetamine. Prosecutor Josh Lynn argued that the killing was premeditated based on Varela’s prior statements, such as “You’d better not cheat on me” and “I’d like to kill that bitch.” Defense attorney Steve Balash countered that the murder was a crime of passion, explaining that unlike another of Lake’s ex-boyfriends, Varela truly valued his relationship with Lake and was driven over the edge by her confession of infidelity. If Varela is found guilty of murder, he could face a life sentence; if convicted of manslaughter, his sentence could be reduced to 12 years.
Trailing by 7,600 votes after last week’s election, incumbent Sheriff Jim Anderson has yet to concede defeat to challenger Bill Brown, Lompoc’s police chief. As of our press deadline, Brown said he still had not heard anything from Anderson. Phone calls to Anderson have gone unanswered, and his campaign manager Richard Cochrane would say only, “There are things in the wings that will be revealed soon.” Cochrane declined to elaborate, saying “I would if I could, but I can’t.” Meanwhile, Brown has already met with Undersheriff Ken Shemwell and scheduled meetings with the department’s command staff. As of press time, 6,500 absentee and provisional ballots remained to be tabulated.
City Hall moved one step closer on Tuesday to revising the laws governing overnight RV parking in Santa Barbara. City councilmembers agreed to install signs south of the 101 freeway informing owners of RVs, mobile homes, and trailers that they cannot park on Santa Barbara streets between midnight and 6 a.m. Councilmembers also discussed various changes to current parking policy in local lots, with the intention of providing some RV owners the opportunity to park overnight and sleep in their vehicles without being cited by local cops.