The Los Angeles Times reported that the key prosecution witness in Santa Barbara County’s environmental nuisance case against Greka Energy is a former company safety official who claims to have been visited by needle-wielding space aliens from another planet. Greka’s attorney, Bela Lugosi Jr. – the son of the horror movie star – has suggested such tales might undermine the credibility of the prosecution’s witness.
Gail Jansen is suing the Austin Val Verde Foundation after one of its statues toppled over, crushing her left leg and foot. The statue was one of many that grace the picturesque gardens at Val Verde, a Montecito mansion, and it allegedly became unstable after being moved for a photo shoot. Jansen, a Val Verde employeer, was inspecting the statue when it fell. She is suing for damages in excess of $25,000.
The driver of the SUV that killed 12-year-old cyclist Jake Boysel has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. If convicted, Ernesto Landeros Botello faces a maximum penalty of one year in county jail. His arraignment is scheduled for November 13.
Santa Barbara police and sheriffs have joined legions of other law enforcement agencies around the country in building their own high-tech crime lab. The new facility, which cost $7 million, features a number of crime-solving innovations, though equipment for DNA analysis is not one of them. The lab will serve law enforcement officers from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
It appears the bitter, drawn-out negotiations between the Santa Barbara police union and City Hall might be drawing to a close. Both sides seem reconciled to the city’s last, best, and final offer of a 24 percent pay hike over three years, though the police are insisting on distributing the wage and benefit package that’s on the table as they see fit. The police union had rejected this same offer three weeks ago, vowing to take their case directly to city voters in a special city election next spring.
Seven weeks after 26-year-old David Klotz died in the hands of two Spearmint Rhino bouncers, county coroner Dr. Robert Anthony issued a report concluding that Klotz perished from an acute lack of oxygen to the brain. Anthony’s report stated that Klotz, a former wrestler and gymnast, suffered from high blood pressure, an enlarged heart, and an artery that was 90 percent choked with cholesterol. Klotz died while two bouncers – whose combined weight approached 700 pounds – pressed him down following an altercation over his bill. Police have forwarded the report to the district attorney to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
Sheriff’s investigators are still investigating the apparent suicide of Dolly Thomas, the wife of former sheriff Jim Thomas, who was found in her home last Friday. Investigators say there’s no evidence of foul play.