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Law and Disorder 12-4


The 10-month-long investigation into the rape and murder of Santa Barbara City College student Brianna Denison culminated on 11/25 with the arrest of James Michael Biela, a 27-year-old resident of Sparks, Nevada. The 19-year-old woman disappeared from a friend’s home in Reno on 1/20. Her body was found in a field on 2/16. DNA evidence and an informant led Reno police to Biela who was booked for kidnapping, murder, and sexual assault. No bail has been set. (/dennison1204)

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Police are investigating the robbery of three Santa Barbara stores last week, each of which involved a male subject threatening employees with a knife. The first occurred around 7 p.m. on 11/28 at the Rite Aid at 825 State St., the second at 9:30 p.m. on 11/28 at the 3985 State St. Petco store, and the third at 8 p.m. on 11/29 at the Goodwill store at 302 West Carrillo Street. Witnesses each described the robber as a Hispanic male, between 20 and 40 years old. (/robbery1204)

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A fight around 2:30 a.m. on 11/30 in Santa Barbara’s city Parking Lot 10-between Ortega and Cota streets-resulted in the arrest of two men and the hospitalization of a third. Jaime Zavala, 27, was arrested on charges including battery and assault with a deadly weapon, while 23-year-old Luis Bravo was arrested on charges of brandishing a knife. The third man-a 26-year-old whose name police did not release and who had been involved in the fight-was admitted to Cottage Hospital with head and facial injuries. (/fight1204)

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Gerson Tomas Chinchilla Castro, 29, was arrested at his place of employment and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on two counts of indecent exposure last week. He was apprehended after the second of two female Santa Barbara City College students to whom Castro allegedly exposed his genitals in the same day got his license plate number and reported it to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

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After pleading guilty on 11/21 to violating fire restrictions in Los Padres National Forest, eight unnamed Santa Barbara County residents have been banned from all National Forests for one year, it was announced on 12/1. These eight people also face fines ranging from $200-$300. (The penalties were unrelated to the Tea Fire.)

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In an effort to divert schoolchildren from drug use, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program this week unveiled its DARE vehicle: a limited-edition 2008 Dodge Charger with custom LED police lights, a 350-horsepower hemi V8 engine, and 20-inch wheels. The sheriff hopes the vehicle-which was donated by Santa Barbara Chrysler-will help show kids that they need not do drugs or join a gang to lead exciting lives.

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