LAW AND DISORDER

UCSB police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are
investigating a former UCSB engineer, Neil Baker, who allegedly
posted death threats on the “Rants and Raves” page of
Craigslist.org. Baker, who was fired from UCSB in 2004 and now
lives in Washington, reportedly mentioned the one-year anniversary
of the Goleta postal shootings and noted he had “been thinking
about killing my former bosses and shithead coward co-workers.” As
the investigation continues, UCSB has ordered the Engineering
Sciences Building locked to all but authorized personnel and
stationed a police officer in the lobby.

Lenae Stahr, one of the four people arrested in connection with
the allegedly forged will of Beverly Graham, was cited by sheriff’s
deputies on January 18 on suspicion of stealing multiple copies of
Carpinteria’s Coastal View News. Stahr confessed she burned the
newspapers in her fireplace in order to prevent her neighbors from
reading the article about her arrest. Sheriff’s Department
spokesman Erik Rainey said the maximum punishment for stealing
newspapers is $1,000 and a year in prison. Meanwhile, Stahr awaits
trial for allegedly concocting a phony will for Graham, the first
victim of last year’s Goleta postal shootings.

Santa Barbara prosecutors indicated the new U.S. Supreme Court
ruling invalidating California’s sentencing laws will probably have
minimal local impact. The high court justices ruled it should be up
to juries – not judges – to determine whether the criminal
aggravations needed for the judge to impose stiffer sentences have
been proved. (In California, judges currently make that
determination.) But since about 90 percent of Santa Barbara’s cases
are settled by plea bargaining, few ever go to trial before either
a judge or a jury. Most of the defendants convicted under the old
system – now deemed unconstitutional – have already served their
sentences.

Santa Barbara City Hall hopes to negotiate a settlement with
Michael Tocher, who was arrested for disturbing the peace two years
ago after he spent more than three hours reading the names of
American military personnel killed in Iraq through a bullhorn in
front of Borders on State Street. The American Civil Liberties
Union argued City Hall violated Tocher’s free speech, and noted
that the arresting officer failed to warn Tocher he was disturbing
the peace before arresting him or to tell him he could recite the
names without a bullhorn. In late October, both sides asked a
federal judge to throw out the other’s case; two weeks ago, the
judge threw out the city’s case and ordered the parties to try to
reach a settlement. Negotiations will take place this Friday.

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