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Posted: Friday, March 26, 2004 10:00 pm

Man charged with killing wife, mother-in-law pleads not guilty

More than four months after he was charged with two counts of murder in Galt's first double homicide, Darrin Eric Gunder pleaded not guilty Thursday.

The 37-year-old Stockton man has been held without bail in the Sacramento County Jail since he was arrested Nov. 18. Hours earlier, his estranged wife and her mother had been found shot to death in their Bay Landing Way home in Galt.

Lisa McGarrah Gunder, 35, and her mother, Patricia Ann Hawthorne, 56, were both shot at close range, Galt police said.

Darrin Gunder, who was on parole for an unrelated attempted murder conviction in Sacramento, allegedly met with his parole agent later that evening, then was arrested near his Stockton home.

In February, Deputy District Attorney Michael Blazina announced that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in the case. If convicted, Darrin Gunder could face life in prison without parole.

A preliminary hearing has been set for May 21, court records show.

Stabbing victim critical; suspects plead not guilty

Three days after a Lodi man was hospitalized with a stab wound, he was in critical condition Friday night, a Lodi Memorial Hospital nursing supervisor said.

Norman Guillot, 56, was stabbed Tuesday afternoon on Garfield Street, police said, and three men were soon arrested.

Mathew Turner, 26, of Lockeford, Dennis Lee Martens, 29, of Lodi, and Jacob Eugene Timmerman, also of Lodi, all pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.

The men were each charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon, and bail was set at $25,000 for each, court records show. They will return to court March 30.

Molestation suspect pleads guilty, sentenced to 25 years

A Lockeford man pleaded guilty Wednesday and will spend 25 years in prison for molesting four children, all under the age of 14.

Jose Siordia, 56, entered his plea the day his jury trial was scheduled to begin in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

If convicted of all charges against him, Siordia could have faced as much as 60 years to life in prison. The plea deal was negotiated to spare the children from having to testify at trial, said Deputy District Attorney Janet Smith.

After a two-day November preliminary hearing, a judge ordered Siordia to stand trial on six counts of forcible lewd acts on a child.

After that hearing, Judge David Warner doubled Siordia's bail from $500,000 to $1 million - even though Siordia has a no-bail immigration hold - due to the graphic testimony.

Siordia will be formally sentenced April 26, Smith said.

Because the convictions are violent felonies, Siordia will have to serve at least 85 percent of the time before he is eligible for parole. Due to the immigration hold, he will likely be deported if released from prison.

Council to discuss wastewater treatment plant, financing

The City Council will hold a public meeting Tuesday to receive an update on financing the state-mandated improvements at the city's wastewater treatment plant.

The cost will influence water and wastewater rates.

The meeting begins at 7 a.m. in Carnegie Forum, 305 W. Pine St. For more information, contact the City Clerk's Office at 333-6702.

Lodians among Sheriff's Department promotions

Two Lodi men are among the latest San Joaquin County Sheriff promotions.

Deputies Steve Van Meter and Don Benbrook will be promoted to sergeant at a ceremony Monday in French Camp. Other promotions include:

• Capt. Steve Moore to assistant sheriff

• Lt. Armando Mayoya to captain

• Sgt. Robert Moreno to lieutenant

• Deputy Chris Pehl to sergeant

• Deputy Michael P. Jones to sergeant

Lockeford gas station robbed at gunpoint

Late Thursday, a man reportedly robbed the Chevron gas station at 18662 N. Highway 12 at gunpoint. He made off with approximately $1,300 in cash, a San Joaquin County Sheriff report said.

The victim told officers that an unidentified white or Hispanic male with a short build and came into the station and pulled out a black long-barrel, pistol-type weapon. He then ordered the victim to give him the money from the drawer.

After taking the money, the suspect fled through the rear of the business and into the back lot. No other person nor vehicle was seen.

The Sheriff's department was dispatched at 11:40 p.m. Thursday.

The suspect was wearing a black baseball cap backwards, a black handkerchief around his face and a black short-sleeve T-shirt.

The Sheriff's department plans to review the video surveillance for possible further description on the suspect or the suspect vehicle.

Supervisors to receive update on budget

Supervisors will get an update of which positions will be cut at San Joaquin General Hospital when they meet Tuesday morning.

Interim Health Care Services Director Kenneth Cohen told board members earlier this month that the hospital needs to cut at least 150 to 200 positions to stop losing more than $15 million annually.

Cohen, in his report to the board, said even with the cuts proposed, the hospital will still lose an estimated $7 million to $8 million, meaning that more cuts would be needed later.

Tuesday's report will begin to finalize what positions will be lost to stop the hospital's financial bleeding.

Supervisors are also expected to get a review of the county's effort to promote locally grown produce. Last year, Supervisor Steve Gutierrez suggested that the county promote county-grown produce in local grocery stores.

With the help of the county's Agriculture Commission and local farmers, the county has designed a logo and display that will be unveiled at local grocery stores.

The push to promote local produce is much the same as the state's California-grown marketing drive.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the seventh floor of the San Joaquin County Courthouse, 222 E. Weber Ave., in Stockton.

Valley farmers try to deal with water regulations

FRESNO - California farmers are scrambling to deal with pollution caused by water running off their irrigated land by the state-imposed deadline - but many said confusion over the new rules may have left thousands of growers scratching their heads, unsure how to respond.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board came up with the new regulations and gave growers until Thursday to comply, but farmers and members of the board said the program is moving too fast, and there are many glitches that need to be worked out.

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