A Lodi judge on Wednesday increased a drunken driving suspect's bail to $1 million after prosecutors charged the man with murder.
Luis Hernandez, 21, had faced vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving charges, which carried $100,000 bail. But once San Joaquin County prosecutors confirmed that he had a previous drunken driving conviction, they increased the charge to murder under a 2005 state law.
Hernandez is charged with the May 14 death of 76-year-old Violet Hill, who was checking her mail on Tokay Colony Road east of Highway 99. Hill had pulled into her driveway, with part of the car sticking out onto the shoulder, but the California Highway Patrol said it was not blocking traffic.
Hernandez, who also has two other pending DUI cases, crashed into Hill's car, which struck and killed her.
Hernandez is scheduled to return to court June 12, where attorneys are expected to set a date for a preliminary hearing.
Mini-Vietnam Memorial coming to Stockton
Local residents will have the opportunity to see a smaller version of the Vietnam Memorial today through Sunday at Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton.
Call The Moving Wall, the display is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Stockton is the only Northern California stop for The Moving Wall this year.
At noon on Saturday, a special ceremony will be held featuring a color guard, honor unit from Travis Air Force Base and a U.S. Navy F/A-18 fly-by.
Tino Adame, a Vietnam veteran and commander of the Karl Ross American Legion post in Stockton, worked diligently to bring The Moving Wall to San Joaquin County, McNerney said.
Courtroom fight interrupts arraignment
Family members of a murder suspect and the victim began brawling in a Stockton courtroom Wednesday afternoon, sending swarms of police officers and bailiffs into the courtroom and hallways.
No serious injuries were reported, though paramedics and firefighters were called to the second floor of the courthouse. They arrived after bailiffs escorted a large group of young men out the courthouse doors and walked them all the way to a nearby parking garage to prevent further disputes.
The drama started shortly after 1:30 p.m. in Department 25, where Stockton resident Andrew Bruce Thompson III, 24, was being arraigned on a murder charge, according to court personnel who were in the room at the time.
Defense attorney Ralph Cingcon had just asked for more time to look at the case when the fight broke out. The fracas halted proceedings and sent attorneys scurrying from the courtroom.
At one point someone was heard yelling about a gun in the crowded hallway, but no weapon was seen and no shots were fired. The courthouse has metal detectors at the entrance.
Wednesday's incident happened a day after two state prison inmates briefly escaped from custody at the basement entrance to the courthouse.
Captured inmates likely to face new charges
Two prison inmates who briefly escaped from custody just outside the San Joaquin County courthouse will likely face new charges now that they are back in prison, and a third could also be charged.
After Kirk Robbins, 22, showed symptoms of a seizure and distracted correctional officers around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Richard Potts, 39, and Tony Jones, 21, broke out of their handcuffs and leg shackles.
Potts, who was appearing in court on a parole violation and is also charged with murder, ran and was stopped by a District Attorney's investigator who happened to see the inmate fleeing, said Lt. Ray Munoz with Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy.
Potts struck the investigator in the face and knocked him down, then tried to carjack a woman, Munoz said. A passing civilian motorcyclist saw the woman being thrown to the ground and intervened, subduing Potts until prison officers caught up.
Meanwhile, Jones had run a different direction and was last seen riding as a passenger in a Mercedes, which a witness thought had stopped and opened a door for him, Munoz said.
Jones, of Alameda, was serving a three-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon but was back in court on a new charge of battery on a peace officer in the Tracy prison, Munoz said. Jones was found later Tuesday night at a relative's home in Richmond.
Robbins, who was appearing in court for weapons charges in prison, was being medically examined and Munoz said Wednesday that staff had not yet determined whether his medical symptoms were fake.
Sacramento County inmates to receive care in French Camp
Sacramento County inmates requiring medical care will continue to get it in French Camp.
The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to renew its agreement with Sacramento County to serve some Sacramento inmates at San Joaquin General Hospital. Sacramento County will pay an estimated $280,000 to San Joaquin County during the 2008-09 fiscal year, San Joaquin Sheriff Steve Moore said in a staff report.
Sacramento has sent some of its inmates to San Joaquin General since 1997 due to rising costs for acute care at UC Davis Medical Center, Moore said. Despite transportation costs from Sacramento to French Camp, Sacramento County authorities determined they would still save money, Moore said.