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Alleged drunk driver in fatal crash posts bail

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Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 12:00 am

A man accused of driving drunk in a fatal West Lane vehicle crash this weekend posted bail Monday night.

Benjamin Serratos III, 29, of Stockton, posted $178,000 bond and was released from the San Joaquin County Jail.

Serratos was allegedly driving south at 11:50 p.m. Saturday when he rear-ended a car just north of Armstrong Road, according to the California Highway Patrol. That car then hit a traffic signal pole.

The driver, 19-year-old Destanee Little, of Stockton, died at the scene. Her two passengers were hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Serratos allegedly tried to run from the scene but was caught and arrested by officers, the CHP reported. He was booked into the county jail.

Prosecutors haven't filed formal charges yet, and it is not known whether they will seek a murder conviction, under California law they may file such a charge because Serratos had a previous drunken driving conviction.

Because Serratos is no longer in custody, prosecutors have more time to review the case and file charges without violating his rights. He is now scheduled to be arraigned in Lodi court on June 24, according to court records.

Bond agents require a 10 percent fee, and collateral may be used for the actual bail amount. If a defendant then fails to appear in court, the bond may be forfeited.

Little graduated from Stagg High School in 2009 and was attending San Joaquin Delta College, considering attending a police academy.

A celebration of her life is planned for Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Temple in Stockton.

Layla Bohm

Initiative fundraiser will feature local leaders

Supporters of a ballot initiative to prevent the California Legislature from taking local funds will have the opportunity to meet with elected leaders for a local food and wine night at Hutchins Street Square.

Tickets for the fundraiser on July 29 are $75 a person and $100 a couple. The proceeds go to the campaign for the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Act.

The constitutional amendment on the ballot in November would prevent the state from borrowing or redirecting any taxes from local agencies. The initiative would protect money marked for public safety, redevelopment projects, transit funding and transportation improvements.

Lodi councilwoman JoAnne Mounce is hosting the fundraiser with Lathrop Mayor Kristy Sayles and Stockton Vice Mayor Kathy Miller. All three hold leadership positions in the League of California Cities.

The guest speakers includes Chris McKenzie, the executive director of the League of California Cities, and Ann Johnson, the mayor of Stockton.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity because you are never going to have that many policymakers in one place," Mounce said.

The event will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 29 at Hutchins Street Square. For ticket information, e-mail Mounce at jmounce@lodicitycouncil.com or call her home phone at 333-2814.

Maggie Creamer

Fundraiser planned for Thornton guitar program

The Woodbridge Grange will host a fundraising bunco night to benefit the Grange and Thornton's Guitars Not Guns program on July 20.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at Woodbridge Grange, 1074 Academy St., Woodbridge. Tickets are $20. For more information, call Sharon Stokes at 794-8221.

Ross Farrow

Mosquitofish available starting next week

Come summer, Lodi residents often stock up on mosquito repellent and citronella candles toward off pesky insects and their annoying bites. But the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District has a different solution: — mosquitofish.

The district will be distributing mosquitofish free of charge to residents of the county from June 22 to June 25.

They suggest placing mosquitofish in ornamental ponds, animal water troughs and neglected swimming pools to prevent against mosquito development.

In order to receive mosquitofish, residents will be asked to provide their name, address and location where the fish will be placed. There is a maximum of 15 per person.

For more information please visit www.sjmosquito.org or call 982-4675.

Mosquitofish distribution schedule in San Joaquin County includes:

  • Lodi: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., June 22 at the softball complex parking lot at 401 N. Stockton St.
  • Stockton: 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., June 25, Swenson Park Golf Course north parking lot at 6803 Alexandria Place.

Supervisors approve MOU changes

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors has approved changes to contracts with three bargaining units in an attempt to reduce layoffs.

The board approved revised agreements with the county Deputy Sheriff's and Correctional Officers associations on Tuesday. Supervisors also added a provision to an agreement reached in May with the county probation officers bargaining unit.

Ross Farrow

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  • posted at 2:59 pm on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    Judges are bound by the law just as much as anyone else (except for maybe ol' Bennie), and the fact is that the California Penal Code, Sections 1268 through 1276.5 contains 4,556 words laying out the specific terms under which the accused and alleged criminal can be released on bail.This judge might have been in a position where he had to obey the law by allowing bail.That being said, looking at Serratos' record, his earlier pleas to DUI among other things, his reported refusal to identify the person who shot and killed "his best friend", his attempt to flee the scene of Destanee's death, his refusal to acknowledge he needed help and seeking it from a qualified professional... in light of all this, I can summarize the specifics as to whether or not bail is appropriate for this particular accused criminal in two word:"Well, f'ng duhhhhhhhhhhh."Okay. Three words. You want to hold me to only two?Try "common sense".

  • posted at 1:12 pm on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    I find it very interesting that nobody in this town seems to want this judge off the bench.

  • posted at 12:38 pm on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    This is just plain sick. Here is an excerpt from yesterday's article: "Serratos was taken to San Joaquin General Hospital, then booked into the county jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, hit-and-run and driving on a suspended license. He was also booked on a warrant for failing to appear in court on a traffic case for driving on a license that was suspended or revoked due to a DUI conviction."So, Serratos kills a bright young lady with a promising future. Seriously injures his passengers, tries to flee the scene of the accident, failed to appear for a prior court date for traffic violations - including DUI - and he is released on bail? I feel so badly for the girl's family, and at the same time concerned that this guy is still loose out there to drink and possibly drive and have another opportunity to kill another innocent person. To the judge who allowed bail to be posted: "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????"

  • posted at 9:40 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    Benjamin Serratos III murders a young girl over the weekend and gets to post bail on Monday night? That is not right. He is going to run, mark my words. You may as well ride down to the border and wave to him as he rides by.

  • posted at 8:33 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    The parents of the deceased girl have enough to deal with without slapping them in the face by granting this POS bail. He has a history of FTA. Does this judge think this is going to turn out any different? I would be floored if he makes his court dates. He is probably already swinging in a hammock drinking Corona in Mexico laughing.

  • posted at 7:24 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    He is entilted to bail, about $2 million should do it.

  • posted at 6:45 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    This 19 yr old defendent has a prior DUI conviction and now an innocent victim has died as a result of his driving under the influence. He is a current risk/threat to the public and should be detained in custody until the court proceedings render a disposition. Vehicular Manslaughter is a serious crime and should be treated as one.

  • posted at 6:00 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    The murderer probably left the jail, jumped into his car, and drove to the nearest liquor store.

  • posted at 3:58 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    Someone needs to look at the judge's record to find out if he's always soft on DUI murderers. Perhaps it's time to get rid of him/her.

  • posted at 3:55 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    Again -- what is the name of the judge that set the guy free on bail? Reporter?

  • posted at 3:50 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    Where in the world did he get this kind of money? $18K!!! This was murder. How do murderers bail out of jail anyway. Do they really expect him to come back? He tried to run from the scene for crying out loud. Definitely a stupid decision on the court's behalf.

  • posted at 3:05 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    Why did we just let a murderer bail out of Jail? The weapon this man chose to use was alcohol and a car. These DUI cases got to stop being treated as a simple drunk driving issue specially when it is their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 20th conviction.

  • posted at 2:56 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    "Serratos had a previous drunken driving conviction." So, just how many people do these drunks have to kill before we take them seriously? I think our problem is with the person who allowed the killer to get out on bail. Was this person named in the story? Hmmmmmmmmmmm

  • posted at 1:02 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    I wonder how a 29 y/o was able to come up with almost $18K cash for the bail, especially in this economy. Don't be surprised if this guy disappears south of the border.

  • posted at 12:12 am on Wed, Jun 16, 2010.


    On this drunk driver issue..... If this 29 yr. old Serratos tried to run..., why in the world would they put a bond on him to get out of jail???? That girl died. What is wrong with this picture?



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