Jury selection begins in double homicide case
Jury selection is set to begin today in the case of two men charged with the March 2003 shooting death of a Lodi couple.
Joel Angel Magana, 20, and Christopher Howard Jones, 19, are each charged with two counts of murder, in addition to charges of home invasion robbery and conspiracy.
If convicted of the murder of Kevin Dahnke, 23, and Sabrina Dahnke, 24, the two could face life in prison without parole.
Final pre-trial motions were scheduled to be argued Monday, but they were postponed to Thursday at the request of a defense attorney, said San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Mayo.
Though initial jury selection begins today, a jury is not expected to be seated until next week, Mayo said. Opening statements will then follow.
Prosecutors have alleged that Magana and Jones, both of Lodi, shot the couple at close range in their Morse Road home so they could steal marijuana.
Magana and Jones have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Alleged liquor store burglar pleads not guilty
A Pasadena man charged with burglarizing a Lodi liquor store pleaded not guilty Monday to one count of second-degree commercial burglary.
Jesus Daniel Rodriguez, 19, is accused of burglarizing Tokay Liquors, 8 E. Lockeford St., and trying to make off with as much as $10,000 worth of merchandise.
Rodriguez's court appearance came exactly one week after he was last arraigned on a charge of second-degree commercial burglary.
In that case, Rodriguez pleaded guilty in connection with an incident the previous Thursday when he attacked a soda machine with a sledge hammer and saw, Lodi police said.
A judge set bail Monday at $75,000, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for the beginning of September, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Slamon said.
Parachutist remains in critical condition
A parachutist remained hospitalized Monday evening, two days after he was involved in a mid-air collision that killed a friend.
Ben Quinn, 22, of Lake Tahoe, was still in "critical but stable" condition at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, a spokesman said.
Marvell Strawn, 41, of Olympic Valley, crashed into Quinn after having problems opening his parachute, said Bill Dause, who owns Lodi Parachute Center near Highway 99 in Acampo.
Strawn was able to open a reserve parachute but was dead when he landed around 1:45 p.m. Saturday. He was found in a nearby vineyard, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department said.
Both men had experience jumping - enough to qualify for a skydiving proficiency license. Strawn had made about 35 jumps and Quinn about 25 jumps. The accident happened during their third jump of the day.
The instructor who taught both men, Will Guillermo DaSilva, said the crash happened because one of the jumpers forgot to check his blind spot. He said the accident was a result of "poor judgment."
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates parachuting, said these investigations can take weeks.
Large safe stolen from pizza parlor
Galt police are looking for whoever stole a 700-pound safe filled with cash early Monday morning at Lamppost Pizza, 10430 Twin Cities Road.
The theft was discovered about 9:30 a.m. Monday, when the restaurant manager showed up for work, said Galt police Sgt. Chuck Diedrickson.
The back door of the pizza restaurant in Galt Village Shopping Center was unlocked, but it hadn't been determined by police whether the thief or thieves entered the business from the rear, Diedrickson said.
The amount of cash taken had not been determined by Monday, he said.
Detectives took several fingerprints. They are also studying a surveillance tape that indicates that a white late-model Ford pick-up truck with an extended cab had left the area, Diedrickson said.
Anyone with information on the theft may call Galt police at 366-7000.
Fire board to discuss final budget
Mokelumne Rural Fire District directors, in a special meeting at 7 p.m. today, will consider adopting a $788,000 budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year.
Tonight's agenda calls for the budget discussion to be held in closed session, which would violate California's open-meeting law, but board member Gersh Rosen clarified that the closed session will be limited to salary negotiations with the district's paid firefighters. Salary negotiation is a permitted closed-session topic under the Ralph M. Brown Act.
The outcome of tonight's salary negotiations will be incorporated into the district budget, which will be considered in the portion of the meeting that is open to the public, Rosen said.
Tonight's meeting will be held at the fire station, 13157 E. Brandt Road, Lockeford.
Fourth candidate files for Galt Fire race
Richard Haas Jr., has filed for a second four-year term on the Galt Fire Protection District's board of directors.
Officials from the Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections said on Aug. 6, the final day that incumbents could file, that Haas had not filed nomination papers. As it turned out, Haas filed late in the afternoon after all.
Haas and challengers Edwin R. Butler, Barry Flores and Dave Riggs will battle it out for three available seats. Incumbents Bill Dufur and Joseph Corey will not seek another term.