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KVTA Local News

Ventura County Gives Green Light To Red Light Cameras

KVTA News Monday March 30, 2015

The Ventura City Council Monday night voted to continue the red light camera program for at least another three years.

The new contract with Redflex Traffic Systems would allow the city to extend the contract up to four more years after that.

The only "no" vote came from Mayor Cheryl Heitmann.

While she agreed with the program in principle, she had concerns about certain aspects of the new contract, including a provision that could lead to more the doubling to 40 the number of "approaches" at intersections covered by the cameras.

There was discussion about whether the cameras have been effective in cutting down red light accidents, with city staff presenting statistics they claim show that they have.

There was also discussion about whether the aim of the program was to increase safety or just generate revenue.

City staff denied that revenue was the motivation.

City officials also insist the new contract will protect the city from losing money if the number of violations continue to decline.

The council also heard from a number of critics of the system.

They believe the system has problems that lead to innocent drivers being ticketed and some found red light cameras unconstitutional.

Here is a link to the city staff report on the issue: 

http://www.cityofventura.net/…/…/2015/03-30-15/item%2014.pdf

Court Sting For DUI Drivers With Suspended Licenses

KVTA News Monday March 30, 2015

The Oxnard Police Department carried out a sting operation at the County Courthouse in Ventura Monday aimed at making sure drivers with court-ordered suspended licenses do not drive.

Members of the Oxnard PD's traffic unit spent between 8 AM and Noon Monday watching drivers with suspended licenses appear before the judge.

The judge, as is standard procedure in DUI cases, reminded the defendants that their license was suspended and they were not allowed to drive.

The officers then followed eight individuals as they left the courthouse to see if they heeded the court's admonition.

Police say five of the eight drivers did the right thing and did not drive, but three of the individuals got in their vehicles and started to drive away.

They were stopped by the officers and cited for a misdemeanor violation of driving on a suspended license.

Police say one of those drivers, an 18-year-old male, also had an open container of alcohol and a small amount of marijuana in his vehicle when he was stopped driving away from the courthouse.

The three drivers who were cited had their vehicles towed and are facing a potential 30 day impound.

Oxnard is among several law enforcement agencies in Ventura County who now conduct these courthouse stings on a routine basis.

They are paid for by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Transportation Administration.

Suspect In Vehicle And Foot Pursuit, Search, Caught In Simi

KVTA News Monday March 30, 2015

The authorities have caught the suspect who was involved in a vehicle and foot pursuit in Simi Valley Monday.

The incident began shortly after 11:30 AM when sheriff's deputies tried to stop a vehicle in connection with a theft investigation and the suspect failed to yield.

The pursuit traveled into Simi Valley where the suspect abandoned his vehicle in the area of Madera Road and Bonita Street. 

That began a day long ground and air search for the suspect which ended around 6 PM when the suspect was spotted walking along Tierra Rejada Road just west of Simi Valley and was arrested.

Trial Could Begin This Week Into Olympic Medalist's Killing

KVTA News Sunday March 29, 2015

     A long-awaited, high profile, Ventura County murder trial could get underway this week.
     57-year-old Jane Laut is accused of murder in the August 2009 shooting death of her Olympic medalist husband Dave at their Oxnard home.
     Prosecutors call it murder, the defense maintains it was self-defense after years of spousal abuse.
     The trial has been delayed several times over the years by various issues. 
     The latest had to do with a defense request to remove the judge because of a statement she made in another case that the defense maintained showed an indifference and insensitivity to the victims of spousal abuse.
     But the defense request to remove the judge was rejected by a specially appointed Santa Barbara judge and the State Court of Appeal.
     Jury selection could begin later this week.

A long-awaited, high profile, Ventura County murder trial could get underway this week.

57-year-old Jane Laut is accused of murder in the August 2009 shooting death of her Olympic medalist husband Dave at their Oxnard home.

Prosecutors call it murder, the defense maintains it was self-defense after years of spousal abuse.

The trial has been delayed several times over the years by various issues. 

The latest had to do with a defense request to remove the judge because of a statement she made in another case that the defense maintained showed an indifference and insensitivity to the victims of spousal abuse.

But the defense request to remove the judge was rejected by a specially appointed Santa Barbara judge and the State Court of Appeal. 

Jury selection could begin later this week.

Investigation Continues Into Deadly Officer-Involved Shooting In Oxnard

KVTA News Sunday March 29, 2015

The investigation continues into this weekend’s deadly officer involved shooting in Oxnard.

Police say that around 1 AM Saturday morning a man called 911 to report a domestic dispute at his apartment in the 500 block of west Vineyard Avenue.

The first officer arrived on scene and police say he was talking with the man at the front door to the apartment when a woman advanced on them with a knife.

That’s when the officer shot and killed her.

She was identified as 26-year-old Meagan Hockaday, the live-in girlfriend of the man who called police.

The officer and the man were not injured.

There were three children in the apartment when it happened and they were not harmed.

The officer, an 8-year-veteran of the department, is on administrative leave which is standard policy. 

As the department conducts an administrative investigation to determine if the shooting was within department policy, a parallel investigation is conducted to determine if the shooting was legally justified.

Family Fight Leads To ADW, Arrest In Oxnard

KVTA News Sunday March 29, 2015

Oxnard police say a fight at a family gathering Saturday night ended with an assault with a deadly weapon and an arrest.

They say it happened around 10:50 PM inside a business located in the 2700 block of Seaglass Way in the Collection in Oxnard.

Police say several subjects from the family gathering became involved in a fight and during that fight one of the subjects produced a knife and cut another individual.

Police say they arrested 25-year-old Daniel Barbere of Oxnard for assault with a deadly weapon. 

They say the victim, a 33-year-old Oxnard man, suffered a moderate laceration to the face and was taken to VCMC for treatment.

Small Vegetation Fire Impacts 101 In Ventura

KVTA News Sunday March 29, 2015

(Photo courtesy Ventura City Fire Department)

Ventura City firefighters say a small vegetation fire impacted the 101 Freeway near the 126 interchange early Sunday morning.

It happened around 1:48 AM in the area of Arundell Avenue at the west end of Market Street next to the southbound 101 Freeway.

They say the fire was burning in a half acre of trees and medium to large vegetation when they arrived.

The fire also impinged on a utility pole and a downed Edison stabilization wire was draped over a charged high voltage component which complicated firefighting efforts.

Flames and smoke from the fire also impacted traffic on the 101 and the CHP helped out with traffic control.

Firefighters were able to knock the fire down within a short period of time.

They say no natural cause for the fire could be found and the investigation continues into what started the fire. 

No injuries were reported.

Woman Killed By Oxnard Police Identified

KVTA News Saturday March 28, 2015

Update--Oxnard police have released more information about Saturday morning's deadly officer involved shooting that left a woman dead.

They say the incident began around 1 AM when a man called 911 to request officers respond to his apartment in the 500 block of W. Vineyard Avenue because of a domestic dispute between him and his live in girlfriend.

Police say the first officer to arrive on scene was trained in Crisis Intervention.

He heard screaming coming from the apartment.

Police say as he approached the front door of the apartment he was met by the man who had called 911 to report the domestic dispute.

Police say within 20 seconds the live in girlfriend, 26-year-old Meagan Hockaday, advanced on them with a knife and the officer involved shooting took place.

Emergency medical personnel responded and pronounced her dead at the scene.

Three young children were inside the apartment at the time of the incident and they were taken to the police department to be evaluated by Children Protective Services.

The officer involved, an 8-year-veteran of the department, has been placed on administrative leave which is standard procedure in such incidents. 

There are two investigations underway, one to determine if the use of deadly force was within department policy and the other, which involves a review by the DA's office, to determine if the shooting was legally justified.

Man Wounded By Gunfire In Santa Paula

KVTA News Saturday March 28, 2015

Updated--Santa Paula police are looking for two suspects involved in a fight which led to a shooting Friday night.

It happened around 10:30 PM in the 200 block of W. Harvard Boulevard.

Police say two men, a 29-year-old Santa Paula resident and a 23-year-old Los Angeles resident, were walking through the area of Harvard Boulevard and Craig Drive when they were confronted by two other men in their mid 20's.

The suspects asked the victims where they were from.

There was a verbal altercation which turned into a fight and during the fight one of the suspects shot one of the victims twice in the left leg.

The suspects then fled the scene.

The shooting victim was taken to VCMC to be treated for what police say were not life threatening wounds.

Police say they do not have a motive for the incident and that the victims do not appear to be gang members, but they're not sure about the suspects.

Police described the suspects as male Hispanics in their mid 20's.

They say the shooter was thin with tattoos on both arms, short hair, clean shaven, with a black shirt and blue jeans.

The other suspect was short in stature with tattoos on both arms, short hair, clean shaven with a black shirt and black pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sergeant Cody Madison at (805) 525-4474 or cmadison@spcity.org

Missile Launch From Vandenberg AFB

KVTA News Friday March 27, 2015

(U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Davila)

A missile launch from Vandenberg AFB in Santa Barbara County before dawn Friday morning...here's the latest from the Air Force...

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test reentry vehicle today at 3:53 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The test reentry vehicle impacted in a pre-established test area in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam approximately 40 minutes after launch.

Possible Arson Fire In Ventura Industrial Park

KVTA News Friday March 27, 2015

(Photo of Friday morning fire courtesy Ventura City Fire Department)

Investigators are looking into a possible arson fire in the Ventura industrial park early Friday morning.

At around 3 AM Ventura City firefighters responded to the 5200 block of Colt Street at the household hazardous waste collection facility to a report of a large vehicle fire.

When they arrived, they found a big rig truck on fire with personnel at the facility attempting to put the fire out.

Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze which was confined to a portion of the big rig.

They say the origin of the fire is suspicious in nature and is being investigated as a possible arson fire.

There were no injuries.

There was another incident in that same part of the industrial park early Thursday morning that involved three vehicles that were on fire.

The cause of those fires is under investigation and there is no word as to whether there is any connection between the two incidents.

Pedestrian Killed In Ojai Valley

KVTA News Friday March 27, 2015

Updated--The CHP is investigating a fatal incident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian in the Ojai Valley Thursday night.

It happened around 8:30 PM on Highway 33 north of Villanova Road.

The CHP say a car was traveling northbound on the 33 at the legal speed when a male pedestrian crossed the highway westbound from the Red Barn Liquor Store parking lot.

The CHP says that because the area is not well lit and the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing, the driver could not see the pedestrian until it was too late.

The vehicle struck the pedestrian.

The driver of the vehicle stopped immediately and called 9-1-1.

Emergency medical personnel responded and treated the pedestrian at the scene before taking him to the hospital where he died.

The pedestrian has been identified as 61-year-old James Strasser, a transient who frequented the Ojai Valley.

He died from blunt force injuries suffered in the collision. 

The incident closed Highway 33 in that area for more than an hour.

OPD: Abducted Boy Reunited With Father

KVTA News Thursday March 26, 2015

(Photo courtesy Oxnard Police Department)

Oxnard police say the 7-year-old boy abducted by his mother last week was returned and reunited with his father Wednesday night.

Police say that on Wednesday afternoon they made phone contact with Jessica Melgoza who had, as they suspected, taken her 7-year-old son Tyler to Mexico during a court limited visitation with the child last Friday.

They arranged to have her return the boy to the United States and on Wednesday night they all met at the border in San Diego and Tyler was returned and reunited with his father.

He was unharmed.

Oxnard detectives served Jessica with a new court order barring her from having any contact with the boy or his father, an order that police say she violated five minutes later by calling the boy's father.

Police have taken the matter to the DA to determine, what if any action should be taken against her. 

Until then, she is free.

Jury Can't Decide On Trial For Molest Defendant

KVTA News Thursday March 26, 2015

A jury that was supposed to decide whether an Oxnard man was competent to stand trial on charges he molested a number of children at local stores was unable to reach a unanimous decision.

42-year-old Juan Gonzalez was arrested in May of 2012 after a loss prevention agent at the Walmart on Rose Avenue in Oxnard spotted Gonzalez in the store and recognized him as the man they believed had been seen on security video molesting a boy in the store a day earlier.

At the time Oxnard police said they believed that Gonzalez molested up to 20 children at the Walmart and other Oxnard stores.

He was ultimately charged with multiple counts involving multiple victims.

Gonzalez has been in jail since then with bail set at $600,000.

However, his attorney raised a question as to whether Gonzalez was mentally competent to stand trial and that issue of competency went before a jury at a special trial.

On Monday, that jury came back and said they were hopelessly deadlocked 7-5 in favor of finding Gonzalez competent to stand trial. 

With that the judge declared a mistrial on the competency issue and they'll be back in court on Monday to decide if there will be a second competency trial.

Driver Slams Into Pole/Hydrant In Simi Valley

KVTA News Thursday March 26, 2015

(Photo courtesy Ventura County Fire Department)

A driver in Simi Valley slammed into a street light pole and a fire hydrant Thursday morning.

The accident at Eileen and Tapo streets shortly before 7:30 AM knocked the light pole down and sheared the fire hydrant.

Because the light pole was electrically energized, and the water from the sheared hydrant created a pool of water around the vehicle, firefighters told the occupant in the vehicle to stay inside until they could make sure that the power to the pole was shut off.

That took about an hour and the driver was removed from the vehicle, extent of injuries, if any, was unknown.