Ventura County's District Attorney and the Simi Valley Police Chief say a man who spent almost 40 years in prison for the murder of a woman and child is innocent and should go free.
They are supporting a clemency petition for 70-year-old Craig Richard Coley.
Coley was convicted of the November 1978 murders of 24-year-old Rhonda Wicht and her four-year-old son Donald in their Simi Valley Apartment.
She had been strangled and her son suffocated.
Coley had been her boyfriend and they had just broken up.
The jury at his first trial deadlocked 10-2 for guilt but the jury at his second trial convicted Coley and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In recent years a Simi Valley police detective expressed concern about the conviction and a new investigation was started.
That new investigation uncovered a key piece of DNA evidence that was thought to be lost and it was tested again using new scientific methods not available at the time of the crime and trial.
Those new tests showed that the DNA did not belong to Coley but rather to other individuals.
The DA and Police Chief say that plus a complete review of the case that lasted until recently has led them to believe that the evidence would now support a finding of factual innocence.
That is why they are supporting the effort to free Coley.
As for who did kill Wicht and her son, they are continuing to investigate to find the real killer or killers.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department is trying to sort out a wild overnight incident while they search for the suspect who caused it all.
They say it began around 1:45 AM in the 12000 block of Yerba Buena Road with a burglary-in-progress.
The property owner confronted the suspect and fired a warning shot.
The suspect then disarmed the property owner and shot at him but the property owner was not injured and was able to get a shotgun and chase after the suspect.
The two met up again on Pacific Coast Highway near the Ventura-LA County line where the suspect shot at the property owner and crashed into his vehicle.
The property owner's vehicle was disabled by the crash but he was not hurt.
The suspect continued south on PCH until his pickup crashed into a motorhome a short distance away at Zuma Beach.
When deputies arrived on scene the pickup truck was abandoned and an ATV that had been in the back was gone along with the suspect.
(Photo is courtesy of El Bomba Aquilera)
Update--Hans Solo came to the rescue in Santa Paula Sunday.
Around noon a woman traveling eastbound on the 126 Freeway crashed over the side of the road and down the embankment near 8th Street which is near Santa Paula Airport.
Actor Harrison Ford, who happened to be in the area, joined other Good Samaritans who saw what happened and came to the woman's aid until emergency personnel arrived.
The woman was checked out at the hospital for minor injuries suffered int he crash.
Ventura police say they've arrested a man for invading a family member's home, vandalizing it and apparently killing the family dog.
The family member of 33-year-old Daniel Neimeier called police around 3:30 PM Sunday to report that despite a court order, Neimeier had entered the home in the 3800 block of Paloma Drive through an open rear door.
The family member told police that Neimeier had started vandalizing property in the home causing the family member to flee out the front.
Officers responded and contacted Neimeier as he walked out the front of the home carrying a dead dog.
The family member told police the dog was alive when Neimeier entered the house.
Police say they've been to this residence several times in the past two weeks regarding Neimeier violating the criminal protective order that required him to stay away.
They placed him in custody and he was booked into the Ventura County Jail for felony animal cruelty, residential burglary and violation of a court order.
From the National Weather Service in Oxnard...
"An upper level ridge of high pressure and light offshore flow will bring sunny and warm conditions to southwestern California for much of the coming week, including Thanksgiving day.
Record breaking heat is expected Tuesday through Thursday, with highs over the interior portions of the coastal plain and valleys in the 90s.
At the same time, offshore flow will bring continued very dry conditions, with elevated fire danger through much of the coming week.
Be sure to stay hydrated during this time, provide water and shade for pets and other domestic animals, and use extra caution with any source of fire."
An ultralight pilot flying out of Camarillo Airport suffered minor injuries Sunday afternooon when his aircraft went down near Point Mugu.
The incident was reported around 2:45 PM off Las Posas Road in the area of Calleguas Creek about a half mile north of Pacific Coast Highway.
According to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, two ultralights were flying in that area when one of them clipped a power line and went down.
The other ultralight landed and called for help.
The 60-year-old male pilot of the ultralight that went down was taken to the hospital with minor facial injuries.
He was the only person on board his aircraft.
The NTSB is investigating.
(Photos of launch by USAF Senior Airman Ian Dudley)
After several scrubbed launches, that NASA/NOAA scientific and weather satellite was finally launched atop a Delta-2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County early Saturday morning.
It lifted off from Space Complex-2 at 1:47 AM Saturday morning.
The JPSS-1 satellite was successfully placed into a polar orbit 512 miles above the earth where its next generation equipment will provide information, data and photos for severe weather prediction and environmental monitoring.
The launch had been delayed several times because of technical and weather issues.
For more information on the satellite here's a link...
(Photo courtesy Oxnard Police Department)
Oxnard police say they arrested eight people at two DUI/Driver's License checkpoints Friday night through Saturday morning.
The checkpoints operated between 8 PM and 3 AM.
The first was southbound Ventura Road south of Devonshire Street.
The second was westbound Wooley Road west of A Street.
Police say the locations were chosen to provide increased DUI deterrence and in response to alcohol-related arrests and/or DUI collisions.
Almost 900 drivers were screened between the two checkpoints and there were 11 DUI investigations that resulted in eight people being arrested for DUI-alcohol.
There were 18 total citations issued, 11 to unlicensed drivers.
Three vehicles were towed.
One person was arrested on a felony warrant.
(Photo courtesy Ventura County Fire Department)
The 13th annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony was held at the County Government Center in Ventura Friday morning.
This year two names were added to the memorial.
Reguberto "Rigo" Landeros had a childhood dream to become a firefighter and in 1982 he became a reserve firefighter with the County Fire Protection District.
In 1994 he moved to the all volunteer Fillmore Fire Department and worked his way up to Captain and ultimately Fillmore Fire Chief in 2009.
Patrick Campbell spent more than 33 years in the fire service, at first with the Air Force and ultimately as member of the Federal Fire Department with Naval Base Ventura County.
They were both honored at Friday's ceremony as family and friends and fellow firefighters from throughout the county took part in the ceremony.
(Photo courtesy Ventura City Fire)
Updated--Sixteen people were displaced by a fire in a Ventura apartment building Friday.
The fire was reported at 11:19 AM in the 4700 block of Sullivan Avenue.
When firefighters arrived on scene they found smoke and flames coming from one unit of the two story, 16 unit building.
They attacked the fire and confined it to the unit of origin, but there was also smoke and water damage to two other units.
They say thirteen adults and three children were displaced by the fire and the Red Cross was helping out.
No injuries were reported.
The cause was under investigation.
Firefighters from Ventura City, Ventura County and Oxnard City responded to the fire in part because they happened to be attending the annual Firefighters Memorial ceremony just a few blocks to the east at the County Government Center.
(Photo courtesy Ventura County Sheriff)
Updated--Deputies in Newbury Park have arrested two suspects in an attempted armed robbery that happened Friday morning at the CVS store in the 400 block of Reino Road.
Shortly after 8:30 AM, a white male wearing a clown mask walked into the store armed with a handgun and was in the process of robbing the store when a customer came in a spooked him.
He fled empty-handed on a skateboard.
Deputies, including K-9's and the sheriff's helicopter, searched the area and detained two individuals that they say is the suspect and his accomplice.
One is an adult male and the other is a juvenile male but they would not say which is which.
The gun and clown mask were recovered.
Schools in the area went on lockdown as a precaution but the lockdowns were lifted by 10:30 AM and the neighborhood was declared safe.
They say someone noticed that under the clown mask the suspect appeared to have a red beard.
No injuries were reported.
Deputies in Camarillo say tips from the public have led to the arrest of a forgery suspect.
In October, they released ATM security camera photos of a woman depositing what turned out to be stolen and forged checks.
Those news stories led to a number of tips from the public including one that named the suspect.
Those tips and other information and evidence gathered by detectives during their investigation led them to identify 35-year-old Corrina Navarro of Camarillo as the suspect.
Deputies located her Thursday at a local motel and she was arrested for possession of stolen property and identity theft.
Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy has announced he will not seek a fourth term on the board in the 2018 election.
Foy, who has been a conservative voice on the five member Board of Supervisors, represents the Simi Valley and Moorpark areas in the 4th District.
Foy stated, “I have been honored to serve the citizens of Ventura County for the last 11 years, and I am proud to make this announcement with the county in excellent fiscal shape- which includes a balanced budget and reserves at 13.5 percent.”
Foy turned down his county pension and medical benefits since the day he was sworn into office.
Under the term limits law Foy backed as a board member, he could have run for one more four year term but he says he wanted to limit himself to three terms.
Foy, who has lived in Simi Valley since 1984, was the founder, President and CEO of an insurance brokerage and consulting firm.
He says he now plans to return to the private sector after his term is up at the end of next year.
Foy's departure will set up a rare open seat on the board.
Two Ventura County men have been sentenced for stealing what prosecutors say was $800,000 worth of avocados from their employer.
29-year-old Carlos Chavez of Oxnard and 38-year-old Joseph Valenzuela of Santa Paula each received a sentence of five years in the Ventura County Jail.
They will service two of those years behind bars and three more under supervised release.
They had earlier pleaded guilty to grand theft and conspiracy.
Prosecutors say the two worked for Mission Produce and illegally sold avocados out the back door of the facility near Oxnard and kept the cash for themselves.
A third defendant in the case had the charges against him dropped.
Defense Attorneys have claimed the actual amount of stolen avocados was far less than $800,000, more like $200,000.
Oxnard police have arrested two people who were allegedly caught-in-the-act of breaking into a business early this morning.
Officers responded to a burglary-in-progress call shortly after midnight at the Power Auto Dealership at 950 S. Oxnard Boulevard.
When they arrived they found evidence of a break-in so they set up a perimeter and started searching the building.
That’s when they found the two suspects and took them into custody.
Arrested for commercial burglary were 29-year-old Alice Mathews and 35-year-old Ignacio Balderama, both of Oxnard.
(Photo courtesy Kristin Stuart)
Ventura Police officers talked a suicidal man off a freeway overpass Wednesday afternoon.
The incident began around 1:06 PM when a patrol officer spotted the man standing on the catwalk of a freeway sign over the side of the California Street over crossing.
The officer stopped and started talking with the 19-year-old Ventura man who was at first uncooperative.
The officer, trained in crisis negotiation, continued to talk with the subject who at times would walk to the edge of the catwalk and make moves as if he was going to jump to the freeway below.
During this time, the CHP shut down the 101 Freeway in both directions, diverting traffic onto surface streets through downtown Ventura.
Finally, around 3 PM, the officer was able to convince the man to climb back up to California Street and he was safely detained and taken to Ventura County Mental Health for evaluation.
The freeway, which by then was jammed in both directions, was reopened.
Oxnard police say they arrested a suspect in an October shooting following early morning raids at two locations Wednesday.
They say 24-year-old Antonio Ramirez of Oxnard was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.
Police say he was wanted in connection with an October shooting in the 2800 block of San Marino Street in Oxnard.
Ramirez was taken into custody following the service of two search warrants around 6 AM in the 2700 block of Bolker Drive in Port Hueneme and in the 1200 block of Kamala Street in Oxnard.