Jane Laut sentencing continued to July
The sentencing of Jane Laut has been continued until July 18 when a defense motion for a new trial will be heard. Laut was convicted of first-degree murder for the 2009 death of her husband, former Olympic athlete Dave Laut, who was the athletic director at Hueneme High School.
Laut was found guilty by jury on March 30. The trial sparked national interest and, on Friday, June 3, supporters of Jane, who say she suffered years of mental, sexual and physical abuse at the hands of Dave, held a vigil for victims of domestic violence and called for her to be sentenced for the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Defense attorney Ron Bamieh filed a motion on Monday saying that a recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals in the case of People v. Herrera is relevant to Laut’s motion for a new trial. The ruling, issued May 16, agreed with the defendant Herrera that his right to a fair trial was violated by disallowing expert testimony from a psychiatrist explaining how years of trauma affected his mental state at the time of his offense.
The appellate court reversed a lower court’s decision and ruled in favor of Herrera, granting him a new trial.
A petition on the website change.org created by Jane’s family, titled “Justice for Jane,” claims that investigators “made many mistakes” and were “enamored by a Olympic athlete known to have used steroids heavily,” alleging that “There was a battle” on the night of Dave’s death.
Jane initially refused a plea deal that would have given her six years in jail, charged with voluntary manslaughter, instead going to trial, which resulted in her conviction for first-degree murder.
If Superior Court Judge David Worley denies the motion for a new trial, Laut’s sentencing will occur on July 21.
Former Camarillo Fiesta president charged with embezzlement
Robert K. Capellini, who served as the Camarillo Fiesta Association’s president, was arrested and booked on two felony counts of suspicion of embezzling $25,846 from the nonprofit between April 2014 and February 2015.
Prosecutors say that Capellini wrote checks made out to himself from the association’s account. The charges are punishable by up to three years and eight months in jail, should he be convicted, as well as possible fines.
The theft was discovered by Camarillo Mayor and Camarillo Fiesta Association board member Mike Morgan, who alerted authorities. After requesting evidence of the crime, the association board chose not to pursue charges in hopes that the money would be returned, a decision that led to much criticism and a suggestion that the board tried to hide the theft, which wasn’t brought to public attention for nearly a year.
Though Capellini has repaid most of the money, he has still been charged, as a source of funding for the association comes from public funds.
The 52nd annual Camarillo Fiesta is set to begin on July 7.
Suspect rearrested for Ojai mail theft
Sixty-two-year-old Manuel Rosales of Oxnard was arrested for the second time after allegedly attempting to steal mail from the same Ojai neighborhood that he allegedly victimized in January.
An Ojai resident reported being a victim of mail theft between Jan. 5 and 13. Investigation of the crime found that the victim’s Costco American Express card had been used in multiple locations around the county following the theft and a subsequent search for the perpetrator, which included posting security camera footage to the Ventura County Sheriff Department’s social media accounts. Those efforts led to the arrest of Rosales, who was booked into Ventura County Jail with bail set at $50,000. The case is pending.
On May 27, in the same unincorporated neighborhood of upper Ojai, a resident reported seeing Rosales stealing mail from area mailboxes. Rosales was arrested by Ojai patrol deputies and detained, after which he confessed to the theft and to having hopes of committing identity theft again, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Rosales was once again charged with felony mail theft and attempted identity theft, this time with bond set at $130,000.
Oxnard man pleads guilty to elder abuse in death of mother
Felipe Manuel Gonzales of Oxnard has pleaded guilty to the charge of elder abuse in the 2014 death of his mother, Pauline Garcia, 83, who died as a result of neglect, according to District Attorney Gregory D. Totten.
Gonzalez was his mother’s paid caretaker from 2013, but missed scheduled doctors’ appointments. In July of 2014, Garcia was taken to St. John’s Regional Medical Center with severe bedsores spanning her body and, as a result, died of sepsis 11 days later.
Gonzalez also admitted to special enhancements that he caused severe bodily injury to and the death of a victim over the age of 70.
The defendant faces the possibility of a maximum 11 years in state prison.
— Chris O’Neal