Weekly News Roundup for Friday, October 21st, 2022

California State Capitol Building in Sacramento

A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week…

Suspect Charged in Stockton Serial Killings Case

Stockton police made an arrest last Saturday around 2 a.m. in the murders of six men and assault on one woman in a series of shootings this year. The suspect is Wesley Brownlee, 43, of Stockton. At the time of his arrest, Brownlee was in possession of a gun, had a mask around his neck, and “was out hunting” according to Police Chief Stanley McFadden. 

McFadden stated at a press conference that authorities received hundreds of tips, and had been surveilling Brownlee prior to his arrest. 

Brownlee was charged with three counts of murder at a Tuesday hearing in the San Joaquin County Superior Court. Brownlee also faces weapons charges related to the prosecution’s claim that had used a “ghost gun,” an untraceable firearm, in his crimes. The county’s district attorney Tori Verber Salazar said at a press conference after the hearing that additional charges are likely. The New York Times covers the story here

Covid-19 State of Emergency to End in California

This week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the Covid-19 State of Emergency will end on February 28, 2023, charting the path to phasing out one of the most effective and necessary tools that California has used to combat Covid-19. This timeline is designed to give the health care system needed flexibility to handle any potential surge that may occur after the holidays in January and February, in addition to providing state and local partners the time needed to prepare for this phaseout and set themselves up for success afterwards.

With hospitalizations and deaths dramatically reduced due to the state’s vaccination and public health efforts, California has the tools needed to continue fighting Covid-19 when the State of Emergency terminates at the end of February. These include vaccines and boosters, testing, treatments and other mitigation measures like masking and indoor ventilation. As the State of Emergency is phased out, California’s strategy will be guided by the SMARTER Plan

$50,000 Rewards Announced for Unsolved Murders in Four Counties

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the availability of four $50,000 rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the murders of Lamar Murphy in Alameda County; Jessica Martinez in Bakersfield; Kyrin Wright in Fresno; and Eric Velasquez in Santa Paula.

Under California law, law enforcement agencies may ask the Governor to issue rewards in certain unsolved cases where they have exhausted all investigative leads, to encourage individuals with information about the crimes to come forward. Public assistance is vital to law enforcement, and rewards may encourage the public cooperation needed to apprehend those who have committed serious offenses.

Today’s rewards involve the following cases:

Alameda County – Lamar Murphy: In January 2017, 16-year-old Mr. Murphy was fatally shot while riding his bicycle in Alameda County. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has exhausted all investigative leads and requested that a reward be offered to encourage anyone with information about this murder to contact investigators at 510-667-3636. The victim’s family has also offered a $10,000 reward.

Bakersfield – Jessica Martinez: In 1990, four-year-old Ms. Martinez went missing in Bakersfield while she played in front of her apartment complex. Eleven days later, her body was found in a field 10 miles away. The Bakersfield Police Department has exhausted all investigative leads and requested that a reward be offered to encourage anyone with information about this murder to contact the Department at 661-327-7111. The Kern County Secret Witness Program has also offered a $10,000 reward.

Fresno – Kyrin Wright: In May 2021, 19-year-old Mr. Wright was fatally shot in Fresno outside of his apartment complex. The Fresno Police Department has exhausted all investigative leads and requested that a reward be offered to encourage anyone with information about this murder to contact Detective Chris Franks at 559-621-2427 or Detective Manny Romero at 559-281-4140. Central Valley Crime Stoppers has also offered a $3,000 reward.

Santa Paula – Eric Velasquez: In 1994, 21-year-old Mr. Velasquez was fatally shot during a confrontation outside of an apartment complex in Santa Paula. The Santa Paula Police Department has exhausted all investigative leads and requested that a reward be offered to encourage anyone with information about this murder to contact Detective S. Virani at 805-525-4474. The victim’s family has also offered a $1,000 reward and rewards are offered by Crime Stoppers and We-Tip.

More information on the Governor’s Reward Program can be found here.

Los Angeles Councilmember De León Will Not Resign

Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León told reporters on Wednesday that he will not resign, reports Politico and the Los Angeles Times. De León has faced widespread calls to step down from the council from colleagues, the public and President Biden following the release of a recorded conversation in which he participated featuring racist and offensive remarks. De León appeared on KCBS-TV on Wednesday and apologized for “failing” to shut down the meeting. He also wrote a letter of apology to newly appointed Council President Paul Krekorian. 

Former Council President Nury Martinez and labor leader Ron Herrera, who also participated in the conversation, have resigned from their respective positions. Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, the fourth participant, has also refused to resign. Cedillo is set to leave office in two months after losing his primary election, while de León has two years left of his term. 

Register by Oct. 24 to Vote in the Nov. 8 General Election

The last day to register to vote for the November 8, 2022, General Election is October 24, 2022. To check your voter status and register online, visit www.sos.ca.gov/elections. All California active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 8, General Election. Your county elections office will begin mailing ballots no later than October 10, 2022.

Your General Election ballot will include:

  • 7 Ballot Propositions
  • Statewide candidates for U.S. Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Member of State Board of Equalization, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • U.S. Representative in Congress, State Senator, State Assembly Member
  • Supreme Court Justices, as well as other local candidates and local measures.

Return your vote-by-mail ballot by mail with prepaid postage as long as it’s postmarked on or before Election Day and received by November 15, 2022, or in-person to a secure ballot drop box, to a voting location or your county elections office by 8:00 p.m. on November 8, 2022.

Find last week’s news roundup here.

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