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Oops! Man accidentally booked on murder charge

UPDATE 2 (Thursday, 11:20 a.m.): Looks like the issue has been fixed.

UPDATE: It’s probably worth noting that this is Alameda County booking records, not Union City police.

When I got into work today, I decided to check the status of Angel James Mendez, the the man arrested yesterday in that shooting in Union City  that left a mother of two wounded inside her own home. Imagine how I felt when I saw the image above. Records showed the man was booked on a charge of murder (PC 187 F), not attempted murder (PC 187/664 F), as police had said.

In other words, it appeared that the woman had died. Well, that is NOT the case. This looks to be nothing more than a clerical error as the victim is still alive, according to two sources. Looks like Mendez’s case is scheduled to be reviewed by prosecutors on Thursday morning, and Mendez will make a court appearance in the afternoon if he is charged with any crimes.

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Swat action in Union City NOT related to ‘local’ homicide

If you happened to hear about the raid on a Union City home this morning you’re probably wondering what it’s all about. Well, Union City police, the ones who busted into the home on Galaxy Way about 6 a.m., told me that it was related to a homicide case in Hayward and then referred me to a different agency for more information.  We’ve got a reporter at The Daily Review working on the details, but it appears that at least a half-dozen suspected gang members were arrested related to a killing in Hayward last month. Check The Review for information later. We should have the full story in our paper tomorrow.

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New detail in I-680 fatal stabbing

A new detail has emerged in the Friday stabbing death of a 33-year-old San Jose man. Cops are now saying that victim Linh Lam was stabbed more than a dozen times during the incident beneath a grove of trees at the Vargas Road exit along northbound Interstate 680. Sunnyvale resdient Daniel Thein Mai, 20, has been charged with murder in the killing, and will be arraigned this afternoon. No motive has been established, cops say.

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If these walls could talk

As I sit here at the Hayward Hall of Justice waiting for the jury to return a verdict in the murder trial of Jose Beteta, the man charged with killing a Union City man during an attempted robbery in December 2004, I’ve had the good fortune to hear some very interesting conversations. Some of them were supposed to be private, but when your speaking loudly in the crowded halls of a courthouse, the privacy argument goes right out the window. But this got me thinking about some of the more amusing and obnoxious things I heard and experienced while covering court cases over the last few years.
Continue Reading

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Reporter’s Notebook: Urango Trial 2/13

The following are tidbits and outtakes that didn’t make it into recent stories about the trial of Manuel David Urango, the man charged with killing Alia Ansari in Fremont’s Glenmoor neighborhood in October 2006. The trial started in mid-January and is expected to last through the end of the month.

Session date: Feb. 13, 2008

Daughter’s interview:

Jurors watched the first 30 minutes of a 45-minute long videotaped interview in which Ansari’s daughter is asked about her mother’s killing. The video, which appears to be shot from the ceiling of a playroom, opens with the interviewer walking in with the daughter, who was 3 years and 11 months at the time, and asking her about certain colors. The girl does not know the difference between black and white. At one the girl pointed to the interviewer’s skirt and said it was red. It was actually black. Continue Reading

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Inside look at daughter’s testimony

She saw her mother get shot in the face, and now she was sitting just feet away from the man she once identified as the killer. The 5-year-old daughter of homicide victim Alia Ansari appeared in court this week to testify before a judge and attorneys. The following are tidbits from Thursday’s session: *Because of the girl’s age she was not sworn in as a typical witness. Under normal circumstances, witnesses are asked to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” But in this case Judge Reginald Saunders simply asked if she would tell the truth. She nodded in the affirmative, and later through a Farsi interpreter replied “No, I will not lie.’’

*In order to help the judge render his decision, prosecutor Jerry Herman and defense attorney William Caruthers asked the girl a battery of questions to determine her ability to answer and communicate. The questions focused on her ability to determine the difference between right and wrong, distinguish one item (a pen) from another (a book), and if certain people in the courtroom had moustaches. At one point she pointed to her father, Ahmad Ansari, to indicate he had facial hair. “Daddy has cut the moustache, but it’s come up again,’’ she said through the interpreter. “I’m telling the truth.’’ Some people, including the judge, giggled.

*From the onset of the hearing, the girl continued to play with the microphone in front of her. In order to turn her attention to something quieter, the court reporter handed her a Angelina Ballerina toy. She immediately named it “Mousey.”

*At two random points during the hearing, the girl grabbed her fathers face and kissed him on the cheek. He was not allowed to speak to her while she was on the stand. Attorneys only allowed him to sit on the stand with her to keep her calm.

*When Herman asked the young girl what happens to people who lie, she said “people who lie go to hell.” The phrase was brought up again by Saunders when he ruled that she understood most of the questions asked of her.

*At one point during the session the girl said she had to use the restroom. This prompted amusing dialogue from the judge: “Do you need to take a potty break? OK, we’re going to take a potty break …” The judge stopped, smiled, laughed along with everyone else, and then recessed for a brief “restroom” break.

*Moments before attorneys agreed to stop questioning the girl for the day, she began showing signs of frustration and restlessness, telling attorneys that she wanted to leave. “Bring the car and let’s go,” she said through the interpreter. She mentioned wanting to go to the park, but said they’d been in court too long and that it was likely dark outside. It was only 1:25 p.m.