Entries in Fresno (5)


Judge Defies Victim's Family by Sending DUI Driver to Prison

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) -- The judge who sentenced a Fresno, Calif., man to jail for his role in a deadly drunk driving accident, defied the wishes of the victim’s family who had asked that the driver not receive jail time.

Judge Alan Simpson sentenced 25-year-old Brian Cappelluti to a year in jail after Cappelluti pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges on Thursday.

In 2011, Cappelluti was arrested after driving drunk with a blood alcohol level of .21 and crashing into a traffic light. The accident took the life of passenger 23-year-old J.W. Pardini, a close friend of Cappelluti’s.

Before Cappelluti’s sentencing, the Pardini family wrote a letter to the judge asking that Cappelluti not be given jail time.

“JW is gone forever. Brian has to live with the thought of this accident every day for the rest of his life,” the family wrote in a statement. “We suggest that probation for Brian is the proper corrective action.”

Another passenger in the car, Marion Walker, was severely injured during the crash. But she also spoke out for Cappelluti and asked the judge for leniency in his sentencing.

“All of us will pay for this accident for the rest of our lives,” Walker said. “We all understood what could happen and it did. I ask you not to take away my surviving support.”

While Simpson’s sentence of one year in jail is more than the defense wanted, it is far less than the five years in prison the prosecutors had asked for.

“I think the outcome was fair and just and everybody can feel that justice was done,” defense attorney Rick Berman told ABC News affiliate KFSN-TV in Fresno after the sentencing.

An earlier plea bargain fell apart in February after Cappelluti refused a deal that could have resulted in his spending six years in prison. During that hearing, Judge Houry Sanderson chided Cappelluti for relying on the kindness of Pardini’s family.

“If he was not related at all to these victims at all, total strangers, I am very sure that the position of these families would have been very different,” Sanderson said.

Cappelluti could be released from jail after eight months.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


‘Kill All Infidels’ Poster at Calif. School Sparks Debate

ABC News(FRESNO, Calif.) -- A student-drawn poster of Jesus encouraging people to “kill all infidels” is sparking debate over whether the drawing is sacrilegious or just a harmless classroom assignment.

The drawing is one of several that are displayed in the lobby of Hamilton Elementary School in Fresno, Calif.

The poster was turned in by a seventh grade student whose class was given the assignment to create a help wanted poster for soldiers to fight in the Crusades, ABC News’ Fresno station KFSN reported.

The Crusades were a series of religious wars waged by the Catholic Church in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries against the Muslim Turks, to regain access to holy sites in Jerusalem.

A color pencil drawing of a man wearing a Jesus name tag is in the center of the paper. Splashed across the top and bottom of the poster is the caption, “I want you to kill all infidels.” The phrases “meet me in Jerusalem” and “get a free ticket to heaven” are also written at the bottom of the poster.

“I do believe common sense tells you, hey this may not be appropriate for a K through 8 school, right in the main lobby where each child passes on their way to school and home,” Chris Alfaro, who has a second grade daughter at the school, told KFSN.

Alfaro and his wife said the principal agreed to address their complaint after the report aired in Fresno.

The poster is still on display.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California High School Teacher Arrested for Alleged Sex with Student

Jetta Productions(FRESNO, Calif.) -- A California high school teacher is under investigation after her arrest on charges that she allegedly had sex with a student.

Megan Denman, 29, a social sciences teacher at Fresno’s Hoover High School, was arrested Monday on one count of sex with a minor and two counts of oral copulation with a person under 18, according to  the Fresno Police Department and the Fresno United School District.  

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The investigation is ongoing, and no evidence has emerged that other students were involved or that any illegal activity took place on school property.

Denman was released from Fresno County Jail Tuesday evening, according to ABC News affiliate KFSN.

“As we all know, there have been incidents throughout the state of teachers taking advantage of the student-teacher relationship,” said Fresno Unified Superintendant Michael Hanson said in a news release.  “Unfortunately, we have learned of an alleged inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student in our own district.  Words cannot describe my deep disappointment in this alleged breach of teacher-student relationship. ”

Denman has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fifth Graders Suspended for Putting Rat Poison in Teacher’s Coffee

Hemera/iStockpoto/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) -- A group of three California elementary school students are facing expulsion for attempting to poison their fifth-grade teacher with rat poison.

The students at Balderas Elementary, ages 10 and 11, put rat poison in their teacher’s cup of coffee last December. Before the teacher drank any, the student who put the poison in had a change of heart, knocking over the coffee during class, Fresno Unified School District PIO Susan Bedi told ABC News.

At home that day, that student told his parents that he had saved a teacher’s life, leaving out the details, Bedi said.

This month, while waiting for the child at the end of the school day, the student’s parent asked an administrator at school if the teacher was doing O.K. From there, the story unfolded.

Eventually, all three students admitted involvement, although it still isn’t clear why they did it, and the school district took disciplinary action.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for violence, and the students are currently in the process of suspension, with a recommendation for expulsion,” Bedi said. “They will not be returning to that school.”

No criminal charges have been filed against the students by the Fresno Police Department, ABC’s Fresno affiliate KFSN reports.

There were some reports that a cupcake had also been poisoned and given to the teacher, but Bedi says there is no evidence to support that.

The Fresno Teachers Association released a statement saying they appreciate the swift action by the school district, but that this case is indicative of a larger problem in the city’s schools.

“This is but the latest example of the dangerous conditions that exist in Fresno Unified due to inconsistent enforcement of discipline and lack of consequences for students daily,” FTA President Greg Gadams said. “Something has to be done and this is a prime place to start insuring teacher safety and student accountability.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


America's Most Toxic Cities: Where Does Yours Rate?

Jupiterimages/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- Philadelphia has been ranked as the top city on a list that no city wants to be on -- the list of the most toxic cities in America.

The city best known for cheese steak sandwiches, is now also known for its toxicity, according to Forbes magazine, as Philadelphia sits atop Forbes' list of 2011 Most Toxic Cities. Other major cities at the top include New York City, which comes in at number four, and Los Angeles, one of four California cities in the top ten.

The list was determined by taking the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, and averaging their rankings in the following areas: air quality, water quality, the number of days when their Air Quality Index (AQI) was above 100 in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), and Superfund sites -- areas in a city that contain hazardous waste, but are no longer in use. AQI is rated on a scale of zero to 500, with an AQI of over 100 capable of inducing respiratory problems for people with lung disease, and higher numbers bringing additional problems, according to Forbes.

The following is a list of the top 10 toxic cities:
1. Philadelphia
2. Bakersfield, Calif.
3. Fresno, Calif.
4. New York
5. Baton Rouge, La.
6. Los Angeles
7. Houston
8. St. Louis
9. Salt Lake City
10. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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