News Briefs

January 25, 1996
News Briefs

Davis Trial Date Set

SAN JOSE A Santa Clara County judge on Monday set a Feb. 5 date for the murder trial of Richard Allen Davis, 41, accused of the 1993 slaying of 12-year-old Polly Klaas of Petaluma. Both prosecutor Greg Jacobs and defense attorney Barry Collins had asked for a delay, but Supervising Superior Court Judge Jack Komar denied their motions. The court ruling puts the long-delayed trial on a fast track that begins the two-month jury selection process almost immediately. The actual trial is expected to last four to six months.

New Charge Filed

EUREKA Humboldt County prosecutors have filed a new charge of felony child molestation against the Rev. Gary Timmons, the suspended Catholic priest also accused of molesting boys while serving as a youth counselor at St. Eugene's Cathedral in Santa Rosa. The new charge was filed after a 15-year-old Crescent City high school student alleged that Timmons fondled him at St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Eureka. Last month, a Sonoma County Municipal Court judge dropped several older counts against Timmons because they may be excluded from the statute of limitations. Timmons has denied any wrongdoing in the cases. However, the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa recently paid an $830,000 settlement to nine local men who claim the priest molested them when they were teens.

Forum Sparks Protest

PETALUMA Several angry women held protest signs aloft at a town meeting on Jan. 18 held to explore the proposed management merger between Petaluma Valley and Santa Rosa Memorial hospitals. The latter, a Catholic-owned facility, has indicated it may suspend abortions, tubal ligations, and other reproductive services. Protesters, including many PVH hospital workers, worry that the loss of women's health services could endanger the welfare of local women. PVH administrators are considering a plan to create a separate women's health-care clinic on the hospital campus.

Annexation Voided

SANTA ROSA A 10-acre annexation in northwest Santa Rosa has been thrown out by a Superior Court judge, who ruled that a third of the 27 votes cast in the localized election that approved it were fraudulent. The invalid ballots came from the Birchwood Guest Home, a nursing home owned by annexation advocate Fredrick Fonoti, and were supposedly cast by individuals who actually reside at another Fonoti-owned nursing facility in Windsor. An investigation into the apparent voter fraud is continuing.

Gay Resort Arson

GUERNEVILLE A third fire hit The Woods last week, further damaging the colorful gay resort near Armstrong Grove. The early morning blaze was apparently set at two ends of the empty 21-room lodge, and bore suspicious similarities to an earlier fire last September, said Guerneville Fire Chief Hans Henneberque. The two fires caused almost $200,000 damage. The third blaze, in 1991, destroyed the popular Hexagon House bar and disco, but it was determined to be electrical in origin, despite speculation about arson at the time.

Park Plans Progress

FORESTVILLE The creation of a new county park at Steelhead Beach got a strong endorsement from county planners last week, despite some misgivings from nearby residents and the owners of other private campgrounds along the lower Russian River. The 17-acre park site could be opened for fishing and other undeveloped uses later this year, if the $1.7 park plan is upheld by county supervisors Feb. 27.

Short Takes
State and federal highway officials are asking the county to put the brakes on gravel mining in the Russian River because excavations may be undermining highway bridges in the area. The feds say they might refuse to pay for costly future repairs unless the destructive practice is stopped. . . . Nicole Bradley, the 18-year-old Santa Rosa woman charged with the Jan. 18 shotgun murder of a carjack victim, won't face the death penalty, county prosecutors decided this week. However, the suspect could still face a life sentence. . . . Judge Lloyd von der Mehden has set a Feb. 7 hearing on a bid to block county supervisors from acting on a proposed lease of Community Hospital before voters can decide a measure giving them a voice in the decision. The ballot initiative will not be decided until November, while the supervisors are scheduled to act on the lease with Sutter/CHS on Feb. 9. . . . Petaluma city officials say they will not try to restrict a topless show driven out of Santa Rosa by a recent ban on public nudity. The California Hardbodies will continue to appear at Holidaze Bar & Grill in Petaluma, home base for the theatrical outfit. . . . Residents north of Sebastopol got a scare on Monday when a low-flying crop duster from the nearby Gallo Winery cruised to within 50 feet above homes in the neighborhood. Gallo later sent three employees door to door to calm rattled nerves.

From the Jan. 25-31, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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