May 21, 1975 Walpole and Rivera, Page 1
4 . ii t c San Bernardino news County news lit Wednesday, !Mav 21, 1975 The Sun-Telegram, San Bernardino, Calif. li Vrtion :-"" V . Vty ; J -! and attorney David Call spill dous materials. Leeco began extracting minerals using a sodium cyanide solution from the desert area last November. In February, after it was revealed that the company failed to apply for the necessary permits and environmental clearance from the county, Leeco shut down operations. After repeated attempts to get the company to remove the sodium cyanide and after the material spilled May 8. The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control board ordered the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to clean up the area. Leeco had failed to respond to a Lahontan request to clean up the spill. Leeco operated under a sublease on a mining claim on BLM land. Ken Conn, assistant manager for the BLM's Riverside district said that the authority for hazardous spills on inland area is with the fish and game department. "We contacted (the department) in Long Beach and they said they would look into it," Conn said. Conn said that under the Mining Law of 1872, BLM does not have tha authority to go on the site of the mining claim. Asked whether this means that fish and game will clean it up and BLM will pay for. it, Conn said: "If there is a spill out there and it is hazardous, we want to get it cleaned up and get the right people to do it and worry about paying for it later." W.H. Putman, patrol inspector for the fish and game department (Continued on B 4, Column 2) Plea bargain effort fails in case of couple accused of killing child By ALAN ASHBY Sun-Telegrm Staff Writer SAN BERNARDINO - A proposed plea bargain in the case of a couple accused of murdering their child ten years ago collapsed at the last minute at a court hearing here yesterday. Defense attorneys claimed and the district attorney's office denied that an agreement had been reached under which defendants Merla Walpole, 35, of San Bernardino, and her former husband Antonio Rivera, 38, of Colton, would be permitted to plead guilty to desertion and nonsupport of a child under li Both defendants were convicted of second degree murder after a jury trial last March, but Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Haldorsen subsequently granted a motion for new trial on the ground that there was not enough evidence to support the verdict. The judge said the district attorney's office had failed to prove many elements of the charge, contended the conviction would not stand up on appeal, and urged much further investigation by both sides. The prosecution said that the bones of a child found buried in the Jurupa Hills south of Fontana in 1973 were those of Judy Rivera, who disappeared in 1965 when she was three years old. The Riveras killed their child, the prosecution said. Rivera and Mrs. Walpole testified that they did not kill Judy, but abandoned her in a San Francisco service station rest room. Official records describing the discovery and medical treatment of such a child were introduced in support of their claim. Rivera's attorney, Larry Freeman, told Judge Roy Chapman yesterday that both sides had agreed to a disposition in which the defendants would be permitted to plead guilty to child abandonment. Dep. Dist. Atty. John Arden replied that he was "sorry to say that the attempt to work out a disposition in our case is not acceptable to our office." Judge Chapman ordered the case returned to Judge Haldorsen for further proceedings tomorrow morning. A new trial has been scheduled to begin June 2, but it is unlikely that the case will actually get to trial at that time. After the hearing, Mrs. Walpole's attorney, David Call, said that about two weeks ago he and Freeman had lunch with District Attorney James M. Cramer at Cramer's request, and Cramer invited discussion of a plea bargain. Call said he told Cramer that a guilty plea to child abandonment, which did not involve admitting any responsibility for a death, was the most the defense would agree to. Cramer urged them to firm up the offer in writing and agreed to set the matter for a hearing, Call said. "We shook hands on that," Call said. "Three days later he (Cramer) said in a conversation with me that he'd stand by his initial offer," Freeman added. Attorney Larry Freeman Cramer could not be reached for comment. Call said he had been told that the district attorney's office withdrew the offer because they did not feel the court had jurisdiction to accept a guilty plea to child abandonment. V , A 1 'V. ' .' I 'j v 4 ' ' I 'v it : .. '- ..:,. . ":; . ', 'i-v. . : ' 5 ' (left) discusses ease with The DA's office felt that the statute of limitations, which sets a limit on the amount of time that can pass between the commission of a crime and prosecution for it, made it impossible to charge Rivera and Mrs. Walpole with child abandoment for Sun-TpfpgrafTi pholos by Grey Schnpirlnr defendant Antonio Rivera purposes of accepting a plea bargain, Call said. The statue of limitations on most felonies, including child abandonment, Is three years. There is no statute of limitations of first or second degree murder.