Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on March 16, 2004 · Page 1
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 1

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Ukiah, California
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Tuesday, March 16, 2004
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Lady Eagles softball action PageA-6 Your health: Ask Dr. Qott Page A-3 NATION Bush: Give me names Page A-14 !° ! i :"O in ;u~i !oo ;in INSIDE The ukiah In Brief ...A-2 Letters ....A-4 Class, ads . .B-4 Lottery.... .A-2 Comics ... .B-2 Obits A-2 Crossword . .B-3 Sports A-6 Forum A-4 TV listings . .B-3 Jumble ....B-3 Weather . A-14 Landers B-3 50 cents tax included Mendocino County's local newspaper URNAL Tomorrow: Mostly sunn y, warm TUESDAY March 16, 2004 ,net Witness says Diaz admitted killing, defense says he's lying ByPEIJEANTSAI The Dally Journal A key witness took the stand in day-long testimony Monday in the trial of Charles Diaz, a former Hells Angels leader charged with the 1986 murder of a 5-year-old girl in Fort Bragg. In a case with no eye witnesses, Mike Tankersley, 56, a former member of multiple Northern California Hells Angels chapters testified that Diaz told him he had killed the child. Diaz is charged with killing Dallas Grondalski, one of a family of four murdered - parents Bill, 32, and Patty, 34, and Jeremy Vandegriff, 17, a son from a previous marriage. Bill Grondalski had allegedly moved to Fort Bragg after leaving the Vallejo chapter of the motorcycle club. Three co-defendants - Mary Anne Hodgson, Robert Huffman and Sammie Lester, are being charged with covering up the murder. Tankersley, who had difficulty answering most questions with certainty Monday, recalled a conversa- tion with Gerald "Butch" Lester during questioning by Deputy Attorney General Michael O'Reilley. He said "Butch" Lester had approached him at the October 1986 Vallejo chapter motorcycle run in Guerneville and told him he and Diaz had just returned from the Grondalski home in Fort Bragg, where Lester said he had shot Bill, Patty and Jeremy, and Diaz had cut Dallas' throat. "That's when Chuck (Charles Diaz) told me it went wrong, it went bad," Tankersley testified. "Butch started to tell me what happened. He said Billy (Grondalski) made a move ... he killed Bill and the family." "Butch'" Lester was convicted of murder in 1997, and is currently serving four life sentences. Tankersley then recalled asking Diaz why he had killed the 5-year- old. "He said, 'I had to, I had to, Mike,'" Tankersley testified. According to Tankersley's testimony, "Butch" Lester then asked him for advice. Tankersley said he offered to get rid of the gun. and then then recounted wiping down the gun, wrapping it, and then stashing it in his Chevy Blazer where he then transported it to a friend's house to melt the gun with a blowtorch. O'Reilley repeatedly asked Tankersley if he could recall the exact timeline of that weekend, including when he got to the run or when "Butch" Lester and Diaz approached him. showing an See TRIAL, Page A-13 AiUAL HAIKU FBI COMING UP te jour mm now, tk committee is waiting, to red jour best wrse i ne utiiiy ii W! Amy Wcllnllz/The Dally Journal Above, a haiku is a traditional unrhymed Japanese verse* form which Is usually broken into three lines of five, seven and five syllables, although the poem above diverges slightly. At right, an origami award awaits the winners of the ukiaHalku Festival. By RICHARD ROSIER The Daily Journal hen the word Ukiah is spelled backwards, it forms the word haiku. The Poet Laureate Committee pf Ukiah has taken this play on words and created the ukiaHaiku Festival, to take place on Sunday, April 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Ukiah Conference 1 Center. The ukiaHaiku Festival is an event where local poets can come together and share their work with the community. "This idea came from Susan Sparrow, who was one of the coordinators of the Writer's Read and one of the co-owners of the Tenacity Press," said Armand Brint, prevention services manager at the county Public Health Department and Poet Laureate of Ukiah, "but the Poet Laureate Committee is the group that really took it up and produced it from scratch." According to the Poet Laureate Committee, a haiku is a traditional unrhymed Japanese verse form generally set in three lines of five, seven and five syllables. It typically refers to a season and uses concrete images of things people can see, smell, taste, touch or feel. The best haiku reveals the essence of something so clearly that the reader experiences a particular momentary scene or insight. The Poet Laureate Committee of Ukiah was formed in April of 2001 and the first Poet Laureate, Brint, was appointed at that time. The literary position was first begun in 16th Century Britain, and later adopted by the United States. According to the committee, the Poet Laureate's mission is to "serve honorary, educational and ceremonial roles for the purpose of heightening public awareness about the benefits of poetry." The Poet Laureate Committee was developed to select future Poet Laureates and to assist the Poet Laureate in his or her duties. "I would say that this is the biggest event that the Poet Laureate Committee organizes, promotes and produces," said Brint about ukiaHaiku. "It's a really fun event, it's a good event. The city has been very generous. They provided the room at the conference center and have done a lot of the printing for us." During the second year of this event, contestants can submit up to three haikus in each category. The categories are: • General topics for children under 13. • General topics for youth, from 13 to 18. • General topics for adults. • Haiku about Ukiah for those 18 and under. • Haiku about Ukiah for adults. • Loku, or poems which are brief and haiku-like, but do not necessarily keep to the strict syllable count of traditional haiku. The winners will have the opportunity to read their haikus at the festival. "Last year we had close to 350 submissions," said Brint, "and standing-room only at the Grace Hudson Museum, so it was a great success last year." The deadline for submissions is Friday. For more information about the festival and submission guidelines, contact ukiaHaiku Festival, P.O. Box 865, Vkiah.CA 95482. Information is also available at the Ukiah Branch Library, the Grace Hudson tfuseum, and on the Internet at cityokukiah.com/uki- ahaiku/. Girl to get seven years for high school stabbing By MARK HEDGES The Daily Journal The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office reports that Angela Verduzco- Mata, 16, of Ukiah, will be sentenced to the California Department of Corrections for a mandatory seven years for her stabbing of a fellow student at Ukiah High School on December 18. Verduzco-Mata pleaded guilty to stabbing her 15-year- old classmate twice in the back during a planned attack on campus. Verduzco-Mata told police she stabbed the victim because she was directed to do so by fellow gang members. She was to gain "status" within the gang for the stabbing. Another gang member handed the knife -- which had been stolen from a teacher at the school — to Verduzco- Mata just before the stabbing. The victim suffered two punctured lungs and was in critical condition as a result of the stabbing. Treating emergency room doctors told police that the wounds were made with such force that the knife entered the victim's body to the hilt. One doctor opined that the victim's life was spared when the knife blade was turned away from her heart when it struck one of the ribs. Verduzco-Mata will be sentenced at 9 a.m. on April 27, in Department H. The teenager — who was prosecuted as an adult ~ will be sentenced to the California Department of Corrections for a mandatory seven years. She will be housed at the California Youth Authority until she turns 18 years old and then will be transferred to the state prison to serve the balance of her sentence. She must serve 85 percent of her sentence before becoming eligible for parole. City Council to debate highway sign Should North Star sign go? Is Starbuck's eligible for another? The Dally Journal Wednesday's meeting of the Ukiah City Council will feature a visit by Madelin Holtkamp, the executive director of the Economic Development and Financing Corporation, who will present the recently-completed Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Mendocino County. Councilmembers Mari Rodin and Paul Andersen participated on the committee that developed this plan. Also of interest on the meeting agenda is Councilmember Rodin's request for a discussion regarding which commissions the City Council believes are appropriate to have candidate interviews for. Currently the City Council conducts interviews for the Planning Commission, Parks, Recreation and Golf Commission, the Airport Commission, and the Paths, Open Space and Creeks Commission. Also on the agenda, Vice Mayor Phil Baldwin has asked for a discussion regarding the 50-foot "North Star" freeway sign at Perkins Street and Highway 101 (above the old Texaco Station on the east side of the freeway). Baldwin stated in a letter to the council that this is an abandoned sign which needs to be removed according to the city's sign ordinance. Supported by a memo from the City Attorney' David Rapport, the Planning Director has not served a notice for removal of the sign. Baldwin stated that North Star has been out of operation for over six months but Rapport countered that the property owner contends that North Star is still leasing the property and maintains an office there. Rapport also stated that, while it is possible to begin the process of requiring the removal of the sign, "it appears to be an unwise use of City resources" because the property may in fact not be vacant yet - the trigger for removal of the sign according to the ordinance. Rapport also noted that Starbucks is going to locate on the property within the next few months and that Starbucks would be removing the sign itself in order to replace it with a Starbucks sign. Though Baldwin disagrees, Rapport stated that Starbucks is entitled to its own 50-foot sign. See COUNCIL, Page A-13

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