COUNTY FIGHTING PLACEMENT OF DANGEROUS SEX OFFENDER IN THE MORONGO BASIN

Over the last six months, the County District Attorney’s office has fought efforts to have convicted sexually violent predator Luther Evans placed in the Morongo Basin. The proposed area of release includes Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Morongo Valley, or neighboring communities of the Morongo Basin.
In October 2003, Evans was committed as a sexually violent predator by the San Francisco Superior Court. His commitment followed criminal convictions for residential burglary, rape and assault with intent to commit rape in 1976, and a second rape in 1980. He further committed a sexual battery while attempting rape in 1991. Per court records, Evans was presented as a “wanton” and “lawless” psychopath.
In August 2015, Evans petitioned the court for conditional release. In November 2015, the court granted Evans’s petition, releasing him to outpatient treatment.
State law required that Evans be placed in San Francisco County where he committed his crimes, unless it could find extraordinary circumstances requiring specific notice to the county where he would be released. Over the course of the next six months, Liberty Health Care (who was responsible for overseeing the placement) told the San Francisco court that it was unable to find a location in the nine Bay-area counties. Liberty indicated it was similarly unsuccessful when the search was expanded east of Santa Clara County and north to the state line.
On May 18, 2016, the involved parties appeared before the court in San Francisco and proposed placement in San Bernardino County. Upon receiving notice, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office filed multiple opposition briefs and appeared on behalf of the citizens of San Bernardino County in San Francisco Superior Court to successfully halt the placement of Evans at this time. During this process, Sexually Violent Predator prosecutor Maureen O’ Connell discovered that the San Francisco Court had never actually had a hearing in which Evans received a civil commitment to the State Mental Hospital as a sexually violent predator, a prerequisite to any outpatient release and supervision.
“As a result of this discovery, the applicable law provided to the court and our arguments, the San Francisco Superior Court rescinded the outpatient placement order and set the case for trial to determine whether Mr. Evans remained a sexually violent predator, subject to placement at the State Hospital,” O’Connell said.
A hearing is scheduled for further proceedings on the case on January 18 in San Francisco Superior Court.

WOMAN HOSPITALIZED FOLLOWING SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

A single-vehicle roll-over crash inside Joshua Tree National Park resulted in one woman being air-lifted to a hospital with moderate injuries. About 12:50 Thursday afternoon, Twentynine Palms firefighters, park rangers, Morongo Basin Ambulance, and the California Highway Patrol were called to an area near Porcupine Wash in the Pinto Basin area of the park. County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle said the woman’s car went over an embankment about 10 feet and landed on its roof. She was out of the vehicle when park rangers arrived. Due to her injuries, she was flown to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.

DON’T BE A VICTIM OF CHECK-CASHING SCAM

A scammer tried to fool a Joshua Tree resident recently with a check-cashing scam. The resident had placed an ad in a reputable magazine to sell a dog. The scammer sent a check for the dog plus additional funds to ship the dog, and then asked the seller to place the extra money in a different account. Later the buyer said he needed some of the money back that he had sent and asked the seller to send him a cashier’s check. By that time, the seller discovered the original check was fake and contacted law enforcement. Managing editor Tami Roleff offers the following tips from the U.S. Postal Service on how to avoid being a victim of a check-cashing scam…
A check-cashing scam starts when the victim receives a realistic check or money order as overpayment for merchandise, with the request the victim deposit the check, and send the remaining funds back via a cashier’s check or money order. By the time the victim discovers the check is phony, it’s too late, and they are out the cash. To avoid being a victim of a check-cashing scheme, know the scenario of a potential scam. Think about it—there is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order for more than the purchase price and ask you to send the overage back. Be aware that just because you can get the cash quickly—usually in one to five days—doesn’t mean the check or money order is good. Crooks take advantage of the fact that counterfeits can take weeks—even months—to discover. By then you’ve sent the money and have to pay it back to your bank. Typically, phony checks and money orders are so realistic-looking that even bank tellers can be fooled. Only cash a check or money order from a person or business you know or trust. The best way to avoid being a victim is to be cautious. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

IN PART 4, WE LOOK AT NEW STATE LAWS FOR 2017

As we welcome a new year, we continue our look at new laws that took effect January 1.
Terminally ill patients in California will be allowed to use experimental drugs, which do not have full regulatory approval, to decide when they want to end their lives. It authorizes, but does not require health plans to cover these drugs and protects physicians from disciplinary actions if they recommend them once other treatment options have been exhausted. 
People under 18 years old cannot be charged with prostitution. Instead, they will be treated as victims. 
The state has banned the use of “Redskins” as the name of a school team or mascot.
And as of March 1, all single use toilets in businesses or government agencies must be identified as gender neutral.

CITY OF TWENTYNINE PALMS PLANS STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSIONS

With New Year’s behind us, cities are beginning to plan their next moves. Reporter David Haldane tells us what’s happening in Twentynine Palms…
Interested in shaping your city’s future?
If so, and if you live in Twentynine Palms, you’ll get your chance on January 27 and 28. That’s when the city will hold public strategic planning workshops to review last year’s goals and maybe set some new ones. Topics under discussion will include the city’s financial position, community safety, public facilities, infrastructure, economic development, energy, marketing and wastewater.
The January 27 meeting is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. with the next day’s gathering beginning at 8 a.m. Both will be held in the City Council Chambers on Adobe Road.
You can get more information by calling City Hall at 760-367-6799.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK REMAINS AT CAPACITY FOR CAMPING

Joshua Tree National Park continues to operate over capacity for this weekend. Park Ranger George Land says campgrounds will be particularly full… 
As visitation to Joshua Tree National Park increases, many people are making the trip to come in and enjoy the park, including those who wish to camp.
The park has eight campgrounds and a total of 494 campsites. Only two campgrounds accept reservations; others are first-come, first-served. There are regulations to adhere to when planning and camping in this beautiful desert park:
No more than two vehicles, three tents, and six people are allowed per site, at all times. Groups over six people cannot gather in one spot, as this has a negative impact on the surrounding resources.
Feel free to contact us by phone or online at www.nps.gov/jotr for more information on the best way to enjoy your camping experience.

SKY’S THE LIMIT STAR PARTY SATURDAY

Spend the first weekend of 2017 with Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center during a star party, Saturday, January 7. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and will end about 8 p.m., but you are encouraged to come when you can and leave when you want. Highlights will be the two brightest objects in the sky: a gibbous moon and the brilliant planet Venus. Mars will also be visible. Sky’s the Limit Observatory is located on Utah Trail, just north of the Twentynine Palms entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.

BREAKFAST AT COPPER MOUNTAIN MESA CENTER TOMORROW

A New Year and a new month; tomorrow, Saturday, January 7, is the First Saturday Breakfast at the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center on Winters Road in North Joshua Tree.  The $7 famously fine breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. by our friendly volunteer staff who look forward to seeing your smiling face each month.

LIFETREE CAFÉ TO DISCUSS EMBRYO ADOPTION

Lively discussions on issues and concepts that spark thought are offered every week at the Life Tree Café in Twentynine Palms. Managing editor Tami Roleff has this week’s subject…
The adoption and implantation of human embryos will be discussed at the next Lifetree Café Sunday, January 8. The free 4 p.m. program—titled “Playing God: Is Science Going Too Far?”—features a filmed interview with Ron Stoddart, an adoption attorney and embryo adoption advocate. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss whether embryo adoption is a viable adoption choice or a form of playing God. Lifetree Café is located behind Little Church of the Desert at Veterans Way and Ocotillo Avenue in Twentynine Palms. For more information, call Brad White-Findeisen at 760-217-2597 or scoutmaster229@gmail.com.

TRI-VALLEY LITTLE LEAGUE REGISTRATION STARTS TOMORROW

Registration for 2017 Tri-Valley Little League starts tomorrow. Early registration will be at the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center Saturday, January 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regular registration will be Wednesday, January 11, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturday, January 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., also at the Yucca Valley Community Center. Late registration will be taken at the Tri-Valley Little League Fields on Little League Drive in Yucca Valley on Friday, January 27, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

HIGH SCHOOL SORTS SCHEDULES

In high school sports today, the Twentynine Palms High School girls’ soccer team will host Big Bear at home, starting at 5 p.m.
 
The Joshua Springs girls’ basketball team will host Temecula Prep at home, starting at 5 p.m.