News

What the county’s talking about this week

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Murder in Avila Beach

Monday was a gory day in Avila. Sheriff’s deputies responded to a disturbance call at 12:10 p.m. on Laurel Street in Avila Beach. Deputies found Angeles Marqués De González, 45, bleeding from her neck and torso. Deputies said that she was screaming. Her son, Edgar D. González, 24, was inside the residence, dead.

According to the sheriff’s department, an altercation broke out between J. Efraín Gonazález Albor, the estranged husband of De González, and their son. Albor then attacked his wife and killed his son.

Coroners performed an autopsy on Tuesday and said that González’s death was a result of a knife wound to his upper chest. Sheriffs also found what they believe to be the murder weapon, a 3- to 4-inch bloody kitchen knife that was in a flowerbed near the crime scene.

The suspected killer, J. Efrain Gonazález Albor, was arrested soon after the murder on the Nipomo Mesa. According to the sheriff’s department, Gonazález was trying to hitchhike along Callendar Road when they arrested him.

De González was treated at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. González, who confessed the murder to a Tribune reporter, is being held without bail.

—J.P.

Reward offered for info in fraternity drug death

The San Luis Obispo Police Department has sent a final report to the county district attorney’s office regarding the death of Cal Poly student and Sigma Chi fraternity member Brian Gillis.

The district attorney’s office has yet to make a decision based on that information.

“The report is on my desk right now, but we haven’t concluded the investigation. We haven’t made the decision to file charges against anyone,� Deputy District Attorney Steve Brown said.

The same day the district attorney’s office received that report, Gillis’ mother, Patricia Gillis, teamed up with the countywide, nonprofit Crime Stoppers program and offered a $5,000 reward for any new information about her son’s death.

Based on sworn depositions made by Brian’s fellow Sigma Chi members, Patricia feels that those members concealed the true facts surrounding his son’s death.

Brian died in April 2002 after taking a fatal amount of GHB — a colorless, odorless designer drug that creates a euphoric sensation. Patricia alleges, and conflicting accounts in the sworn depositions seem to assert, that after Brian lost consciousness, he was driven to his apartment in his own truck, carried up three flights of stairs by his Sigma Chi brothers, and was left, dead or dying, on his dorm room bed.

Patricia hopes that by offering a reward, people who saw Brian that night might step forward and help police identify people who might have been involved in his death.

“No one’s going to kill my son and get away with it,� she said.

To make an anonymous tip, call 1-800-549-STOP or 549-7867.

—A.H.

Michael Jackson attends jury selection

Pop star Michael Jackson graced Santa Maria with his presence on Jan. 31 as jury selection for the singer’s child-molestation trial got underway.

Throngs of media from around the world jostled each other as the self-professed King of Pop walked through the Santa Maria court complex just before 9 a.m. Roughly 200 fans gathered to cheer the singer, many sporting signs in Jackson’s support. Child-molestation victims’ advocates also made a showing.

The prosecution and defense teams, both with the help of jury consultants, will whittle down to 12 jurors and eight alternates the pool of nearly 800 people. The selection process is expected to take up to a month.

Jackson pleaded not guilty to 10 felony counts, including conspiracy, committing a lewd act upon a child, and administering an intoxicating agent (alcohol) to assist in committing a felony.

—A.R.

Ship sinks off coast

A yacht being towed behind a Morro Bay tugboat sank on Monday. The yacht is believed to have had 1,700 gallons of diesel fuel aboard when it went down in Monterey Bay off of the Big Sur coast.

The tugboat Michael Uhl was towing the 60-foot motor yacht Albion from San Diego to Reedsport, Ore. when the Albion began taking on water.

The Albion sunk at 9:30 a.m. Monday and was suspended by a cable 175 feet below the surface. The cable was attached to the tug. Apparently the skipper did not ask for help but informed the Coast Guard of his situation.

A private salvage company will likely bring the Albion to the surface. Both the Coast Guard and the owner of Maritime Logistics, the company towing the Albion to Oregon, could not be reached for comment.

—J.P.

Media company buys Pulitzer Inc.

Lee Enterprises, owner and publisher of 44 newspapers across the country, announced on Jan. 30 that it purchased Pulitzer Inc. — publisher of the Santa Maria Times, the Five-Cities Times Press Recorder, and Nipomo’s Adobe Press among several other dailies and weeklies — for $1.46 billion.

The deal makes Iowa-based Lee the fourth largest newspaper publisher in the nation in terms of newspapers owned and seventh largest in circulation. Its daily papers include the Wisconsin State Journal and the North County Times in Oceanside/Escondido.

—A.R.

 

 

Corrections

A photo in the Jan. 13-20 story “Getting their goose� was wrongfully attributed to Christopher Gardner. The photo was actually taken by Jim Smith.

The Jan. 27-Feb. 3 news brief “Ruffling feathers� stated that Associate Pacific owner Reg Whibley does not hunt. Whibley does indeed hunt, just not in Morro Bay.

This week’s news was compiled and reported on by staff writers Abraham Hyatt and John Peabody and Santa Maria Sun News Editor Andrea Rooks.

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