News Briefs

News Briefs

SAN JOSE The prosecution in the Richard Allen Davis murder trial rested its case today with a sex-crimes expert saying that the abductor of 12-year-old Polly Klaas fit the description of a sexual deviant. Outside the courtroom, prosecutor Greg Jacobs said that after 21 days, 66 witnesses, and 308 exhibits, “not only have we proved our case beyond a reasonable doubt, we have proved it beyond any doubt.” Jacobs said the testimony of the final witness, Dr. Park Dietz, summed up his case against Davis and showed that Davis’ motivation for kidnapping Polly was “a premeditated sexual assault.” Dietz testified that the 41-year-old defendant’s long history of assaulting women, coupled with the way he kidnapped Polly, “was consistent with a paraphile.” Dietz, who has testified in a number of high-profile cases, including the trial of Wisconsin serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, loosely defined paraphilia as a “continuing pattern of unusual sexual arousal.” Examples include “individuals who are aroused sexually by people of the wrong age . . . and those who use victims to fulfill themselves sexually,” Dietz said. Paraphiles often stalk their victims in what he called “warped courtships,” develop “kits of precut restraints” to control their victims, and then “enact their sexual fantasies.” In earlier testimony, witnesses said they saw Davis near Polly’s Petaluma home before the Oct. 1, 1993, kidnapping. Witnesses also said they saw Davis carrying a dark bag that night. Evidence showed that Davis apparently brought ties, gags, and a hood into Polly’s bedroom. Then investigators found a condom at the remote spot where prosecutors believe Davis tried to molest Polly. While Davis has admitted to kidnapping and killing Polly, he has repeatedly denied that he tried to sexually assault her. Dietz stopped short of diagnosing Davis as a paraphile, because the defense would not allow him to interview their client. He said he based his testimony on reviewing Davis’ numerous prior convictions and the evidence in this case. Defense attorneys declined to cross-examine Dietz, and they declined to comment today on what they will present in their case, which is scheduled to begin May 28.

Plan Denounced

FORESTVILLE An overflow crowd turned out Tuesday night to question and denounce the county’s proposal to consolidate the sewer systems for half a dozen west county communities. That $41 million plan would link Forestville, Graton, Occidental, Camp Meeker, and Monte Rio to the Guerneville treatment plant. But critics say the plan is too expensive, removes local control from the individual communities, ignores less costly, low-tech alternatives, and is vulnerable to disruption when flooding causes the treatment plant to shut down. The county needs to increase the use of the Guerneville plant or repay $3.5 million in federal funds used to build it, and the sewer systems in Forestville, Graton, and Occidental are under state orders to improve the quality of their discharge. Failing septic systems are a growing problem in Camp Meeker, Monte Rio, and the Mirabel Heights area of Forestville. Despite the widespread criticism, the county is moving forward with an environmental impact study on the sewer consolidation plan.

Wastewater Not Wanted

SANTA ROSA Ranchers in southwestern Sonoma County are united in their opposition to any wastewater plans that require the condemnation of land for reservoirs, and further, they don’t believe the proposed project can accomplish its aims. In a 30-minute briefing with members of the Santa Rosa City Council and the city’s Board of Public Utilities this week, the Agricultural Property Rights Alliance pointed out that the soils of the sheep, dairy, and cattle ranches in the Two Rock, Bloomfield, and Valley Ford area are easily saturated and ill-suited for irrigation. Santa Rosa’s plans “actually represent a threat to agriculture and a threat to the environment,” says APRA chairman Dick Shannon. The network of dams under study in the city’s Environmental Impact Report, some as much as 250 feet high and more than half a mile long, could put several of the county’s biggest dairy ranches out of business, according to Shannon, if the city prevails in a court battle to condemn the land. “There are no willing sellers and few willing users” of the wastewater, he says. The APRA’S bid to have the west county reservoir option deleted from further study was never discussed, but rather referred to the BPU for study. The EIR is due to be released in July.

School Bond Vote

SEBASTOPOL Leaky plumbing. Antiquated wiring. Dry rot. These and more were on display last weekend at open houses at Analy and El Molino high schools, as part of a campaign to win voter approval for $13.3 million in bonds for repairing and improving the two west county campuses. That question appears as Measure A, the only item on the June 4 ballot anywhere in the county. If approved, it would result in an additional $26.57 per $100,000 of assessed value on the property taxes of parcels within the West Sonoma County High School District. The funds would be used to renovate classrooms, improve libraries, rewire buildings, upgrade rest rooms, and repair roofs. By law, no bond money can go to teacher or administrator salaries. A two-thirds majority is required for the measure to pass.

Pot Measure Boosted

SANTA ROSA The “Medical Marijuana Initiative” is now in the hands of election officials, with a significant boost from Sonoma County residents. The statewide campaign coordinated by Californians for Compassionate Use has submitted nearly 780,000 signatures, including more than 29,000 that were gathered locally. Proportionate to statewide population figures, Sonoma County could have been expected to provide 12,000 signatures, says campaign spokeswoman Carla Vezzetti, but a higher goal of 20,000 names from our county was also greatly exceeded. The initiative requires 433,269 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot, and Vezzetti says, “It’s pretty definite we will qualify because there’s such a large margin for error.”

From the May 23-29, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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