Did you miss any of the crime and court news from May? Here's a collection of the crime reports, notable arrests and important court hearings from the month to make sure you know what's going on.
May crime report photo
Shoshone man charged in fatally shooting biological daughter
SHOSHONE — A Shoshone man has been charged in the fatal shooting of a woman who police say was his biological daughter.
Johnathan Pugh, 61, was arraigned in Lincoln County Thursday on one count of voluntary manslaughter.
A bartender at the Iron Horse Saloon called police Wednesday night after Pugh ran into the bar covered in blood and asking for an ambulance, according to an affidavit.
Pugh told the bartender that a woman had been shot in the head in his store across the street.
When police arrived at the store, they found Pugh lying on top of the woman, sobbing, according to the affidavit.
She was identified as Malani Lang, Pugh’s 36-year-old biological daughter.
Pugh told police that Lang had moved in with him one week earlier.
He said the two were arguing that night about Lang’s childhood and Pugh’s decision to give her up for adoption when she was eight years old.
Police said Pugh told them that he tried to point the gun at his own head, but it went off and shot Lang instead.
Pugh said he thought the gun didn’t have a magazine in it at the time.
Lang was flown to Portneuf Hospital, where she died, according to a statement from the Shoshone Police Department.
Pugh had a BAC of 0.09 at the time of the shooting, police said.
He was jailed on a $200,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 24.
Police: Twin Falls woman punched, bit, spat on EMT and police officers after car accident
TWIN FALLS — Police say a Twin Falls woman punched, bit, and spat on first responders to a car accident Thursday night.
Cori Christensen, 32, was arraigned Friday on one count of battery against a health care worker, two counts of assault or battery upon certain personnel, and resisting or obstructing an officer. Battery against a health care worker and assault or battery upon certain personnel are both felonies.
Police found Cori Christensen at the scene of a car accident at the intersection of Grandview Drive North and Arrowwood Court Thursday night, according to an affidavit. She was with a man, Ethan Russell Christensen, and three children.
At first, Cori Christensen told officers that she wouldn’t tell them the names of anybody involved in the accident and tried to walk away, police said. She came back when she saw officers handcuff Ethan Christensen, who was drunk and getting physically aggressive with the paramedics, according to the affidavit.
Police said that when a paramedic asked Cori Christensen to stay back, she punched him in the face. She continued to resist when police tried to detain her, hitting and scratching one officer in the face and biting him on the inside of his thigh when he tried to push her inside the police car.
She also spit in a deputy’s face, police said.
Cori Christensen has been jailed on a $10,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 18.
Police investigation, water boil advisory ongoing in Dietrich city employee's death
DIETRICH — The investigation into a Dietrich man found dead in his home last week continues as first responders recover from nitrogen exposure, the Lincoln County sheriff said Tuesday.
Thomas Young, 62, was discovered lying next to a cannister of then-unknown gas — later identified as nitrogen — Thursday morning. He was already dead by the time first responders arrived at the scene.
Eight people were sent to the hospital for possible Hazmat exposure: seven first responders and one civilian. Those hospitalized included Sheriff Rene Rodriguez and other Lincoln County deputies, Shoshone police officers, and paramedics.
A few of the first responders were still dealing with some residual effects of the nitrogen as of Tuesday afternoon, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez previously told the Times-News that Young’s death appeared to be a suicide, but could not be officially declared a suicide until the investigation is complete. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Dietrich Mayor Don Heiken told reporters last week that Young was a former city employee who was fired on May 9 after an altercation that involved police.
Tom Young was listed as an employee with the Public Works Department on the Dietrich city website as of late Tuesday afternoon. A Linkedin page for Young says he began working for the Dietrich Public Works Department in 2004.
Young was arrested on May 9 — the same day that Heiken says he fired him — after police were dispatched to Dietrich City Hall for a report of an argument, court records say. He was arraigned on charges of robbery, battery, and intentional destruction of a telecommunication line or instrument the next day.
A woman who had come to city hall to pay a water bill told police she witnessed a heated argument between Young and another employee, a Lincoln County deputy wrote in an affidavit.
The woman said she started to record the argument between Young and his coworker because she had never seen Young so upset, according to the affidavit. She told police Young noticed her recording the argument and demanded she stop, then he grabbed the phone out of her hand and refused to give it back.
When the woman called 911 on an office phone, Young attempted to grab the office phone away from her, punching her chin with his fist in the process, she said. He then threw her cell phone on a desk and walked away.
The employee Young was arguing with told police Young frequently got angry at coworkers and that others in the office were afraid of him, according to the deputy’s affidavit. Heiken told police the same thing and said that Young would often stay mad for weeks at a time.
When questioned by police, Young said he was mad because his coworker had changed the passwords on an internet account. He denied hitting the woman who had come to pay her bills, but admitted to taking away her cellphone and throwing it on the desk.
A preliminary hearing for Young was scheduled for May 24, the same day that he was found dead in his home next to a cannister of nitrogen.
Initial tests of Dietrich city water came back clean, but a boil advisory was still in effect as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Michael Brown, drinking water and engineering manager with the Department of Environmental Quality. Brown said he expected the testing to wrap up Wednesday afternoon.
In the meantime, potable water is available at the Dietrich fire station, Lincoln County Disaster Services Coordinator Payson Reese said.
In hindsight, Reese told the Times-News, he felt the situation Thursday was handled as well as it could have been.
“Everything went as protocol called for,” Reese said. “Everybody did what they were supposed to do and everything went well.”
Police: Nampa man with ties to Minidoka murder broke into Burley woman's apartment and threatened her with a knife
BURLEY — Police say a Nampa man entered a woman’s apartment while she was showering, put on a glove and threatened her with a knife.
Rogelio Gonzalez-Huerta, 23, is charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor false imprisonment and trespassing.
Cassia County Sheriff detectives say he is the business partner of a man who witnessed the murder of Rafael Gil Vargas, 43, in Minidoka on April 28 and that his vehicle was involved in the crime.
Vargas’s daughter Nallely Vargas-Juarez, 19, was also shot in the hand.
Denis O. Lopez-Serrano, 22, of Rupert is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and two counts of first-degree kidnapping in connection with the shootings.
Deputies were called to the woman’s apartment on Friday evening and found Gonzalez-Huerta still inside. A police report says the woman was “in a panic stage and pacing back and forth,” when deputies arrived.
The woman said that Gonzalez-Huerta is an ex-boyfriend of her sister.
She told deputies when she arrived home Gonzalez-Huerta and the man who police say witnessed the murder were both in her apartment parking lot and she told them they were not welcome and to leave. The other man left but Gonzalez Huerta stayed and she told him to leave again, the police report says.
She went inside her apartment to take a shower because she was meeting a friend and she heard the door open, so she called out her sister’s name.
The woman told police she realized it was Gonzalez-Huerta in her apartment, and she told him to get out and called her sister, the police report says. She told police she grabbed a towel and walked past him to her room where she closed the door and started to put her clothes on. But Gonzalez-Huerta opened the door to her room and kept saying she had two minutes to change. She ran to the door and he stopped her and put on a black glove and grabbed a knife out of his pocket.
He said “you don’t know what your sister got you in to,” the woman told deputies. According to the police report, the woman stalled and begged Gonzalez-Huerta to leave her alone. Eventually, he said he wasn’t going to hurt her, and a friend of the woman’s arrived. The two ran away and took off in a car but turned around when they heard police arriving.
According to the police report, Gonzalez-Huerta told the woman it was a joke and he wasn’t going to hurt her.
As Gonzalez-Huerta was being detained, he told deputies that he did not have a knife. They later reported finding a knife in the woman’s bedroom but did not recover the glove.
A preliminary hearing is set for May 18 in Cassia County Magistrate Court.
The teens who stole Christmas: 4 arrested in toy theft
BURLEY — Police say three young people climbed through a window and stole $15,000 worth of toys from the Mini-Cassia Christmas Council.
Kaden Black, 20, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, and grand theft, all felonies. Two teenage minors face the same charges as Black, and a third is accused of knowingly letting the others store the stolen toys at his house.
The toys were reported missing Monday afternoon when a Cassia County deputy was dispatched to the Christmas Council in Burley for a burglary, according to a police affidavit.
A woman told police that somebody had broken into the building and stolen more than $15,000 worth of toys, including drones, matchbox cars and toy pets.
There were several sets of shoe prints and possible fingerprints on and near an unlocked window on the second floor, police said.
The next day, an ad was posted on Burley Buy Sell Trade selling a drone. Deputies traced the post back to one of the teenagers arrested and found him, Black and the toys at a friend’s house.
In an interview with police, Black admitted to stealing from the Christmas Council with the two teenagers, police said.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 8.
Former Twin Falls police officer sentenced for sexual abuse
TWIN FALLS — A former Twin Falls police officer was sentenced Wednesday to up to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing young girls.
William Anthon Jansen pleaded guilty in March to two counts of sexual abuse of a child under 16. He will serve at least two years in prison for each count, but the sentences run concurrently, Judge John Butler said.
Jansen was charged with four counts of lewd conduct with a minor after a teenage girl came forward last March and accused him of sexually abusing her a decade ago, when she was between 7 and 9 years old, along with two other young girls around the same age.
One of the girls has since died; the other told police that Jansen touched her in 2005 and 2006, when she was eight years old.
A sentencing hearing Wednesday featured statements from the two girls who accused Jansen of abusing them.
“Before all this, I had so much trust,” said one of the victims in her impact statement, which was read aloud by her mother. “I was a young kid. Because of this...I lost all trust in people.”
“It still confuses me to this day why it had to happen to me,” the other victim told the court. “All we want is for someone that is this sick to get help.”
Jansen himself also spoke at the hearing, delivering a short statement in which he apologized for any pain or distress he may have caused the victims and their families.
“I recognize that this has been a very, very hard thing for their families to go through,” Jansen said. “I’m trying to take responsibility for my actions that I did years ago and trying to make things right at this point.”
The sexual abuse took place before Jansen joined the Twin Falls Police Department. The department had heard rumors of the abuse before hiring Jansen in 2013, but decided to hire him anyway after a background check that included a polygraph test and interview with one of the victims.
Jansen’s jury trial in March was interrupted when the two sides reached a plea agreement, in which Jansen pleaded guilty to abusing one of the living victims and the deceased victim.
“I have no doubt that, but for the plea agreement that arrived after the state addressed it, that the jury would have returned a verdict of guilty on all counts,” Butler said at the sentencing hearing Wednesday.
Prosecuting attorney Kassandra Slaven, deputy prosecutor for Ada County, requested a sentence of five years fixed and 15 years indeterminate for each count of sexual abuse, a total of 10 years in prison. The defense asked for an eight-year sentence with two years fixed for each count.
Burley man charged in Thanksgiving day beating, encouraging toddler to stab mom, takes deal
BURLEY — A Burley accused of beating a woman on Thanksgiving and forcing her toddler to help stab her with a knife has taken a plea deal with the state.
David James Gifford, 37, has pleaded guilty to one felony count of domestic violence. In return, the Cassia County Prosecutor’s Office will dismiss an enhancement charge for committing the crime in the presence of a child and felony charges of injury to a child and attempted strangulation.
Cassia County Deputy Prosecutor McCord Larsen said his office will recommend Gifford be sent to the state’s retained jurisdiction program, known as a rider. It’s a therapeutic program run by the Idaho Department of Correction. If he fails the program, a judge could sentence him to three to 10 years in prison, the plea agreement said.
Under the terms of the agreement, Gifford’s attorney is free to request a different sentence.
The victim in the case testified in a prior hearing that Gifford attacked her by punching, strangling and kicking her until she lost consciousness. She said he stabbed her several times with a steak knife then gave a knife to her toddler and got him to stab her also.
The woman said Gifford held her down while the two-year-old boy stabbed at her stomach several times but did not penetrate the skin. She said Gifford then flipped her over and told the boy to stab her again. Then, Gifford and the boy were both stabbing her in the back using different pressures.
Gifford is scheduled to be sentenced July 3 in Cassia County District Court.
Twin Falls man charged in tiki bar burglary after redeeming stolen drink tokens
TWIN FALLS — A Twin Falls man was charged in the April burglary of a tiki bar after attempting to use stolen drink tokens at the bar.
Hayden De Casas, 27, was arraigned May 25 on charges of altering, damaging, or destroying a computer or computer equipment, criminal possession of a financial transaction card and petit theft by possession of stolen property.
The Cove, a bar in Twin Falls, reported a burglary on April 9. The owners told police they came into work that day to find that the office door was kicked in and two computers, a television, multiple liquor bottles, and other items were missing.
The computers were returned to the bar several weeks later by a man who told police he had found them in a black hand bag outside of Blue Lakes Automotive, an officer with the Twin Falls Police Department wrote in an affidavit.
One of the computers, which was used for business, had been wiped of information and was in need of repair, according to owner Debbie Urrutia. The computers would not turn on.
De Casas was arrested Thursday after attempting to exchange alcoholic drink tokens that had been stolen in the burglary, police said. He told police that he had gotten the stolen computers from one of the people responsible for the burglary.
De Casas said he restored the computer to factory settings because he knew the computers belonged to The Cove and wanted to sell them, according to the affidavit. He said he later decided not to sell the computers and put them out where they would eventually be found.
He is jailed on a $20,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 1.
Police nab armed robbery suspect at Burley bus station
BURLEY — The Cassia County Sheriff’s Office was waiting for a convenience store robbery suspect Wednesday at a bus station when he rolled back into town.
Cassia County Undersheriff George Warrell said Gregori Bracamontes-Martinez, 20, was arrested by waiting deputies at 2:30 a.m. at 725 W. Main St., when the Greyhound bus made its Burley stop.
He is charged with felony counts of robbery with an enhanced penalty for using a weapon, burglary and criminal conspiracy.
“We had received a tip that he would be on the bus and were waiting for him,” Warrell said.
A warrant had been issued for his arrest after a May 12 armed robbery that occurred at Mr. Gas, 855 Overland Ave.
Bracamontes’s brother, Jesus Bracamontes, 23, was arrested after the incident and charged with the same counts as his brother.
Detectives said the two entered the store at 3 a.m. with Gregori Bracamontes carrying a rifle. After demanding money from the cashier they left on foot.
Warrell said Gregori Bracamontes had been in Aberdeen, Maryland.
“He had vehicle problems with a stolen vehicle that he was driving,” Warrell said.
The vehicle had been reported as stolen from Minidoka County.
“The police department there recovered the firearm that was used in some weeds next to a Walmart in Aberdeen,” he said.
The vehicle was also recovered.
“We always like to see cases ending like this,” he said.
Twin Falls man charged in January spree of home invasions, burglaries
TWIN FALLS — A Twin Falls man has been charged in a January crime spree that included multiple home invasions and a slew of car burglaries.
William Williams, 43, was arraigned Wednesday on 17 counts of burglary, two counts of grand theft, two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and three counts of criminal possession of a financial transaction card.
Williams is accused of breaking into at least three homes and 14 cars in Twin Falls County between Jan. 19 and Jan. 22. He also confessed to holding a homeowner at gunpoint during an armed home invasion in Jerome County on Jan. 23, according to a police affidavit.
Most of the Twin Falls County victims said they did not personally come into contact with the burglar, only noticing in the morning that someone had broken into their car or garage overnight. But a few victims did see him.
One couple reported waking up around 3:30 in the morning to find a man in a ski mask in their bedroom, according to court documents. They said the burglar ran out of the house when the husband confronted him.
Another victim, whose car was burglarized, said she was outside having a cigarette late at night when a burgandy SUV pulled into her driveway. The woman told police that a man in a ski mask jumped out and opened the door to her car; when she yelled out to him, he ran back to the SUV and quickly drove away. That victim also reported seeing a woman in a ski mask in the SUV with the burglar.
Two guns, several power tools, and an array of wallets were among the items reported stolen throughout the spree. One of the guns, a .38 revolver, was taken from a truck belonging to a Twin Falls sheriff’s deputy, according to an affidavit.
Williams later confessed to police that he had stolen multiple cars throughout the week and used them to carry out the burglaries.
Detectives connected Williams to the crime after a credit card stolen in a Twin Falls home invasion was used at Cactus Pete’s Hotel and Casino in Jackpot, Nev. A man had also attempted to use the card at a gas station owned by Cactus Pete’s, according to an affidavit.
Surveillance footage showed the man in the casino using a player’s card registered to William Williams. Police tracked Williams’ phone to the hotel, where Elko County deputies arrested him as he was trying to leave.
As he was leaving the hotel but before he was confronted by police, Williams threw a bag in a trash can, the deputies said. The bag turned out to be filled with bank cards, credit cards, driver’s licenses and social security cards belonging to burglary victims in Twin Falls County.
When questioned by police, Williams admitted stealing multiple cars, burglarizing vehicles, and breaking into houses, according to an affidavit. He told police that he got into garages — and, in some cases, houses — by breaking into victims’ cars and using their garage door openers.
At the time of his arrest, Williams was staying in a room at Cactus Pete’s rented by a woman named Samantha Anderson, according to an affidavit. When questioned by police, Williams did not say that Anderson was involved in the burglaries and appeared to be “protective” of her, police said.
Williams has been jailed on a $500,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 18.
UPDATE: Twin Falls man found not guilty in shaken baby case
A Twin Falls man accused of violently shaking his girlfriend’s baby was found not guilty by a jury Thursday.
Tim Evangelista, 28, was charged with one count of aggravated battery.
Attorneys finished their closing arguments shortly after noon, wrapping up a trial that began May 8. After roughly four hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict.
Police began investigating Evangelista in March 2017 after paramedics responded to reports of a baby having difficulty breathing. The two-month old baby was taken to St. Luke’s Magic Valley with bleeding in his brain and bruises on his arms and testicles. He was then life-flighted to an intensive care unit in Boise.
Evangelista initially denied injuring the baby, but later told police he had accidentally shaken and bumped the baby’s head several times that day, including one time when he tripped over the family dog.
Witnesses including the baby’s mother testified that they did not see Evangelista hurt the baby, but a team of St. Luke’s doctors who treated the infant said they believed the injuries were non-accidental.
Another doctor, an expert witness for the defense who did not treat the baby, said he could not say for sure what would have caused the injuries.
In closing arguments, defense attorney George Essma suggested that the lead police detective on the case jumped to conclusions when he arrested Evangelista and did not investigate other relatives in the house thoroughly enough.
“I think this was not Detective Rivers’s best day,” Essma told the jury. “I cannot speak for him, but I think he might say, ‘If I had a chance to do this over again, I would have done it differently.’”
He also suggested that the doctors at St. Luke’s did not carefully consider other possible explanations for the brain injury, like that the child had been born with a previously unidentified condition, and suggested that some of his bruises could have been caused by paramedics.
Prosecuting attorney Julie Sturgill disputed Essma’s depiction of the doctors’ and detective’s work.
“Mr. Essma’s entire argument is based on bias,” Sturgill said.
If he was found guilty, Evangelista would have faced up to a 15 year sentence.
Police: Eden man kidnapped and sexually abused 13-year-old at Rupert motel
TWIN FALLS — Police say a former Jerome County man kidnapped a 13-year-old girl and sexually abused her several times in 2015.
Charles Owen Shoup, 40, was arrested in Nevada on April 29 and arraigned in Twin Falls Monday. He is charged with three counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of lewd conduct with a child under 16, and one count of sexual exploitation of a child under 16.
Shoup listed his address as Eden at the time of the alleged kidnapping and sex crimes but now lives in Elko, Nev.
According to a police affidavit, the Twin Falls Police Department began investigating Shoup in March 2015 after a 13-year-old girl told detectives that she had sexual interactions with Shoup at least three times the previous month.
The girl told detectives that Shoup picked her up from her house in Twin Falls County to have sex multiple times, including one time at the Home Away Motel in Rupert. They also engaged in a sex act in the driveway of Shoup’s home in Eden, the girl said.
The 13-year-old told police that she had downloaded pornographic photos and videos of herself onto Shoup’s computer after he asked her to, according to the affidavit.
Pornography found during a search of Shoup’s computer seemed to match the girl’s description, police said, and Shoup admitted to asking for the photos and videos.
He has been jailed on a $100,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 18.
Grand jury indicts Jerome man on first-degree murder charge in Twin Falls baby's death
TWIN FALLS — A grand jury has indicted a Jerome man in the October murder of a Twin Falls baby.
Joshua Eric Molina, 33, is charged with murder in the first degree and four counts of injury to a child in the death of 20-month-old Lyryk Altom. He was arrested March 27 and indicted May 23.
Molina was the boyfriend of Amanda Dunlap, Lyryk’s mother. Dunlap was arrested shortly after Lyryk’s death last year on charges of first-degree murder, eight felony counts of injury to a child and one misdemeanor count of injury to a child.
Dunlap took Lyryk to the St. Luke’s Magic Valley emergency room with bleeding in her brain on Oct. 8, 2017. The baby was flown to Boise, where she died six days later.
A doctor at St. Luke’s told police he believed her head injuries were caused by non-accidental blunt force trauma, according to court documents.
At the time of Lyryk’s death, Molina told police he was not really involved in the medical care of the baby, a claim that Dunlap initially agreed with.
However, later police interviews with Dunlap and a review of text messages on her phone revealed that she had previously lied to law enforcement about Molina’s relationship with Lyryk. Photos and texts suggest that Molina may have physically abused the infant over a period of several months.
Molina wouldn’t let Dunlap take Lyryk to see a doctor after she had a seizure on Oct. 8, Dunlap told police in an interview. She said Molina had been blowing marijuana into Lyryk’s face to alleviate the symptoms of her seizures, and he was afraid that his son would be taken away from him if Lyryk tested positive for marijuana. A friend picked Dunlap and Lyryk up later that day and took them to the emergency room instead.
A grand jury last Wednesday indicted Molina, accusing him of murdering Lyryk “with malice aforethought or the intentional application of torture, which was inflicted with the intent to cause suffering or to satisfy some sadistic inclination.”
The grand jury also declared the murder to be “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity,” and accused Molina of “exhibit[ing] utter disregard for human life.”
Molina is jailed without bond. He will be arraigned in district court on June 4.
Former Minico High School athlete charged with child sex abuse bound over to district court
RUPERT — A Minidoka County judge bound Lauriano “Larry” Vega Jr. over to district court May 9 on one felony count of child sexual abuse by soliciting a minor under age 16 after he found sufficient evidence to support the charge.
Vega, 18, is a senior at Minico High School and formerly played football and basketball for the school.
He was brought into the courtroom with his hands and feet shackled.
Minidoka County Prosecutor Lance Stevenson asked the judge to dismiss, without prejudice, a second count of the same charge.
Vega also faces a third misdemeanor charge of battery, police say, which stems from unwanted touching of an 18-year-old woman on the same day.
Stevenson said the state is not required to present evidence at a preliminary hearing regarding misdemeanor charges.
A 14-year-old girl took the witness stand Wednesday. The eighth grader told the judge that she worked at a local coffee house that Vega had frequented several times during the week of spring break.
At the time of Vega’s arrest, according to court records, he was being monitored by a GPS ankle bracelet because of similar charges pending in juvenile court.
The girl periodically wiped her eyes and nose as she told the court that on March 30, after she finished her shift, she went out behind the coffee bar with Vega and other individuals, where there is a fire pit.
The girl had previously told Vega how old she was when someone made the comment that she was the girl for him. She said someone had told her Vega was 18 and she was aware that he played football.
At one point during the testimony, she started to cry, and Stevenson asked her why she was crying.
“I’m nervous,” she said.
Minidoka County Magistrate Judge Rick Bollar called a short recess so the girl could recompose herself.
When she returned to the courtroom she said Vega had started rubbing her leg near her ankle while they were outside and then “massaging” her upper thigh.
It was dark outside with only a few candles lit.
She moved farther away from him, and a few minutes later went inside to see when her ride would be leaving.
When the 14-year-old got up to leave Vega, tried to grab her buttocks but grabbed her thigh and the bottom of her buttocks, she said.
When the group was leaving the shop, Vega again grabbed her buttocks, she said.
The girl said one of the males with Vega that night at the coffee house told her mother what happened to her that night.
Her mother asked her about it the next day, she said.
A Rupert Police Department detective was also called to the witness stand and Stacey DePew, Vega’s attorney cross examined both witnesses.
Vega was the 4A All-Idaho football player of the year in 2017.
Cassia County boy injured when father backed over him with truck
BURLEY — A five-year-old Cassia County boy was injured May 22 when his father backed over him with a truck.
According to a Cassia County Sheriff’s report the sheriff’s office and emergency medical services were called at 8:20 p.m. to 920 W. 200. S. in Murtaugh.
After emergency medical services arrived they informed deputies the child was conscious and breathing with a possible leg fracture.
Deputies talked to the boy’s brother who said his little brother tried to climb on the back of his dad’s pickup while he was parking the truck. The boy said they always ride on the truck when their dad gets home, but they get his attention first and he stops the truck to let them get on it.
The boy’s father said he did not see his son on the back of the truck when he started backing into the driveway.
When he stopped the truck, he said, his son was lying on the ground in front of the truck.
The boy was flown to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello.
Deputies determined the incident was accidental.
Police: Hollister man sexually assaulted Minnesota teen
TWIN FALLS — A Hollister man has been arrested on a Minnesota warrant that says he sexually assaulted a teenager there last year.
Nickolas Dodson, 21, faces three felony charges in Anoka County, Minn.: one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree.
A 14-year-old girl reported on July 25, 2017, that Dodson sexually assaulted her the previous evening, according to a probable cause statement from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
The teenager told police she had agreed to go on a walk with Dodson, who was the houseguest of an acquaintance of hers. The pair walked into the woods, where Dodson became “sexually aggressive” with her, the girl said.
She said that Dodson forcibly assaulted her despite her telling him multiple times to stop, according to the probable cause statement. He also choked and bit her during the encounter, the teen told police.
When officers called Dodson, who was back in Idaho by the time the alleged assault was reported, he initially denied knowing the girl, police said.
He later admitted to knowing the girl but said he did not have any sexual contact with her, according to the probable cause statement.
A sexual assault exam found Dodson’s DNA on a piece of the girl’s clothing.
Under the first charge Dodson faces, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, he is accused of “[causing] personal injury to the complainant” and “[using] force or coercion” to have sex with the victim, according to court documents.
The two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree apply because Dodson allegedly used “force or coercion” to have sexual contact with the victim and because the victim was between 13 and 15 years old while the defendant was at least two years older.
He has been jailed in Twin Falls County on a $500,000 bond. A hearing is scheduled for May 25.
Minidoka residents reel after double shooting; victim's employer has started a fundraiser
MINIDOKA — Residents of the small town of Minidoka, where the noisiest time of day occurs when children pile off the school bus in the afternoon, were still reeling last week from a shooting in the street that killed a man and wounded his daughter on April 28.
Rafael Gil Vargas, 43, was shot and later died at the hospital, and his daughter, Nallely Vargas Juarez, 19, both of Minidoka, was shot in the hand. She was released from the hospital after surgery.
Rafael worked for Idaho Acres Dairy for more than 20 years, said the company owner Ryan Hepworth.
“He worked side-by-side with us,” Hepworth said. “He was like family. He was the greatest guy and would do anything for his family and his granddaughter.”
Hepworth said Rafael leaves behind his wife, Noemi, Nallely, and his son, Avelardo “Lalo,” who is a student at Minico High School.
“We are just trying to do as much as we can to help them,” he said.
Hepworth has set up a GoFundMe page for the Vargas family.
Saydi Anderson, student body president at MHS, said the student body is urging everyone to donate to the memorial fund. Anderson, who is a good friend of Lalo, said the student council was going to set up an account, but Hepworth beat them to it.
Lalo is on the student council and was elected senior class president for the coming year.
“He is a really good kid, and I know that his family is super important to him,” Anderson said. “I know that they could really use this money.”
Mike Rodriguez, who lives about a block away from the Vargas family, said when he’d see Rafael at the post office, he’d always shake his hand.
“When he’d drive by he’d always wave,” Rodriguez said. “He was really nice.”
Rodriguez heard shots on Saturday night and went outside to investigate but he did not see anything.
“I heard three or four shots like pow, pow, pow,” he said. “This is a pretty peaceful town, and my wife and I talked about it being a little early to light fireworks.”
He decided the noise must have come from a movie on television.
Rodriguez said the people in town are feeling an impact from the violence.
“It’s something that you don’t forget right away,” he said. “It’s hard.”
Minidoka Mayor Jim Cook said he didn’t find out about the shooting until Sunday after church.
“He was a heck of a nice guy, and that was a really traumatic thing that happened,” Cook said.
Cook went to the Vargas home on Monday and knocked on the door to see if there was anything the city could do to help the family, but no one was home.
“It has been such a nice town for so long and then this happened,’ Cook said.
Denis O. Lopez-Serrano, 22, of Rupert is charged with first degree murder, attempted murder and two counts of first-degree kidnapping in connection with the shootings.
According to court records, Lopez-Serrano sent a text telling Nallely, the mother of his child, to come to Rupert to pick up the child. On the way there with her father, she received another message telling her not to come so they turned around and headed back to Minidoka.
Nallely told police Lopez-Serrano and a friend stopped their car in the street in Minidoka by pulling in front of them head on. He pulled a gun and shot her father,and shot her in the hand.
She told police he made her get into the backseat and drove to a location east of Minidoka where he told her he was going to dump her father’s body and kill her.
Lopez-Serrano’s friend followed them. Once there, she said Lopez-Serrano made her agree not to tell police that he’d shot them.
The next court date in the case has not been set.
5 CSI baseball players cited for marijuana 1 week before junior college World Series
TWIN FALLS — Five College of Southern Idaho baseball players were cited for marijuana-related crimes over the weekend, less than 24 hours after the team’s victory in the NJCAA Division I Western District title game.
Brett Resch, 20, Travis Bohall, 20, Colton Westfall, 21, Connor Breding, 19, and Bailey Daguio, 21, received citations from Twin Falls police officers on or near CSI’s campus Saturday evening and Sunday morning, according to court documents.
While the citations were issued on different days, all five stemmed from the same incident late Saturday afternoon, a spokesman for the Twin Falls Police Department said.
The legal trouble comes as the team is preparing to go to the NJCAA Division I World Series for the first time since 1993. CSI athletic director Joel Bate said every player but Westfall will be eligible to play in Saturday’s World Series opener against Temple (Texas) College, but their availability will be a game-time decision. Westfall suffered a season-ending elbow injury earlier this spring and didn’t make the trip to Grand Junction, Colo., for the World Series, Bate said.
Resch, a starting outfielder from Warman, Saskatchewan, is charged with possession of marijuana. He entered a guilty plea Monday and will be sentenced on June 26.
Bohall, CSI’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder from Reno, Nev., is also charged with possession of marijuana, but has not entered a plea. A court date is scheduled for June 11.
Westfall, a pitcher from Medford, Ore., who recently signed with Lewis-Clark State College, was cited for frequenting a place where a controlled substance is used, manufactured, cultivated, held or given. He signed a guilty plea Monday and will be sentenced June 26.
Breding, a pitcher from Pocatello who has started four games this season, was cited for frequenting a place where a controlled substance is used, manufactured, cultivated, held or given. He has not entered a plea. A court date is scheduled for June 11.
Daguio, another pitcher from Las Vegas, was cited for frequenting a place where a controlled substance is used, manufactured, cultivated, held or given. He entered a guilty plea on Monday and will be sentenced on June 19.
The maximum penalty for possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor, is up to one year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine.
The maximum penalty for frequenting, also a misdemeanor, is up to a $300 fine and 90 days in jail.
Third suspect will plead guilty in December burglary, attack
TWIN FALLS — The third suspect in a December burglary and attack plans to plead guilty, his attorney said in a hearing Monday.
Gaudencio Sandoval-Carbajal, 22, is in the process of taking a plea agreement, attorney Anthony Valdez told the judge at a pretrial conference. He will be the third and final suspect to plead guilty in the assault, following Cesar Gonzalez-Ramos and Jose Agustin.
The three men were arrested and charged in December after a Twin Falls woman told police they had kicked down the door to her apartment, choked her, and threatened to kill her and her daughter if she reported the attack.
Gonzalez-Ramos later told officers that the men went over to the woman’s house after she messaged Agustin over Facebook asking him to return a Bluetooth speaker that belonged to her.
It’s unknown exactly what the terms of Sandoval-Carbajal’s plea deal will be. He pleaded not guilty to one count of burglary in March.
Valdez said at the hearing Monday afternoon that he and his client were still going over the paperwork for the agreement.
A plea hearing is scheduled for June 4.
Man and woman arrested in Gooding shooting
WENDELL — A Wendell man shot in the face Tuesday night has identified his attacker.
Oscar Verougo Ortiz Jr., 49, was charged Wednesday with aggravated battery with a weapons enhancement and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Deputies were called to a Wendell home Tuesday night, where they found David Crosby, 32, sitting at the kitchen table with wounds on his face and shoulders, Gooding County Sheriff Shaun Gough said in a statement. He was brought to St. Luke’s Magic Valley with non-life threatening injuries.
Crosby told police that night that he was at Oster Lakes in Hagerman with his sister, Nicole Crosby, when somebody shot across the lake and hit him in the face.
The next morning he changed his story and said that Ortiz shot him with a sawed-off shotgun during an argument at a house west of Wendell.
When police went to Nicole Crosby’s house to interview her, they found Ortiz there and took him into custody, Gough said.
Nicole Crosby was also arrested and charged with marijuana possession.