Crime, Fire + Courts

Yolo DA honors crime victims, heroes

By From page A1 | April 24, 2013

Aloha, a comfort dog for the Yolo County District Attorney's Office, welcomes the children of Douglas Foster, center, to Monday's crime victim tribute in Woodland. Foster is one of three employees of Liberty Safes in West Sacramento who chased after a robbery suspect, earning them the DA's Hero of the Year award. Courtesy photo

WOODLAND — The evening of April 10, 2012, started out like any other for Magdalena Marquez.

After closing up her family’s check-cashing business in Woodland, Marquez deposited the day’s receipts at the bank before heading home with her 9-year-old son.

What happened next, however, “was not business as usual for this family,” Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hays said.

Unbeknownst to Marquez, two men had followed her home from the bank. As Marquez unlocked her front door, a masked man came up the driveway, assaulted her and demanded her bank bag — which he apparently didn’t realize had been emptied.

As Marquez called out for help, her young son hid behind the family car, getting a good look at the suspects as they sped away from the scene. An older daughter called 911, while Marquez’s husband, Efrain Sr., chased after the fleeing car.

After a five-week, multi-county search, Woodland police — led by Detective Richard Towle — tracked down the robber, whose July 2012 trial ended in a conviction after Magdalena and Efrain Sr. testified against him in court, according to Hays.

“This is a brave family,” Hays said.

Representing her family, Magdalena Marquez was one of seven people honored Monday at the seventh annual crime victim tribute in Woodland, an event the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office holds each year in conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

This year’s theme: “New Challenges. New Solutions.”

Held at the historic Woodland Opera House, the ceremony began with survivors, prosecutors, investigators and victim advocates reading aloud the names of Yolo County crime victims whose lives were cut short.

It also offered a moment of silence for all victims and their survivors, including those hurt and killed during the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath one week earlier.

Other crime victims receiving honors Monday were:

* Lucia Camarena, who despite her grief over her 18-year-old son Erick Gutierrez’s death in an Aug. 26, 2011, car accident near Woodland, attended court hearings for the driver as he was being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.

* Cristina Jaime, a convenience-store clerk who after being robbed at gunpoint assisted police in the identification of the getaway driver, and later the robber himself. The robber later took a 12-year plea deal, while the female getaway driver — who also had cased the store prior to the crime — was convicted at trial.

* A woman who in 2011 reported to the Davis Police Department that her stepfather had molested her between the ages of 9 and 16. After numerous delays in the case, the woman offered such convincing testimony at the preliminary hearing that the defendant took a plea agreement resulting in a 28-year prison sentence.

(The Enterprise is not naming the woman because she is a sexual assault victim.)

* The 2013 “Hero of the Year” award went to three employees of Liberty Safes in West Sacramento — Douglas Foster, Shawn McMahon and Andrew Wing — who on Oct. 27, 2012, chased and cornered a man who robbed an 86-year-old woman of her purse outside their business.

One of the men was sprayed in the face with mace during the encounter, and all three testified in court during the suspect’s trial, according to Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens, who prosecuted the case.

“They were faced with circumstances that they didn’t know, and they charged in anyway,” Couzens said.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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