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Sixteen-year-old Daniel Marsh is escorted to the Yolo County courthouse in September. Marsh will go to trial in March on charges of murdering Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

Our Sunday Best

Somber look back at the top stories of 2013

By From page A1 | December 29, 2013

Over the past 365 days — or in our world at The Enterprise, the past 257 editions — the stories we’ve covered in town often have been sensational.

But for this newspaper staff, no story of 2013 could possibly eclipse the tragic slayings in April of two long-standing members of this community, and the arrest of a 16-year-old Davis High School student for their murders.

News of the brutal stabbings of Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin at their South Davis home shook this city to its core, and that story, unquestionably, became the most important of the year.

Many other events grabbed headlines as well — several other tragedies, far-reaching civic issues and UC Davis milestones. The quality and quantity of local news was so immense, in fact, that our traditional top 10 list was expanded to the top 15.

It’s been a busy 12 months.

And while it feels almost coarse to rank and compare events such as a homicide with, for example, a vote on bringing a new source of drinking water to town, it’s nonetheless important to look back, and remember.

So, with heavy hearts, but gratitude and pride for the community we cover, the news staff of The Davis Enterprise presents the top stories of 2013.

1. DOUBLE MURDER: The top story of 2013 dealt a double blow to the Davis community.

The first came on April 14 with the discovery of the bodies of Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, who were brutally stabbed to death in their own bed in their Cowell Boulevard condominium. Their murders sent shock waves throughout Davis — and Yolo County as well — where Northup was known for his longtime career as a local attorney and singer/guitarist for the folk group Putah Creek Crawdads, and where Maupin was active in local theater.

As police searched for the couple’s killer, they disclosed that there were signs of forced entry into the South Davis condo, leading to speculation that the killings were the result of a burglary gone awry.

The ultimate arrest of a suspect, however, hammered Davis with its second blow. On June 17, police announced the arrest of 16-year-old Daniel William Marsh — a Davis High School sophomore who just four years ago was hailed an American Red Cross hero for saving his father’s life as he suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his car — on suspicion of committing the slayings. The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Marsh as an adult, charging him with two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances alleging multiple murders, lying in wait and torture.

September brought the preliminary hearing in the case, which included shocking details about the couple’s injuries — more than 60 stab wounds apiece, according to the Yolo County chief deputy coroner’s testimony — and Marsh’s alleged confession to the crime, saying he had harbored homicidal thoughts since the age of 10, had picked the elderly couple at random and had tried to kill again days later.

The case is set for trial in early March. Marsh is being held without bail at Yolo County Juvenile Hall.

2. WATER PROJECT: If it’s an important civic issue in Davis, it seems only fitting that residents here would be granted the opportunity to vote on it.

In an all-mail election in March, Davis voters approved the project — which will bring the city a new source of drinking water by 2016 — by a margin of 54.1 to 45.9 percent. The project will pump water from the Sacramento River, treat it, and pipe it to Davis and Woodland, largely supplanting each city’s dependence on deteriorating ground well water supplies.

Since approval, the price tag for the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency project has been reduced on several occasions, and now sits at $106 million for Davis’ share.

But that won’t lessen the blow to the ratepayers, at least not in the short term. Weeks after the project was approved, the council raised water rates citywide, likely leading to water charges on utility bills to triple by 2018.

3. HATE CRIME: Davis resident Lawrence “Mikey” Partida, 32, was badly beaten outside his cousin’s I Street home on the morning of March 10, suffering injuries that required two weeks of hospitalization and ongoing therapy as part of his recovery.

Police say Partida was targeted because of his sexual orientation, resulting in the arrest of his assailant, 20-year-old Clayton Daniel Garzon, on assault, battery and hate-crime charges. At the time of his arrest, Garzon also was facing assault charges stemming from a stabbing at a party in Dixon six months earlier.

Despite his attorney’s claim that Garzon used anti-gay slurs during the beating to challenge Partida’s masculinity, Garzon eventually pleaded no contest to a felony battery charge with a hate-crime enhancement in exchange for a five-year Yolo County Jail term.

The sentencing phase encountered a snag when attorneys debated whether Garzon could serve the sentence locally, rather than in state prison, under California’s prison realignment measure.

Garzon is expected to learn his fate on Jan. 15. Meanwhile, a Facebook support group established by Partida’s family and friends after the beating has since morphed into the Davis Phoenix Coalition, its mission being “the promotion of a world where all people are safe, respected and free from violence.”

4. THE CANNERY: After almost a decade’s worth of debate on what to do with the last large piece of undeveloped land in Davis, the City Council voted 3-2 in November to approve the final design of The Cannery project.

The project, the first new neighborhood to receive the green light in town in decades, will be built on 100 acres of vacant industrial land, just north of East Covell Boulevard and east of F Street.

Once home to the Hunt-Wesson tomato canning plant, the land falls within city limits, which keeps it free from the rigors of a Measure J/R vote.

When complete, The Cannery will feature 547 units of low-, medium- and high-density housing; 15 acres of mixed-use commercial and business park space; an urban farm; and greenbelts, parks and an amphitheater.

ConAgra Foods Inc. and The New Home Company, which will develop the neighborhood, have promised millions of dollars in givebacks to the community through the development agreement.

However, for many, especially Mayor Joe Krovoza, the developer was never able to completely resolve the bicycle connectivity challenges on the southwest corner of the property.

5. PINKSTON/TALAMANTES MURDERS: An entire community was stunned when 32-year-old Leslie Pinkston was violently gunned down at close range Nov. 18 while sitting in her parked car on Railroad Avenue in Winters, waiting for her workday to begin.

Police named as their prime suspect Pinkston’s ex-boyfriend, William Carl Gardner III, whose criminal history included convictions for domestic violence and weapon-related violations, as well as pending charges of stalking and threatening Pinkston earlier this year at her Winters home.

After a three-week manhunt that included local authorities as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, Gardner was arrested in Las Vegas after a six-hour standoff with authorities.

While the Pinkston slaying marked Winters’ first murder in more than four years, Davis recorded its third in less than six months when local resident Aquelin Crystal Talamantes, 29, showed up at a relative’s apartment in Sacramento with the body of her 5-year-old daughter Tatiana Garcia in the trunk of her car on Sept. 26.

The investigation shifted back to Davis, where authorities say the incident that led to the little girl’s death occurred in the family’s South Davis home. Her cause of death was later ruled a drowning. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 10.

6. FAMILIESFIRST: The spotlight shone harshly upon EMQ FamiliesFirst Inc., a local group home for troubled youths and a longtime fixture in the Davis community, after police announced in June that it had been the subject of more than 500 calls for service over the previous six months, including sexual assault reports resulting in several youths’ arrests.

The state entered the picture a week later, taking steps to revoke the facility’s license and remove two of its administrators from any future work in group-home settings, while a former employee filed a lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully terminated for voicing his concerns about the Davis home’s troubles.

For now, the facility is devoid of children but continues some of its services while EMQ officials battle to retain the facility’s license. An administrative hearing on the matter is set for early April in Sacramento.

7. FLUORIDE: On a 3-2 vote, the Davis City Council rejected the idea of injecting fluoride into the city’s drinking water.

After spending the entire year in 2012 investigating the details of the surface water project, the city’s Water Advisory Committee turned its attention to fluoride this summer, hosting three impassioned public debates on the subject.

Eventually, with the dental health of the community in mind, the group recommended 6-1-1 to the council to fluoridate the city’s water.

Council members disagreed with the recommendation, however, saying they’d prefer to seek out a more efficient and cost-effective way to treat dental problems in the community.

8. CITY-FIRE RELATIONSHIP STRAINS: The relationship between the Davis Professional Firefighters Association Local 3494 and city management reached the boiling point this year, starting with the release of an audit of the Fire Department by then-Interim Fire Chief Scott Kenley, who recommended a drastic change in the way the city’s firefighters respond to calls.

That change in May, coinciding with a reduced staffing level at the city’s three fire stations, followed a decision by City Manager Steve Pinkerton to appoint Police Chief Landy Black as interim fire chief while the city evaluated its options for a full-time chief.

The fire union, which began picketing in front of City Council meetings in protest of the changes, eventually took a unanimous vote of no confidence in Black.

In November, the council approved yet another change to the Fire Department: that the city and UCD would share a fire chief.

All the while, the city’s leaders have been trying to pare down the fire union’s benefits, similar to those agreed to by Davis’ other employee groups, in attempt to shore up the city’s fiscal situation.

9. PEPPER SPRAY: The former UC Davis police lieutenant at the center of the media firestorm brought on by the Nov. 18, 2011, pepper-spraying of unarmed Occupy UC Davis protesters made headlines around the world again in 2013.

John Pike, who was fired by the university, reached an agreement with UCD in October paying him workers’ compensation totaling $38,056 after he suffered depression and anxiety brought on by death threats he and his family received following the confrontation on the Quad.

The state’s Disability Evaluation Unit determines permanent disability ratings based on the reports of doctors agreed upon by workers and employers. Two psychiatrists rated Pike’s disability as “moderate.”

In January, a federal judge OK’d a $1 million settlement between the university and 36 protesters arrested or pepper-sprayed that day.

10. UCD CHEM RESEARCHER ARRESTED: Law enforcement officers from across the region descended on UC Davis’ Russell Park housing community on Jan. 17 after UCD graduate and chemistry researcher David Scott Snyder showed up at Sutter Davis Hospital with hand injuries he says were caused by a small blast inside his apartment.

What police found there resulted in an extensive evacuation and 20-hour cleanup of chemicals and other materials that bomb technicians believed were used to manufacture dangerous and volatile explosives.

Snyder pleaded not guilty to 17 felony counts. Meanwhile, prosecutors also obtained a warrant for Tashari El-Sheikh, a friend and neighbor of Snyder’s who allegedly removed chemicals from Snyder’s apartment and dumped them at several locations throughout town. Snyder appeared at trial in March, but El-Sheikh reportedly left the country and remains at large.

11. ASSEMBLY RACE: In what could lead to a serious shake-up in the makeup of the City Council next year, both Krovoza and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk announced their bids for Assembly in May.

The city’s two elected officials are competing against two men from Napa for the seat that Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, will vacate once she terms out in 2014.

Should Wolk win the election, both he and Krovoza are certain to be off of the council next year. Should Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson not win her expected bid for re-election, there could be three new council members sitting on the dais in 2014.

12. GATE-GATE: The often heated debate over the Davis school district’s Gifted and Talented Education program took an ugly turn in February when it was discovered that an online petition in support of the program contained forged signatures and testimonials falsely attributed to unsuspecting Davis parents.

The petition was distributed to school board members and The Enterprise before the forgeries were discovered.

Kathy Glatter, a cardiologist with Woodland Healthcare, admitted in April that she had forged approximately 30 signatures and made up some 20 false testimonials. She agreed to a legal settlement requiring her to make a public apology and donate $2,500 to North Davis Elementary School for character and ethics education.

13. GOODBYE, OLD FRIEND: Longtime resident Herbert Bauer — who arrived in Davis in 1955 as Yolo County’s first full-time public health officer, and later earned the nickname “the Conscience of Davis” — died on May 7 at age 103.

As the local public health officer, Bauer visited every school in the county to promote wellness. He also organized polio and tuberculosis vaccination clinics, and is said to have personally immunized more people than any other person in California. Bauer also established the county’s first family planning clinic, and helped organize a suicide prevention service.

He retired at age 61, and then embarked on a new career, opening a child psychiatry practice and teaching at both the UC Davis School of Medicine and UCD School of Law. He received numerous honors, including Davis Citizen of the Year in 1976.

Bauer also was a regular in the letters to the editor section of The Davis Enterprise, and his pithy observations, leavened with wit and wisdom, continued up until a few weeks before his death.

14. TOPS IN THE WORLD: UC Davis’ storied agriculture program marked a new milestone in May: the QS World University Rankings named UCD No. 1 worldwide in agriculture and forestry teaching and research.

The British educational company that published the rankings also slotted UCD 12th in environmental sciences and 25th in biological sciences.

In the spring, Chancellor Linda Katehi first announced plans for a new World Food Center, which will bring together experts at UCD and from around the world in food, agriculture and health in an effort to help ramp up global food production to feed 9 billion people by 2050.

In September, UCD announced that the center’s founding director will be Roger Beachy, former U.S. Department of Agriculture chief scientist and the first director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The following month, UCD named Helene Dillard the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, replacing Neal Van Alfen, who stepped down to return to his faculty position in the department of plant pathology.

15. UCD FUNDRAISING: On Oct. 6, UCD quietly broke the $1 billion mark in its first comprehensive fundraising campaign — a year earlier than anticipated. The university held a November celebration with donors outside of Shields Library.

The Campaign for UC Davis began in 2006 and is set to conclude on May 31.

The impressive totals included $462 million for student and faculty scholarship, research and instruction; $211 million for patient care; $135 million for student support; and $108 million for university environment and capital projects.

In 2007, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation made the single largest donation: a $100 million grant to establish a nursing school. An endowment created as part of that donation has allowed 450 students to earn advanced degrees at no cost.

— Enterprise staff writers Lauren Keene, Cory Golden, Anne Ternus-Bellamy and Jeff Hudson contributed to this report.

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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