Arrest made in 1990 murder
CARPINTERIA — A suspect wanted for a murder that occurred more than 30 years ago in San Francisco was arrested earlier this week in Carpinteria, authorities said.
Around 3:32 p.m. Wednesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies were conducting a welfare check on an individual in the 1000 block of Casitas Pass Road. Deputies made contact with James Francis Edwards and, after running a records check, determined that he was wanted on a 1990 homicide warrant from San Francisco, according to law enforcement officials.
As of Friday, Mr. Edwards remained in custody at the Main Jail pending his transfer to the San Francisco County Jail.
Around 6:25 a.m. on Nov. 5, 1990, San Francisco Police officers responded to a reported shooting in the 200 block of Potrero Avenue. Officers located the victim, 46-year-old Lamar Vaughn who was suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Homicide inspectors with the SFPD determined that Mr. Vaughn and Mr. Edwards had been involved in an argument prior to the shooting. Investigators obtained an arrest warrant for murder and felon in possession of a firearm for Mr. Edwards, who was 40 at the time of the shooting. As the investigation continued, investigators learned that he used multiple identities and likely fled the state.
“We would like to thank the members of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in locating and apprehending Edwards and helping return him to San Francisco where he will be held to answer for the criminal charges,” read a statement from the San Francisco Police Department.
— Mitchell White
Judge rules in favor of city’s short-term rental ordinances
SANTA BARBARA — Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle ruled in favor of the city of Santa Barbara’s existing short-term vacation rental ordinances, finding that they are valid and enforceable throughout the city.
City Attorney Ariel Calonne announced the ruling Friday in a case that was funded by James Fenkner and brought by local attorney Joe Liebman. Mr. Calonne said the case “provided the opportunity for City lawyers to reveal evidence that California Coastal Commission staff improperly interfered in Santa Barbara’s inland zoning decisions at the behest of vacation rental business interests.”
Steve Hudson, deputy director of the Coastal Commission, offered testimony in support of vacation rental business interests. Judge Anderle found “… he does not ‘represent’ the Coastal Commission in this litigation; if they had thought this was important, the Coastal Commission could have intervened in this litigation and this Court would then have an official position of that distinguished organization.”
Mr. Liebman did not appeal and elected to pay the city $5,991.92 in court costs. Mr. Calonne said his decision not to appeal was “likely to avoid creating favorable precedent for the City.”
“We are pleased to have a local ruling that upholds the City’s power to enforce the law against illegal vacation rentals, especially now when permanent housing is in such short supply,” he said in a statement.
The case was handled by Robin Lewis and Tom Shapiro of the City Attorney’s Office. Officials say the office will continue to actively enforce the city’s vacation rental laws.
— Mitchell White
Charges filed against oil tanker truck driver
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Friday that charges have been filed against the driver of an oil tanker truck allegedly responsible for spilling more than 4,500 gallons of oil into the Cuyama River last March.
The charges were filed by the District Attorney’s Office and the Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit against Jesse Villasana, who was driving the truck at the time. The misdemeanor complaint alleges that, while hauling more than 6,600 gallons of crude oil, Mr. Villasana “drove at an unsafe speed and made an unlawful turning movement,” according to authorities.
The actions allegedly caused the oil tank to roll off the truck into the Cuyama River. Mr. Villasana is further charged with two violations of Fish and Game Code for allegedly causing the death of at least two birds, a belted kingfisher and a mallard, in the spill.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria on June 25.
— Mitchell White