Tag Archive for Robert Painter

Will we see justice for Robert Painter and Ovidio Morales?

In the deepening gloom of an early December evening, a lone bicyclist waited amid the bustle of rush hour traffic to cross busy Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood.

He used the crosswalk, whether for convenience or the greater safety he thought it would offer.

Traffic approaching in the right lane paused, allowing him to set out across the street. But a driver in a dark colored Jeep Cherokee speeding in the left lane blew past the stopped cars and plowed into the cyclist, then sped off, leaving 40-year old Robert Painter, a Canadian citizen who made his home in North Hollywood, laying broken and bloody in the street.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics and medical workers, he died in a local hospital after clinging to life for another 10 days.

Outraged by the callousness of the incident, a police detective reached out for the public’s help in solving the crime. Yet nearly four months later, no one has been arrested, no suspect is being sought, and any leads have long ago dried up.

According to sources at the LAPD, the case has been thoroughly investigated without suspect being identified.

The police have examined security video from a nearby gas station without success; even if it had captured the fleeing SUV, limited camera angles and poor lighting conditions would have prevented officers from being able to make out the license plate. And despite extensive press coverage, no significant leads were produced.

As a result, the case is currently classified as Investigation Continued; the detective in charge promises to pursue any leads as they come in.

So a murderer still roams free.

And he’s not the only one.

On the morning of February 15th, Ovidio Morales attempted to ride his bike across Compton Blvd in Compton.

As he did, the driver of a minivan reportedly blew through the red light while talking on his cell phone, striking the 34-year old father of five and dragging him beneath his car, in a crime captured by a nearby security camera.

The driver is then shown stopping and walking back to look at Morales laying in the street, then getting back in what witnesses described as a silver or gray 1990’s Ford van, possibly an Aerostar, and driving away.

Again, the video footage failed to identify a suspect; the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the apprehension and/or conviction of the person responsible.

Both Robert Painter and Ovidio Morales have been remembered by the cycling community.

But the best way we can honor them is to keep our eyes and ears open, and do whatever we can to bring their killers to justice.

Meanwhile, DJ Wheels forwards news that Patricia Ann Izquieta has pleaded not guilty in the hit-and-run death of Donald Murphy in Newport Beach last December.

According to prosecutors, Izquieta was on Methadone and Clonazapam when she struck Murphy from behind, dragging his bike under her car for over a mile before stopping; amazingly, Murphy’s family issued a statement shortly after his death forgiving her.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 26th.

If you have any information about the Painter case, contact Valley Traffic Division Detective Doug Larkin or Detective William Bustos at 818/644-8036 or 818/644-8020, respectively. Or you can call 1-877/LAPD-24-7 (1-877/527-3247) toll free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone with information about the Morales case is urge to call Detective Michael Lennig at the Compton Sherriff’s Station, 310/605-6500 or 310/605-3516 and refer to Report No. 010-02521-2832-251.

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James Williamson, elite mountain biker and former solo 24-hour champion, died in his sleep while in South Africa yesterday. The 26-year old cyclist could not roused by his teammate the morning after completing the second stage of the Absa Cape Epic endurance cross-country race. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead; cause of death is undetermined pending an autopsy.

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The recently formed South Bay Bicycle Coalition is selected to create a bike plan for the seven-city South Bay region, with support from the LACBC. A near-90 degree wallride in Echo Park. The 5th annual Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer rolls this Sunday, with a killer loop around — or through — Mt. Washington, Silver Lake and Dodger Stadium. Evidently, I’m the new poster child for blocked bike lanes. Maybe what we need is a bike excise tax; I’m in if all the funds go toward bicycling (yeah, that’ll happen). It’s spring, when anti-veloism rears it’s ugly head. Crowdsourcing bike jerseys in Chicago. With a few more bike shops, Nashville could be just like Portland. Boise State hosts a Bicycle Congress focusing on a women’s perspective on bike commuting. A Baltimore rider says we need enforcement, not a three-foot law; I’ll take both, thank you. Carbon fiber — light, strong, sexy and keeping bike lawyers employed. The war on the car goes on, with a few small victories from the Resistance. A New Zealand writer ask why so many people hate Lycra these days. A former Aussie media mogul gives up cycling after undergoing emergency brain surgery following a bike accident. Cycling in non-London Britain declined over the last four years — except for a 27% increase in six demonstration cities. A new Brit bike lane is great, except that it’s not possible to ride in it. Cycling from the UK to the World Cup in South Africa with a big, fat mosquito-bit lip. Da Vinci’s rough-riding bike goes on display in Manchester.

Finally, keep carried objects away from your wheels, or you too could end up shocked and dazzled.

Bike cases fill the dockets — Dr. Thompson was just the beginning

As Bob Mionske noted in the Times last week, the Thompson case does not represent a sea change for cyclists.

It was just one case, with unique circumstances. Like driver who admitted trying to “teach them a lesson.” A car with a unique, memorable license plate. And at least three other cyclists who could testify to similar incidents involving the same car, and the same driver.

Not to mention a police department that took it seriously — which isn’t always the case.

Unfortunately, it’s also just the tip of the iceberg.

As cyclist/attorney DJ Wheels pointed out recently, while Thompson got 5 years for intentionally injuring two cyclists, Alejandro Hidalgo got just two years for getting drunk and killing Jesus Castillo, then fleeing the scene.

Call me crazy, but on my balance sheet, Intoxication + Death + Running Away outweighs Intent + Injury. Even if it wasn’t the first time.

And that’s just the first of at least 10 other cases involving cyclists working their way through the investigative and legal process in the L.A. area.

Like Teri Hawkins, for instance.

She reportedly ran a stop sign before striking a cyclist, knocking him 30 feet through the air. The 40-year old Simi Valley resident turned herself in to the police 4 days after the hit-and-run collision that resulted in “major injuries” to the 26-year old rider, who has not been publicly identified.

After pleading no contest to hit-and-run with injury (CVC 2001a), her request for probation was denied and she was sentenced to 16 months in state prison last week, with credit for 76 days time served. Hawkins was also ordered to pay restitution, with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the San Fernando courthouse.

Wheels notes that turning herself in may have been a mitigating factor in the relatively low sentence — although it should be noted that her conscience seemed to kick in after her car had been located and impounded by the police.

Wheels also provided an update on the status of some of the other cases:

The preliminary setting for Robert Sam Sanchez — the driver accused of killing Rod Armas and seriously injuring his son Christian on PCH in Malibu last June — has been continued for the third time.

Sanchez was arrested shortly after fleeing the collision, which took place near the completion of the L.A. Wheelmen’s 200-mile Grand Tour Double Century. The preliminary setting, held prior to a preliminary hearing, is now scheduled for February 11 in the Malibu Courthouse. Sanchez has pled not guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Section 191.5a of the California Penal Code) as well as driving under the influence (CVC 23152a) and failure to stop after an accident involving an injury (CVC 20001a).

Rod’s sister-in-law reported last summer that Christian was doing well physically, though making it clear that the family was struggling with his loss. And an acquaintance of Sanchez noted that he was not a bad person, despite a drunken decision to get behind the wheel that has forever changed two families.

Mark Antonio Valencia was high on drugs and alcohol when he mowed down five cyclists in Santa Clarita on the morning of July 11, killing Joseph Novotny and seriously injuring two others. Valencia, who was driving his sister’s car without a license after two prior DUI convictions — as well as multiple arrests for drug and alcohol possession, selling tear gas and obstructing officers — had already been reported to authorities before the collision; unfortunately, sheriff’s deputies couldn’t catch up to him in time.

DJ Wheels reports that Valencia is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in the San Fernando courthouse on January 22. Valencia is still being held on $1.3 million bail, charged with 13 criminal counts including murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run and several DUI charges.

In a very personal case, the driver who threatened a group of cyclists, resulting in injuries to Wheel’s new wife, will be arraigned on January 26.

On January 28, the driver accused of injuring local cycling advocate Roadblock in a hit-and-run collision is scheduled for a pretrial hearing.

A February 3 hearing has been scheduled for four men charged with attempting to rob a female cyclist by striking her in the face with a baseball bat.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues into the hit-and-run that sent community leader Ed Magos to the hospital on January 6. Despite driving off and leaving another human splayed on the pavement unable to move, the driver was not arrested when she turned herself in later; no charges have yet been filed.

No word yet on the status of Patricia Ann Izquieta, who was arrested for the hit-and-run death of Donald Murphy in Irvine last month. Or whether any charges will be filed in the death of Gustavo Ramirez in Long Beach on the 5th. It doesn’t sound likely, though, since initial police statements seemed to blame Ramirez; the Press-Telegram reports on last weekend’s ride in his honor.

And there’s still no word of an arrest in the hit-and-run death of Robert Painter, the cyclist killed while riding in a crosswalk in North Hollywood last month. Fittingly, the driver is likely to face murder charges once an arrest is made.

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Controversy over plans for a bikeway near JPL. Travelin’ Local maps L.A. by bike. A North County San Diego paper questions whether current criminal penalties are strong enough when cars hit bikes; a drunk cyclist unwittingly volunteers as a test case. Another rider is killed in the nation’s most deadly state for cycling; Transit Miami examines why it happened there. Austin’s planned bike boulevard hits some bumps. Anchorage holds a very frosty bike race. A Colorado town revives the legendary Morgul Bismark stage from the Red Zinger/Coors Classics. German pro Matthias Kessler suffered a serious brain injury after a cat runs in front of his bike. London residents question traffic calming and bikeway plans. Lance has won seven tours; World Champ Cadel Evans says he’s only lost five.  Bikeways to the sailing venues for the 2012 Olympics could use some improvement. Scotland awards over $1.2 million to promote cycling in Edinburgh. The UK promotes child cycling through the new Bike Club. An Indian Nobel Laureate and confirmed cyclist says cars set a bad example, while a Danish politician says bikes are the obvious solution. Finally, the Trickster did indeed say it first — Michael Vink is a rising rider to keep an eye on.

And a woman walks into a bike shop

Unfinished business: Alejandro Hidalgo & Dr. Christopher Thompson sentencing

Jesus Castillo, a 44-year old day laborer from Sonora, Mexico, was riding his bike — his only form of transportation — on Glendale Boulevard in the early hours of Sunday, April 19th last year.  As he rode south, he was struck and killed by a car driven by Alejandro Hidalgo, who fled the scene in his Mitsubishi Gallant.

Fortunately, a witness was able to take down the license number, and police were able to take Hidalgo into custody less than two hours later, as well as tracking down a passenger in his car who indicated that Hidalgo had been driving under the influence.

According to recently married cyclist/attorney DJ Wheels, last November the District Attorney had offered Hidalgo a plea bargain that included prison time for the three charges he faced. Since he hadn’t received an update from the D.A.’s office, he decided to look into the case, and discovered that Hidalgo is scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday.

According to Wheels,

I decided to request a copy of the docket today at the clerk’s office.  I learned that on November 12, 2009, the district attorney requested that count 1 for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Penal Code 191.5a) be changed to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence (Penal Code 191.5b).

Hidalgo then changed his not guilty plea to no contest on this particular count.  Judge Craig Richman entered his conviction under 191.5b, a felony, and ordered him to return for sentencing on January 6, 2010 in Dept. 35 at 8:30 am.

There were still two counts of drunk driving on the original complaint, but the minutes do not state whether those were vacated as part of the plea bargain.

It should be noted that 191.5a requires a state prison term of 4, 6 or 10 years. On the other hand, 191.5b, requires imprisonment for 16 months, 2 or 4 years.

We’ll have to see what sentence the judge imposes. But even four years seems like a relative slap on the wrist for killing another human being, simply because someone felt compelled to get behind the wheel after having a few too many — or maybe merely capable of making it home in that condition — then running away and leaving a man to die in the street.

Meanwhile, Dr. Christopher Thompson is scheduled for sentencing at 8:30 am this Friday at the Airport Courthouse, after being convicted on five felony counts for intentionally injuring two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon on July 4th, 2008.

And in another tragic case, a ghost bike was installed for Robert Painter, the cyclist killed by yet another hit-and-run driver in North Hollywood last month.

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A reminder that it’s not just cyclists who are vulnerable to hit-and-run drivers. Will notes upcoming rides, including his rapidly growing, Five Seven Eight Presidents Ride. Biking through the snow in Cambridge, Mass. Advice on sharing the road from a cycling instructor in my old home town. New York remembers cyclists and pedestrians killed last year. Yes, that really is an impressive bike rack. How people who don’t live in SoCal keep warm on winter rides. Where are Singapore cyclists supposed to ride when there’s no good place for Singapore cyclists? 2,500 Aussie cyclists ride to raise safety awareness. A road raging driver in the UK beats a cyclist after a near collision. Finally, yet another Facebook page for people who love to see cyclists get hurt; evidently, the well of human compassion online doesn’t run very deep.

Update on tragedy: North Hollywood hit-and-run victim dies

According to the LAPD, the cyclist injured early this month in a North Hollywood hit-and-run has died.

And the driver who left his broken body laying in the street as he fled the scene is now wanted for murder.

In an assault that reportedly left an experienced police detective outraged, Robert Painter was struck by a dark green or black Jeep Grand Cherokee at approximately 5:10 pm on December 2nd, while riding his bike in the crosswalk where Archwood Street crossed Laurel Canyon Boulevard. According to the LAPD, the impact “launched Painter off his bike into the air,” resulting in severe injuries; the suspect immediately fled without rendering aid.

Paramedics transported painter, a Canadian citizen living in North Hollywood, to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries this past Saturday, December 12 — 10 days after he was struck.

From the LAPD blog:

The driver of the car is described as a male Hispanic 30 to 35 years old with dark hair and dark clothes.  There was also a female passenger who was described as possibly wearing a red coat.  The suspect’s car is said to have collision damage on the front end of the driver’s side.  The suspect’s car was last seen entering an Arco gas station at the intersection of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Van Owen Street a block north of where the collision occurred.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Valley Traffic Division Detectives Doug Larkin at (818) 644-8036 or Detective William Bustos at 818-644-8020.  During off-hours, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247).  Callers may also text “Crimes” with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on Web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.”  Tipsters may remain anonymous.

The cycling community has tens of thousands more eyes on the street than the police, so keep an eye open when you ride. If you see a vehicle that matches the description, don’t try to stop it; call the police and let them do their job.

And let’s put this son-of-a-bitch behind bars where he belongs.

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