Photo of a gavel with a knife and handcuffs.

Hate Crime Defendant Sentenced for Attack on Black Victim  

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a 52-year-old hate crime defendant was sentenced to nine years in prison for his violent attack on a Black victim while the two were in a homeless shelter in Carlsbad.

Defendant Jeremy Willis, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and admitted that he inflicted great bodily injury upon the victim and committed a hate crime, repeatedly stabbed Cassius Hope at the La Posada de Guadalupe shelter in December 2023. When a Good Samaritan witness attempted to alert shelter staff, co-Defendant Scott Williams prevented the Good Samaritan from getting help.

“Cassius Hope was victimized in this brutal hate crimes case just because he was Black,” DA Stephan said. “Unfortunately hate crimes targeting Black people remains the highest category of hate crimes in our county and state. Our lead hate crimes prosecutor Abigail Dillon along with a victim advocate, investigator, paralegal, fought for and supported Mr. Hope throughout the process and were able to achieve justice on his behalf.”

The defendant, who is white, repeatedly called Hope the n-word and made other derogatory comments about Hope’s race while stabbing him at the homeless shelter. As we do with all victims of crime, our office will continue to offer services and support to the victim to assist him in moving past this horrible incident.

Co-Defendant Scott Williams, who pleaded guilty to attempting to dissuade a witness from reporting, was sentenced last week to 16 months in prison.

“Hate against one group is a threat to everyone and we won’t tolerate these crimes in our community,” DA Stephan said. “Anyone considering committing a hate crime should think again as they will be investigated, prosecuted and held accountable under the law.”

Photo of Victim Assistance Program Supervisor Annamarie Francisco.

Meet Victim Assistance Program Supervisor Annamarie Francisco

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is observed throughout the month of May, we are featuring stories of DA employees, what inspired them to pursue a career in public service and their contributions at the DA’s Office.

Meet Victim Assistance Program Supervisor Annamarie Francisco, who has been at the DA’s Office for the past eight years. She is currently assigned to the North County Branch Superior Court Division. She directly assists victims in the aftermath of a crime – this includes providing emergency-related services like assistance with relocation or funeral/burial expenses through CalVCB; assisting with safety planning and making referrals to One Safe Place: The North County Family Justice Center or other community agencies to help a victim leave a dangerous situation; providing crisis intervention and always approaching victims with trauma informed care; educating the victim about the criminal justice process, providing updates and accompanying the victim to court; informing the victim of their rights under Marsy’s Law; acting as a liaison between the victim and our office/law enforcement, among other duties. She currently supervises a team of advocates (with Ollie the Court Dog!) in North County, where they work misdemeanors and felonies of all crime types. She also interviews potential candidates for vacant Victim Advocate positions and she present trainings regarding our program to recruits at the San Diego Regional Academy and other community service agencies. Annamarie is also a part of the Crisis Response Team, which is called out to provide crisis intervention to victims of mass violence incidents or incidents that affect the greater community. She is also a member of the San Diego Anti-Hate Coalition and enjoys working with other government and community agencies to combat hate. Within the DA’s Office, she is a member of the Peer Support Team for the office- if you or anyone you know is a DA employee dealing with a critical incident or personal problem and would like to talk it out with a peer, the Peer Support Team is here for you and only a phone call or e-mail away. Read more about what inspired Annamarie to pursue career in law enforcement at the DA’s Office, below, or meet her in THIS VIDEO.

What inspired you to pursue a career in law enforcement/ at the DA’s Office?

“Growing up, my parents instilled within me an appreciation for and purpose in service to country and to the public. My dad was in the chosen three out of 300 applicants to be recruited for the US Navy out of the Philippines – he proudly served for 26 years. My mom did a few years in the County before she went on to have a long career in the US Postal Service. My sister is a Captain in the US Army and many of my aunts, uncles and cousins have served or are currently serving in the armed forces. Victim advocacy is a career that I fell into and ended up falling in love with. Since the first homicide I ever worked, I’ve found purpose in consoling those in crisis, providing information to those who are lost, and acting as an emotional support and guide for victims as they navigate the criminal justice process. I’m proud to be a team member of an office that combats crime, pursues justice, and holds those who threaten our safety and well-being accountable for their actions.”

 

Why is AAPI Month important to you?

“Both of my parents left their home country of the Philippines to pursue the American Dream – the belief that hard work, determination, and grit would bring with it an assortment of opportunities and a better life. I visited my parents’ hometowns in the Philippines, and it gave me a new perspective and a deeper appreciation for all the sacrifices my parents made so that my two sisters and I could have the best of everything. I was also lucky to have grown up with both sets of grandparents, who lived through devastating events like the Bataan Death March during WWII and survived and thrived.  AAPI to me is honoring, remembering, preserving, celebrating, sharing, and all those other beautiful verbs where we come from, who we are, and where we’re going. It’s connecting with people like us, educating others not like us, sharing our tradition and cuisines, and celebrating what makes us unique.”

WATCH a video about Victim Assistance Program Supervisor Annamarie Francisco, here.

Read more AAPI stories from the DA’s Office, here.

Photo of gavel and scales of justice.

50 Years-to-Life in Domestic Violence Case

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said today that defendant Arturo Ulloa, 43, has been sentenced to 50 years-to-life in prison for brutally attacking his girlfriend, strangling her and then stabbing her repeatedly. The sentence was handed down in San Diego Superior Court in Vista this afternoon. During a jury trial in January, Ulloa was found guilty of premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, attempted carjacking, and child endangerment. The defendant has 11 prior convictions for armed robbery. Deputy District Attorney Jessica Stehr prosecuted the case.

“This was a vicious crime, committed in front of the victim’s children,” said DA Stephan. “It’s incredible that she survived the attack and a testament to her resiliency and bravery that she was able to testify during the trial. Today, a measure of justice has been delivered.”

The victim was awakened at about 5:30 a.m. by the defendant who was strangling her. He stopped and then started strangling her again, this time for about two minutes. The victim tried to get away and defend herself, but Ulloa then began stabbing her with steak knives. He stabbed her more than 20 times using five different knives. Her children, ages 4 and 7, witnessed the attack and ran to a neighbor for help. After stabbing his girlfriend, the defendant fled and attempted to carjack a separate victim.

Strangulation is common in domestic violence incidents and law enforcement in San Diego County has a coordinated community response on how to handle such cases. Studies have shown that episodes of non-fatal strangulation have a greater likelihood of leading to homicide. The county’s Strangulation Protocol put into place a system of uniform detection, documentation and response so victims receive consistent treatment across the county. Since strangulation often does not leave obvious signs of injury, it is important for victims to report it and receive appropriate medical care.

Domestic violence has many forms including physical aggression, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, stalking, or financial abuse. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, frighten, terrorize, injure, or wound someone.

If you or someone you know is being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233. More resources can be found on the District Attorney’s website.

In addition, One Safe Place: The North County Family Justice Center provides free support services all under one roof to anyone who has experienced child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, hate crime, elder abuse, human trafficking, violent loss, family violence, or other abuse or victimization. For more information, visit OneSafePlaceNorth.org.

Photo of the cover of the DA's Annual Report 2023.

DA Releases 2023 Annual Report

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan released the DA’s 2023 Annual Report, noting a number of recent accomplishments across many different areas of her office’s mission.

“As one of the few public service offices that represents all 18 cities and 39 unincorporated communities that make up our beloved San Diego County, we are fiercely committed to the right of every child, adult and senior to live with safety and dignity,” DA Stephan said. “In this report you will find reflected the work of the dedicated DA team of prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates and staff working alongside law enforcement and the communities we serve to keep San Diego one of the safest urban counties in America.”

The Annual Report can be found online here.

The report includes:

  • A breakdown of prosecutions by crime type
  • A description of notable and high-profile criminal cases
  • An account of services provided to crime victims
  • Stories of hope from users One Safe Place – the North County Family Justice Center
  • Facts and figures of our outreach in the community
Photo of Deputy DA Garret Wong in his office with AAPI Month written in text.

Meet Deputy DA Garret Wong

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is observed throughout the month of May, we are featuring stories of DA employees, what inspired them to pursue a career in public service and their contributions at the DA’s Office.

Meet Deputy District Attorney Garret Wong, who has been at the DA’s Office for the past 15 years and is currently assigned to the South Bay branch as team leader and supervises the Misdemeanor Trial Team in prosecuting all misdemeanor cases for the South Bay branch office. This involves reviewing and evaluating work of misdemeanor trial attorneys, including advising and counseling misdemeanor trial attorneys in matters of law and trial strategies. Read more about what inspired Garret to pursue career in law enforcement at the DA’s Office, below, or meet him in THIS VIDEO.

What inspired you to pursue a career in law enforcement/ at the DA’s Office?

“Both my mother and father worked in public service for the entirety of their respective careers. My father was the first Asian American hired for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Arizona office. He was among the first Chinese-American agents assigned as part of a special task force for the FBI’s San Francisco office, where he retired after a 27 year career. My mother began her federal career with the U.S. Customs Service as the first Asian American staff attorney in Customs legal offices, working her way up to Senior Attorney before Customs transitioned to the Department of Homeland Security. She retired as the Assistant Chief Counsel in charge of the San Francisco office after working in federal service for 35 years. She was the first Asian American to hold that position and the first Chinese American attorney manager for CBP. I was raised understanding the importance of public service and serving my community. I believe this is what led me to pursuing a career as a prosecutor with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.”

Why is AAPI Month important to you?

“Asian family values often emphasize humility and restraint above everything (this was certainly my childhood experience!). This often manifests in a reluctance to acknowledge and highlight Asian American achievements and contributions. AAPI month provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate those Asian Americans who have enriched America’s history who would otherwise have intentionally remained in the background. I am very proud of my family’s history of public service to our country, and I love being able to continue that legacy through my work as a prosecutor with our office!”

WATCH a video about Deputy DA Garret Wong, here.

Read more AAPI stories from the DA’s Office, here.

District Attorney Summer Stephan poses for photos with San Diego County Sheriff members honored with Cops of the Quarter Awards at One Safe Place: The North County Family Justice Center.

DA Honors ‘Cops of the Quarter’ at One Safe Place

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan joined our team at One Safe Place: The North County Family Justice Center to honor Sheriff Kelly Martinez and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department with the “Cops of the Quarter” Award last week. The honored team members pictured have shown valor, compassion and dedication in service to our survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking.

The awardees included Captain Kevin Ralph and the SDSO San Marcos substation, deputies, detectives and crime prevention specialists that have truly gone above and beyond every day, giving our survivors a voice and ensuring that every effort is made to bring them hope, healing and justice.

The SDSO teams have been a vital part of the collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners at One Safe Place and we are thankful for their support to our survivors and staff.

Please join us in congratulating the following honorees:

  • Captain Kevin Ralph & SDSO San Marcos Substation
  • Deputy Michael Benninger
  • Crime Prevention Specialist Nhu Le-Brown
  • Det. Natalie Rivera
  • Det. Ronald Bushnell
  • Deputy Ricardo Andrade
  • Deputy Michael Lee
  • Detective Charles Eglin
  • Deputy Thomas Nelson

To learn more about One Safe Place, click here.

Photo of Deputy District Attorney Allana Platt for AAPI Month.

Meet Deputy District Attorney Allana Platt

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is observed throughout the month of May, we are featuring stories of DA employees, what inspired them to pursue a career in public service and their contributions at the DA’s Office.

Meet Deputy District Attorney Allana Platt, who has been at the DA’s Office for the past three years and is currently assigned to the Preliminary Team in the South Bay Branch. As a prelim Deputy DA, her day to day typically involves preparing felony cases by reviewing discovery, speaking with victims, conducting preliminary hearings, and handling the felony arraignment calendar. Read more about what inspired Allana to pursue career in law enforcement at the DA’s Office, below.

What inspired you to pursue a career in law enforcement/ at the DA’s Office?

“My desire to pursue a career at the DA’s Office really developed while I was in college at Gonzaga University. While there, I received an education infused with Jesuit values. Throughout my classes, there was a strong emphasis on social justice and serving the community around me. I decided to pair that mission with my interest in criminal law and wanted to become a prosecutor. Additionally, my grandparents were immigrants from China and operated a cash-run laundry in Encino, Los Angeles. My mom and her five siblings all worked the cash registers starting at a young age. I always heard stories of the business being robbed, and my grandfather never reported the crime to police due to fear and distrust of the criminal justice system. Another reason I decided to pursue a career in law enforcement is because it’s important to me that the DA’s office reflects the community we represent.”

Why is AAPI Month important to you?

AAPI Month is special to me because I believe it’s important to recognize and celebrate the achievements of those in the AAPI community. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood and school, I always felt the need to assimilate. I failed to embrace my community and culture until I grew a lot older. I now understand how powerful and impactful I can be as an Asian-American prosecutor. But overall, AAPI month symbolizes the immense pride that I now take in my heritage, my culture, and my community.”

Read more AAPI stories from the DA’s Office, here.

Serial Rapist Who Terrorized Pacific Beach is up for Early Parole

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that convicted rapist, Kenneth Bogard, 66, is up for parole after serving only 30 years of a 96-year prison sentence, due to elderly parole, which is available to inmates over the age of 50 who have served at least 20 years of their sentence.

Bogard was convicted by a jury in 1995 of 37 felonies, including multiple counts of residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, sexual battery, forcible oral copulation, rape by foreign object, assault with intent to commit rape, and rape. He was sentenced to 96 years in prison. His first parole hearing was in 2019. At that time, the Parole Board denied his request and set his next hearing for five years later, which is May 22.

“The Elder Parole law that allows for early release of murderers and rapists is cruel to crime victims and is rigged to only benefit violent criminals,” DA Stephan said. “This newer law forces victims and their families to revisit the trauma they have already suffered and causes additional despair. It doesn’t matter what kind of vicious acts for which the inmate was convicted. The law gives an opportunity for felons who were sentenced to life in prison to be prematurely released into our community. Our Lifer Unit will never abandon victims and we will continue to stand by them in these early parole hearings, vowing to fight releases when warranted, as we are in this serial rape case.”

The parole hearing will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, May 22 at 8:30 a.m. at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, Calif. (UPDATE: The parole hearing was rescheduled for October 10, 2024 at 8:30 am.)

Effective January 2021, inmates who are both age 50 and have served at least 20 years in prison are now eligible for an elderly parole hearing. Inmates who are 60 and have served at least 25 years are also eligible for an elderly parole hearing, no matter the crime.

Between August 1992 and October 1993, Bogard brutally attacked seven women inside their homes in the Pacific Beach community. He stalked his victims prior to the attacks, sometimes watching them for weeks. He disguised his identity with a ski mask, carried a knife to force the victims into submission, and viciously forced them to perform sex acts. Bogard stalked the women to ensure they were home alone, then he creeped into their homes without detection before attacking. After the cruel sexual attacks, Bogard often tucked the victim into bed saying “Goodnight” or reminding the victim to lock her doors and windows.

If Bogard is denied parole, the Board of Parole Hearings will not set a new parole hearing for at least three years. If he is granted parole, he will not be released immediately. The Governor reviews all grants of parole and can send the case back for additional review by the Board of Parole Hearings if he so chooses.

Meet Legal Support Manager Gina Peralta

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is observed throughout the month of May, we are featuring stories of DA employees, what inspired them to pursue a career in public service and their contributions at the DA’s Office.

Meet Legal Support Manager Gina Peralta, who works in multiple divisions, including Economic Crimes, Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice and Victim Services. She provides support and assistance in the day-to-day operations to all Deputy DAs, DA Investigators, Paralegals and clerical staff. She provides guidance, training, and counseling (when needed) to all clerical staff and motivate them to do well in their various assignments. As an LSM, she takes care of various service and purchasing requests, processing, and submitting new hire LAN accounts, transfers of DA employees as well as outside agency to the IT Department, handling problem resolution and difficult personnel issues. Gina has been with the DA’s Office since 1999. Read more about what inspired Gina to pursue career in law enforcement at the DA’s Office, below.

What inspired you to pursue a career in law enforcement/ at the DA’s Office?

“I believe that our office plays an integral part in keeping the community safe. I’m honored to be part of an organization that protects the innocent and helps the victims gets justice. I’m proud of what our office does and will always support the values and service we give to the San Diego community.”

Why is AAPI Month important to you?

“I’m thankful that our office celebrates AAPI month by recognizing the contribution of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the society. I wish that more people will take the time to learn about our culture and heritage through our traditions, beliefs, music, food, and different languages. I hope that it will encourage everyone to embrace all our differences and promote understanding and respect. Everyone deserves to be valued as a person.”

Read more AAPI stories from the DA’s Office, here.

30 Year Sentence for Armed Robber

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced that a 22-year-old man was sentenced on Thursday to 30 years in prison for shooting an Oceanside AM/PM store clerk in the abdomen during a robbery and a separate shooting in Escondido. Hans Nanduca, who was on probation, pleaded guilty to assault with a semi-automatic firearm, admitted that he personally used a firearm, and admitted a prior strike when entering guilty pleas last month. In the Escondido case, Nanduca also pled guilty to assault with a semi-automatic firearm and attempted robbery while vicariously armed with a firearm.

The AM/PM store clerk fortunately survived his injuries, but the defendant— who was wearing a mask— was not apprehended immediately. Two weeks later, Nanduca was an accomplice in another robbery at a local business in Escondido where a gun was fired. The firearm, which turned out to be an untraceable ghost gun found on scene was eventually connected to Nanduca when the cartridge casings from the Oceanside and Escondido shootings were matched to the firearm. That link led to charges and the successful prosecution of the AM/PM shooting. At the time of the crimes, Nanduca was on probation for carjacking while armed with a knife and reckless driving.

This defendant’s violent crimes nearly took the lives of innocent people who were working hard at local businesses. The fact that defendant used a ghost gun made the investigation more difficult, but Oceanside and Escondido police detectives persisted in solving these crimes and our office brought a successful prosecution to end the defendant’s crime spree,” said DA Summer Stephan. “This lengthy and well-deserved sentence brings a measure of relief for the victims and businesses and we stand ready to support them with specialized services to process the trauma they suffered.”

This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Daniel Gochnour, who is assigned to the DA’s North County Branch in Vista.