Meet Executive Secretary Norlice Smith

In honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated throughout the month of February, the DA’s Office is featuring stories of employees and their contributions to our community. Meet Executive Secretary Norlice Smith, who has been working at the DA’s Office since 1997. Read more about what inspired her to pursue a career at the DA’s Office, below.

Why did you choose a career at the DA’s Office?

“In 1994, I started working for the County of San Diego because I wanted to do something in Community Service. I was working as an Office Assistant in Forensic Mental Health. At that time, my only knowledge of a prosecutor’s office was what I had seen on television. I thought it would be a depressing place to work because employees dealt with crime all the time. One of my tasks was picking up DA files from the DA’s office for the psychologists and psychiatrists to review before they evaluated the defendants. Contrary to my belief, I discovered the office actually had high morale. The employees I met had been working there for several years and had no plans to leave. I decided I wanted to serve our community by doing my small part of assisting the Deputy District Attorneys get justice for victims of crime. A bonus would be that I would have a more secure job because this was during the time when our country was supporting Public Safety and doing budget cuts in the mental health field. As soon as I found out there was an opening, I applied and got the job. It has been very fulfilling to have a career that has purpose.”

Why is Black History Month important to you?

Black History Month is important to me because all Americans should be reminded of the contributions our Black citizens have made to this country. We should never forget the sacrifices they have made to make this country a better place for everyone. It is a reminder that we should not take our rights for granted. They can be taken away. We saw examples of this in 2013, when the Voting Rights Act was changed, and in 2022 when Roe v. Wade was overturned. When Black Americans fought for civil rights, all underrepresented groups benefited.”


Meet Office Assistant Kanishia Holden

In honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated throughout the month of February, the DA’s Office is featuring stories of employees and their contributions to our community. Meet Office Assistant Kanishia Holden, who has been working at the DA’s Office for a little over one year and is currently assigned to the Priors Unit. There Kanishia drafts letters responding to requests from other law enforcement agencies regarding criminal case status and outcomes, she certifies court documents, and prepares prior packets for Court. Kanishia also assists with reception responding to queries by the public. Read more about what inspired her to pursue a career at the DA’s Office, below.

Why did you choose a career at the DA’s Office?
“I would say the DA’s Office chose me. I was a temporary worker working at the Jacobs Center and I received a phone call for a job interview. I have prior experience working as a security guard. One of my most memorable memories working as a security guard is a post I had in Downtown San Diego, which included working with San Diego County’s Probation Department. Another memorable memory of working security was my job post at Tubman Chavez Community Center, where I was the lead security guard. If anything happened during my shift, I would have to communicate with law enforcement. I remember talking to a police officer and her words were ‘you should work with us.’ Overall, my past work experience of working with Allied Universal influenced/introduced me into the criminal justice field. My favorite part of my job is delivering the completed product to the paralegals and working reception and calling out-of-County agencies.”

Why is Black History Month important to you?
Black History is important to me because it shows history and growth for Black American leaders who have made priceless deposits into history.”

Meet Paralegal Supervisor Shay Savage

In honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated throughout the month of February, the DA’s Office is featuring stories of employees and their contributions to our community. Meet Paralegal Supervisor Shay Savage, who has been with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office for over 16 years. She is currently assigned to the Case Issuing/Extraditions, Collaborative Justice, Appellate/Training and Lifer Hearing Divisions. Read more about what inspired Shay to pursue a career in criminal justice, below.

Why did you choose a career at the DA’s Office?
“I developed my passion for the criminal justice system at a young age. Growing up, I loved watching crime TV shows, Law and Order was my absolute favorite. Unfortunately, in my community, the criminal justice system has a negative connotation. I chose a career at the DA’s office because I feel diversity is important. I want to show my community, especially young black girls/women, that representation matters.”

Why is Black History Month important to you?
Black History Month is important to me because I feel it is an opportunity to celebrate and honor the achievements that African Americans have accomplished. It is a reminder of how far we have come despite the history of oppression and racism we still face today. Black History Month is a celebration of diversity and I’m thankful for the sacrifices my ancestors took to pave the way for future generations.”

Meet DA Investigator Donte Kendricks

In honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated throughout the month of February, the DA’s Office is featuring stories of employees and their contributions to our community. Meet District Attorney Investigator Donte Kendricks, who has been with the District Attorney’s Office since August of 2021. He is currently a DA Investigator assigned to Superior Court, a division that handles felony cases and homicide trials. As a DA Investigator, Donte supports the Deputy DA’s by assisting with complex cases which require additional follow-up. His duties include serving subpoenas and locating difficult witnesses, writing search warrants for social media, phone records, and DNA, and interviewing witnesses who were either newly identified or unavailable to detectives prior to submitting the case. Prior to coming to the DA’s Office, he retired from the Chula Vista Police Department as a Detective Sergeant. Read more about what inspired Donte to continue his career at the DA’s Office, below.

Why did you choose a career at the DA’s Office?
“I chose the DA’s Office because I believe in the criminal justice system and want to be an asset in bringing justice to the victims of San Diego County. I also believe the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has excellent leaders who have made a positive influence on San Diego County law enforcement by leading the way in things like de-escalation, while combatting human trafficking, and domestic family violence. We are also a diverse agency with leaders who believe in a diverse workplace, which reflects the community we serve. As a law enforcement professional and former detective, I felt the DA’s Office would be a perfect final chapter in my law enforcement career.”

Why is Black History Month important to you?
“As a child growing up in the 70s, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to learn in school about positive black figures like Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I was also educated by my grandmother, who was born in 1918, about things she saw in her lifetime growing up in the deep South. Black History has always been important in shaping how I see the world and the positive growth that has occurred in my community. As a husband and father of three, I think it’s important to pass along Black History and the history of my family so we never forget the struggles of those who paved the way for today.”

Meet Paralegal Chanté Prettyman

In honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated throughout the month of February, the DA’s Office is featuring stories of employees and their contributions to our community. Meet Paralegal Chanté Prettyman, who has been working at the DA’s Office for almost seven years and is a paralegal within the Major Violator’s Team, which is part of the Superior Court Division. Read more about what inspired her to pursue a career in criminal justice, below.

Why did you choose a career at the DA’s Office?

“To be completely honest, I just happened to apply for a Departmental Clerk position after college and the DA’s Office called me for an interview and offered me the position. Once I came on board, I saw how everyone within the office had such a great passion for the safety of San Diego County and ensuring victims were most importantly heard throughout all stages of every single case our office laid hands on. I am beyond thankful and blessed that the DA’s Office has chosen me to be a part of this unstoppable team. The passion that I have developed for victims and their stories, truly touches my heart every single day, knowing that the DA’s Office puts them first is extraordinary.”

Why is Black History Month important to you?

“Black History Month is important to me and should be important to all, because Black History is American history. Therefore, to have a full month dedicated to Black Excellence is truly special, as this is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions our Black Conquerors have achieved throughout history. By honoring historical Black People from all periods of history, within every area of their lives, struggles and successes, shines the necessary light that Black People are truly magical. Black History is being made every single day and it’s amazing knowing that when we come together and celebrate Black History, we are celebrating and amplifying achievements that are everlasting.”

25-year-old Man Charged in Downtown Crime Spree

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that Christopher Torres, 25, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, one count of making a criminal threat, and one count of battery in connection with an early morning rash of attacks in downtown San Diego on Monday.

“This terrible violent attack on innocent people is another example of unacceptable criminal conduct that is making people who live and work in downtown San Diego experience fear for their safety,” DA Stephan said. “Unfortunately, many of these cases intersect with persons experiencing homelessness as perpetrators or victims of these violent attacks. We will not tolerate this conduct and we will enforce the rule of law against anyone who harms our community.”

Torres was arraigned in San Diego Superior Court and pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces 21 years to life in prison plus an additional 26 years. A preliminary hearing in this case has been set for February 7.

“I’m proud of the swift and complete investigation by San Diego Police Department and the work by the DA team, that will ensure justice is obtained in this case,” DA Stephan said. “Public safety is the guiding light of the District Attorney’s Office, and our priority is making sure San Diego continues to be one of the safest urban counties in America.”

Deputy District Attorney Shane Waller is handling this case.


Man who Brutally Murdered Wife and Sister-In-Law Sentenced

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that defendant Juan Carlos Ortega, 38, who was convicted by a jury on December 21 of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of child endangerment likely to produce great bodily injury and one count of arson, has been sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole plus 26 years to life in prison.

In 2018, Ortega fatally stabbed his wife Veronica Soto Ortega, 30, and her sister Ana Gabriela Soto, 26, as the couple’s children slept nearby.

“The brutality with which this defendant killed the two victims is horrendous and is sadly a disturbing example of what can happen when domestic violence escalates,” DA Stephan said. “A specialized DA prosecution team worked tirelessly to bring this case to justice, and we are grateful for the jury verdict and sentence in this case. Every year there are more than 17,000 reported incidents of domestic violence with an average of 13 women killed per year by their intimate partner. We will keep fighting to reduce the gut wrenching damage of domestic violence in our community.”

On August 9, 2018, Ortega watched his estranged wife’s apartment in Escondido and waited to enter until just after 3 a.m. Once inside the home, he attacked his wife, stabbing her in the neck twice, then slashed his sister-in-law’s throat, stabbed her in the chest and shot her. He then continued stabbing his wife until she died. After killing his wife, he locked his two children, ages 4 and 5, in a nearby bedroom and covered his wife with a blanket. He stuffed his sister-in-law’s body into the back of his wife’s SUV and drove off, tossing out Soto’s cellphone along the way.

At Country Club Drive and Kauana Loa Drive, just east of Escondido, Ortega poured lighter fluid over Soto’s body, set it on fire, then walked back to his vehicle, which he left at a Park & Ride in San Marcos.

Deputy District Attorneys Patricia Lavermicocca and An Dang prosecuted this case.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, take the first step today to protect yourself and your family and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233(SAFE) for help and referrals to local resources. Call 9-1-1 if in immediate danger.

Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison in Gaslamp Shooting Case

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that defendant Travis Sarreshteh, 34, who was convicted by a jury on September 14 of premeditated murder, premeditated attempted murder and assault with a firearm, has been sentenced to 175 years in prison plus four life terms. Sarreshteh shot and killed a parking valet on a busy downtown street in April 2021 before walking several blocks and shooting three tourists and a local San Diego man.

Sarreshteh was stopped by two good Samaritans near Fifth Avenue and Island Avenue.

“This defendant had no regard for life when he ruthlessly killed an innocent young man who was simply performing his work, before going on the hunt for additional victims,” DA Stephan said. “I’m grateful for the heroic actions of bystanders, which likely averted even more loss of life, and also for the swift action and thorough investigation by San Diego Police Department, and the dedicated work of the DA prosecution team, all resulting in a just jury verdict and sentence in this case.”

Sarreshteh had been going through a breakup with his girlfriend, who wanted out of the relationship due to domestic violence incidents. After making a series of Instagram posts about ‘today being the last day for people to make amends’ with him, Sarreshteh went to his girlfriend’s home with a ghost gun— an untraceable firearm. He was wearing all black and his face was covered with a mask.

After the couple argued, Sarreshteh went to the nearby Pendry Hotel, where he shot and killed valet Justice Boldin as he helped customers. When Boldin fell to the ground, Sarreshteh shot him several more times. Sarreshteh then walked up Fifth Avenue and demanded a group of tourists salute him, reaching for his firearm again. At Fifth and Island Avenues, Sarreshteh walked through a group of four young tourists and accused them of laughing at him. The men did not respond and continued to walk away, when Sarreshteh fired into the group of men at their backs. He struck and injured three of the men, plus a local San Diego man who was half a block away on his way to see his son perform music at a local music venue.

The two Good Samaritans followed Sarreshteh and tackled him to the ground. Police arrived on scene and thanks to the Good Samaritans, were able to detain Sarreshteh and seize his firearm.

Deputy District Attorney Jessica Paugh prosecuted this case.

Prolific Thieves Sentenced

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said today two thieves, known for traveling throughout San Diego County to find elderly victims to prey upon, have been sentenced to local custody and to prison after being convicted of robbery, attempted residential burglary and theft from an elderly person.

The defendants – Daniel Miclescu and Simona Paun – are a husband-and-wife team who targeted three victims last August and September, pretending to sell jewelry before forcefully stealing one victim’s Rolex watch and another victim’s purse containing $850 in cash. The third victim was able to prevent the thieves from accessing her home by quickly slamming the door once the defendants tried to force their way in. She had rebuffed the sellers the previous day in a Mira Mesa parking lot, and they followed her home, unbeknownst to her.

“These type of traveling thieves have been prolific in San Diego County, around California and across the country for the past two years and often approach victims in parking lots at local shopping centers or within residential neighborhoods, in upscale rental vehicles,” DA Stephan said. “Let this prosecution and sentencing be an example to would-be thieves that we will not tolerate these organized criminal acts.”

The defendants are part of nationwide ring involving hundreds of suspects. In a typical case, the suspects contact a victim in a parking lot of a shopping center or while they are out for a walk in their neighborhood. The conversation begins with the suspects asking for directions or telling the victim they were robbed and need assistance. Many times, the suspects say they are from Dubai and need help getting back home. Once the victims begin talking to the suspects and letting their guard down, the suspects use distraction and sleight of hand techniques to steal necklaces, watches, rings, and cash. In some cases, when the suspect is unsuccessful, force is used to steal the jewelry.

The San Diego Police Department is committed to solving these crimes and holding the perpetrators accountable. In the past nine months, detectives have arrested 13 subjects in San Diego and other counties in Southern California, and numerous more suspects are currently under investigation and arrests are pending.

“This is an excellent example of law enforcement partners working together to hold criminals accountable,” said Chief David Nisleit. “We will continue these efforts to protect our communities against these brazen crimes.”

Since the start of 2021, San Diego law enforcement have received more than 75 reports of similar thefts and attempted thefts involving dozens of suspects. Most of the crimes occur in shopping center parking lots and the series disproportionally targets the elderly and significant number of Asian victims in the Mira Mesa neighborhood and in National City.

To avoid being victimized, immediately walk away if approached by anyone offering jewelry. Remain in contact with other people or witnesses if possible and create distance between yourself and anyone offering jewelry, including their vehicles as suspects may attempt to grab jewelry and speed away. If contacted in a parking lot, ensure that you are not being followed when you drive away.

Please report aggressive parking lot jewelry sales to store employees or police.

Miclescu, who was sentenced to four years in state prison and Paun, who received one year of local jail plus probation, pleaded guilty on December 9. Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello handled this case.

Campaign Raises Awareness of Boys Who are Exploited

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and Health and Human Services Director Nick Macchione today announced an outreach campaign running in January aimed at raising awareness about boys who become victims of human trafficking. In the past, the focus has often been on girls who were being trafficked, but in recent years law enforcement has been working to educate the public that boys are also often victims. The month-long campaign’s goal is to broaden the public perception of who is vulnerable to being sexually trafficked. Officials hope that bringing attention to this issue will improve screening, identification, and services for boys who are victims of sex trafficking. The campaign will appear on billboards, bus transit posters, on social media and in public service announcements on radio. January is Human Trafficking Awareness month.

“We must recognize the reality that the trafficking of boys is more common than the public may realize,” said DA Stephan. “We have a responsibility to protect all children who are being trafficked. This outreach is an extension of our work to increase awareness, improve identification and reporting, and develop specialty services for survivors who are boys.”

While state and local data doesn’t provide good statistics about the trafficking of boys, national studies demonstrate the seriousness of the problem. A study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice estimated that as many as 50% of the commercially sexually exploited children in the United States are boys. In 2013, a study found that the commercial sexual exploitation of boys is vastly under reported.

“Tragically, as many as 50% of sexually trafficked children are boys and LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience sexual violence,” said Nick Macchione, Director of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. “It’s extremely important that we understand the gravity of the issue and take immediate action by raising awareness through this campaign with the support of our district attorney. At the Health and Human Services Agency, we will promote these valuable and lifesaving resources countywide with all of our community partners.  Together, we will help protect our vulnerable children and youth from sexual exploitation.”

The campaign is being organized by the District Attorney’s Office, Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), and Child Welfare Services. The artwork for the campaign was produced by anti-trafficking activist Genice Jacobs with artist Myriam Obin. A web page, provides information and resources.

Visit for more information. For help for you or someone you love, call 800-344-6000 to reach caring, trained staff who can help.