Mar 082013
 
Alice Vachss Special Prosecutor on Thomas Acosta case

Alice Vachss
Special Prosecutor on Thomas Acosta case

Oregonian Reporter Lori Tobias broke a story today that paints a less than amicable parting of the ways for Special Prosecutor Alice Vachss and the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office. Just a few weeks ago, Vachss, along with District Attorney Rob Bovett and Chief Deputy District Attorney Marcia Buckley, called a news conference to wrap a bow on their surprisingly successful prosecution of Thomas Acosta for Sexual Assault and Sodomy against April Loper, who died last fall in a fatal accident on Highway 20 near Eddyville. Vachss, an experienced sex abuse prosecutor, heaped praise on District Attorney Rob Bovett for deciding to move ahead on the case even though a great deal involved inadmissible hearsay evidence, since April had died last fall.

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Vachss said that there are many instances when a victim has died and therefore the accused cannot face his or her accuser. Vachss convinced Bovett to proceed with the case anyway, putting his faith in the likelihood that evidence provided by medical personnel, law enforcement and family members, describing April’s physical and mental state would be evidence enough. And in the end, it was. Acosta has begun serving an over eight year prison sentence.

But just weeks after the love-fest in front of the TV cameras, Vachss has changed her public perspective on how the Acosta case unfolded. And it’s quite a jolt compared to what reporters witnessed at the news conference. Here’s Lori Tobias’s story. Click here.

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 Posted by at 12:38 AM
Feb 072013
 

Thomas Acosta – Will he go free
because his deceased alleged victim can’t testify?
Defense Attorney Guy Greco, left


Thomas Acosta
Lincoln County Jail photo

1pm update Friday
The jury is deliberating the fate of thomas Acosta. We await their verdict.

6pm Update Thursday

Court resumes Friday morning. Reports say that the prosecution has achieved some status for the charges filed against Thomas Acosta – except for coercion. Whether it’s enough to to get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt is unknown, of course, or whether Judge Branford might determine that the supporting evidence is too weak, due to their elements of hearsay, to justify a conviction.

6pm Update
Court recessed at 5pm after hearing testimony from a nurse who examined April Loper when she came in for an evaluation upon returning to Newport from Redding in January of last year. What the nurse was allowed to say in front of the jury was strictly limited to describing Loper’s wounds. The prosecution is expected to put one more witness on the stand on Thursday. In the meantime defense attorney Guy Greco made a request of Judge Thomas Branford that the charges against Thomas Acosta be dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence. The judge replied that he would make a ruling on the request in the morning.

Thomas’ trial continues at 9:30am with the jury scheduled to re-enter the courtroom at 1:30pm.

This morning’s court session to determine whether accused rapist Thomas Acosta will be convicted had difficulty getting traction today. While a large support group for now deceased April Loper watched from the audience seats, attorneys bantered back and forth about which evidence should be entered and which should not be entered. But when they found what they agreed was admissible evidence on the Acosta police interview dvd, they couldn’t get it to play on courtroom video equipment. So the jury was ushered out. They got it working using defense attorney Guy Greco’s laptop, but then they couldn’t get the dvd to cue to the precise set of words that were uttered by Acosta that the prosecution wanted the jury to hear.

By then, it was time for lunch.

Acosta is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting April Loper of Toledo and then doing it again in Redding, California early last year. The two were determined to be in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Loper’s family characterized her relationship with Acosta as based on fear for her life as well as the lives of her family. Family members said Loper expressed this information to them, saying she was scared to death of him, begging them not to call the police, that she would handle things; otherwise she feared for everyone as to what he might do.

Court records show that Acosta and Loper left her family’s home on Christmas Eve 2012. They wound up in Redding where Loper claimed Acosta repeatedly assaulted her. Loper said at one point she managed to sneak away and run to police. Loper’s family said she told them that the Redding Police officers didn’t believe her story but they did make a courtesy call to Newport Police, since she was officially listed as a missing person by that time.

Back in Newport, police talked with her and urged her to undergo a sexual abuse/rape examination at Pacific Communities Hospital. She did so.

Acosta was arrested in Redding and transported back to Lincoln County and lodged in the jail on a number of sexual assault charges.

As Acosta’s trial date loomed, April Loper and her father were headed west on Highway 20 near Eddyville. A car coming the other way hit them head on. Both died. Now there is no way for Acosta to face his accuser. And all statements made of any importance are now all second hand information. Hearsay, as they call it in court; not admissible. Without admissible evidence, the prosecution has no case.

The latest whirlwind of activity between the district attorney’s office and defense attorney Guy Greco has been to present a trial during which a judge could determine whether there is any evidence that is not inadmissible hearsay, and if there is enough of it to convince a jury that Acosta assaulted April Loper beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case resumes at 1pm.

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 Posted by at 5:48 PM
May 132012
 

Lincoln County Commissioners (top), Courthouse (bottom)

A Newport man who vigorously protested what he claimed was his father’s forced retirement and who was later jailed twice for his methods of protesting, has filed suit in Federal Court in Eugene, contending his civil rights were violated and that he was wrongly arrested and maliciously prosecuted.

The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.

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 Posted by at 6:33 PM
Apr 262011
 

Lincoln City Monday night joined an effort to convince the State Court of Appeals to help Tillamook and northern Lincoln County, as well as the City of Lincoln City get more reliable phone service during heavy winter storms, which some times knocks everything for a loop. About half the population can’t call each other or 9-1-1.

The crux of the matter is that from Depoe Bay north, up into Tillamook county, the telephone system that is run by Century Tel is vulnerable to stormy interruptions. The connection from Lincoln City to the Willamette Valley fails just west of Sheridan where it becomes fiber optic.

Lawyers for Lincoln City and north Lincoln County are asking the Court of Appeals to order the Oregon Public Utilities Commission to do something about it, or at least get the PUC to consider the request for a major phone system upgrade that is clearly needed to ensure that 9-1-1 and other vital phone services are available in north Lincoln County and Tillamook County when they are most needed; during big storms.

Lincoln, Tillamook and Lincoln City lawyers tried to get their issue in front of the PUC during the PUC’s recent merger hearings involving Century Tel and Qwest which will soon consolidate phone service along the central coast. But the PUC ruled that the issue didn’t belong in the middle of a merger proceeding. By appealing to the State Court of Appeals the lawyers hope that the PUC will be ordered to eventually take the issue more seriously.

Attorney Doug Holbrook says the technical options could include using fiber optic lines that can be tapped that already run from Newport to the valley at Albany. Another is partnering with fiber companies that have fiber routed in various configuration to Astoria, over to Portland and down to Sheridan. If both options could be pursued, it would create a 360 degree fiber ring running from Sheridan to Albany to Newport to Tillamook to Portland or from Tillamook to Sheridan using a different fiber line. If a storm knocked out a northern fiber route, the southern route would take the load, and vice versa.

Holbrook says a decision from the court of appeals could take from 9 months to two years.

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 Posted by at 12:21 PM
Feb 232011
 

Bill Hall, LC Commissioner

LIncoln County Commissioner Bill Hall told his fellow commissioners Wednesday that although state support revenues for the county will be less than in the past, it appears that the county will make it through the next fiscal year without having to lay off any further personnel. Hall added that it even appears that the county will have enough money in its capital improvement fund to replace the roof on the county jail and purchase some long overdue software upgrades for certain county departments. Hall indicated that reducing county employee levels by 87 positions over the past two to three years has severely strained many county services, especially those that provide medical and mental health services. He said funding for those programs appears to have stabilized for the moment but that he’s concerned for other similar services relying on grant funding.

Rob Bovett, District Attorney

Meanwhile, District Attorney Rob Bovett also gave a report that indicated that the worst cuts may be over for his department as it relates to continuing to provide the money for special courts in Lincoln County; Domestic Violence, Drugs, “Hope,” and Mental Health. Bovett said that state lawmakers know that each of the special courts have reduced rates of re-offending and created a pathway to recovery from mental illness, violence and drug addiction. He said the specialty courts are also making it possible for more crime victims to get compensation from their perpetrators for their loss and grief. Bovett said there is never any guarantee that support for these courts will remain available. But he added, “the support, for now, seems to be holding. At least this week.”

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 Posted by at 6:20 PM
Jan 302011
 

Claiming that court staffs and judges waste too much time reading letters begging for mercy over speeding tickets have introduced a bill to set the rates that cannot be changed by judges.

The story is in the Salem Statesman-Journal. Click here:

More from Lori: Click here

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 Posted by at 1:24 PM
Oct 122010
 

Lincoln City PD

Clarification: Traffic tickets are only part (but THE major part) of total court receipts, and they are rising.

A performance report on the Lincoln City Municipal Court raised a few eyebrows during Monday night’s city council meeting. It seems that the last couple of years have seen a healthy increase in the amount of money the city has collected from traffic tickets. Several years ago, total court receipts from all categories totaled around $100,000. But with the city building up the police department to something closer to full strength, total court fines added up to $160,000 in 2009 and are closing in on the $200,000 mark this year.

Other data shows that of all traffic tickets written, nearly 40% are on Lincoln City drivers. City Manager Dave Hawker commented that “When we get complaints about somebody’s driving habits or other traffic related problems, it’s our own people nearly half the time. It’s not always about tourists from out of town.”

The report also showed that most traffic offenses are committed by drivers between the ages of 20 and 39.

The data also reveals that the court continues to handle very few criminal cases since most of them have been channeled south to the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport. The report also showed that it’s now easier to pay court-ordered fines because they’re payable at the city finance office where the lines are shorter. The clerk also reported that they have added credit cards as a method of payment which they expect will improve collections.

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 Posted by at 12:28 AM
Sep 292010
 

Concern for coastal rivers and streams and the way they are affected by logging spurred a lawsuit recently seeking to prove that Oregon’s logging rules were too lax along the coast. And a judge has ruled in favor of those critical of Oregon state timber harvesting rules. The story is found in the Portland Oregonian.

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2010/09/settlement_requires_stricter_r.html

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 Posted by at 12:49 AM
Sep 162010
 

Lincoln County Commissioners, along with law enforcement, the District Attorney and the Courts are getting tired of seeing many jail inmates being repeatedly re-arrested for minor crimes and being recycled through the criminal justice system. And so commissioners are making a minor investment in a program to prevent some of those folks from repeatedly coming through the doors at the Sheriff’s Office and the Courthouse. Continue reading »

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 Posted by at 11:50 PM
Jun 252010
 

King Salvage near Toledo

Provided by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ Issues $30,363 in Penalties to Newport Man for Continued Environmental Violations at King Salvage Wrecking Yard off Highway 20 between Newport and Toledo.

Robert Earl Mobley failed to heed previous order to remove waste tires and solid waste, and failed to clean up oil spills on property

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued a total of $30,362.50 in penalties to Robert Earl Mobley, doing business as King Salvage Co., for continued environmental violations at his King Salvage auto wrecking and salvage facility at 109 King Place near Newport. This penalty comes about a year after DEQ had issued Mobley $32,396 in penalties for previous violations at the site. Mobley has failed to pay any of those 2009 penalties. Continue reading »
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