East County Branch

2014 Staffing
Support Staff39

The District Attorney’s East County branch is located in El Cajon. The branch serves 535,000 residents and covers more than 2,000 square miles. Deputy DA Mike Still serves as Division Chief and Deputy DA Terri Perez serves as Assistant Chief. In 2013, the branch issued cases on 2,817 felony defendants and 8,637 misdemeanor defendants. Deputy DAs took 55 felony and 88 misdemeanor defendants to trial, including those tried by the branch’s Gangs, Economic Crimes and Family Protection Divisions. Approximately 98 percent of all cases were settled prior to trial, providing a significant cost savings to the public without any change in disposition guidelines.

1338Because of its location and proximity to Indian reservations and casinos located in East County, the branch often handles cases involving crimes committed on the reservations or arising from casino activities. Our cooperation and partnership with the tribes, their Tribal Councils, tribal law enforcement, and the Sheriff’s Department has enabled us to successfully investigate and prosecute these cases resulting in increased public safety on the reservations and in the casinos. The branch also deals with cases involving drug smuggling across the international border into San Diego County and DUI accidents and fatalities on rural roads.

Prosecutors in the East County Branch are experienced in homicide, sexual assault, child molestation, property and financial crime, drug offenses and DUI cases. There are specialty units within the branch that exclusively handle domestic violence, gang, narcotics and economic crimes cases.

Noteworthy cases include:

People v. Casey Tschida
Deputy DA Gordon Davis prosecuted a defendant who murdered 30-year-old Jennifer Krajnack. After drinking with Krajnack in a bar, defendant Tschida left and waited for her to return to her apartment. When she arrived, a struggle ensued and he killed her with a single gunshot to the head. The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, with a special circumstance that he was lying in wait. Tschida was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 25 years-to-life.

People v. Sean Banks
Deputy DA Dave Williams, III, prosecuted defendant Banks, a predator who sought out women through the online dating service, Christian Mingle, then sexually assaulted them. The defendant was convicted of sexual penetration with force, burglary, forcible rape, and rape of an intoxicated person. Banks was sentenced to 37 years-to-life in prison.

People v. Timothy Danielson
Deputy DA Chantal De Mauregne prosecuted a defendant, who murdered his ex-wife by shooting her six times in his home, where she was staying. The defendant claimed that he was taking Chantix, to which a defense expert opined Danielson was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis. The jury convicted the defendant of first-degree murder, with an allegation that he personally used a gun. Danielson was sentenced to 50 years-to-life in prison.

North County Branch

2014 Staffing
Support Staff33

3008The North County Branch of the District Attorney’s Office serves about one third of San Diego County’s population – some one million residents. Ten law enforcement agencies, including five sheriff’s substations submit crime reports to the North County Branch for prosecution. The branch was led during the year by Chief David Hendren and Assistant Chief Giacomo Bucci. In 2014, this branch reviewed and handled almost 15,000 cases submitted for criminal prosecution including 16 homicide cases.

Noteworthy cases include:

People v. Bryan Chang
The victim in this case was the mother of the 28-year-old defendant. The motive for the murder was the victim’s failure to provide the defendant with a new car of his choice and additional money to spend while he attended school in Los Angeles. On January 25th, 2010, the victim was found dead in her home after her co-workers called the Sheriff’s Department to conduct a welfare check. The victim had been bludgeoned to death and partially dismembered. The murder weapon was a hammer. Parts of her body were found in her refrigerator. The investigation revealed that the defendant used his mother’s credit cards in the days preceding the discovery of the murder. Bryan Chang was arrested on January 27th and evidence was collected from his person. A forensic examination revealed the victim’s blood under his nails and in his ear. The defendant entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. After almost four years, the defendant entered a plea of guilty to first-degree murder but reserved his right to jury trial in the sanity portion of the trial. After three weeks of evidence the jury deliberated for three days and returned a finding that the defendant was sane at the time he committed the murder. The nearly four-year delay was prompted by the defendant’s contention he was insane both at the time of the murder and following his arrest. Ultimately Deputy DA Rachel Solov was able to overcome that contention and achieve justice for the victim.

People v. Michael Vilkin
Defendant Vilkin shot and killed the victim, John Upton, over a property dispute. The victim had been a prominent advocate for Romanian orphans and had been profiled by 60 Minutes, the weekly news show. The defendant owned a parcel of land that was located next to the residence the victim was leasing. An easement along the leased property leads to the defendant’s lot. The ownership of the trees and plants along this easement had been an issue of contention between the parties in the week’s leading up to this day. On the day of the murder the defendant brought day laborers to trim trees located along the easement. In addition to them he brought along a .44 caliber semi-automatic he carried in its gun case. The victim seeing the workers trimming the trees approached them and asked if he should move his cars. He was polite and reserved during that conversation. The victim then saw the defendant standing at the entrance of his lot and began to walk toward him. The defendant fired two shots from the weapon. One bullet struck the victim in the abdomen and the other in the head. The defendant claimed it was self-defense. Because of the victim’s past notoriety the trial was covered in its entirety. Deputy DA David Uyar demonstrated professionalism throughout the proceedings, including the cross examination of the defendant. The jury rendered a verdict of first-degree murder with the personal use of a firearm.

People v. Jay Rafail
Back in 1992, the defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of lewd act on a child. The defendant was sentenced to six years in state prison and released in 1995. In 1999, he became an instructor at a karate studio where he began to molest a 9-year-old boy. He then started a paint ball club and began to molest other boys in that group. He plied the young boys with alcohol and drugs and exposed them to pornographic material. The first of the victims disclosed to law enforcement and as a young adult. Eventually the investigation led to other young men disclosing their experiences with the defendant. Deputy DA Laurie Hauf patiently cobbled together her case and presented it to a jury. The victims bravely testified about molests that occurred and the resulting effects it had in their lives. The jury convicted the defendant of 25 felony counts of lewd acts on children. Those convictions along with the allegations led the trial judge to impose a term of 1,380 years-to-life, ensuring that this predator will no longer threaten the community.

South Bay Branch

2014 Staffing
Support Staff35

The South Bay Branch of the District Attorney’s Office is located in the City of Chula Vista. The branch handles all misdemeanors and felonies that occur in Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, Bonita, San Ysidro and Coronado. In 2014, the South Bay Branch was led by branch Chief Victor M. Nuñez and Assistant Chief Melissa Diaz. The branch routinely handles about 3,000 felony cases and more than 5,000 misdemeanor cases during the course of a year. In 2014, deputy district attorneys took 32 felony cases and 56 misdemeanor cases to jury trial. The branch includes Deputy District Attorneys from the Gangs, Family Protection, Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking, and the Narcotics divisions.

1032Because of our proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, the South Bay Branch works with the Department of Homeland Security to prosecute cases that involve drug smuggling, identity theft and stolen vehicles that occur at the Port of Entry. The branch also prosecutes cases from R. J. Donovan State Prison and the county detention facilities in East Mesa. We are fortunate to have John Dunlap, an experienced Deputy District Attorney, handle these difficult cases and forge a good working relationship with our law enforcement partners. As part of an office wide initiative, the branch works with all of the law enforcement agencies in prosecuting crimes committed against peace officers. Two Deputy District Attorneys handle these cases in cooperation with the Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit.

The South Bay branch is also heavily involved in the community by targeting our youth in the Sweetwater School District with the Open Doors to Justice Program for the middle and high schools students in South Bay.

Noteworthy cases include:

People v. Moore
In January 2014, the 89-year-old victim was walking home after church service, which he attended daily. The defendant, high on cocaine, drove his car onto the sidewalk, killing the victim and dragging his body 60 feet. The victim suffered catastrophic injuries, including a broken spine and crushed skull. Deputy District Attorney Victor Ou successfully prosecuted the case and the defendant now faces a lengthy prison sentence.

People v. Molina
In June 2013, the victim sorted cans and other recycling as he stood toward the end of his van. The defendant, who has a passing acquaintance with the victim, walked up to the victim. The victim greeted the defendant who did not say anything in reply. The defendant put his arm around the victim, as if in a choke hold, then stabbed the victim once in the chest. The victim died immediately. The defendant fled with the blood stained knife and was very shortly apprehended by police. Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Tag successfully prosecuted the case, convicted the defendant of murder. The defendant is serving 15 years-to-life sentence in state prison.

People v. Sheehan
In January 2014, the victim homeowner and his family were away on a family vacation to Disneyland. The defendant, a chronic thief, broke into the home and took items. A neighbor and police caught the defendant, who had a long and serious criminal history, including three prior strike convictions and residential burglary convictions. Deputy District Attorney Victor Ou prosecuted the case and the defendant is serving a lengthy prison sentence.

People v. Dejamah Blevins
In May 2014, the defendant tried to engage a teenager in conversation as she rode a public bus to school. The defendant placed his hand on her thigh and the victim told him to stop. The defendant moved his hand from her thigh to her genitals, and rubbed them over her clothing. The victim asked him to stop and immediately reported once the defendant stopped blocking her way. Deputy District Attorney Casey French successfully prosecuted the case and the defendant is now required to register as a sex offender.