Attorney requests venue change in trial over death of deputy

In October 2014, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Yevhen “Eugene” Kostiuchenko was struck and killed on Highway 101 in Camarillo while performing a traffic stop. A mile from the scene of the incident, Kevin Hogrefe, now 27, was arrested for the hit-and-run crash and was under suspicion of felony DUI.

Two weeks later, Hogrefe was charged with second-degree murder. Now, an attempt is being made to relocate the trial after Deputy Public Defender William Quest filed a motion with the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura, claiming that his client “will not receive a fair trial in Ventura County.”

The move comes two days after a Ventura County Superior Court judge denied a request by Quest to strike allegedly inadmissible statements made by Hogrefe following his arrest. Senior Deputy Public Defender Justin Tuttle had claimed that officers failed to meet the legal requirement of reading the suspect his Miranda rights.

Tustin claimed that Hogrefe was in a state of shock and therefore unable to understand that he was waiving his right against self-incrimination.

Hogrefe has also been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, a felony. At the time of his arrest, blood tests showed that Hogrefe had a blood alcohol level of 0.23 percent; maximum legal limit in California is less than 0.08 percent.

Quest wrote in his motion to the court of appeal that numerous published reports “have emphasized the close relationship between Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean and Deputy Kostiuchenko” and that a section of Highway 101 will be renamed for the deputy. Quest says that Hogrefe has become a “pariah” in the community and pointed to instances of his family receiving death threats.

Judge Matthew Guasco originally denied the request for a venue change. Jury selection began on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Ventura man charged with felony over water fraud

It’s raining felonies and misdemeanors for a Ventura man for allegedly fabricating false laboratory reports submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board in 2015.

Roger Mann, 59, was arrested in late August and charged with filing a false or forged instrument and making a false statement or representation on an application in relation to water samples taken from the Sequoia National Forest.

The charges were issued through a collaboration of the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and the state.

Mann, an employee of HS Aqua in Ventura, allegedly submitted the three false reports to the state in July 2015 using a laboratory’s letterhead. The reports contained false bacteriological monitoring reports from public water systems located in the forest.

Mann will appear in court on Sept. 27.

Trial begins for Simi Valley man accused of killing grandmother

Opening statements have begun in the trial for Gustavo “Sonny” Rios III, 27, charged with first-degree murder in the death of his grandmother, 75-year-old Isabel Hernandez in July of 2012.

Rios is accused of having stabbed and strangled his grandmother on the floor of her kitchen on the 1500 block of Patricia Avenue. Rios also faces a special allegation of using a deadly weapon and faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.

Rios’ attorney, Senior Deputy Public Defender Andre Nintcheff, told jurors that they would hear testimony from an expert regarding schizophrenia, and would hear testimony on “demons and the commands that they gave” to Rios on the night of the murder.

Police say that Rios provided them with several alibis. One of the two suspected murder weapons, a butter knife, has been recovered while the other was never found.

Public help sought in identifying burglary suspects

An unsuspecting hiker leaves a vehicle unattended whilst hiking one of Ventura County’s numerous hiking trails, only to return to find a smashed window and missing items. Not an uncommon story, and one that has played out yet again, this time at Matilija Canyon Road on Highway 33 in Ojai.


Now, police are seeking the public’s assistance in finding the culprits.

On Aug. 9, a vehicle belonging to a county resident was broken into and a purse containing the victim’s credit cards was stolen. During the investigation, police discovered that, later the same day, the victim’s credit cards were used at the Walmart store in Ventura.

Two female suspects were caught, by surveillance cameras, using the cards and leaving in a white Ford F-150 pick-up truck. Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspects in this crime. To report a crime, call 800-222-TIPS (8477).