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Top 10 crime stories of 2008

By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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This year was marked by several notable crime and court cases, many of which will continue into the new year. The following is a compilation of 10 crimes stories that rocked Auburn residents: In March, Auburn’s Ilene Spooner, 59, was arrested for trying to abduct at least two elementary-aged children in the Alta Vista School area. Auburn Police Department officers reportedly found an open and not full bottle of whiskey and a prescription bottle of hydrocodone in Spooner’s vehicle the afternoon of the attempted kidnappings. Spooner was also wearing a T-shirt with the phrase “know your limits,” written across the front. Spooner was charged with attempted kidnapping, annoying and molesting children and drunk driving. In May, Collin James Lovejoy and Timothy Randall Schulz were sentenced to five years probation and time in county jail for an October shooting spree in rural Auburn. Lovejoy and Randall, both 18, killed several animals and shot out lights at multiple residences. Judge Colleen Nichols said neither boy will ever be able to repay the victims for their losses, but she said she hoped a probation sentence, instead of a prison term, would help rehabilitate both men. Rosemarie Frieborn, representative of Friends of Placer County Animals and one of a handful of protestors at the court proceedings, said she thought the ruling was as fair as possible. “I think it was beneficial to all parties,” Frieborn said in a prior report. “I think everybody came out of this not a winner, but all made whole by the judge’s decision.” In June, the second trial for Roseville nanny Veronica Martinez Salcedo ended with another hung jury. Salcedo was charged with assault causing the death of a child in the May 2006 death of 15-month-old Hannah Rose Juceam. In June, the jury said it was “hopelessly deadlocked” in a 9-3 vote in favor of acquittal. Salcedo’s first trial ended in October with the jury stuck at 10-2 in favor of guilt. In July, the Placer County District Attorney’s Office announced it would not seek a third trial. The toddler’s death spurred her parents Lorena and Scott Juceam to launch the Hannah Rose Juceam Foundation, which aims to spread awareness of shaken baby syndrome. In August, former Placer County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Stuart Johnson was sentenced to two years in county jail for pleading guilty to five felony counts involving sexual intercourse with minors. Prosecutor Garen Horst had requested a maximum sentence of four years in state prison, but said the sentence issued was an “onerous” one. Defense attorney Thomas Leupp spoke on behalf of Johnson saying the former deputy admits to “grossly inappropriate behavior,” but did not feel his client deserved a harsher sentence because of his law enforcement background. Judge Richard Couzens said it was rare sentence to issue, but felt Johnson would forever feel the impacts of his decisions. “Overall,” Couzens said, “I think there is a prospect of success for Mr. Johnson.” Also in August, Auburn couple Abraham and Monica Mark pleaded no contest to charges related to child cruelty. The couple’s infant daughter, Shelia, was admitted to an area hospital in January reportedly “hours from death.” The infant was said to be severely malnourished and dehydrated. Both Abraham and Monica Mark served their county jail sentences and in December they appeared in court for a review. Both are enrolling in a year-long parenting class and said they hope to one day earn back care of their daughter. “What happened has happened and I can’t change it,” Abraham Mark said in a prior report. “If I could change it I would, but we can only learn from our past.” In September, the case continued for Anna Berset. The 50-year-old Folsom woman is charged with vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident in the June 13, 2007 death of 15-year-old Granite Bay reisdent Courtney Parker. Berset was driving on Auburn-Folsom Road just north of Douglas Boulevard when the collision occurred. She reportedly called the California Highway Patrol the following day to report that she may have hit Courtney the night before. A trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in January. In October, 23-year-old William “Billy” Moon was convicted of second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter in the June 3, 2006 death of 20-year-old Stewart Shapton, a Placer High School graduate. The news of Moon’s verdict is one of the most read and most commented online stories for the Journal this year with more than 7,000 views and 180 comments. Moon’s family is appealing the conviction. A decision on the appeal is expected to be made in February. Moon remains in custody until then. Also in October, the trial for former Placer County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Paul Kovacich began. Kovacich is charged with murder with the use of a firearm in the Sept. 8, 1982 death and disappearance of his wife, Janet. The trial will resume Jan. 6. The prosecution is still calling its list of witnesses and experts. In November, Auburn’s Michael Lane pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon and admitted to an allegation that he caused great bodily harm when he stabbed 21-year-old Britton Reed multiple times. The altercation took place in the early morning hours of a March day in a parking lot next to Bob and Betty’s 160 Club in Auburn. Lane’s sentencing was postponed until January. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison. Also in November, Judge Richard Couzens deemed Granite Bay mother Kristina Fuelling legally insane when she drowned her 8-day-old daughter, Faith, on Jan. 20. Fuelling, 27, pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted murder and child neglect. She faces a minimum of six months in a mental institution and at least six years and four months in state prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 23. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.