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News Scan

Cop Killer Gets Death Penalty: Hudson Sangree of The Sacramento Bee reports Yolo County jurors recommended Wednesday that Marco Antonio Topete be sentenced to death for killing Sheriff's Deputy Jose Antonio Diaz in June 2008. After being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, Topete fled from the traffic stop and a car chase ensued. Topete led Diaz down a rural dirt road where he left his car in the dark and took cover behind a house. Topete fired 17 rounds in 4 seconds from an AR-15 assault rifle at Deputy Diaz, who had his back turned.  Topete, a member of the NorteƱo street gang, told his wife in a jailhouse interview that he shot Diaz because he was mad about being pulled over. Topete has his 4-month-old daughter in the car during the chase, and prosecution evidence showed he fired toward his own car when he opened fire on Diaz. At the time of the killing, Topete was on parole after serving 12 years in state prison for a local gas station shooting. Yolo Superior Court Judge Paul K. Richardson set a sentencing date for January 12. 

Texas Executes Convicted Child Killer: The Associated Press reports Guadalupe Esparza, 46, was put to death by lethal injection in Texas Wednesday night. In 1999, Esparza snatched 7-year-old Alyssa Maria Vasquez from her apartment, raped and strangled her, and left her battered body in weeds behind a convenience store. Police found blood-spotted clothing that belonged to Esparza in a trash bin at his apartment. DNA testing linked semen found on Vasquez's body to Esparza. Diana Berlanga, the victim's mother, upon seeing Esparza on the gurney with needles in his arms said, "he's going to get what he deserves."

NY Woman Drives Stolen Car to Court Date: The Associated Press reports Pamela D. Copes of Albany, New York drove a stolen car to court and parked it in the police parking lot at the town's Public Safety Center, which also houses the court. The car, which was equipped with a global positioning system and reported stolen Wednesday by officers in Albany, was found by neighboring Colonie police in their department's parking lot. Copes had a court appearance for two previous arrests that included charges of fleeing police and reckless driving. She now faces a felony charge of third-degree criminal possession.

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