News DigestCourt rebukes Assistant DA Boyarsky
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky, the second-highest-ranking official in the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, was castigated by a state appeals court on Dec. 27 for misconduct while handling a hospital-commitment case against a sexual predator, according to court documents.
The misconduct finding, which the California Sixth Appellate District Court termed "so infected the trial with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process," resulted in a reversal of a judgment that had committed a man to a state hospital who admitted performing sexual acts with teenaged boys.
Boyarsky asked improper questions of the witnesses, which elicited inflammatory answers, and he made improper arguments to the jury, Presiding Judge Conrad Rushing wrote in the Dec. 27 ruling.
The court's decision comes one year and nine months after District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced a conviction-integrity unit in March 2011 to address a series of prosecutorial misconduct allegations against the office, which preceded his tenure. The unit was to set protocol to prevent future errors.
The Dec. 27 appeals-court ruling stems from two 1994 felony cases against Dariel Shazier, who pleaded guilty to sodomy with a minor under the age of 14 and sodomy with a minor under age 18 and oral copulation where the victim was unable to resist due to an intoxicating substance. He was sentenced to 17 years and 8 months in state prison.
But shortly before his release from prison, in April 2003, the DA's office filed a petition to commit Shazier to a state mental facility as a sexually violent predator under the Welfare and Institutions Code.
The first commitment trial resulted in a hung jury. Boyarsky prosecuted the third commitment trial, in which the jury found Shazier met the criteria as a sexually violent predator. Shazier was committed for an indeterminate term, and he again appealed.
It remains unclear whether the California State Bar will take any action against Boyarsky, a Palo Alto resident.
Midtown Palo Alto liquor store robbed at gunpoint
Two men armed with handguns robbed a liquor store in Midtown Palo Alto on Saturday night, Dec. 29, and absconded with alcohol and cash, Palo Alto police said.
The robbery occurred at Century Liquors at 3163 Middlefield Road just before 7:55 p.m., when the men entered the store and demanded alcohol and cash from a clerk. One of the robbers pointed a gun at the clerk, who complied with their demands.
The men placed 12 bottles of alcohol — with a total value of about $230 — into backpacks they had brought and fled out the front door with an undisclosed amount of cash. There were no injuries, and no customers were in the store at the time, police said.
The robbers are described as black men in their 20s. They were wearing black masks, black jackets and dark pants. Both men were armed with semi-automatic handguns. One of the men was about 6 feet tall with a thin build. The other man was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, police said.
Police are asking that anyone with information about this crime contact the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to email@example.com or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.
Family faces burglary charges after Dec. 27 arrest
A father, mother and daughter are facing burglary charges in Palo Alto after allegedly attempting to steal men's clothing and an expensive purse from a department store, a spokesman for the Palo Alto Police Department said.
Kosta Barjaba, 52, his wife, Fatbardha Barjaba, 52, and their daughter Jonniada Barjaba, 23, were arrested Dec. 27 after police said they took items from Nordstrom at the Stanford Shopping Center, police spokesman Officer Sean Downey said.
The trio entered the store in the early afternoon, and loss-prevention observers told police the family left with a bag of men's clothing and then returned to the store a second time with the bag. The officers watched as one of the Barjabas allegedly purloined a Coach purse worth $238.
As the suspects exited the store, the security guards stopped them outside and tried to detain them, Downey said. Kosta Barjaba then allegedly threw the bag of items back into the store, and he and his wife ran away while guards detained the daughter.
At about 2 p.m., security personnel called Palo Alto police, who found and arrested the wife and recovered the Coach purse a short distance away from Nordstrom, Downey said. Police then received a call from a pay phone from the father, who reported his wife and daughter as missing persons. Officers arrested the father after answering his call.
— Bay City News Service