Press Release: Citizens receive awards from DA's Office, 11/2/10

November 02, 2010
Bradford R. Fenocchio

District Attorney


10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678

For Immediate Release
Date: November 2, 2010


Art Campos

Public information Officer


Scott Owens

Assistant District Attorney



Individuals who chose to get involved by helping law enforcement or by assisting a crime victim have been named recipients of the Placer County District Attorney’s 13th annual Citizen Recognition Awards.

The winners received plaques today in a ceremony during a meeting of the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

Eight people were recognized for their involvement, seven of whom were key witnesses in the successful prosecutions of defendants in the crimes. The eighth was given an award for organizing a fundraising event to benefit a man who was seriously injured in a crime.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Garen Horst, who has organized all 13 of the Citizen Recognition Award programs, credited District Attorney Brad Fenocchio for his leadership in the program.

“Since its inception, we have honored over 250 individuals, many of whom have appeared before this board,” Horst told the supervisors. “Our DA has been a tireless advocate of justice for this county, and he recognizes that fighting crime cannot be done just by the police or the DA, but at times must necessarily involve members of the community who decide to do the right thing.”

Kirk Uhler, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, told the award winners that Placer County’s law enforcement agencies are aided by involved citizens.

“Thank you for helping Placer County be a better place for all of us,” Uhler said.

In presenting the awards, Horst noted that two of the winners were unable to attend the ceremony.

One was Kimberly Trotter of Citrus Heights, who assisted Roseville police in the capture of a drive-by shooting suspect who wounded a 16-year-old boy near the intersection of Sierra College and Douglas boulevards on November 5, 2008.

Trotter witnessed the shooting as she drove behind the suspect’s vehicle, called 911 on her cell phone and followed the car for several blocks while she provided the car’s description and its path to the dispatcher. The shooter, Justin Wittkop, was convicted in a jury trial this past February and is now serving multiple life sentences.

Also unable to attend was Irene Rios, who was the manager of Supercuts in Lincoln on February 27, 2010, when a 13-year-old Sacramento County girl entered the hair salon and asked to use the phone to call for a taxi cab. Rios was suspicious because the girl said her parents had left her alone in Lincoln.

Rios called Lincoln police, who interviewed the girl and learned that she had been taken to a hotel by a part-time Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy and engaged in sex with him. The defendant, Eric Cephus, later pleaded out to sexual molestation charges and to an allegation of kidnapping. He was sentenced to 18 years in state prison.

Two security employees in Truckee received awards from prosecutor Estelle Tansey for their roles in the conviction of a woman who allowed her Down Syndrome child, 7, to wander away at a shopping center on March 29, 2009, and put himself in danger.

Peter Leibrock, supervisor of a security firm, found the boy running around in the underground parking garage at Village at Northstar in Lake Tahoe. The firm’s dispatcher, Leesa Robb-Knudson, comforted and fed the boy as employees tried to identify him and find the parents.

The child’s mother, who had a history of letting the boy wander away, was found guilty of felony child endangerment in a jury trial in October 2009. She was given a two-month jail sentence and placed on probation for four years.

Three Sierra College students received a Citizen Award for their actions in a March 24, 2009, incident in which a man was stabbed repeatedly by a student on the Rocklin campus.

Cameron Gilbert of Newcastle, who was unable to attend today’s awards ceremony, pushed the attacker off the victim, stopping the attack and likely saving the victim’s life. The victim, Alex Abrahamian, is a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His mother, Yvonne, attended today’s ceremony.

Also attending were Kimberly Black of Roseville and Bethany Lilly of Orangevale, two students who ran to the victim’s aid and tried to stop the bleeding until emergency personnel arrived.

All three of the students who aided Abrahamian testified at the trial of Paul Thomas Heintz, who was convicted of attempted first-degree murder on September 30, 2010. Heintz’s sentencing is pending.

Colfax High School music teacher Todd Wilkinson, accompanied by four students from the school’s music department, also received an award.

Wilkinson organized a music concert to raise money for Jose Palomera, a motorist who was seriously injured by a rock thrown from an overpass by three teenagers on July 26, 2010.

The rock crashed through the windshield of Palomera’s vehicle and struck him in the face, causing injuries to his mouth and jaw. The three teens pled to felony assault and conspiracy charges in adult court on October 14 and were sentenced to the Juvenile Detention Center and placed on probation.

Wilkinson put together a concert featuring the high school’s band and choir. The event drew about 400 people and raised more than $2,100 for Palomera.