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17 Yr. Old Faces Life in Prison, No Parole

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- One year is one of the main reasons that's stopping prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for a teenager charged with killing a Watsonville grocery store clerk.

If there is one glimmer of hope for Christian Speaker in what he is being accused of its that his age will save him from getting the death penalty if convicted.   Other than that the DA's office is going at him hard.

Speaker was given an attorney but didn't enter a plea Friday. The DA's office added a special circumstance to the charges: murder committed during a serious or violent felony.

"The video is graphic and disturbing," said prosecutor Alex Byers.

The 17 year old is already being tried as an adult, but the special circumstance allows for the death penalty, which at one point the DA's office said it would consider.

Later, prosecutors pulled the death penalty off the table citing his age.

Santa Cruz County convicted murder Robert Ackerman was denied parole


Ackerman was convicted of first degree murder for the killing of Edward Silva on January 20, 1977. Ackerman and Silva were both 18 year-old residents of Watsonville and high school friends. Ackerman owed Silva a small amount of money allegedly for a drug debt and, rather than pay him back, decided to kill him. Ackerman talked a 15 year-old boy into helping him dig a grave in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A few days later, he lured Silva into the area, shooting him one time in the back of the head. Ackerman went skateboarding, then returned to the body, robbed it, and buried it. The case came to the attention of authorities after the 15 year old boy revealed the murder to others. The 15 year-old boy testified at the jury trial, and the jury returned a verdict of first degree murder. Ackerman was sentenced to life in prison.

Santa Cruz Plans to Remember 16-Year-Old Stabbing Victim

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - On Saturday, it will mark one year since a 16-year-old was stabbed to death in Santa Cruz. The community was outraged when it happened.

The Santa Cruz High school student was stabbed several times near a 7-Eleven on Laurel Street. Police say, his friends had gotten into an argument that night with suspected gang members. He came to their aid and while his friends got away, he didn't and was killed. Police have said he was not in a gang.

Zach Friend from Santa Cruz Police says, it's not just the city of Santa Cruz, that's seeing a rise in gang violence. Gang crime is up along the Central Coast with spikes in Hollister, Salinas and Watsonville.

Friend says, the majority of the suspects and even victims in their homicide cases are not from Santa Cruz. They're coming from outside areas and committing crimes within the city.

"Gang crime in itself has expanded beyond localities," says Friend.

Operation Southern Exposure shuts down a drug ring in Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, Calif- The Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration Customs Enforcement partnered up with Santa Cruz Police for Operation Southern Exposure. Forty one people were arrested, several pounds of drugs were seized and nearly 25 thousand dollars were confiscated.

Santa Cruz police showed off the results of their partnership with the two major government agencies.

First Female Sergeant and Lieutenant Retires

Lieutenant Gretchen Hurley is retiring from the Sheriff’s Office this month after 28 years of service.

Gretchen was the first woman appointed to both Sheriff's Sergeant in 1990 and later to Lieutenant in 2002.

In Lieutenant Hurley’s most recent assignment she commanded the Patrol Division and previous assignments included the supervision of the Freedom and Aptos Community Policing centers, Professional Standards and Conduct, Personnel and Training, Field Training Officer program, command of the Main Jail and Rountree facilities, and leadership of the Search and Rescue team.

Free document shredding day

Scotts Valley families, teachers and businesses are invited to have thier confidential documents shredded for free at the Scotts Valley Shred-A-Thon on Wednesday, October 13th, 3-6pm at 5523 Scotts Valley Drive. Scotts Valley Police Department will be there offering tips on ID theft prevention. Hope to see you there! A flyer can be downloaded at SVplanner.com.

4 Shootings Reported in 3 Days; 2 Confirmed Linked

Authorities reported four shootings in the Santa Cruz area in three days, and confirmed that two are believed to be linked.

Police said a man fired multiple shots towards a group of people sitting on a porch at the corner of Woodrow Avenue and Walk Circle Monday evening.  No one was injured. 

Officials are continuing to investigate a Sunday morning shooting in downtown Santa Cruz, at the corner of Center and Lincoln streets, where one man suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities have made headway in two other weekend shootings in the Santa Cruz area.  According to sheriff's deputies, 22-year-old Omar Lopez was shot and killed early Saturday morning, as he sat in a friend's car in the Live Oak community.  The Santa Cruz man was shot at close range, and was driven to a nearby gas station, where he was pronounced dead.

Sunday evening, police said an 18-year-old man was shot multiple times in the legs at the Beach Flats Apart