An Ocean Beach man charged with sexually assaulting two women will stand trial beginning March 3, a judge scheduled on Nov. 8.
Richard Christopher Butts, 26, had been scheduled for trial on Dec. 13, but because the trial is expected to take 2-3 weeks, it was rescheduled due to the upcoming holidays.
Butts waived his right to have a speedy trial in San Diego Superior Court. He is charged with kidnapping both women with the intent to commit sexual assault. Both charges carry life terms if he is convicted.
He is also charged with rape, forcible oral copulation and two counts of assault to commit rape. He was arrested March 24 after a young woman was assaulted in the early morning hours while she was walking on Long Branch Avenue.
She testified she was grabbed and dragged to a dark area between a garage and a fence. Two women who were dog sitting next door heard her screams and ran outside, causing the attacker to flee. They called 911 and he was arrested.
Police evidence technicians discovered a DNA match from the March 24 incident to an unsolved rape on Aug. 25, 2012. Butts was then charged with another rape and kidnapping and on Aug. 16. A judge ordered him to stand trial in both attacks.
He remains in jail on $300,000 bail.
— Neal Putnam
Grattan convicted of first-degree murder
A Pacific Beach man who was convicted of first-degree murder of a Point Loma man will be sentenced Dec. 9 and will likely get 25 years to life in prison.
Shane Brian Grattan, 57, was convicted Nov. 6 by a jury, which deliberated only three hours in San Diego Superior Court in a trial that lasted several weeks. He will be sentenced by Judge Amalia Meza.
Darrin Joseph, 45, was found dead in some bushes at 4960 North Harbor Drive on Jan. 19, 2012. His wheelchair was found abandoned and grainy security camera footage showed a man coming from a van and pushing the wheelchair away. The man’s face could not be seen.
Joseph’s blood was found on the van’s steering wheel, a window, on a tuna can, a rake and on a jacket and one shoe that Grattan wore, said Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund.
Grattan’s attorney, Brooke LaFrance, told jurors it wasn’t unusual for the victim’s DNA to be in Grattan’s van because he was temporarily staying with Grattan at the time. Grattan did not testify, but LaFrance told jurors he was not capable of murder, and suggested other witnesses in the case may have done it.
The trial began on Oct. 25. Grattan was arrested Feb. 8, 2012, in Pacific Beach and was living in his van at the time.
— Neal Putman
Sewage spill prompts closures in beach areas
South Mission Beach and Dog Beach were among areas adjacent to the San Diego River mouth affected by a water contact closure issued by the county Department of Environmental Health following an estimated 22,500-gallon sewage spill reported Dec. 1.
The spill entered the San Diego River near Interstate 15, health officials reported.
City spokesman Arian Collins said the spill was believed to have been caused by “roots in the sewer line.”
Signs warning of sewage-contaminated water will remain in place until samples indicate the ocean water is safe for recreational use.
Warning signs were still up as of Dec. 4.
— Dave Schwab