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Letters (Aug. 9, 2017)

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Coupla weeks ago super-drunk dude crashes car at Highway 128 and Masonite Road resulting in fire. Dude arrested then released. Returns to Rancho Navarro neighborhood and kills an associate Sunday night in Rancho Navarro. One week ago a 911 call was made due to a bloody, machete wielding man seen standing on Appaloosa Way in Rancho Navarro. Both incidents were within a quarter mile of each other. No reverse 911 calls were made even though both assailants were reported to be roaming the neighborhood.

Dear Sheriff Allman and Trent Taylor [Mendocino County Marijuana Code Enforcement Officer]: This is not acceptable. This is a RESIDENTIAL neighborhood. The situation seems to be out of control. We don't need drunk transients and commercial drug farms destroying our neighborhood and scaring the crap out of us. I've got two young kids and want them to feel safe here. Please help.

Kirk Vodopals, The Deep End


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Dear Brian Padilla;

Not sure if you remember meeting me but my dad had the ranch property above Sam Prather’s land and the Edwards’ house. We met shortly after you purchased from Helen Edwards’ nephew, Jim, I think.

I am sure you realize that your recent legal maneuvering to take Sam’s land has not been well accepted in the community. For now, I am refraining from any comment.

Like most in the area, I am not convinced that this matter has been put to bed. But in the meantime, I need to respond to your numerous “No Trespassing” and other threatening signage with a simple, much less unsightly notice that if anyone trespasses onto our land or Sam’s, it will be met with full prosecution just as you have declared on your signage. Please let your guests know as well. I don’t want to litter the landscape with more signage.

It has been challenging explaining to our guests why there is suddenly a barbed wire topped fence where there was previously just a clear view of what was once a charming little house where I would sit with Miss Edwards and her friends, having a cocktail on the porch. (Pretty much pure vodka I think!) Without the fence, the house seemed quaint and surrounded by hundreds of beautiful acres. Now, it just looks small. Hope you guys are happy in there.

I am only relieved that my dad is not still alive to see the new fence. He was a realist, an honest man, a handshake dealmaker, and fair to a fault. He would be sad.

Scott Pratt


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Dear Mr. Anderson,

My name is Daniel Dieters and although you may not recognize my name I hope you can remember my mother Kelly Dieters who once spoke with you in person and shared with you the events that transpired on March 18, 2014. it was on this day that I found myself in a life or death situation. The consequences of which forever changed my life and the lives of so many others who were involved in my case. Through an unfortunate chain of events I'm here in prison reflecting on the details that took place during my trial and the events that led to one person losing his life. It troubles me to have to ask for your help but given my confinement I have no one else who I can confide in who has the ability to share what I have to say with others.

There is so much sorrow I still hold inside and while time has managed to lighten the pain I once felt, it has done nothing to change the loss I feel from having so much left unsaid. I wish my situation could be that of someone under different circumstances, so what I have to say could be seen for the truth of the matter and not dismissed simply because I was once charged with murder even though I was found not guilty.

On January 21, 2016, I was sentenced to seven years to be served in prison after having been found guilty of a lesser crime known as imperfect self-defense. By its very name I was found guilty of having defended myself but having used too much force to do so. Three years have passed since that tragic night and while my time prison has been productive I still feel that so many details regarding the events of my case have been ignored. Leaving so many things unexplained such as why 12 random strangers after hearing the testimony presented by two district attorneys over the course of three weeks would come to a unanimous decision that regardless of me having taken a life I was still seen as "a gentle giant."

But I can only describe who I am as a man having gone through this experience and while it continually brings me nothing but unrest, I would like to write a wrong that has existed since the media first wrote about what happened to me. It is unfortunate that given our modern era that we as a society should be so quick to overlook what is right before our eyes in favor of someone else's opinion and therefore be blind to see the truth. If given the opportunity I would like to bring to light the events that lead to one person losing his life while another lost his freedom and how one person was never held accountable. At the very least I would like to acknowledge some important issues that are significant to me.

I wish I could change the past for it was never my intention to end a life that night and while some may disagree with me for resorting to using deadly force to defend myself, others saw the situation for what it was. You only have to look at the jury's decision to see that the events that unfolded were not that of my doing. Please don't misunderstand me for what I am saying because I take no solace in the fact that even though I was given a life sentence that will be completed by 2019, I will still live with the pain of having taken someone's life.

It saddens me to see that everything that I am is defined by the events of one incident and not even that of the incident in its entirety. I've taken a life and I will have to live with that, but while others may judge me for what I have done I will not stand idly by while the events within themselves go unaccounted for.

I was just a regular guy born and raised in the small town of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. I grew up with two younger brothers and attended school at Fort Bragg High School where I would meet Kayla Lindsay and share with her a wonderful relationship that lasted for almost 8 years. So much can be said for the relationship I once shared with Kayla and all the experiences we enjoyed with one another. I just wish Kayla turned out to be a better person in the end.

When I think of her I can't help but feel disappointed and at a loss. I remember Kayla being this really amazing girl who upon meeting you instantly knew she was a kind and caring person. That is why it was so hard for me to sit there in the courtroom and watch as Kayla was ridiculed for her idiotic behavior. I know that Kayla didn't intentionally mean to cause the incident that changed all our lives and, to be completely honest, there were times when I look back I can see that I allowed it to happen. I was so worried about upsetting her or making her unhappy that I allowed myself to be manipulated. Even though the full account of our breakup has been one-sided, please believe me when I say that for those eight years that Kayla and I were together I gave everything I had to show her how much I loved her.

In all my time of having been imprisoned I have never forgotten about RJ's (Roy Kauwe) and the pain they must have gone through and watching everything unfold during the trial. It pained me to see both RJ’s mother and sister struggle to cope with the reality of events as they were shown to the jury and to watch as they succumbed to denial. I think of them all the time around the holidays and especially that day of March 18. I know there is nothing I can say that will take away their pain but that doesn't change the fact that I am sorry for what I had to do.

There was one thing that RJ's mom (Joyce Kauwe) said during my sentencing that stuck with me. It may have been said for appearance sake or out of honesty, but regardless of why it was said I will never forget the request that was made of me. It was asked that I do something with my life to help others and even though I'm still in the process of discovering what that something is, I have made it my goal to never stop searching.

In the end though I just want it to be known that while everyone else has moved on with their lives I will never forget all the pain and suffering this horrible tragedy has caused others. I just wish I knew if whether or not Kayla still thinks about everything that happened and the part she played. There are still several things that transpired throughout the weeks Kayla and I were going through our breakup that have gone unaccounted for.

I don't know what you will make of this letter Mr. Anderson, but in some ways I hope you can understand where I'm coming from and see that I am just looking for closure. I can't change what people think of me for what I've done, but I hope in some small way I can at least show everyone who's willing to listen that I'm not a bad person. There's a reason why people still see me for who I am and refer to me as the gentle giant.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear back from you and please let me know if there's any way that this letter or that of another correspondence can be featured in your newspaper.


Daniel J. Dieters


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Rohnert Park Man Sentenced In Fatal Stabbing Of Romantic Rival

JAN. 21, 2016. SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – A Rohnert Park man was sentenced Thursday morning to seven years in prison for the stabbing death of a romantic rival two years ago.

Daniel Dieters, 27, was convicted in November of voluntary manslaughter for the killing of Roy “R.J.” Kauwe, 22, in Kauwe’s Rohnert Park apartment on March 20, 2014.

Dieters testified he was afraid of Kauwe, who had a knife collection in his bedroom, and stabbed him in self-defense. The stabbing happened soon after Dieters learned his girlfriend Kayla Lindsay and Kauwe became a couple, according to trial testimony.

Lindsay warned Kauwe in a text message that Dieters was either going to kill him or her where she lived, according to prosecution testimony at the trial.

Kauwe was stabbed seven times and Dieters was arrested at the scene. He faced a maximum term of 12 years in prison for manslaughter and use of a knife.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite said the fatal stabbing was “an intentional killing for whatever reason,” and Dieters took advantage of his position of trust when he went to Kauwe’s apartment.

“I cannot let go of the fact that you were twice the size of the victim,” Thistlethwaite said.

Kauwe was 5 feet 3 inches and 155 pounds, according to his family.

Dieters is stocky and at least 6 feet tall.

Defense attorney Joseph Bisbiglia told the judge Dieters was depressed and suicidal at the time. Bisbiglia characterized Dieters as a “gentle giant.”

“What you see is what you get with Mr. Dieters. He is a good, young man,” Bisbiglia said.

After the sentencing, the defense attorney said he had hoped Dieters would get probation or four years in prison because he showed remorse, called 911 that night and acknowledged his guilt right away.

Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders argued for the maximum 12-year term. Sanders told the court the crime was callous in light of the seven stab wounds to Kauwe’s neck, and happened seven minutes after Lindsay sent Kauwe the text about Dieters.

“Ten minutes later, R.J. was dead,” Sanders said.

Kauwe’s family members said Dieters lied and faked empathy for Kauwe during his testimony.

“R.J. died because he let Daniel Dieters into his apartment so they could talk,” Kauwe’s mother Joyce said.

She said Dieters is “scary” when he is annoyed and should be sent to prison.

Dieter’s mother Kelly Dieters-Blaney screamed “No, no,” when Thistlethwaite announced the seven-year prison term and she was escorted by bailiffs from the courtroom.

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ED NOTE: The CBS News account leaves a lot out. The jury saw it clearly, clearer than the DA and the judge. There was no intent, and Dieters, who had no criminal history, was genuinely remorseful. 

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To the Editor:

I read in the Ukiah Daily Journal that Sheriff Tom Allman and his group are making another attempt to pass a half cent sales tax to fund the construction of a much-needed mental health facility in Mendocino County. I applaud and support Sheriff Allman for his efforts and concern in this area, and I agree that a mental health facility is critical for our county. However, I sincerely hope that this group has done a better job of drafting their proposal than their previous attempt. It is not enough to simply fund the construction of a building. You must also provide for a stable, ongoing revenue stream to fund professional staffing and maintenance. Without staffing a facility is just another county building. I seem to remember that Mendocino County previously had a psychiatric health facility (PHF) on Bush Street, but it was closed in 1999 due to county budget cuts and a subsequent lack of staffing. The building was converted to county administrative offices. I for one am reticent to approve a tax increase to fund the construction of a facility if there is no guarantee that after a few years the building won't be abandoned due to a lack of ongoing funding. The other problem that I had with the previous tax proposal was the inclusion of a "Trojan horse" rider that included the construction of a sheriff's training facility. If this is indeed needed, it is a separate issue and should be funded separately, not bundled with mental health services.

These two problems were serious enough to cause me to vote no at the last election. If they can be appropriately addressed I will be happy to vote yes this next time. If not I will be regretfully compelled to once again vote no.

Lawrence Ames, Ukiah

ED NOTE: The old 'Puff' unit closed only partly because it was expensive to run, it was also ineffective, mostly because it was staffed by incompetents and directed by a series of incompetents. Local cops got tired of running out there to restore order every time a patient nutted up as staff locked themselves in their offices. I agree there should not be hidden add-ons like a so-called "training facility" — what's wrong with a local gym for that? And I think the Sheriff's psych facility ought to be housed in a rehabbed existing building like, for instance the abandoned Willits Hospital or the mostly abandoned Willits Courthouse. I think the five-year half-cent sales tax add-on to fund the thing while it's getting up and running, plus the money saved by keeping Mendo's intensive psych cases here at home rather than firing them off to distant lock-up facilities where shyster doctors juggle their meds and send them back to Mendo to repeat an endless cycle, should make the Mendo unit fiscally self-sustaining.

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To the Editor:

I strongly urge everybody to read Ron Epstein's essay in the July 13 edition of the Ukiah Daily Journal. It is must reading for everyone in our community interested in the impact and collateral risks of the legalization of cannabis.

I can only add some anecdotal observations; things that have bounced around in my head based on the recent celebration of legalized recreational cannabis. Legalizing another intoxicant is an odd step given our wonderful legacy of alcohol and substance abuse.

Some see pot as having infinite curative powers and local doctors have signed off on the positive medical applications, only reduced the list from infinite to around 10. There are a few factors that probably convinced citizens to go along with legalization. If you legalize some previously illegal thing or behavior you have automatically, by definition, cut down on crime. If you bring it into the mainstream of economic structure you can tax it. If you grant something respectability people can openly work in the field and you have increased employment. It's a panacea of all things good.

With this new respectable industry comes marketing and innovation. So now, instead of having to do something as distasteful as smoking pot, customers can enjoy all its benefits by eating it in all new delicious edible manifestations.

Did anyone research how all this is playing out in Colorado? Through parental carelessness or through what's left of the criminal world more pot will find its way to the doorstep of schools. How do you think this will work out with your school children? (Read Ron's essay.)

One last thought from Pandora's box: corporations, companies, and small businesses have not had a full menu of hirable employees from which to choose for two generations. There is a growing lethargy all around us and it will get worse.

Panacea or Pandora's box? Is our community prepared?

Don Crawford


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Dear AVA,

As an inmate serving time in the California prison system, I am all too aware of the public's contempt for me and for any proposition which may enable me to be released early.

This general sentiment felt throughout the community is compounded by letters authored by inmates such as Walter Miller in the July 19, 2017 edition of the AVA.

Miller not only rubs Proposition 57 in the noses of the community, but also brags about an assault he committed in a Willits motel.

Sadly, Mr. Eyster's response in the same issue is on point. "All law-abiding citizens should feel sick to their stomachs at Miller's letter."

These types of letters only validate the public’s feelings that none of us should ever be released.

May I remind those who feel compelled to write such letters that the community is reading them. The same community that will vote on future propositions that will potentially affect us all.


Alan Crow


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To the Editor:

Congratulations to Redwood Community Services for gaining approval to reopen a day shelter for the homeless in Ukiah. It is highly needed. For many, many years the Ukiah Community Center operated a highly successful day shelter. Why it was closed I do not understand. It is exciting that a new shelter is going to be opened.

But I am truly disgusted by the comments made by City of Ukiah planning commissioner Mike Whetzel. Ukiah is not unique in what it is facing when it comes to homelessness and transient populations. Ukiah is not, according to him, "the homeless capital of the nation." Ukiah does not "give them everything." In fact we offer them less than half the services we did a decade ago. Whetzel needs to do his research.

Eureka, Santa Rosa, San Rafael, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, and dozens of other communities along 101 from the Mexican border to the Oregon border are facing the exact same issues. As a public figure who is supposed to do his homework, Mike Whetzel should know this.

These lies, hatreds and discriminatory attitudes need to stop. These are the same attitudes that were once used against Native Americans, African-Americans, the Chinese, forced the Japanese into internment camps, Catholics, the Irish, and are still used against the LGBTQ+ community. Mike Whetzel, you represent all of the people of Ukiah. You even represent the homeless and the transients.

Please educate yourself about these issues before you mouth off. There are many of us in Ukiah who are getting tired of it. You are not being part of the solution.

Yes, there are a ton of issues with the homeless and transients that are out of control and need to be dealt with. But mouthing off like you did in a public meeting, as the public servant you are, is absolutely not appropriate. Be a part of finding solutions. Don't be a part of spreading hatred.

William French, Ukiah

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Land Reform & Santa Rosa lawyer


I am trying to find the name of a lawyer from Santa Rosa who was involved in the 1960's and 1970's in land reform issues in South America. I believe he was hired directly by one or more nations in Central and South America to advise them on land reform issues. He could have been sent by the U.S. to litigate land reform issues or went there on his own nickel. He was also involved in a back to the land movement in Sonoma County or Mendocino County. I figured you might have a record of this do gooder lawyer or even know him. Thanks for any information you may have in your head or in the AVA archives.

David Clisham

Santa Rosa

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