In the Pasadena Courthouse This Week

Published : Monday, October 29, 2018 | 5:04 AM

This week, four high-profile Pasadena criminal cases will move forward in Pasadena Courthouse of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Here’s an update and profile of each of these cases.
Arraignment for Miguel Castaneda and Valentina Rosales, October 29

Miguel Castaneda and Valentina Rosales are charged with the murder of a 23-year-old man during a fight October 1 in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Castaneda, 23, of Los Angeles, faces one count of murder with an allegation of using a knife as a deadly and dangerous weapon. Rosales, 23, of Pasadena, faces one count of accessory after the fact.

Prosecutors said Demetrio Tapia Jr., 22, a Pasadena resident, was stabbed to death on October 1. Investigators believe the killing stemmed from a heated exchange on social media.

The criminal complaint includes allegations that Castaneda was convicted in 2017 for vehicle theft with a prior and Rosales was convicted in 2015 for second-degree robbery.

Bail for Castaneda is set at more than $2 million and at more than $1 million for Rosales. If convicted as charged, Castaneda faces a possible maximum sentence of 27 years to life in state prison. Rosales faces up to six years in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Iliana M. Alvarez is prosecuting.


Peoples Testimony Resumes for Danny R. Wooten, Tyrone Collins, and Melody Jenkins, October 29

Danny R. Wooten, 55, Tyrone Collins, 59, and Melody Jenkins, 50, are charged in a 60-count felony complaint for arrest warrant, with allegations of embezzlement, conflict of interest and grand theft with excessive taking, in connection with an embezzlement scandal where the three are suspected of stealing more than $6 million from the city over the past 10 years.

Wooten was a management analyst in the Pasadena Department of Public Works. The DA’s office said Wooten created false invoices for the City’s underground utility program and stole $6.4 million. Prosecutors said Wooten directed more than $2 million of the money to Collins, owner of Collins Electric, and gave more than $40,000 to Jenkins, who was a temporary City employee.

If convicted, Wooten, who is being held on $1.75 million bail, faces up to 28 years in state prison. Collins and Jenkins face up to 18 and four years in state prison, respectively.

Deputy District Attorney Bjorn Dodd is prosecuting.


Pretrial for Jacob Mallory Bersson, October 30

Jacob Mallory Bersson, 33, is accused in the fatal stabbing of his cousin, Pasadena chef Lawrence Bressler, and Bressler’s wife, Denise, in October 2014. He is charged with two counts of capital murder, and with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders and personally using a knife in the murders.

Bersson was living with the Bresslers at the couple’s apartment in the 200 block of North Madison Avenue at the time of the attack, according to the Pasadena Police Department.

Court records show Bersson had just recently moved from Florida to Pasadena that year and was living with the victims at 290 N. Madison Avenue. Police said in the early morning of October 13, 2014, Bersson forced his way into the Bresslers’ bedroom and stabbed them repeatedly with a knife.

Lawrence Bressler was able to call 911 before 6:30 a.m. and identified Bersson as the attacker. Bressler later died in surgery; his wife Denise had died shortly after arriving at a hospital.

Bersson was arrested on the day of the murders. He is currently being held in lieu of $1 million bail. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

During his arraignment in 2016, Bersson pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Deputy District Attorney Fernanda Barreto is prosecuting.


Preliminary Hearing Setting for Alex Edward Evans, November 1

Alex Edward Evans, 30, faces one count of murder with an allegation of using a knife as a deadly and dangerous weapon, for allegedly killing his 67-year-old mother at the home they shared on September 24.

The victim, identified in the criminal complaint as Katrina E, reportedly died from multiple stab wounds in the home in the 1000 block of North Mentor Avenue, according to records at the Pasadena Police Department. The case remains under investigation.

Evans faces 26 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged. Bail is scheduled at more than $2 million.

Deputy District Attorney Lindley Heher is prosecuting.

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