News in Brief



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Pedestrian Hit by Car on Telegraph Dies in Hospital

The pedestrian hit by a car on Telegraph Avenue two weeks ago died Thursday as a result of his injuries.

Dennis Kichefski, a 58-year-old Livermore resident, died at Highland General Hospital in Oakland after he was hit by a car June 25 at the intersection of Telegraph and Blake Street, said Wellington Wong, deputy sheriff for Alameda County.

“He was struck by a vehicle and thrown about 40 feet,” said Berkeley police Lt. Erik Upson. “He was transported to (the hospital) with serious head injuries.”

Police said they detained the driver, 63-year-old Oakland resident Birget Danila, and arrested her on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Upson said the charges may change now that Kichefski has died.

Danila was charged and booked at the Berkeley Jail Facility the day of the accident, but was released later on $20,000 bail, said Berkeley police Lt. Wesley Hester.

Upson said the charges may change now that Kichefski has died.

The Berkeley Police Department’s Fatal Accident Investigation Team responded to the scene of the accident, Upson said.

Whether Kichefski was in the crosswalk at the time of the accident is still being examined, Upson said.

Amanda Ott

Man Charged With Murder, Robbery Appears in Court

A man suspected of killing a Berkeley woman at a Ramada Inn in Santa Clara delayed entering his plea Thursday.

Rudy Alfredo Pena, 37, faces charges of one count of murder and one count of robbery after Johanna Giron, 26, was found dead at the motel on May 6, said David Tomkins, an assistant district attorney in Santa Clara County.

After an investigation was conducted, DNA from the crime scene was found to match Pena’s in the police department’s database, said Lieutenant Mike Sellers of the Santa Clara Police Department.

Pena had prior convictions of first-degree burglary and exhibiting a firearm at a police officer and had a residential burglary conviction, qualifying him as a third strike-defendant, Tomkins said.

Pena, who has residences in both San Jose and Stockton, was also captured on the inn’s camera in the parking lot on the night of the crime, Sellers said.

When she was found dead at the inn, Giron’s personal property, including her credit cards, were missing. Police later found that the credit cards were used by Pena after her death, Sellers said.

Pena was arrested on May 21 at his workplace in San Jose. He is scheduled to enter his plea Aug. 2, Tomkins said.

If found guilty, Pena could face a minimum sentence of 75 years to life in prison, Tomkins said. He is currently being held at the Santa Clara County Jail.

Tamara Bartlett

Fasting Hiker Rescued From National Forest

Rescuers said Berkeley resident Gerald Horne told them he went into the forest to “find himself,” but ended up being airlifted out last Monday after fasting for over a week.

Horne had been fasting for eight days when he was picked up by rescuers approximately 12 miles from the trailhead and lifted via helicopter out of the Los Padres National Forest, said Monterey County Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Moses.

He had not drunk water in four days, which Moses said is just one or two days short of the body’s limit.

Rescuers decided to airlift Horne from the forest, Moses said.

Horne was taken to the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, where he was held to recover. He could not be reached for comment.

Moses said it is not uncommon for the police to do rescue missions in the woods, but cases like Horne’s are rare.

“We do go back and rescue a lot of people but this one was kind of unusual that somebody would intentionally go on a fast when they’re back in the backcountry,” Moses said.

Katlyn Carter

Police Search for Suspect in Assault

A man who allegedly held his brother at gunpoint early yesterday morning in South Berkeley was still at large yesterday evening and is being sought by police, Berkeley police officials said.

Police responded to a call at 9:57 a.m. of a man trying to shoot his brother in the neck and assaulting him with the gun on the 1500 block of Julia Street, said Berkeley police Lt. Erik Upson.

After setting up a containment at the residence police were able to determine the suspect had fled.

Police were still searching for the suspect yesterday evening, he said.

“We made contact with the victim and are in the process of investigating,” Upson said.

Upson said since police do not know if the suspect still has the weapon, he is being considered armed.

Amanda Ott

Alumnus Named to University Relations Position

David Blinder, the vice president for resources and public affairs at Wellesley College, was named the new associate vice chancellor for university relations on June 27.

Blinder is set to take on the position, which also consists of acting as chief development officer, beginning on August 13, filling a position that has been vacant since last December.

Scott Biddy, the vice chancellor of university relations, held the associate vice chancellor position since August 2002 until he moved to the vice chancellor position last December.

Blinder said he was very excited to take on the associate vice chancellor’s position.

“Everything I’ve heard about Berkeley is that it’s an exciting time. There’s a lot of growth and a lot of change,” he said.

A UC Berkeley alumnus, Blinder received his doctorate in philosophy from UC Berkeley in 1979 and later worked at Princeton University as the director of the University Office of Development before moving to his current position at Wellesley College.

Blinder said he envisions his work as associate vice chancellor will bring together his experience in undergraduate programs from Wellesley College and his background at a big research institution from his time at Princeton University.

“It’s a nice combination of two parts of my background,” he said.

Biddy said Blinder’s responsibilities as associate vice chancellor of university relations will include managing the university relations fundraising staff, developing philanthropic relationships between the campus and outside donors and providing support for fundraising in the various schools and colleges on-campus.

Biddy added that he is thrilled to see an alumnus coming back to campus.

We’re really excited about his returning to Berkeley,” he said.

Tamara Bartlett

Street Closed as Police Break Up Fights

Police closed a section of Durant Avenue and Telegraph Avenue at approximately 11:25 p.m. yesterday after fights broke out and a large crowd gathered.

Telegraph between Bancroft Avenue and Durant and Durant between Dana Street and Bowditch Street was blocked as police dispersed the crowd.

One man was taken to the hospital after being knocked out, said Berkeley police Lt. Andrew Greenwood.

“It was a melee,” he said.

The road remained closed as of 12:30 a.m. to both traffic and pedestrians as police dispersed the crowd.

Amanda Ott

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