GUILTY VERDICT IN DOG'S DEATH: A man who used to live in Hickman was convicted of three felonies Friday, at the close of a four-day trial that revolved around the death of his pit bull, Coco. Jurors in Stanislaus County Superior Court said Erick Wayne Brush, 39, is guilty of animal cruelty, making a criminal threat and possessing methamphetamine. Authorities believe the dog was killed in the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2005, a few days after Tammy Brush left her husband, taking their two daughters with her. They said Erick Brush killed his wife's favorite dog, then skinned the animal, wrapped it in a blanket that Tammy Brush made for her husband and left it in the driveway of their Riverview Road home so his spouse would be sure to spot the carnage. They said Erick Brush also threatened his wife and had methamphetamine in his home after Tammy Brush placed a panicked call to 911. The Brushes have reconciled, and she testified on his behalf during the trial. They now live in Oregon. Erick Brush faces up to four years, four months in prison and must return to court Nov. 16 for sentencing.
MAN WOUNDED IN GUNFIGHT: Stanislaus County deputies are investigating a gunfight at a Modesto mobile home park that left one man wounded Friday afternoon. Deputy Royjindar Singh said several callers reported gunshots at 3:27 p.m. at a mobile home park at 665 Seventh St. "Before deputies arrived, we had reports that the people involved in the shooting had left in a Dodge Neon and a Chevy pickup," Singh said. He said authorities stopped a pickup at Doctors Medical Center and questioned two men and two women. They also confiscated a handgun found in the pickup. A wounded man from the truck already was in the hospital receiving treatment. Authorities said a bullet grazed his ear. Authorities do not know who started the fight or fired the first shot. "We believe people were shooting from both vehicles," Singh said. Deputies later arrested a man from the car that had gone to the hospital. He was booked on a charge of illegal possession of a firearm, Singh said.
KIDNAP, CARJACK, ROBBERY ARREST: Merced County sheriff's investigators Thursday arrested a 35-year-old Winton man in connection with the Oct. 8 carjacking, kidnapping and robbery of a Winton woman. Rogelio Estrada Esquivel was booked into jail, where he remained in lieu of $265,000 bail, said deputy Paul Barile, Sheriff's Department spokesman. According to deputies, the woman was abducted at gunpoint at 6:45 a.m. after she dropped off her children at a home in the 7100 block of Center Avenue and returned to her van to go to work. A man hid behind the driver's seat, brandishing a gun and ordering her to drive to an orchard at Oakdale and Shaffer roads, where he demanded all her money. The woman was able to escape just after handing over her money to the robber. Barile said Esquivel was the husband of the woman's baby sitter. Detectives picked him up at his house on Center Avenue and questioned him, and he confessed, Barile said. The woman was not injured in the carjacking. After being ordered out of the van, she was able to run back to it and flee as the robber was distracted counting the cash she had given him, Detective Sgt. Tim McCann said.