GUN FOUND AT SCHOOL: Police locked down Central Valley High School and arrested a student Wednesday when an officer saw him drop a gun into a garbage can, police said. Cmdr. Mike Borges said the student did not have ammunition for the weapon. Ceres Unified School District spokesman Jay Simmonds said the gun appeared inoperable. "We think it's just a kid who's not thinking straight," Simmonds said. A school security officer detained the student on suspicion of vandalism and smoking on campus, Borges said. He was sent to officer Darren Venn, who works at the school. Venn was expected to search the student for more cigarettes, which are prohibited for students under 18, Borges said. Venn approached the student in a hallway and noticed him dropping something in a garbage can. Venn searched the receptacle and spotted the weapon. Borges said the student was booked into Stanislaus County's juvenile detention center on suspicion of bringing the gun to campus. Borges said the student acknowledged a gang affiliation to Venn. Simmonds said the student faces expulsion from the high school. Police locked down the campus at 11 a.m. and reopened it about 12:20 p.m.
MISTRIAL IN ATTEMPTED MURDER CASE: An attempted murder trial stemming from a shooting that left a Modesto women blinded in one eye ended in mistrial Wednesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court. It was the second time the case against Javier Mata, 19, came to trial but ended without a verdict. Judge Scott Steffen dismissed a jury that deadlocked 6 to 6 after deliberating for several days. In the summer of 2006, Steffen dismissed a jury before attorneys finished presenting their case, because the district attorney's office had not turned some investigative reports over to the defense as required. Mata is accused of shooting at Stephanie House, 27, of Modesto, who was hit in the face about 1:30 a.m. on June 13, 2004. The shooting happened shortly after House, her boyfriend and her little sister stopped for a snack at a taco truck at 14th and D streets. House chased some alleged gang members after they stabbed her boyfriend in the shoulder and was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher when shots rang out. Three other defendants took plea deals, fingering Mata as the shooter. But one of them testified for Mata during the second trial, saying he told investigators what they wanted to hear so he could be released from Juvenile Hall. Mata claimed that a gang member in another car -- Cesar Perez, who is known by the street name Night Owl and is being held for trial on murder charges in another case -- was the shooter. Mata has told the same story for three years, defense attorney Ruben Villalobos said, and took the stand in his own defense. Deputy District Attorney Tom Brennan said he still believes in his case, but may negotiate a plea deal to avoid further inconvenience to House, who has come to court numerous times to testify. The district attorney's office could take Mata to trial a third time, negotiate a plea deal or drop the case. Mata remains in custody and returns to court Sept. 26.
JURY FINDS MAN GUILTY: A Modesto man who tried to strangle, stab and drown his pregnant girlfriend faces the possibility of life in prison because a Stanislaus County Superior Court jury on Monday found him guilty of attempted murder, kidnapping, domestic violence and making threats. Jesus Contreras Galvan, 36, was arrested on April 4 after witnesses called police, saying they saw a man choking a woman. The police found the victim on Edgebrook Drive, near La Loma Park, where Galvan was holding a 4-inch nail to her neck and trying to hold her head under water. Galvan returns to court for sentencing on Oct. 12.
DUI CHECKPOINT FRIDAY: The California Highway Patrol will be looking for drunken drivers at a sobriety checkpoint starting Friday at 9 p.m. and ending at 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in the north Modesto area. Drivers will see signs alerting them the checkpoint is ahead and be diverted into a lane for a few moments while an officer explains the purpose of the checkpoint. A grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety funded this enforcement effort.
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