Roundup: Witnesses sought in PCH crash, guilty plea from former deputy, more news

·4 min read

Here's a roundup of recent incidents and announcements from Ventura County agencies:

Witnesses sought in PCH crash

VENTURA COUNTY – California Highway Patrol officials are looking for witnesses to a major injury motorcycle crash on Pacific Coast Highway Friday night.

At around 7:15 p.m. a 40-year-old Oxnard man was riding his 2001 Harley-Davidson northbound on PCH north of La Jolla Canyon, the CHP reported. The area is between Mugu Rock and Thornhill Broome Beach.

The driver lost control of the bike for reasons still under investigation, authorities said. The motorcycle overturned, throwing the rider. No other vehicles were involved.

The rider was not wearing a helmet, CHP officials said.

A good Samaritan and California State Parks personnel provided aid at the scene until Ventura County firefighters arrived. The incident blocked traffic lanes for a time.

The rider was taken by ambulance to Ventura County Medical Center with major injuries. No update on his condition was available Saturday.

The crash remains under investigation by the CHP's Ventura office. Anyone who witnessed the incident or who has information is asked to call Officer James McKay at 805-662-2640.

Plea entered in car trunk kidnapping case

James Apodaca
James Apodaca

VENTURA – The man accused of pushing a woman into the trunk of his car in the Ojai Valley in August pleaded not guilty to multiple felonies on Wednesday.

James Apodaca, 54, pleaded not guilty to four felony charges and denied all special allegations in Ventura County Superior Court, court records show. He has been charged by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office with kidnapping, robbery, assault on a peace officer and drug possession violations.

Apodaca, an Oxnard resident and registered sex offender, allegedly met the victim at the Red Barn liquor store in Mira Monte, near the intersection of Highway 33 and Baldwin Road, on Aug. 28. The victim, 20, had been bicycling home from work and had stopped to buy some items on her way home, according to court filings.

The two, who had not previously met, reportedly talked about smoking marijuana and Apodaca told the victim he had pot in the lining of his car trunk. He reportedly pushed her into the trunk when she leaned over to look inside.

Authorities allege that Apodaca slammed the trunk closed and drove off, but the victim popped the emergency latch and screamed for help as he drove down Highway 33 toward Oak View, according to court filings. A passerby who saw the screaming victim flagged down a patrol deputy, with Apodaca ultimately arrested after a pursuit.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for the afternoon of Dec. 15. Apodaca remains at Todd Road Jail and is not eligible for bail.

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Former deputy pleads guilty to felony

VENTURA – A former Ventura County Sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty this month to a felony in a case where he discarded a driver's urine sample after it tested clean for drugs.

The case involved a traffic stop in November 2019 when the former deputy, Richard Charles Barrios III, now 29, was on patrol in Camarillo, according to Ventura County District Attorney Erick Nasarenko's office. The sheriff's office is contracted to provide police services in Camarillo.

Barrios had pulled over a female driver for a traffic violation. While talking to her, Barrios suspected she was under the influence of methamphetamine. A backup deputy corroborated that suspicion, prosecutors said.

The woman was arrested but adamantly denied using narcotics. Barrios reportedly promised her if she provided a urine sample at the Camarillo Police Station and it tested negative for drugs, he would apologize and drive her back to her car.

Richard Barrios III
Richard Barrios III

Surveillance footage from the Camarillo station showed the driver providing Barrios with the sample. He tested the urine with a narcotics kit, saw the results, then tossed the kit into the trash and discarded the sample, according to prosecutors. He refused to tell the victim about her test results, then told a supervisor she had not provided a urine sample.

When another deputy arrived to take the victim to jail, she told the second deputy about the incident. That deputy found the discarded test kit in a trash can. The result showed the driver's urine sample tested negative for all controlled substances. The victim provided a second sample that also tested negative. She was then released.

The sheriff's major crimes bureau investigated, and further discovered that Barrios claimed in a police report that he had administered a narcotics evaluation at the police station. But surveillance footage showed he never did the evaluation.

On Nov. 15, Barrios pleaded guilty in Ventura County Superior Court to one felony count of destroying physical matter. Two other felony charges were dropped in the plea deal.

Previously, in 2016, Barrios had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace after getting into an off-duty fight with an 18-year-old man.

At the time of his arrest in the 2019 Camarillo incident, he had worked for the sheriff's agency since 2011, including six years as a deputy.

Barrios is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15, when he faces a maximum possible sentence of 365 days in jail and two years felony probation, prosecutors said.

Cytlalli Salgado is a breaking news reporter for the Ventura County Star. She can be reached by calling 805-437-0257 or emailing cytlalli.salgado@vcstar.com.

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Roundup: Witnesses sought in PCH crash, car trunk kidnap plea, more

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