Details public about Duran associates’ child abuse case in Roseville

Detectives testify about Sureno influence on Thieles neighborhood
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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Several weeks after Roseville police officers reportedly survived a chaotic shoot-out with Sureno gang member Sammy Duran, more than 35 individuals connected to the homegrown parolee were arrested on various criminal charges: While many of these defendants were prosecuted for transgressions ranging from selling drugs to intimidating witnesses, a few were arraigned on counts of felony child abuse with circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm to their victims.

Almost a year later, public documents are now shedding light on the nature of those charges.

Court testimony given in that child endangerment investigation may also offer insights into the ongoing struggles within Roseville’s Thieles neighborhood.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 20, 2013, the same city streets that allegedly saw Duran exchanging gunfire with Roseville law enforcement — sending multiple officers to the hospital — again experienced SWAT members rushing into a number of houses. Among those arrested were Jorge Campos III and Jose Felix, validated Surenos booked on charges of intimidating witnesses in a case on behalf of a known street gang. At the same time, Jose Felix’s relatives, Alexander Felix and Anita Felix, were taken into custody on charges of felony child abuse. Officers reportedly used probation and parole clauses to enter the Felixs’ house on the 600 block of Windsor Street.

The Press Tribune asked the Roseville Police Department to provide copies of the official reports on the child abuse case with an understanding that the victims’ information would be redacted. Roseville police records clerks would not release the reports. However, on May 1, 2014, Roseville police officers and detectives testified at an evidentiary hearing about what they found on that morning in November.

A transcript of that two-day court proceeding is now public. 

The case is being prosecuted by Placer County Deputy District Attorney Kyle Jibson. During the hearing, Jibson called Roseville Police Vice and Narcotics Enforcement Team investigator Andrew Palmore to the witness stand. Palmore told the court that, during the gang suppression sweep, he was a team leader charged with executing search warrants connected to Sammy Duran’s associations. Before probing exactly what Palmore found inside the Felixs’ house, Jibson asked the detective about the Thieles area.

“Is that a dangerous neighborhood in Roseville?” Jibson questioned.

“In my opinion, it’s the most dangerous neighborhood in Roseville,” Palmore responded. “… (It’s) known for Sureno gang members. It’s known for a lot of criminal activity … There are a lot of factors that make that neighborhood hard to enforce. It’s hard to do undercover surveillance in that neighborhood because of all of the unfriendly people. There’s just a heavy gang and drug influence.”

Jibson entered into a line of questioning about how non-gang affiliated residents in the Thieles area were acting in the wake of the Duran shoot-out.

“They were scared, and they didn’t want to give any information,” Palmore replied. “They know of the reputation of everyone involved, and they were hesitant to speak with me.”

Palmore also noted on the stand that Duran had often been viewed hanging out in the front yard of the Felixs’ house with Jose Felix.

Returning to the child abuse allegations, Jibson asked Palmore to describe following SWAT operatives into the Felixs’ house on Windsor Street.

“Coming in, we were instantly hit with the smell of urine, feces, dirty clothes, dirty bodies and marijuana,” Palmore said, adding that there were nine people living in the 974-square-foot dwelling, and that there appeared to be no working heat on that cold, early November morning.

Palmore continued to testify that, while moving through the hallways, he and other officers found exposed electrical wire, leaking pipes, nails sticking out of walls, jagged broken counter tiles, cockroaches scattering inside drawers and gang graffiti on exposed plywood inside the garage — along with several small, “sickly-looking" dogs. Palmore told the judge that one room contained a large amount of marijuana and material for drug sales.

When the detective came to a bedroom that three small children were all living in, ages 2, 6 and 7, he began the process of involving Child Protective Services. The specific living conditions in that room will not be presented in detail by the Press Tribune due to privacy concerns for the child victims in the case; but Palmore summarized what he saw on the witness stand as “disgusting” and “heinous.”

CPS workers were called to the scene.

Before finishing his testimony, Palmore said that comments the children made to CPS workers lead him to believe they were hungry.

Individuals living at the address have previously been convicted under California law for “keeping a drug house.” Other suspects taken into custody in the neighborhood that morning were booked on possession of methamphetamine.

Placer County Superior Court Judge James Dawson also heard testimony from Roseville Police Detective Patrick Ganguet, who told the court that he’d been to the Felixs’ house on 25-30 separate occasions while conducting criminal investigations.

During cross examination of Palmore, Anita Felix’s attorney, David Wiksell, questioned the detective about why police had not ascertained if the roof was leaking, or whether the house had hot and cold water. Wiskell got Palmore to acknowledge that no guns, weapons or dirty needles had been located during his search.

In a closing statement, Alexander Felix’s attorney, Leslie Ramos, told the judge that since her client’s arrest in November he had been getting counseling through probation and parenting support from nonprofit groups; and that he had enrolled in a job-seeking program.

Dawson decided that wasn’t enough. He ruled that both Alexander and Anita Felix would be held to answer for child abuse and drug charges at a full jury trial. Referring to statements from Anita Felix, claiming she didn’t know her small house was hosting a marijuana sales operation, the judge said, “I don’t know if she has an olfactory problem, with the fact the house smelled as bad as it did … That’s a long way off; and for her not to know what was going on, it’s like the old story of the piano player in the brothel not knowing what was going on up stairs. 'I’m just the piano player.' I think it’s disingenuous.”

Turning to the child endangerment case, the judge also shared his thoughts.

“As to the conditions of the children … yes, there was electricity, and yes, there was running water, but these kids can’t live like that,” he said. “And the question was well raised: Why hadn’t they gotten sick sooner? I don’t know, but it’s a deplorable situation.”