The following stories received the most views over the past year on TurlockJournal.com:
1. Denair High welcomes first openly transgender cheerleader (published Oct. 27) : Denair High School senior Anry Fuentes wanted to be a cheerleader since she was little. Fuentes’ childhood aspiration to cheer on the sidelines of sporting events is not what makes her unique. Rather, it is Fuentes’ journey that ultimately turned her dream into a reality.
Fuentes is transgender. She was born a male, but identifies as a female.
Fuentes can not only be seen wearing feminine clothing around the DHS campus, but also on the sidelines of every Coyotes football game, where she proudly donned a female varsity cheerleading uniform as the high school’s first openly transgender cheerleader.
“It means a lot. I feel respected,” said Fuentes. “I chose to wear the skirt for myself and I love wearing the uniform on Fridays. I wanted to feel good about myself.”
2. Turlock homeowner nabs burglar at gunpoint (published Dec. 8): Gilbert Minjares was getting his 5-year-old daughter ready for bed around 11 p.m. when he heard a crash come from his backyard on E. Marshall Street.
“I wasn’t sure what it was, but I put my daughter in the closet and I got my gun, which has a laser on it,” Minjares said. “I took a few steps toward the French doors which lead outside and then this guy comes barreling through the doors and into my room. This big guy is looking at me and I raise my gun and point it right at him and tell him if he moves I’ll blow his head off.
“Had my daughter not been there, I have no doubt that I would have killed him,” Minjares said. “But I didn’t want her to see that and I didn’t want her to remember it for the rest of her life.”
Minjares recounted that in a very calm manner he told the suspect to back up out of the door to the outside. He ordered the suspect to lie on the ground and lace his fingers behind his back. He checked him for weapons and then realized he had a bit of a dilemma. He knew he needed to call the police, but his phone was back in the house.
“I kept that laser pointed at his face and told him if he made any movement I’d shoot him,” Minjares said. “I kept it angled on him while I backed in and grabbed my phone. He was looking at me the whole time.”
As soon as the suspect was in custody Minjares ran back into his home to get his little girl, who he found hiding behind his clothes in his closet.
The suspect, identified as 26-year-old Martin Zamora, was taken into custody and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on a charge of burglary.
3. Hughson fire victim identified as Turlock dairyman (published June 18): Authorities identified the remains found inside a Hughson home that ignited in fire. The deceased was identified by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department as Delio Jorge Fernandes Silveira, 28. Sheriff spokesman Dep. Anthony Bejaran said the cause of death is still pending an autopsy.
The fire was reported shortly after midnight at a residence in the 3100 block of Berkeley Road, just outside of Hughson city limits. Firefighters were extinguishing the fire inside the home when they discovered Silveira’s body.
Investigators have not stated what caused the fire.
Silveira owned Railside Jersey Farms in Turlock and had recently moved into the Hughson home.
4. CSU Stanislaus fraternity under investigation for hazing (published February 6): For sophomore Julian Alvarez, joining Omega Delta Phi at California State University, Stanislaus took a dark turn when the normal initiation process he expected turned into a hazing nightmare.
“Our very first initiation night, they blindfolded us and were cussing and yelling at us,” said Alvarez. “They took our cars and put them in different areas out in Merced in an area none of us even knew. All they said was that we had to find them ourselves. It took us close to half an hour just to head back home.”
Alvarez reported that his hazing experience with ODPhi knew no limits, as the sophomore underwent hazing activities at work, school and pledge meetings.
According to Alvarez, he had to perform a certain greeting every time he saw a member from the fraternity to make sure that they were respected and “admired for being part of the fraternity.”
CSU has a system-wide policy on hazing, however, student disciplinary matters are conducted at the campus level.
As part of the Student Organization Charter Application, CSU Stanislaus has a “No Hazing Compliance” which each student organization president is required to sign.
Over the past four years, CSU Stanislaus Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Tim Lynch reported that seven Greek student organizations have received disciplinary sanctions, three of which were hazing violations.
Regarding ODPhi, the university was unable to confirm whether or not the organization has been suspended due to the ongoing investigation.
5. Prominent defense attorney arrested for murder of Turlock man (published Aug. 14): When Korey Kauffman disappeared in 2012 there was little attention devoted to the case of the missing 26-year-old Turlock man who made his living by stealing and scrapping metal. But the arrest of his suspected killers has sent shockwaves through the legal and law enforcement community that will likely reverberate for years, as investigators unraveled a conspiracy that involved a prominent defense attorney, three California Highway Patrol officers, and two well known business owners.
Defense attorney and one time Stanislaus County District Attorney candidate Frank Carson was taken into custody on allegations he participated in the murder of Kauffman. Authorities also have arrested on allegations of murder, Carson’s wife Georgia DeFilippo, aka Georgia Carson, Turlock Pop and Cork store owners Baljit and Daljit Atwal, former CHP Officer Walter Wells, and Robert Lee Woody, who has been in custody on the murder charge since March 2014.
In addition to the murder allegations, Carson and the others were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime, and false imprisonment. The murder allegations carry the special circumstance that the suspects were lying in wait for Kauffman and the enhancement that a firearm was used in the crime.
Authorities also arrested Carson’s stepdaughter Christina Anne DeFilippo, and CHP Officers Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar Jr. on allegations of conspiracy and being an accessory.
The investigation into Kauffman’s death is detailed in a 326 page affidavit released by the sheriff’s department. It portrays Carson as a man who had reached his limit over ongoing thefts and was actively seeking out criminals and other individuals who would be willing to help him end the thefts once and for all.