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Old 12-07-09, 09:12 PM   #1
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Default Mom faces kidnap charge - Was hiding in El Rosario,Baja Mexico

Mom back to face kidnap charge almost two years after Mexican escape

By Jennifer Squires - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted: 12/07/2009 06:30:02 PM PST

SANTA CRUZ - A mother accused of kidnapping her daughter and hiding out in Mexico while on the lam from San Francisco police nearly two years ago is back in Santa Cruz to face charges of child abduction and other crimes, the District Attorney's Office confirmed Monday.

Michelle Pinkerton, 40, will be arraigned Tuesday morning and faces about five years in state prison if convicted, District Attorney Bob Lee said. She has been in custody since April 2008.

"We just want to hold somebody appropriately accountable and responsible," he said.

Pinkerton and her husband, Richard Carelli, both of San Francisco, allegedly took their daughters, one of whom Pinkerton's parents had legal custody of, to Mexico in January 2008 after the slaying of their former roommate in San Francisco. The couple is suspected in the killing.

Pinkerton's parents, Gene and Ellen Pauly of Soquel, reported Viana Carelli, missing when her parents didn't bring her back after a court-approved weekend visit. The search for Viana, then 6, and her baby sister, Faith, quickly spread from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Southwest and into Mexico.

At the time, Pinkerton and Carelli had sole custody of Faith, but authorities were concerned about her because the little girl was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The Paulys had won custody of Viana the year prior because her mother was addicted to methamphetamine, relatives have said.

More than two months after Viana didn't come home, a San Diego man, James Spring, read a story about the missing girls online and went looking for the sisters. He found the fugitive family in El Rosario, Baja, Mexico, in early April.

Viana was reunited with the Paulys and the girls' aunt and uncle, Rob and Sherry Doubleday of Santa Cruz, took Faith in. The girls remain with those relatives, who have permanent guardianship.

Pinkerton and Carelli were jailed in San Francisco and eventually taken to trial for the bludgeoning death of Leonard Milo Hoskins, 49, to death Dec. 22, 2007. That case failed, but the San Francisco District Attorney's Office will re-try the couple Jan. 15.

Carelli is accused of second-degree murder and Pinkerton is charged with one count of being an accessory.

"The case is still pending against she and Carelli," Brian Buckelew, spokesman for the San Francisco D.A.'s Office, said.

Carelli remains in police custody in San Francisco, but Pinkerton was released on her own recognizance this month after her defense attorney successfully argued she had served enough jail time to complete the sentence for the accessory charge, should she be convicted, according to Buckelew. Pinkerton will be taken back to San Francisco for the January trial, he said.

In the interim, outstanding Santa Cruz County warrants alleging child abduction, use of a bad check and a probation violation on an old drug case brought Pinkerton back to Santa Cruz County Jail on Monday morning, according to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office.

"We think we have enough evidence to hold her properly accountable," Lee, the district attorney, said. "She's finally here and we plan to do that, and we think we will."

Lee said he believes Pinkerton can be convicted of child abduction without Carelli's involvement, though there is still a warrant for the father's arrest on the same charge, He could be tried once his prosecution in San Francisco is over.

"If that case falls apart, he'll be coming to Santa Cruz, too," Lee said.
Old 12-08-09, 02:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mom faces kidnap charge - Was hiding in El Rosario,Baja Mexico

Seems like a poor choice of hideouts. Gotta believe this group would have stuck out like a sore thumb in a little town like El Rosario.
Old 12-08-09, 06:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mom faces kidnap charge - Was hiding in El Rosario,Baja Mexico

She died her hair dark. Looks like she put some weight on too...

Mom accused of child abduction appears in court, no plea entered

By Jennifer Squires - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted: 12/08/2009 04:45:51 PM PST

SANTA CRUZ - The mother accused of kidnapping her daughter and fleeing to Mexico in early 2008 to avoid a homicide investigation in San Francisco appeared in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on Tuesday to face charges of child abduction and other crimes.

Both Michelle Pinkerton and her husband, Richard Carelli, are accused of taking their eldest daughter, Viana, across the border, a violation of a court order that gave custody of the girl to her maternal grandparents in Soquel. Pinkerton is the first to face charges in the case.

Tuesday, Pinkerton appeared in court in red jail-issue clothes with her brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. She clutched a yellow manila envelope stuffed with papers, which she turned over to her court-appointed attorney, Michael Richards.

She did not enter a plea on charges of child abduction, passing a bad check and violating her probation on an old drug case, and will return to court Thursday to do so.

"We're happy to see this come to court and this really is about the kids and what's important and what matters to them," said Robert Doubleday, Viana's uncle who has custody of the couple's younger daughter, Faith, with his wife, Sherri Doubleday. "Those kids were both put in a very bad situation when their parents made some bad decisions."

Carelli and Pinkerton were suspects in the December 2007 slaying of their former roommate in San Francisco when they failed to return Viana to her grandparents, Gene and Ellen Pauly, after a court-approved weekend visit in late January of 2008. The Paulys had custody of the girl because of her parents' alleged drug abuse, relatives have said.

Viana's disappearance quickly became a mutli-state, then international child abduction case when the family was spotted in Baja, Mexico.

In early April of that year, a San Diego man read a newspaper account of Viana's abduction and decided to go looking for the girl. James Spring found the family in El Rosario, Baja, setting off a string of events that brought both Viana and Faith to relatives' homes in Santa Cruz County and sent their parents to jail in San Francisco. In January, they will be re-tried for their alleged roles in the bludgeoning death of Leonard Milo Hoskins, 49. A judge declared a mistrial in the case during the summer after a jury failed to reach a verdict.

Pinkerton is charged with being an accessory, while Carelli faces second-degree murder charges. He remains behind bars in San Francisco, but Pinkerton was brought back to Santa Cruz because she had served enough time to cover the sentence for the charges she faces there, should she be convicted.

Pinkerton's sister, Sherri Doubleday, sat in the back of the courtroom Tuesday. She and Pinkerton have regular correspondence, through which the Doubledays share photos of Faith and Pinkerton updates them on her situation, like that she taught an aerobics class in jail in San Francisco.

"There's nothing unsettling about Michelle coming to Santa Cruz," Robert Doubleday said.

He said the relatives who care for the girls are not worried about Pinkerton regaining custody of the sisters at this point. She faces about five years in state prison if convicted of the Santa Cruz charges.

"There's no potential for any parenting from her," he said.

A year and a half after living on the lam in Mexico, Viana is a well-adjusted second-grader who will celebrate her 8th birthday later this month.

"Viana's doing great," Robert Doubleday said.

Faith, who was born with Down syndrome, turned 2 on Halloween, is walking and doing well, according to Sherri Doubleday.

"Really her progress mentally as well as physically is really surprisingly good," Robert Doubleday said. "She's a pretty smart little girl and doing far better than we had ever hoped."

Pinkerton's attorney could not be reached to comment Tuesday.

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