Good Samaritans honored by DA

PASADENA - Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley on Wednesday honored three young adults who stopped a man's attack on his girlfriend and, in a separate case, a woman who helped foil a distraction-style robbery.Justine Garcia, 19, of Glendora; Deedee Reyna, 18, of Sylmar; and Michael Valle, 21, of Monterey Park, were each presented with Courageous Citizen Awards at a ceremony hosted by the Rotary Club of Pasadena. In July 2009, outside an Alhambra movie theater, Garcia and Reyna saw a man strike his girlfriend and knock her to the ground. The two young women rushed to aid the victim who called out for help as her boyfriend continued to grab and pull her. Garcia, Reyna and Valle went on to assist in the criminal prosecution, attending multiple court hearings and, ultimately, testifying in court against the defendant. The accounts of the three witnesses proved critical, as the victim refused to testify against her attacker. Angela Casillas, 31, of Hesperia, also was among those to receive an award for valor. Casillas helped foil a distraction-type robbery in February 2010. Casillas was at a Baldwin Park store with an on-site check-cashing business when a man - assisted by three others - tried to run away with about $34,000. As a store clerk struggled to hold on to the assailant, Casillas jumped in to help restrain the man, taking blows to the arm and chest as the man fought back. In the end, Casillas and the clerk prevailed, holding the suspect until police arrived. All of the money was recovered. Less than three months later, the defendant pleaded no contest to one count of robbery and was sentenced to nine years in prison. The district attorney's office presents Courageous Citizen Awards several times a year to "ordinary citizens who have performed extraordinary acts of valor and selflessness in aiding victims, preventing crime, capturing suspects and assisting in criminal prosecution."

********** Published: May 5, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 3