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San Luis Obispo County

Lompoc Lyft driver arrested for alleged sexual assault in Nipomo

A Lompoc man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a Nipomo woman he transported home as a Lyft driver four days earlier, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.

Jason Lamont Fenwick, 51, was taken into custody and booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of oral copulation with an intoxicated victim, sexual penetration with a foreign object with an intoxicated victim and burglary, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla.

Detectives with the Sheriff's Office Sexual Assault Unit were called to a Nipomo home to investigate a reported sexual assault that occurred there around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4.

The victim, who was not identified, told investigators she had become too intoxicated to drive home and had called for a Lyft driver, who arrived at her location and transported her to her residence, Cipolla said.

Because of her level of intoxication, the Lyft driver helped her inside the home, where she lost consciousness and the driver proceeded to sexually assault her, Cipolla said.

Warrants were subsequently issued to identify the driver and gather additional evidence, which led to Fenwick’s arrest.

Cipolla said Fenwick has been a Lyft driver for more than a year, working in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, so the Sheriff's Office is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying any other possible victims.

Anyone with information on the case or other potential victims is asked to call the Sheriff's Detective Division at 805-781-4500.

Santa Maria 

Mental competency doubt declared for Lompoc man charged with murder, assault

Defense counsel representing a Lompoc man charged with murder and assault has declared doubt on her client's competency to stand trial, and a medical evaluation has been ordered.

Noe Herrera, 32, last year pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity for going on a crime spree after allegedly killing a man, identified as Salvador Hernandez, and assaulting his mother three years ago. He most recently picked up a misdemeanor charge while in custody -- battery on a peace officer on July 9. 

On Thursday morning at the Santa Maria Superior Court, Senior Deputy Public Defender Lori Pedego stated that potential settlement discussions between the defense and prosecution were not successful nor were her discussions with Herrera. As a result, Pedego declared doubt about his mental competency.

Herrera's criminal proceedings have been suspended until appointed doctors are able to fully evaluate him and submit reports of their findings. Herrera's case returns to court Dec. 6 for review of reports. 

When doubt is declared as to the mental competency of the defendant, two psychologists are appointed, who then evaluate the defendant. Depending on the results of the evaluations, the court can either declare the defendant incompetent or competent to stand trial. 

Herrera's charges stem from his initial arrest on Jan. 20, 2015, in Lompoc after police responded to an argument between Herrera and his mother, which turned physical, according to officials. 

The next day, Herrera allegedly began assaulting his cellmate while in custody. The cellmate sustained minor injuries and required medical attention. At that point, Herrera was charged with battery causing serious bodily injury.

Later that day, when police were following up their investigation into Herrera's original arrest, he was linked to Hernandez's death. 

Santa Barbara County

Hancock College Foundation scholarship applications now open

Online applications for more than a half-million dollars in scholarships provided through the Allan Hancock College Foundation are now open to current Hancock College students.

"We encourage all Allan Hancock College students to go online and apply early," Advancement Officer Natalie Rucobo said. "There is no application fee. It costs students nothing, and the rewards could be significant."

According to Rucobo, last year the foundation awarded 420 scholarships worth more than $500,000 to 370 students. Each scholarship ranged from $500 to $10,000.

Students must complete six or more units at Hancock during the fall 2018 and spring 2019 semesters, as well as maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher, to qualify.

Students can complete the entire application process and view all scholarship opportunities online. The scholarship application is available at www.hancockcollege.edu/scholarships.

The application period is open through Feb. 20, 2019.

Questions about the online application should be directed to scholarships@hancockcollege.edu. Students can also call the Hancock Financial Aid office at 805-922-6966, ext. 3200, or toll free at 1-866-342-5242, ext. 3200.

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-- Staff reports

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