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Week in review
April 21, 2007, 12:00 AM
Man in abortion

murder plot released

Prosecutors dropped attempted murder charges against a 27-year-old San Bruno man who told a hospital psychiatrist he drove to a Planned Parenthood with a loaded gun to shoot the doctor who performed an abortion on his girlfriend but left before exiting the vehicle.

Instead, Joel Joseph Robison pleaded no contest to felony attempted commercial burglary and misdemeanor possession of a firearm in public. Robison was released on his own recognizance until his June 7 sentencing at which time he will receive time served and probation.

The hearing will also settle what type of psychological counseling he must continue, said defense attorney Alex Bernstein.

The conviction prevents Robison from owning a gun in the future and the probation department will monitor his psychiatric care — the two elements prosecutors said were most important to achieve.

Robison has been in custody since his arrest on charges of attempted murder and gun possession. In March, a judge changed his no-bail status to $500,000 but Robison remained at the county jail, facing 17 years to life if convicted.

Robison’s arrest nabbed national attention because of its connection to the controversial topic of abortion and sparked debate about whether attempted murder charges were appropriate. Unlike a murder charge, attempted murder requires a suspect to have an intent to kill.  

On Feb. 17, Robison allegedly loaded a gun and drove to Planned Parenthood at 2211 Palm Ave. in San Mateo. Robison reportedly drove past the clinic, deciding not to stop after noticing a security guard out front. Robison drove back to San Bruno, gave his brother the weapon and sought psychiatric help at the Kaiser Hospital in South San Francisco. After a brief hold, medical staff let Robison go but alerted San Mateo police about his alleged comments.

Rehab school

has charter denied

A proposed charter school aiming to help teens with substance abuse problems was denied by the Sequoia Union High School District which claimed the school could not legally be chartered and presented an unrealistic educational plan.

Sequoia hasn’t seen the last of Daytop Village, Inc., however. It will be back July 1 to resubmit its charter after its current non-public school is closed, said Daytop Executive Director Orville Roache. Roache added the denial given was on an old education proposal given to the County Office of Education in 2005, not the restructured plan proposed to Sequoia.

The school board unanimously denied the petition — as recommended by Superintendent Pat Gemma. Two reasons were cited for the denial: The school acted as a private school making it against state law to charter and it would be impossible to supply the teachers to provide the proposed curriculum.

Daytop was not given a chance to review or respond to the recommendation prior to the board’s vote Wednesday.

"I’ve never seen a denial with more prejudice and biased,” said Roache.

"The review spoke to the petition that was presented to the county. They raised issues that were addressed line by line in the new petition. ... This was also an unfair forum. We were not given a copy of the report. We had no idea what to respond to. It was highly unusual.”

Daytop Village, Inc. petitioned the Sequoia Union High School District for a charter with plans to open a 58-student, three-classroom school by September after being denied by the County Office of Education last year. Daytop appealed the denial to the state, but later withdrew the appeal when a state official suggested the plan be revised to address the specific needs of the students Daytop serves. Currently, Daytop runs a nonpublic school — which is a publicly funded school without public enrollment.

Murder defendants

assault jail officers

Two murder defendants facing prison sentences of life without parole assaulted two correctional officers who tried to keep one from shouting near a cell window, according to prosecutors who charged each with six felonies.

Fautino Ayala, 22, and Brian Dean Hedlin, 26, appeared in court Tuesday on two counts of battery, two counts of making threats and two counts of assaulting a correctional officer causing serious injury.

They return to court Friday to identify their court-appointed attorneys who will likely be the lawyers already handling their respective murder cases, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

The two men are housed together in the maximum security section of Maguire Correctional Facility. On April 13, an officer reportedly saw Hedlin near a cell window, shouting to another person. Inmates are not permitted to communicate in that manner, Wagstaffe said.

Hedlin allegedly refused the officer’s demands to move and punched the officer numerous times on the body. When a second deputy entered the cell, Ayala reportedly placed him in a headlock and punched him in the face several times.

Two more officers joined the fray and the two defendants were controlled. The officer injuries included face cuts, a bloody nose and sore joints.

Hedlin and his brother Shawn, of Hayward, have been in custody since February 2005 when they were arrested for the Jan. 31 South San Francisco shooting that killed 22-year-old Gregorio Chicas, 22, and injured three others. One woman sustained a broken back after jumping out a window to escape the attack.

Ayala has been in custody since July 2005 when he was accused of being the getaway driver in the fatal shooting of Francisco Rodriguez near his apartment carport at 475 Redwood Ave. in Redwood City. Ayala’s case generated headlines not just for the murder itself but because the alleged shooter, Josue Orozco, was only 14 at the time.

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