The Associated Press
Friday April 19, 2002

Alleged cross-bow killer is arraigned in death of housemate 


SAN JOSE — A 47-year-old man accused of fatally shooting his housemate with a crossbow was arraigned in court Thursday. 

Richard McPherson was charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly beating two female housemates with a frying pan before killing a fourth housemate. 

McPherson faces life in prison if convicted, according to prosecutor Deputy District Attorney Ben Field. McPherson, who has previous felony convictions, also faces being prosecuted under California’s three-strikes law. 

Police were called to McPherson’s home Tuesday and found the body of Duane Simmons, 43, with an arrow in his abdomen. They also found McPherson, who had tried to hang himself from a tree in the back yard. He had slashed both his forearms and was covered in blood. 

“It just looked like this guy went ... almost berserk,” said Sgt. Steve Dixon said Wednesday. 

McPherson’s housemates believe drugs may have played a role in his rampage. McPherson, who had recently lost his job at a glass company, had been under financial pressure and was having trouble making the rent, his housemates said. 

McPherson is set to enter a plea on Monday. His bail was set at $2.5 million. 


200 transit workers to be laid off 


SAN JOSE — About 200 transit workers will be laid off in Santa Clara County, marking the first time in a decade the transit district has had to cut its work force. 

The layoffs follow the largest drop in sales tax receipts in the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s history, accounting for a $34 million deficit. An additional 100 positions that are now vacant will be eliminated. 

Pete Cipolla, the authority’s general manager, said the layoffs would occur by the end of June. Drivers and mechanics are the most at risk. 

A number of steps have already been taken in response the mounting problems, including halted projects, freezing jobs and nearly depleting the agency’s $72.5 million cash reserves. 

But Cipolla says it may not be enough if the economy doesn’t bounce back soon. 

“We could be going through this again in a few more months,” Cipolla said. 

Officials say the cutbacks are directly linked to Silicon Valley’s economy. Nearly 90 percent of the operating funds come from a local sales tax and passenger fares, both of which have gone south since the dot-com crash. 


Oakland and Caltrans settle $12 million dispute over land 


OAKLAND — A $12 million, seven-year deal between Oakland and Caltrans marks the end of a heated battle over a 26-acre parcel of land. 

Wednesday’s deal paves the way to start building the new Bay Bridge, but puts an end to Mayor Jerry Brown’s dream of developing a casino while in office. 

“As promised, we are moving full steam ahead,” Caltrans spokesman Dennis Trujillo said. 

The dredging of the Bay will soon begin where the new bridge will replace and run next to the old span between Oakland and Yerba Buena Island. The 26-acre site was needed to start loading equipment. 

Last month, Caltrans seized 52 acres at the eastern end of the bridge, invoking an obscure federal regulation that forced the U.S. Army to hand the land over. Oakland sued to block the action. 

The fight was mainly over the 26-acre site. Brown had hoped to develop it as a casino, but Caltrans wanted to use it to avoid incurring an extra $30 million in construction costs by staging work further away. 

Caltrans agreed to pay the city $12 million up front, plus an extra $2.4 million a year if the work goes past 2009 to compensate for lost development rights and lost port business.