An Anaheim man is Fresno's first murder victim of 2014, a 3-year-old boy is beaten to death and a well-known defense attorney is remembered for her passion for the law and her flair for fashion.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
Victim stabbed on New Year's Day
What happened: Fresno's first murder victim of 2014 was a 31-year-old man from Anaheim who was stabbed to death when a New Year's celebration turned deadly.
What it means: Police arrested Jessica Wills and her partner, Jacqueline Benavidez, both age 23, after the autopsy revealed the victim was stabbed with two weapons. Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the victim, his girlfriend and the two suspects had all served together in the Army. Few details were released last week.
What readers said:
"I'm sorry for your loss, but I don't think any of you were there to know what happened. And you are not judge and jury. If any of you honestly knew Jessica you'd know that she was a good person and would have never harmed anyone unless that person was harming her or someone she loved. There was alcohol involved so who knows what happened. I'm not saying that it makes hurting people right. But we just don't know details. One can only assume what they want. Again no words I can say to express how sorry I am for your loss."
— Tina Cantu
"She decided to be judge and jury...being drunk is not an excuse to kill someone. She is akso still alive to defend herself"
— Emily Wilder
"I served alongside Brian for several years. He always had a smile on his face and would always bring me up when I was down. I will miss him terribly. I can't imagine what he could've done that caused Jessica Wills to do this to him."
— Aaron Xavier Harris-Micheaux
Beaten toddler dies
What happened: When a father reported that his 3-year-old son wasn't breathing, Fresno police were stunned to discover the boy — and his 5-year-old brother — were the victims of child abuse and multiple beatings. The boy's father, Donald Nelson, and girlfriend Moneesha Camp were charged with Zion Nelson's murder.
What it means: Questions remain unanswered about whether county child protection officials had investigated previously and why a report by the boys' mother to police in April did not uncover the abuse.
What readers said:
"The father was my best friend we spoke everyday I'm sad I didn't see the signs smh"
— Nathan Mathews
"The girlfriend attended church, went to school, had family that cared for foster children. The father fought CPS for his kids and was a foster child himself. He was proud to not have abandoned his kids. Seems like another case of the system and community failing. With so many involved its hard to believe no one saw the signs."
— Laura Miranda
"This is not a case of community failing...this is a case of pure evil. I hope they get what they deserve, to be treated the way they treated these defenseless children. good luck in prison when the population finds out what they did!"
— Ron Ragsdale
She had passion for law, fashion
What happened: Fresno attorney Laura Guzman Magill, whose love of fashion was secondary to her love of God and her desire to help the accused, died Dec. 27 after a long and unconventional battle with breast cancer. She was 48.
What it means: Guzman Magill and her husband were the defense team on some of the area's more high-profile cases. But she also made her mark with her love of fashion and social justice.
What readers said:
"I was so very sorry to hear of Laura's passing. She was one of the bravest, classiest women I ever had the privilege to know. My deepest sympathies go out to Chuck and the family. An Angel is truly watching over us all now."
— April Dillon
"Prayers to her family. She was a true warrior."
— Stacy Manning
"Now a warrior with wings, truly a beautiful story. Not many women like Laura come around to get people to think."
— Vanoush Khatchaturyan
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.