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Sex offender who ditched GPS is charged with murdering grandmother

March 01, 2013|By Paige St. John | This post has been updated. Please see below for details.
  • A Feb. 15 warrant for sex offender Sidney DeAvila says he was failing to wear a state-mandated GPS monitor.
A Feb. 15 warrant for sex offender Sidney DeAvila says he was failing to wear… (California Department…)

SACRAMENTO -- California's growing trouble with sex offenders removing their GPS monitors now involves an alleged murder.

A convicted sex offender with a history of repeated arrests for ditching his state-mandated GPS tracker is accused of killing his 76-year-old grandmother, Racheal Russell. Her body was found Tuesday in a wheelbarrow in the backyard of her Stockton home. Stockton police say Sidney Jerome DeAvila, 39, was arrested in a nearby park several hours later.

California has issued some 3,400 arrest warrants for state parolees accused of disabling or removing their GPS ankle monitors since the penalty for such violations was greatly reduced in October 2011. Most of those cases involve sex offenders.

In the past, such violations meant a potential year in state prison. Now, however, parole violators are the responsibility of county sheriffs and face no more than 180 days in jail. In areas where those jails are overcrowded, The Times found that sex offenders and other parole violators were often released within a day or not held at all.

Police reports, jail logs and other law enforcement files show DeAvila had a history of violence and mental health problems. He was incarcerated in 2011 on multiple counts of molesting and annoying children. After release on parole, he landed in the San Joaquin County jail at least 10 times in the last nine months, accused of using drugs, public drunkenness and disabling his tracking device. Almost every time, DeAvila was free by the next day, released because of severe overcrowding.

His most recent stint in the county jail was Feb. 13 for allegedly refusing to wear a GPS ankle monitor. Jail logs show he was freed Feb. 20.

On Tuesday, Stockton police were called after neighbors found Russell's body, and DeAvila was arrested. He is in jail facing charges of murder, resisting arrest and violating parole. [Update, 8:48 a.m. March 1: On Thursday, county prosecutors added charges, including rape and robbery. DeAvila's court-appointed defense lawyer said she would seek a mental health evaluation for her client.]

paige.stjohn@latimes.com

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