Man pleads guilty to murder in 2015 stabbing

A Lompoc man faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty to fatally stabbing a transient and attempting to kill his own mother, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Noe Herrera, 33, will be sentenced to 24 years to life in prison later this month for killing Salvador Hernandez in January 2015 and attacking his mother in a separate incident. He was arrested on Jan. 20, 2018 after a violent altercation with his mother. While in jail, Herrera attacked his cellmate causing minor injuries and reportedly confessed to killing Hernandez.

"Once again, the Lompoc Police Department did an excellent job investigating this case and seeking justice for the victims and their families," Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement. "Still, the defendant's acts of extreme violence have had a devastating effect on the victims, their loved ones and the entire Lompoc community."

Herrera, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in February 2017, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in December 2018 and remanded to a state hospital for treatment. Prior to pleading guilty, Herrera's criminal proceedings were suspending pending successful treatment.

He will be sentenced in Santa Maria Superior Court on July 24.


1,000 free youth bus passes available

Santa Maria is set to make more than 1,000 free monthly city bus passes available to qualifying Santa Maria students to help them get to youth and teen programs around the city.

Starting Monday, the “Youth Adventure Pass” program will provide passes that can be used to board any Santa Maria Area Transit bus.

A regular student monthly SMAT bus pass is $31.

The program is part of the Recreation and Parks Department and Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Safety.

Separately, 50 youth bus passes were previously purchased by the Recreation and Parks Department.

Application forms may be completed and submitted at the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center, 600 S. McClelland St.

Those eligible to obtain a “Youth Adventure Pass” must get a parental signature and be:

• Students 18 years of age and under;

• Enrolled in a Santa Maria area high school or junior high school, with a valid school ID; and,

• Able to identify a transportation need.

The program will run until no more of the 1,129 passes are available; the special passes expire June 30, 2020.

Funding for the project was made possible by the Transit Division’s application for $35,000 from the California Low Carbon Transit Operation Program.

For more information, contact the Recreation and Parks Department at 805-925-0951, ext. 2260.


Photography exhibit opens in library

Los Alamos Branch Library is showcasing a photography exhibit titled “Cars, Stars & Rockets: The Photographs of Jay Prichard” through October, a library spokesman said.

Described as an adventure traveler and “gearhead” philosopher, Prichard uses long-exposure photography to create his collection of nightscape images, always in search of the next place “lost in time.”

Chosen in 2017 as one of the #Nikon100 up-and-coming photographers to follow, Prichard’s works are a stunning sight to behold for interested onlookers, the library spokesman said.

“Astronomy can be very humbling, and the duality of this type of astrophotography begs a discussion,” Prichard said. “It is my hope that people take a moment to pause and consider what they do with their time and efforts in the world.”

A reception and gallery talk is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the Los Alamos Branch of the Santa Maria Public Library.

For more information, call the Los Alamos Library at 805-344-1025 or stop by the library at 405 Helena St.

The library is open from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 2 to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.


CHP plans dispatcher recruiting seminar

The California Highway Patrol is hiring dispatchers for the San Luis Obispo Communications Center and will hold a recruitment seminar at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 20, in the CHP office at 675 California Blvd., San Luis Obispo.

Those interested in a dispatching position can find out what’s required and how to apply at the seminar, a CHP spokesman said.

The salary range for a CHP public safety dispatcher is $3,993 to $5,499 per month, with specialty pay for overtime, shift differential and bilingual status.

Benefits include retirement, health, dental and vision plans, the spokesman said.

For more information, call 805-593-3333.

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