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By Henry K. Lee
San Francisco Chronicle

EL SOBRANTE, Calif. - A newly released parolee driving a stolen pickup truck while fleeing from Richmond police rear-ended a car in El Sobrante Monday, killing a 76-year-old Arkansas woman visiting her daughter and son-in-law, authorities said.
Mary Shepard was riding with her 59-year-old son-in-law, who was driving, and her 57-year-old daughter when they were hit by a Chevrolet pickup truck on the 4600 block of San Pablo Dam Road, authorities said.
The suspect, Jordan Taitano, 34, of Antioch ran off, but was arrested a short time later on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, carjacking, robbery, burglary, evading arrest, driving under the influence of a controlled substance and a parole violation, authorities said.
Shepard, of Benton, Ark., died at the scene, the Contra Costa County coroner's office said. Her son-in-law, George Alvarez, and her daughter, Elizabeth, were taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek with moderate injuries.
Taitano was released from San Quentin State Prison on Thursday after serving time for a parole violation stemming from an incident in which he assaulted an officer and was in possession of drugs, police said. He has been in and out of jail or prison since he was 16 and has a speeding conviction, according to police and records with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
The incident began shortly after 10 a.m. when Taitano allegedly kicked down the door to a room at the Economy Inn at 12572 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond and confronted a man and his wife, said police Lt. Mark Gagan.
The intruder demanded money, but the man began struggling with him, Gagan said. He yelled for his wife to get out of there, and she barreled through a glass window to escape, suffering serious cuts to her arms and stomach, authorities said.
American Medical Response paramedics who happened to be passing by in an ambulance saw the injured woman and summoned police.
An officer arrived at the motel just as the assailant was leaving in a truck he had just stolen from its owner, Gagan said.
Police chased the truck north on San Pablo Avenue - into the city of San Pablo - and then east on San Pablo Dam Road until the truck smashed into the victims' vehicle between Clark and May roads in El Sobrante, Gagan said.
Two parked cars were damaged in the crash, said California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Yox.
Connie Qualls, a yard supervisor at nearby Sheldon Elementary School on May Road, saw the wreckage.
"I would describe it as very, very sad and very, very sickening. I feel sorry for the innocent victim and her family," Qualls said. She said of the suspect, "The way our country and our government is going today, they might as well give prisoners a pat on the head and let them go. Our courts are too lenient on these people."
The crash is under investigation by the CHP. As is the case with all law-enforcement incidents involving deaths, Richmond police and the Contra Costa County district attorney's office are reviewing the case.
The fatality comes two months after a man driving a stolen car while being chased by Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies struck and killed a motorist head-on on Pinole Valley Road in Pinole.
On Aug. 28, the victim, Martin Padilla, 51, was heading to work as night supervisor at Contra Costa College in San Pablo when he was struck by a car driven by Michael Jason Moore, 28, authorities said.

Wire Service
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