These stories are ranked by the number of people who read them on Lamorinda Patch this year.
5) Merrick pleads guilty to six felony counts
Former Stanley Middle School teacher Michael Merrick pleaded guilty to six felony counts Jan. 20 and was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison. The charges involved the molestation of a 14-year-old girl in 2010. Merrick was required to register as a sex offender.
A dad and his daughters were out for a bike ride Saturday morning when an SUV hurtled into the intersection of Treat Boulevard and Oak Grove Road in Concord, careened up on the sidewalk and struck the bikes on April 7. Solaiman Nuri and his 9-year-old daughter Hadessa died; 12-year-old Hannah Nuri survived. The SUV was driven by a Concord teenager, who in October was sentenced to seven years and eight months for vehicular manslaughter; since he was 17 at the time of the crash, he can only be incarcerated legally until he turns 21.
Orinda police arrested 62-year-old James Collin of Orinda on June 26 in connection with the death of his 56-year-old live-in girlfriend, Evangeline Devera, killed in the residence they shared on Moraga Way. Although the official cause of death was given as "blunt force" trauma and "sharp force injury" to Devera's head, authorities said the victim appeared to have been slashed several times with a machete before the killing blow was delivered. Police Chief Jeff Jennings described the incident as a domestic dispute "which ended in murder." Collin in August pleaded not guilty to murder and torture charges.
2) Branagh couple killed in plane crash
Lafayette developer Peter Branagh and his wife Mona were killed in a small plane crash in the Rockies on July 15.
1) Lafayette man (Brett Olson) missing after tubing excursion
They searched with aircraft, on foot and with boats for Brett Olson, 20, of Lafayette, who went missing during the annual Chico Float, a tubing party down the Sacramento River on Sept. 3 and for days afterward. His body was found downriver a week later, and then a candlelight vigil at Acalanes High School paid tribute to Olson.