04/18/2006

Honor is sought for fallen Calif. officer

By Ruby Gonzales Staff Writer

Copyright 2006 MediaNews Group, Inc. and Los Angeles Newspaper Group, Inc.
All Rights Reserved 

WEST COVINA - In the summer of 1983, Officer Kenneth Scott Wrede checked out a report about a man acting suspiciously on Francisquito Avenue and Glenview Road.

The man, high on PCP, struggled with Wrede then ripped the shotgun from the patrol car and shot the officer.

Wrede was 26.

Now a resolution to rename a 4-mile section of the San Bernardino (10) Freeway between Pacific and Grand avenues in honor of the fallen West Covina officer is making its way through the state Legislature.

West Covina police approached Assemblyman Ed Chavez, D-Industry, with the idea in December, according to his district director Allen Solomon.

"Officer Wrede gave his life protecting our community, and now we have the opportunity to honor the loss of a selfless individual," Chavez said.

Solomon said the resolution may be voted on by the Assembly either today or Thursday. If passed, it heads next to the Senate.

Wrede's parents, Marianne and Ken, are excited about the resolution. "Isn't that wonderful? What an honor," Marianne Wrede said.

Ken Wrede said the city and Police Department have never forgotten their son.

"When you lose a son in the manner he died, we certainly want to keep his name alive," he said.

The couple have been active in victims' rights and helping families of slain officers. They established the California chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors in 1989.

But they had to relive seeing their son's killer in court again.

Michael Anthony Jackson of Valinda was convicted of the Aug. 31, 1983, murder of Wrede and received the death penalty. However in May 2000, a three-justice panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his death sentence and ordered a retrial of the

penalty phase.

While the justices upheld Jackson's first-degree murder conviction, they said his attorney in the first trial should have done a better job of giving a full picture of his abusive childhood and drug problems.

On Sept. 20. 2002, Jackson received a death sentence again.

Ken Wrede said they never expected the retrial of the penalty phase to happen. Jackson hasn't expressed one word of remorse in 22 years, he added.

"No attempt at all," Ken Wrede said.

Officials said they don't know yet how much it will cost to make and erect the three freeway signs. Donations are expected to cover the cost.

West Covina police Cmdr. Marc Taylor said there shouldn't be a problem with the donations.

"Everybody is supportive" of the resolution, he said.

He said retired Lt. Dan Leonard wondered if the police department ever thought of renaming part of the freeway for Wrede. They then contacted Chavez's office.

Taylor testified before the Assembly transportation committee about the resolution.

"I gave an overview of his life and how his parents continually supported police survivors. The family's greatest fear is that he will be forgotten," Taylor said.

At the time of the killing, Wrede lived in Pomona with his wife. They had been married less than a year. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Covina Hills.

His parents, who are in their 70s, don't think they will live long enough to see his killer executed.

"Every Christmas we put another tree on my son's grave and this guy gets to choose whether to have turkey or ham for dinner," Ken Wrede said.

Marianne Wrede said one doesn't get over the killing of a child.

"There is no such thing as closure. You try to move on and do something positive to honor their memory," she said.

ruby.gonzales@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811,Ext. 2718 

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