To the dismay of officials in Martinez, state officials said Friday they have found a prospective Contra Costa landlord for a man aiming to become the second sexually violent predator released in California.
The disclosure came during a court hearing in Martinez, where last week another property owner backed out of an agreement to rent living quarters to 32-year-old Cary Verse, a repeat sex offender.
Martinez city officials had been fighting with the state Department of Mental Health to learn exactly where Verse was to be housed, and they were back in court Friday in an attempt to learn the location of the new potential residence.
"It's something they've been looking into," said Deputy Attorney General Susan King, who is representing the department. "Hopefully, it will turn into a realistic place for Mr. Verse to live."
King refused to say anything further about the site, except that a property manager has agreed to provide housing for Verse -- who remains in custody at Atascadero State Hospital -- while the property landlord still has to approve it.
"We're not ruling out any place in Contra Costa County," King said.
Her lack of specifics led Martinez officials to believe their city remains the likely site for Verse, a Jehovah's Witness who has indicated he would like to live in Martinez to be close to a place of worship for his faith.
"There's tremendous worry still out there," said Martinez City Councilman Mark Ross. And because state officials did not explicitly say the city was no longer an option for verse, "We have to assume that Martinez is still in consideration," Ross added.
Contra Costa Superior Court Judge John Minney has approved Verse's release when suitable housing is found.
Verse's last sex offense was a 1992 assault on a homeless man at a Richmond shelter. Since then, he has voluntarily been chemically castrated and will be subject to electronic monitoring and polygraph testing upon his release.
Martinez residents were alarmed earlier this month when they learned that Verse was to live about a half-mile from Alhambra High School.
Minney said he would rule soon on whether the Martinez Police Department should be given in advance the exact address of where Verse may live in order to prepare residents and raise any security concerns.
King noted that when state officials gave to police the exact address for Brian DeVries -- who became on Aug. 13 the first sexually violent predator released in California -- the information was leaked to the media.
DeVries is now living on a trailer in Soledad on the grounds of a state prison.
King did not rule out the possibility that similar arrangements might have to be made for Verse.
The next court hearing in Verse's case is scheduled for Sept. 19, by which time state officials may have already found a place for him to live.
E-mail Charlie Goodyear at firstname.lastname@example.org.