San Diego man arrested in gun death of boy
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A San Diego man faces three felony charges in connection with the accidental shooting death of a 10-year-old boy.
The Los Angeles Times says 55-year-old Todd Conrad Francis is out of jail Wednesday after posting $100,000 bail.
He surrendered to police Tuesday and was booked on charges of child endangerment, negligent storage of a firearm, and involuntary manslaughter.
On June 4, his daughter was playing with a gun she found in Francis' garage when it discharged, killing Eric Klyaz.
The boy, a fourth-grader, died of a gunshot to the chest. Court documents identify the gun as a Sig-Sauer 9.
Before his arrest, Francis had insisted the gun was unloaded, hidden and kept in a separate spot from the ammunition.
The newspaper says charges indicate that investigators do not believe him.
FBI: tip led to arrest of ex-professor in Mexico
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Federal investigators say a tip from a member of the public led to the arrest in Mexico of a former University of Southern California professor suspected of traveling abroad to engage in sex crimes with children.
Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said Wednesday that a Mexican citizen saw a photograph of 64-year-old Walter Lee Williams in a local newspaper and contacted Mexican authorities.
Williams was arrested late Tuesday in the resort city of Playa del Carmen. He was wanted on charges including sexual exploitation of children.
He is expected to appear in an LA court on Thursday.
Earlier, investigators said they believe there are at least 10 alleged victims in addition to the two 14-year-old boys cited in a federal indictment.
Fire near Banning 80% contained
BANNING, Calif. (AP) - An 11-day-old wildfire burning in the San Bernardino National Forest north of Banning is now 80% contained.
The U.S. Forest Service says firefighters Wednesday will patrol the nearly 6-square-mile fire for hotspots and will continue to build containment lines.
The blaze broke out June 9 near Hathaway Canyon and burned into remote and steep terrain. The cause remains under investigation.
Nearly 600 firefighters remain assigned to the fire, assisted by four helicopters and an airplane, as well as engines, bulldozers and water tenders.
Full containment is expected by June 25.
WESTERN WILDFIRES-FEDERAL SPENDING
As fires rage, feds cut funding on prevention
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The federal government is spending less and less on preventing wildfires even as the nation endures increasingly destructive blazes.
The Obama administration is proposing a 31% cut to the main program that clears brush and overgrown trees to prevent forest fires. That program is already funded at lower levels than 11 years ago. Automatic budget cuts that kicked in in March have made the gap worse. As a result, the Forest Service treated 1 million fewer acres this year than last and expects to treat far fewer next year.
Federal fire officials say the problem is that an increasing chunk of their budget is eaten up simply trying to put out the giant blazes.
8 of the nine worst fire years in U.S. history have been recorded since 2000.
CALIFORNIA BUDGET-PUBLIC RECORDS
Legislature to reconsider public records bill
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Facing intense public criticism, the Legislature's Democratic leaders are preparing to back away from the provisions of a budget bill that threatened public access to information held by local governments.
Assembly Speaker John Perez says his house will pass another bill that maintains a requirement for cities and counties to comply with the California Public Records Act. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called a news conference for late Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue.
Responding in part to media editorials, Perez said the Assembly will vote Thursday on another version of a bill in the state's budget package that is pending before Gov. Jerry Brown. The Los Angeles Democrat issued a statement Wednesday saying the new version would maintain California's open records law.
The Senate also would have to approve it, meaning Brown would choose between two versions.
Panel restores some pay for lawmakers, governor
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California lawmakers will get a pay raise of nearly $5,000 this year while the governor will see an increase of nearly $9,000 after a citizens' panel voted to restore some of the cuts it made during the recession.
Gov. Jerry Brown's salary will increase to nearly $174,000, up from just over $165,000 but still below the high salary of $212,000 in 2008. The base pay of rank & file lawmakers will rise to $95,000 a year, although most lawmakers take home an additional $30,000 a year in per diem payments and many receive additional pay for being committee leaders.
The California Citizens Compensation Commission voted 5-1 Wednesday in favor of restoring the wages to 2011 levels, amounting to a raise of slightly more than 5% of current pay.
Committee supports Brown's nominee to head prisons
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A legislative committee has recommended that the Senate confirm Gov. Jerry Brown's choice to lead California's prison system.
Members of the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday challenged how acting Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard is dealing with multiple inmate deaths from suicides and from Valley Fever, a soil-borne fungus in the San Joaquin Valley.
They asked whether the shift in sentencing thousands of lower-level criminals to county jails instead of state prisons is causing a spike in crime. And they wondered when the state might free itself from federal control of its prison medical and mental health operations.
Despite concerns from prison-reform groups, the committee voted 3-1 to recommend Beard's confirmation.
The Democratic governor nominated Beard in December. He previously oversaw the state prison system in Pennsylvania.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-HIDDEN CONTRACTS
Bill seeks to reduce health care exchange secrecy
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A state legislative committee has approved a bill that would require California's health insurance exchange to make more contract information publicly available.
The Senate Health Committee voted 9-0 to pass the legislation by Republican Sen. Bill Emmerson and Democratic Sen. Mark DeSaulnier. They introduced the bill after a story by The Associated Press revealed the unique degree of privacy granted to Covered California.
Exchange officials currently can keep contracts private for one year. Contract amounts can be kept secret indefinitely.
Under SB332, only contracts with health insurance plans could be withheld for a year. Payment details in those contracts would be private for four years.
Government transparency advocates say contract details should be disclosed once the agreements are final.
The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Woman stabbed, killed on Hollywood's Walk of Fame
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police in Los Angeles say they've arrested three panhandlers in the fatal stabbing of a young woman who was taking photographs on Hollywood's star-lined "Walk of Fame."
Police say they found the 23-year-old woman bleeding from multiple stab wounds near busy Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Homicide detectives say the woman and a friend were walking in the tourist-packed area where the three suspects were holding signs and panhandling.
They took cellphone photos of the men. Police say that caused a dispute, and the victim was stabbed in the torso.
The woman later died at a hospital. Her identity hasn't been released.
The area attracts beggars and costumed street performers who demand cash for posed pictures with tourists.
FATAL DOG ATTACK
Dog that killed 6-year-old Calif. boy euthanized
(Information in the following story is from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com)
UNION CITY, Calif. (AP) - A pit bull mix that bit and killed a 6-year-old boy in Northern California has been euthanized.
The San Jose Mercury News reports the dog was put down Tuesday.
Police said the dog bit Nephi Selu of Dixon on top of his head Monday morning at his grandparents' home in Union City.
Emergency crews took Nephi to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto. He was declared dead about 4½ hours after he was bitten.
The dog's owner was a San Mateo police officer and the boy's uncle. He believed the boy's injuries were not serious and went to work before learning the boy died.
The Mercury News reports that no charges have been filed in the case yet. Police are waiting for results of a coroner's report.
COUPLE KILLED-TEEN ARRESTED
Teen charged in Calif. couple's slayings saved dad
DAVIS, Calif. (AP) - A 16-year-old Northern California boy once praised as a hero for saving his dad's life is facing charges that he stabbed an elderly couple to death at their home.
The Sacramento Bee reports that 16-year-old Daniel William Marsh is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday in a Yolo County courtroom on two first-degree murder charges. Marsh was charged a day earlier as an adult in the April attack on 87-year-old Oliver Northup and his wife, 76-year-old Claudia Maupin, in Davis.
The couple was found dead by police conducting a welfare check. Authorities say Marsh's motive is not known. He did not know the couple, and police don't believe anything was taken from the home.
Marsh was honored by the American Red Cross in 2009 after he restarted his father's heart following a heart attack.
LA teacher charged with killing wife
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Los Angeles elementary school teacher has been charged with murder in the weekend stabbing of his estranged wife.
Prosecutors announced Wednesday that 46-year-old Michael Rodney Kane is charged with one count of murder, one count of first-degree burglary with a person present, one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of making criminal threats.
Kane will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in the Superior Court's Van Nuys branch, and prosecutors plan to ask that he be held without bail.
Authorities say he confronted his wife, Michelle Kane, at a home in West Hills on Saturday, chased her outside and stabbed her multiple times. A man who tried to protect her was also stabbed.
If convicted, Kane faces up to life in prison.
TRAIN PLATFORM DEATH
Woman convicted in LA train platform death
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A jury which convicted a homeless woman of second-degree murder in the death of a woman pushed off a Los Angeles train platform heard expert opinions Wednesday on whether the defendant was sane at the time of the crime.
But the panel went home for the evening without reaching a verdict in the sanity phase of Jackkqueline Pogue's trial. Jurors were to resume deliberations Thursday.
Pogue was found guilty late Tuesday in the death of 84-year-old Betty Sugiyama, who was pushed onto train tracks, struck her head and never regained consciousness.
Two experts, one for the prosecution and one for the defense, testified about Pogue's life and said she had been plagued by mental illness since she was 15.
But the prosecution expert, Dr. Mark Jaffe, said Pogue was mentally ill but not insane.
LANDLORDS FROM HELL
SF 'landlords from hell' plead guilty to felonies
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A couple that prosecutors dubbed the "landlords from hell" for going to scary lengths to drive tenants from a San Francisco apartment building have pleaded guilty to several felonies.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that 37-year-old Nicole Macy and 38-year-old Kip Macy threatened to shoot tenants, changed locks, cleared apartments of belongings, and sawed holes in floors. They say it was all to drive renters out of their building in the increasingly pricey South of Market neighborhood.
The Macys each pleaded guilty to two felony counts of residential burglary, stalking and attempted grand theft.
The crimes occurred between 2005 and 2007 but the Macys had fled to Italy after their 2009 indictment. They reached a plea deal after they were extradited and will each be sentenced to four years and four months in prison.
CALIFORNIA PRISONS-MENTAL HEALTH
Judge may expand Calif. prison mental health case
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Attorneys who represent California inmates are asking a federal judge to expand the court's oversight of prison mental health care to include the Department of State Hospitals.
The department is responsible for treatment at some of California's 33 adult prisons, including one in Soledad that is at the center of the current legal tussle between the state and inmate advocates.
The advocates say two recent examples show that mental health treatment has not improved sufficiently in the prison system despite years of federal oversight. They said two inmates at Salinas Valley State Prison died despite having histories of trying to harm themselves.
State officials told U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton during opening statements Wednesday that the state is providing proper care.
The hearing is expected to last several days.
Immigrant advocates sue gov't over detainers
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Immigrant advocates have filed a lawsuit alleging that immigration agents are filing paperwork to keep arrestees in custody longer without investigating whether they're in the country illegally.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other advocates filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles.
The suit alleges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement places detainers on arrestees before investigating their immigration status. The detainers are good for 48 hours excluding weekends and holidays and let agents keep arrestees in custody once they are released in their criminal cases.
ACLU attorney Jennie Pasquarella says the goal is to stop agents in Southern California from filing detainers without probable cause, noting some Americans have been subject to immigration holds.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no immediate comment.
IDAHO ARREST-CALIFORNIA FRAUD
Idaho man arrested on California fraud charges
KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) - Authorities have arrested a 65-year-old man who lived the last three years in an Idaho resort town on charges he helped steal millions of dollars from a Los Angeles physician.
Police in Sun Valley, Idaho, say Neil D. Campbell was arrested earlier this month and is being held in a local jail pending extradition to California.
Campbell and 58-year-old Phillip Powers are accused of more than 140 counts of grand theft of personal property in a Los Angeles County case.
Prosecutors allege they duped a physician out of more than $28 million by convincing him to invest in a teak farm in Costa Rica.
The Idaho Mountain Express reports Campbell was arrested near his Sun Valley condominium.
Powers has pleaded not guilty and is being held on bond.
Actor James Gandolfini dies in Italy at age 51
LOS ANGELES (AP) - HBO and James Gandolfini's managers say the actor famous for his role in "The Sopranos" has died in Italy.
The cable channel, and managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders, say the 51-year-old Gandolfini (gan-dahl-FEE'-nee) died Wednesday while on holiday in Rome.
HBO called the actor a great talent and a gentle and loving person.
Gandolfini played conflicted mob boss Tony Soprano in the groundbreaking HBO series that aired from 1999 to 2007.
His film credits included "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Killing Them Softly," and he appeared in the Broadway production "God of Carnage."
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