Jury rejects claim that Jackson promoter negligent
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury has rejected a claim that the promoter of Michael Jackson's comeback concerts was negligent in hiring the doctor who killed the superstar with a drug overdose.
The verdict was read Wednesday, roughly five months after opening statements in the case filed by Jackson's mother.
Katherine Jackson sought to hold AEG Live LLC responsible for her son's death, arguing that it hired Dr. Conrad Murray to be the singer's physician without considering whether he was fit for the job.
AEG Live denied any wrongdoing and said it was Jackson who hired Murray.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson the overdose as he prepared for a series of comeback shows.
The Jackson family matriarch was seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for herself and her son's three children.
LA SHERIFF-HEALTH COMPANY
LA County sheriff cuts ties with health company
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is distancing himself from a health products company whose products he promoted in online videos.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore says Baca contacted the Irvine-based company Yor Health earlier this week to tell them he'll no longer publicly promote their product and to ask them to remove the videos from their website.
A KABC-TV report found that Baca has spoken at the company's annual conferences since 2010. In a 3 1/2 -minute YouTube video, Baca is seen running and then guzzling one of its drinks.
Yor Health donated $1,000 to Baca's election campaign in 2010 and reimbursed him for travel expenses from one speaking engagement. Whitmore says Baca doesn't know who contributes to his campaign. The company didn't respond to a request for comment.
LA COUNTY-HATE CRIMES
LA County hate crimes drop 6 percent in 2012
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The number of hate crimes in Los Angeles County dropped to the second-lowest level in 23 years last year but blacks remained the most frequent targets and there was troubling violence against homosexuals.
The county Commission on Human Relations says there were 462 reported hate crimes in 2012, down 6 percent from 2011.
Vandalism made up nearly a third of those crimes. About half of the hate crimes were race-based, with African-Americans the target in two-thirds of those. Hates crimes between blacks and Latinos increased.
Those based on sexual orientation also increased to 28 percent of all crimes — and they were more likely to be violent than crimes that were racially or religiously motivated.
Wednesday's report was based on information from law enforcement, school districts and community groups.
DEAD NIECE IN CAR
Police: Woman drove around with dead niece in car
(Information in the following story is from: The Bakersfield Californian, http://www.bakersfield.com)
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A woman who allegedly drove around for much of a day with the body of her 2-year-old niece in the car's back seat has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and torture-related charges.
The Bakersfield Californian reports 20-year-old Wendy Guadalupe Gomez says she didn't call 911 because she's in the country illegally and didn't want to chance getting arrested.
Authorities say on Sept. 20 Gomez drove around for seven hours, calling relatives and friends, and giving a friend a ride with the dead child in the back seat of the Toyota Camry. Prosecutors say Gomez knew her niece, Karla Isidro, was dead.
Police reports say an autopsy revealed the girl had suffered a skull fracture, and there was bruising on the top of her head.
4 injured in dog attacks near LA school
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say four people were hospitalized after being attacked by a pack of dogs near a Los Angeles elementary school.
KABC-TV says five German shepherds started attacking parents and children as students were being let out from Manhattan Place Elementary School on Tuesday.
One person was taken to the hospital following the first incident, which happened around 1 p.m. Then a few hours later, KABC says, at least three more people were rushed to the hospital after being attacked in the same area.
Police Sgt. German Hurtado says officers responding to a call about a vicious dog attack cornered three of the German shepherds. The dogs were picked up by animal control authorities.
Investigators have been unable to track down the owners.
Universal to expand film slate by 4 annually
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures says it is increasing its release slate by four films per year after a record-breaking run at the international box office.
Its Focus Features unit will now release 10 films annually, up from six. Spokeswoman Cindy Gardner says Universal's total slate will rise to about 26 to 28 per year from 22 to 24.
Focus had focused on niche fare like this summer's comedy, "The World's End." It will broaden its purview after also naming a new CEO, Peter Schlessel, on Wednesday. Schlessel had been chief executive of Film District, a small distributor that released films such as "Insidious: Chapter 2" and "Olympus Has Fallen."
Outgoing Focus CEO James Schamus is leaving to produce an upcoming Ang Lee film about boxing.
Former Epic Records president Polly Anthony dies
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Epic Records president who worked with acts including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Rage Against the Machine has died.
Epic Records announced on its official Twitter feed Tuesday that Polly Anthony died. She led Epic from 1997 to 2003.
A rare female label head, Anthony went on to become president of Dreamworks and then co-president of Geffen Records. She also worked with Shakira, Macy Gray, Pearl Jam and Jennifer Lopez.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Anthony died from pancreatic cancer last week at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 59.
Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine tweeted his condolences, calling Anthony a "good friend who played an important role in bringing RATM and Audioslave to the world."