Progress made against S. Calif. wildfires
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters are close to surrounding two wildfires that torched several hundred acres of Southern California forest and briefly threatened dozens of homes.
The U.S. Forest Service says a 200-acre blaze in the Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles is 80 percent contained Wednesday night.
That fire prompted the evacuation of about 30 rural homes on Tuesday but residents went home late that night as water-dropping aircraft took the heat out of the blaze.
Meanwhile, a 268-acre fire that began Monday in the San Gabriel Mountains closer to Los Angeles is 90 percent contained.
Fire spokesman Nathan Judy says fire crews are just mopping up hotspots and no homes are threatened.
LA ARSON FIRES
Authorities seek arsonist who set 6 fires in LA
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles police and fire investigators are looking for an arsonist who is believed to have set a half-dozen fires in the San Fernando Valley, including one that engulfed a business.
Officer Sally Madera of the Los Angeles Police Department says the fires began erupting at about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Within an hour six had been set.
The fires were ignited in trash bins, but one spread to a commercial building in a strip mall.
Fire Department spokesman Katherine Main says that blaze was quickly knocked down but the building was badly damaged.
All of the fires were set along Ventura Boulevard, in a busy business district in Los Angeles' Sherman Oaks area.
No one was hurt.
Man shot after LA deputies mistake phone for gun
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man holding a cellphone has been wounded by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies who say they mistook it for a gun.
The Sheriff's Department says the shooting happened Wednesday in Los Angeles' mid-city area, where the deputies had been looking for a criminal suspect.
When the deputies approached a man who resembled the person they were seeking, he pulled several items out of his waistband.
One of them was a dark object the deputies say resembled a gun.
He fled over a wall when they opened fire on him.
When they confronted him again he was holding the same object, which turned out to be his phone. They fired again, striking him.
The Sheriff's Department says the man has been hospitalized with non-life threatening wounds.
LONG BEACH POLICE KILLING
Long Beach police kill man during gun battle
(Information in the following story is from: Press-Telegram, http://www.presstelegram.com)
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Long Beach have shot and killed a man during a running gun battle.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram says a woman flagged down a patrol car at around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and said that a gunman had threatened to kill her and her family.
Police say they later spotted the man — who may have been the woman's ex-boyfriend — at a gas station in neighboring Carson but he shot at them. He then ran to nearby park, where more shots were fired.
Police say they finally shot the man in a Carson backyard as he tried to break into an occupied home.
His name hasn't been released.
CA man faces manslaughter in elderly mom's death
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — A Costa Mesa man has been arrested for investigation of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his 80-year-old mother, who police say he had tied to a bed and a portable toilet.
Police say Robert Dickerman was arrested Tuesday in the death of his mother, Yoshiko.
Police responding to a disturbance call found Yoshiko Dickerman dehydrated and lying in urine in a bathroom in her home in July 2012. She died at a hospital the next day.
Police say Robert Dickerman had left the woman on the floor for two days and on other occasions had tied her to a bed and toilet.
Dickerman, 47, is jailed on $1 million.
Boy's uncle pleads not guilty in his mauling death
COLTON, Calif. (AP) — The uncle of a 2-year-old boy who was mauled to death by five dogs in a Southern California yard has pleaded not guilty to child cruelty.
Twenty-three-year-old Marco Zamudio entered the plea Wednesday.
Authorities say Samuel Zamudio was attacked by the dogs Monday evening when he leaned out a window at a home in Colton.
The boy was dragged across the backyard. He was later discovered by his grandmother, who owns the home and the dogs. She was arrested along with Zamudio but wasn't charged because authorities say she wasn't home at the time of the attack.
Prosecutors contend that Zamudio was caring for the boy and created conditions that resulted in his death.
Police say the five dogs, all pit bull mixes, were euthanized on Tuesday.
CASUAL CARPOOL ROBBERIES
2 charged in Oakland carpool robberies
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A teenage boy is being charged as an adult in connection with the daylight armed robbery of nine people in Oakland waiting for carpool rides to San Francisco.
Alameda County prosecutors on Wednesday charged a 17-year-old boy and 22-year-old Delante Johnson, both of Oakland, with 10 counts of second-degree robbery, two counts of attempted second-degree robbery and several weapons enhancements for the robbery.
Johnson was also accused of carrying a loaded firearm.
Ford and Johnson are accused of robbing people waiting in line for carpool rides of cellphones, purses and wallets at gunpoint in Oakland's upscale Rockridge neighborhood Monday morning.
Police say the suspects then fled in a silver Honda officers eventually located in West Oakland.
Johnson is being held in Santa Rita Jail on $300,000 bail and Ford is being held in the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center.
100 pounds of gift-wrapped pot found at LA airport
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say they found about 100 pounds of gift-wrapped marijuana in suitcases that were to be loaded onto a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Atlanta.
City News Service reports the marijuana was found Wednesday in four checked suitcases.
Transportation Safety Administration officials say it was wrapped in gift paper covered with a cupcake print.
They estimate its value at about $300,000.
TSA agent Nico Melendez says the people who checked the bags never bothered to get on the AirTran flight to Atlanta.
Authorities are still searching for the bags' owners.
FRESNO POLICE CHASE-CRASH
Fresno to pay $1.35 million in death of driver
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The city of Fresno has agreed to pay $1.35 million to the mother of a motorist who was killed in a collision with a police car.
The Fresno Bee reported Wednesday that the city has reached a settlement with Pamela Matthews who had filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing the city of negligence in March 2012.
Twenty-eight-year-old Matthew White was killed after his white Madza 626 was struck by a police car heading toward a call of an armed burglary in progress in northwest Fresno in the early hours of Oct. 3, 2011.
Police said preliminary reports indicated that officer Mandeep Singh Kehla believed he had the right of way when the collision occurred.
And once police arrived at the reported crime scene, they found there was no burglary.
AGRICULTURE-SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT
Calif. producer faces federal sex harassment suit
MADERA, Calif. (AP) — A federal lawsuit has been filed charging that a central California dried fruit producer subjected its female workers to ongoing sexual harassment.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Madera-based company Z Foods and Zoria Farms alleging they unlawfully fired a class of workers in retaliation for reporting the abuse that began in 2007.
The suit filed Wednesday says that company supervisors targeted at least four female workers by making lewd comments about their appearances and routinely soliciting sex as a condition of employment or in exchange for more favorable jobs.
The EEOC says some workers who did not comply and others who reported the abuse to human resources and management were fired.
Z Foods could not be reached for comment because the company's phone number has been disconnected.
CALIFORNIA PRISONS-MENTAL HEALTH
Attorney: Inmate pepper spray videos to be shown
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An attorney representing California prison inmates says a federal judge has decided that videos showing prison guards dousing mentally ill prisoners with pepper spray can be shown in open court.
Attorney Michael Bien told The Associated Press that U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton announced his decision Wednesday during a telephone conference call with attorneys representing inmates and the state.
The administration of Gov. Jerry Brown had sought a different outcome. If the videos were played at all, the administration wanted the judge to view them privately.
Corrections department spokesman Jeffrey Callison says the state did not want to comment on the matter because the court had not issued a decision publicly. But he said the state would want the videos shown in their entirety to provide the proper context.
Poll: Californians worry about crime, early inmate releases; support gay marriage, legal marijuana
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows voters are concerned about public safety as a court battle continues over reducing the state's prison population.
Nearly half of likely voters surveyed said violence and street crime are problems in their communities. Three in four are concerned that a panel of federal judges will force the state to release thousands of inmates early.
Those findings were part of a wide-ranging survey released Wednesday. Pollsters interviewed more than 1,700 Californians between Sept. 10 and 17.
The poll also found record-high support for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana.
Those surveyed also expressed uncertainty about the federal health care law as the new insurance exchanges prepare to open next week. Four in 10 likely voters said they do not think the federal health care law will make a difference for their families.
AEG lawyer delivers closing argument
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A lawyer for the producer of Michael Jackson's "This Is It" concerts has told a Los Angeles jury Jackson died because of his own bad choices, not because of anything AEG Live did.
Attorney Marvin Putnam began delivering his final argument Wednesday in the negligence suit by Jackson's family. He said the company did not know anything about Jackson's use of propofol, nor did it hire Dr. Conrad Murray to be his tour doctor.
He said that if AEG Live had known Jackson was playing Russian roulette with the anesthetic in his bedroom every night they would never have financed the tour.
Putnam accused the plaintiff's lawyer of asking jurors to close their ears to facts surrounding Jackson's actions, and said Jackson was a grown man capable of making decisions.
Marvin Gaye III pleads for kidney donation
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marvin Gaye III is suffering from kidney failure and is seeking a donated organ for transplant.
The son of late singer Marvin Gaye announced earlier this week that he's been receiving dialysis for renal failure for three years and he's having trouble finding a suitable kidney for transplant.
He said he is sharing his condition publicly to help draw attention to the challenges blacks and Hispanics face in finding healthy organ donors. He also says he plans to donate some proceeds from his forthcoming album to a kidney research organization.
Marvin Gaye's estate is engaged in a legal battle over Robin Thicke's summer smash, "Blurred Lines."
De Niro takes over Gandolfini miniseries role
LOS ANGELES (AP) — HBO says Robert De Niro will step into a project that was thrown into question by the death of James Gandolfini.
HBO said Wednesday that De Niro is taking on the role of a New York City attorney handling a murder case in the miniseries "Criminal Justice."
Gandolfini had played the attorney in the pilot episode. The star of "The Sopranos" died in June at age 51 after suffering a heart attack.
"Criminal Justice" was one of Gandolfini's last projects. Another is the film "Enough Said," which is now in theaters.
An air date for "Criminal Justice" hasn't been announced.