Latest California news, sports, business and entertainment

CALIFORNIA FLU

Flu widespread in California; 7 deaths confirmed

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California health officials say seven people have died from the flu so far this season, and more people are ending up in the hospital than expected.

The state Department of Public Health said Friday it is investigating an additional 28 deaths to determine if the flu is to blame.

All victims were under 65 years old. The state does not keep track of flu deaths in people older than 65.

While flu activity is up around the state, health officials said it's not an unexpected increase. Flu season typically peaks in February or March.

The dominant strain this season is the H1N1 strain, which mostly affects young and middle-aged people. In 2009, a swine flu pandemic killed at least 150,000 people worldwide.

BASEBALL BAT ASSAULT

Calif. man in fatal bat beating is found insane

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California man charged with beating his friend to death with a baseball bat has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Santa Clara County prosecutor Angela Bernhard says Nathaniel Manlangit pleaded to the charge on Wednesday after doctors for the prosecution and Manlangit's defense attorney both declared him legally insane.

The 26-year-old Manlangit was charged with crimes stemming from the beating death of 31-year-old Carlos Caloca at a Sports Authority store at the Great Mall in Milpitas in June 2013.

Prosecutors said Manlangit grabbed a baseball bat off a shelf and proceeded to beat Caloca so badly that he was dead by the time police arrived.

Manlangit will be in a state mental hospital indefinitely until doctors and the court both determine he has regained his sanity.

COCAINE-SENTENCE

Man gets 19 years in prison in Mo. cocaine case

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A California man has been sentenced to 19 years in prison after about 13.3 pounds of cocaine were found in his vehicle in northwest Missouri.

Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd announced Friday that 37-year-old Marcos Gonzalez, of Stockton, Calif., was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in October to first-degree drug trafficking. Zahnd says the cocaine was valued at $600,000.

In April 2013, a Platte County deputy stopped Gonzalez's U-Haul van for a routine traffic violation. While searching the van, the deputy found heat sealer and rubber bands, which Zahnd says are commonly used to package narcotics and bulk cash. The deputy found the cocaine inside the bottom lining of three black suitcases.

SAILOR RESCUED

Sailor rescued by helicopter after boat hits rocks

(Information in the following story is from: The Tribune, http://www.sanluisobispo.com)

CAMBRIA, Calif. (AP) — A Coast Guard helicopter crew plucked a stranded sailor from his wrecked sailboat after it ran onto rocks along the Central Coast.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports the dramatic rescue operation was carried out before dawn Thursday at Piedras Blancas north of Cambria.

The 32-foot sailboat Blue Mist ran aground just south of the landmark white rock that gives the point its name.

The man, who was sailing alone from the San Francisco Bay area to Morro Bay, used a cell phone to call for help around 3:30 a.m.

A Coast Guard crewmember was lowered from the hovering helicopter, rescuing the sailor, a middle-aged man. The man, whose name was not released, was wet and cold but uninjured.

BOSTON MARATHON-BOMBING CHARITY

Second relay race set for Boston Marathon victims

BOSTON (AP) — Hundreds of runners are gearing up for the second coast-to-coast One Run for Boston relay race to honor three people killed in the Boston Marathon bombing and raise funds for 260 people wounded in the attack.

The non-stop relay will begin March 16 in Santa Monica and end April 13 in Boston, two days before the anniversary of the twin explosions and a week before this year's marathon.

Last year's relay raised $91,000 for The One Fund, a charity established to help those injured or significantly affected by the bombing. Organizers hope to raise $1 million this year.

Joan Meagher of Boston says the explosions plunged her into a deep depression, but participating in last year's relay pulled her out of it when nothing else was working.

COURTHOUSE ESCAPE

Suspect escapes from Simi Valley courthouse

(Information in the following story is from: Ventura County Star, http://venturacountystar.com)

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with assaulting an off-duty firefighter escaped from the Ventura County courthouse, only to later turn himself in to authorities.

The Ventura County Star says 25-year-old Devin Lamar Kelley fled the courthouse in Simi Valley Thursday as he awaited a hearing on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

An arrest warrant was issued and police searched for Kelley for several hours. The newspaper says he turned himself in to the Sheriff's Office later in the day.

Authorities say Kelley allegedly attacked the Ventura County firefighter Oct. 26. The 35-year-old firefighter was knocked unconscious and hospitalized.

Kelley served in Iraq with the Army and received several medals of achievement.

He was a star running back on the Simi Valley High School football team in 2005.

TRAFFIC STOP-CASH

Texas traffic stop yields $126K, arrest of driver

PANHANDLE, Texas (AP) — A traffic stop in the Texas Panhandle has yielded more than $126,000 in vacuum-sealed bundles and led to money laundering charges against a Georgia man.

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Friday announced the seizure of the cash and the arrest of Martin Jay Paul of Ball Ground, Ga. Investigators believe the cash in the drug-related investigation was bound for California.

Ball was driving an SUV on Interstate 40 near Conway, about 20 miles east of Amarillo, when he was pulled over Tuesday afternoon for a traffic stop. DPS says a trooper discovered bundles of cash, apparently bound for San Diego, hidden under the back seat and in the trunk.

Paul was freed Wednesday on $10,000 bond. Carson County jail records did not list an attorney for him.

DISMEMBER KILLING

Fresno paralegal sentenced in gang member murder

(Information in the following story is from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com)

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A judge has sentenced a Fresno paralegal 28-years-to-life in prison for the first-degree murder and felony mutilation of a Bulldog gang associate.

The Fresno Bee reports that 55-year-old Brian Waldron shouted profanities and berated his lawyers and interrupted the judge several times during his sentencing in Fresno County Superior Court on Thursday.

Waldron was later taken away under heavy security.

Prosecutors say Waldron beat 21-year-old Jonathan Taylor with a metal pipe, dismembered the body with a tree saw and buried it in a shallow grave with charcoal in an attempt to mask the smell.

Waldron told police Taylor had been lurking outside his apartment and had come inside without permission. He told detectives the 2008 killing was done in self-defense.

Prosecutors countered that Waldron did not call 911 after the slaying, and had cleaned up before burying the body.

NOTRE DAME-NIKLAS

Notre Dame's Troy Niklas to enter NFL draft

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

The school confirms that the 6-foot-7, 270-pound junior from Fullerton, Calif., has informed coach Brian Kelly of his decision.

Niklas released a statement saying it was a difficult decision, but he wanted to pursue his childhood dream. He was told by the NFL draft advisory board he likely would be selected between the second and fourth rounds. Niklas was third on the team in receiving with 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns.

Niklas is the fourth Irish player with eligibility left to declare for this year's draft. He joins defensive linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt and running back George Atkinson III. Niklas' decision was first reported by SI.com.

TV-SPORTSMAN CHANNEL-PALIN

Palin says her new show won't be overtly political

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Sarah Palin says she doesn't expect her new outdoors television show on the Sportsman Channel to be political — at least not overtly so.

Given her background, though, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate said Friday that some may seep through. She said she's interested in promoting freedom of speech and gun owners' rights.

Her show, "Amazing America," premieres on the outdoors-oriented network in April. The show profiles personalities who like hunting and fishing. Palin will serve as the host, introducing the featured personalities, and occasionally traveling to where they live.