Latest California news, sports, business and entertainment

WOMAN DEAD-HOSPITAL STAIRS

Coroner ties alcoholism to hospital stairway death

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The medical examiner's office says a woman found dead in a locked stairwell 17 days after going missing from her room at San Francisco General Hospital probably died of a chemical imbalance due to complications from chronic alcohol abuse.

San Francisco Assistant Medical Examiner Ellen Moffat said in a report released Friday that 57-year-old Lynne Spalding had been dead for days before she was found on Oct. 8.

The medical examiner's office says Spalding was confused and delirious on Sept. 21, the day she disappeared.

Moffat notes Spalding didn't know the day or time or even why she was in the hospital.

Several employees with the city sheriff's department, which provides hospital security, were reassigned after the sheriff acknowledged that a thorough search was never conducted for Spalding.

EDUCATION LAWSUIT

Judge lets case challenging teacher laws proceed

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has decided to let a lawsuit go ahead against California public officials and the Los Angeles Unified School District that could radically change the way the district hires and fires public school teachers.

Judge Rolf Treu of the Los Angeles Superior Court rejected a motion by state defendants and teacher unions to throw out the case.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of students in a low-income area who claim current laws keep bad teachers on the job, violating their right to a good education. It seeks to eliminate the last hired-first fired rule; overturn a law that outlines steps districts must take before teachers can be fired; and abolish a teacher tenure law.

The court set a trial date of Jan. 27.

LA SOCIAL WORKERS-CONTRACT

LA County social workers reach tentative deal

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County social workers who staged a six-day strike say they've reached tentative agreement on a new contract that will lower their caseloads.

Friday's announcement came two days after the strike ended. It also followed two days of renewed bargaining talks by the union representing 3,600 employees of the Department of Children and Family Services.

The workers wanted a retroactive raise and reduced caseload. They demanded the county hire hundreds of new workers.

The union says under the tentative deal, the county will hire an additional 450 social workers by next October — although officials have said they already had several hundred new workers ready to start in the next few months.

The contract will still need a vote of approval from union members.

MARIJUANA DISPENSARY OWNER SENTENCED

Calif. marijuana dispensary owner sentenced

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Central California businessman who federal prosecutors say ran two major indoor marijuana growing facilities and seven pot dispensaries that generated millions of dollars has been sentenced to five years in prison.

A U.S. District judge on Friday sentenced 35-year-old Matthew Davies of Stockton who took a plea deal to avoid a possible 15-year sentence.

Davies pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana, two counts of manufacturing marijuana and seven counts of marijuana distribution.

He has been ordered to turn himself in in March 2014.

Two other men who also pleaded guilty await sentencing.

Sixty-three-year-old Lynn Smith of Stockton pleaded guilty to similar charges in January and 30-year-old Robert Duncan of Fremont pleaded guilty to cultivating marijuana last year in the same case.

MURDER CONVICTION OVERTURNED

No retrial for LA prisoner freed after 34 years

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County prosecutors won't retry a Los Angeles man who spent 34 years behind bars before his murder conviction was overturned.

Authorities told a judge on Friday they were dropping the case against 53-year-old Kash Register.

Register told reporters he had strong faith that his innocence eventually would be revealed.

Register was convicted of shooting a 78-year-old man in West Los Angeles and was serving 27 years to life.

Last month, a judge overturned his conviction, saying prosecutors used false testimony from an alleged eyewitness.

Among those on hand to congratulate Register was Brian Banks, a former high school football player who spent five years in prison for sexual assault. He was exonerated last year after the alleged victim recanted.

NURSING HOME SHOOTING

LA prosecutors charge man in death of wife, sister

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California man has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting his dementia-stricken wife at their home, and his sister in a convalescent home.

Prosecutors filed two counts of murder Friday with special circumstance allegations against 60-year-old Lance Anderson. He's expected to be arraigned later Friday.

Coroner's Lt. Larry Dietz identified Anderson's wife as 68-year-old Bertha Maxine Anderson, who died of a gunshot wound to the head in their suburban Santa Clarita home.

Police say Anderson then walked into a nursing facility in the North Hills area of Los Angeles shortly before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and shot his 58-year-old sister, Lisa Nave, in the head.

If convicted, Anderson could face the death penalty. He's being held without bail.

CHARTER-TIME WARNER CABLE

Charter to bid below $135 a share for TW Cable

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cable TV operator Charter Communications Inc. is preparing to send a letter offering to buy the much larger Time Warner Cable Inc. for below $135 per share as early as Monday.

That's according to a person familiar with the matter, who was unauthorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The news was reported earlier by The New York Times' DealBook blog.

The offer would value Time Warner Cable at up to $38 billion, and represents a small premium to the company's closing price at $131.41 on Friday. But shares have risen from the mid-$90s in June, largely on takeover speculation.

The person said the offer would be in cash and stock and that Charter has lined up $25 billion in debt to help finance the deal.

GOOGLE-CANADA ANTITRUST

Canada's antitrust regulators scrutinizing Google

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Government regulators in Canada are poised to open a formal investigation into whether Google is abusing its dominance of the Internet search market to stifle competition and drive up digital advertising prices.

Canada's Competition Bureau indicated in a filing made in an Ottawa federal court earlier this week that it suspects that Google Inc. has been breaking the country's antitrust laws. Regulators are seeking a court order that would require Google's Canadian subsidiary to furnish antitrust investigators with internal company records.

Among other things, Canada regulators believe Google has been giving preferential treatment to its own services in its influential search rankings to thwart rivals.

Canada's concerns mirror those in an ongoing antitrust investigation into Google's business practices in Europe.

Google didn't immediately respond do a request for comment Friday.