Latest California news, sports, business and entertainment


'Grace period' for health insurance ends Friday

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Friday will be the end of the grace period to get health insurance starting Jan. 1 for consumers who were frustrated in their attempts to sign up by Monday's deadline.

Santiago Lucero, spokesman for the agency running California's health exchange, says insurers need time to review policy applications so coverage can start in the new year.

The grace period was announced Monday after it became clear that thousands of people were unable to get coverage because the website and call centers were overwhelmed.

It applies to anyone who attempted to start an application Monday, although many people were not even able to get that far.

Yesterday, Lucero encouraged people to keep trying to reach a call center, even if they could not prove their attempts to get coverage before the deadline.


Teen ordered off life support; family can appeal

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A judge has ordered that a 13-year-old Northern California girl declared brain dead after suffering complications following a tonsillectomy be taken off life support.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo issued the order yesterday but gave Jahi McMath's family until 5 p.m. Dec. 30 to file an appeal. She will stay on life support until then.

Grillo issued the order after a Stanford doctor testified that Jahi is brain dead. Dr. Paul Graham Fisher's evaluation was the second to reach that conclusion.

Children's Hospital of Oakland, where Jahi is hospitalized, has asked that the girl be taken off life support after doctors there also concluded she was brain dead. Her family wants to keep Jahi connected to a breathing machine.

The family has said it believes she is still alive and that the hospital should not remove her from the ventilator without its permission.


1 killed, 1 hurt in San Diego parking lot shooting

(Information in the following story is from: U-T San Diego,

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego police say a shooting in a mall parking lot has killed a woman and left a man critically wounded.

U-T San Diego says police found the couple, whose names have not been released, in a black sedan with Utah plates at the Westfield Mission Valley Mall shortly after 1 in the morning yesterday.

Lt. Mike Hastings says the woman died at the scene and the man was taken to a hospital. He said the man was in "very critical condition" and may not survive.

The victims, both in their 20s, were shot in the head and upper body.

Police are looking for a man seen driving away in a 2008 to 2011 gray Honda.

There's no word on a motive for the attack.


Years after holiday slayings, traditions help heal

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five years after a man dressed as Santa Claus massacred nine members of her family on Christmas Eve in suburban Los Angeles, the surviving daughter of the Ortega clan has become a reluctant matriarch for the remaining relatives.

Leticia Yuzefpolsky (yoo-sef-POLL'-skee) learned her late mother's recipes as she looked to remember festive meals she hadn't enjoyed since her former brother-in-law killed her family and burned down her parents' house in Covina.

In a matter of minutes, Yuzefpolsky, the youngest of five children, lost her parents, two brothers, two sisters, two sisters-in-law and a nephew.

But she wasn't alone. Thirteen sons and daughters lost at least one parent that night.

The survivors still have holiday dinner together and take a Christmas Day trip to church, though now it's followed by a trip to the cemetery.


2 men convicted in $21M real estate fraud scheme

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Two of the founders of S3 Partners have been convicted in a $21 million real estate investment fraud scheme.

United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson announced yesterday that a federal jury had convicted 44-year-old Melvin Russell Shields and 59-year-old Michael Sims of defrauding individual investors in the Northern District of California and elsewhere between 2006 and 2009 in connection with various real estate development projects.

A third partner, 57-year-old Sam Stafford, pleaded guilty prior to trial.

Haag and Johnson say the men engaged in investment fraud targeting elderly investors and encouraging them to cash out their individual retirement accounts and wire the proceeds to S3 Partners.

Shields and Sims are scheduled to be sentenced in April. Stafford will be sentenced in March.


SF man acquitted in 2012 stabbing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco man charged with murder in a 2012 stabbing has been acquitted of all charges after a jury found he acted in self-defense.

The San Francisco public defender's spokeswoman, Tamara Barak Aparton, says the jury determined that 47-year-old Howard Frazier was not guilty of murder because his attacker, 54-year-old Luther Robinson III, had previously bullied and threatened him before the fatal stabbing.

Six weeks before the confrontation, Barak Aparton says, Robinson had chased and assaulted Frazier with a club, threatening to kill him.

Frazier testified at trial that he tried to diffuse the conflict by talking to Robinson's brother, to no avail.

When Robinson grabbed Frazier by the vest on Feb. 15, 2012, Frazier stabbed him once with a pocket knife. Robinson died a short time later.


Evacuations lifted for Big Sur fire

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — Officials now say all of the 100 or so residents forced to evacuate during a wildfire in Central California's Big Sur region have now been allowed back into their homes.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Tyson Navarro confirms that the evacuations and road closures were lifted Monday night, though Pfeiffer Road and Sycamore Road will be open only to residents.

Earlier yesterday, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Mike Rivera said 34 homes were destroyed in the fire, 12 more than originally estimated.

The updated figure was the result of a more aggressive assessment of the damaged area. One property had more homes than originally thought.

The unusual late fall fire burned more than 1.4 square miles in the Los Padres National Forest.

About 180 firefighters remained on the scene.