Wednesday, January 8
Anaheim to vote on electoral changes after lawsuit
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The city of Anaheim has approved a settlement in a voting-rights lawsuit challenging its citywide council elections.
The city announced yesterday that under the settlement, plaintiffs' claims will be dismissed and residents will vote in November on changing the city charter to a district system that supporters say is fairer to minority voters.
City attorney Michael R.W. Houston says that under the settlement the city does not admit that its current system violates the California Voting Rights Act, and says it allows changes to be decided by voters instead of judges.
Under the proposed district model, council members will be elected only by residents of their districts, not by the city at large.
Currently, more than half of Anaheim residents are Hispanic but the entire City Council is white.
POLICE-HOMELESS DEATH UPDATE
Case vs 2 Calif. cops nears end in homeless death
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Jurors are scheduled to return to a Santa Ana courtroom today for a second day of closing arguments in the case against two former Fullerton police officers charged in the July 2011 death of a homeless man.
Yesterday, Rackauckas repeatedly replayed clips from the 33-minute, black-and-white video. In it, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas cries out repeatedly for his father, apologizes and says he can't breathe as six officers pile on him.
Former Officer Manuel Ramos has pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Former Cpl. Jay Cicinelli has pleaded not guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of excessive use of force.
Ramos' defense attorney said in his closing argument that Thomas was a violent and unpredictable.
FREEWAY TANKER FIRE
LA-area freeway tunnel scorched by fire to reopen
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles freeway underpass shut down nearly six months ago by a fiery tanker truck crash will reopen this week.
The California Department of Transportation on Friday plans to reopen the connecting tunnel between northbound Interstate 5 and northbound State Route 2 after an estimated $16.5 million worth of clearance and repair work.
The 300-foot tunnel near Glendale was closed in July after a tanker caught fire and sent a stream of burning fuel into the nearby Los Angeles River.
The intense heat charred the concrete, and brittle chunks fell off. Repair work began in November.
Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler says crews worked nearly around the clock to make repairs. He says the federal government will reimburse the state for the repair costs under an emergency relief program.
Judge allows DNA evidence in 'Grim Sleeper' case
(Information in the following story is from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge says a Los Angeles police officer acted lawfully by posing as a busboy to collect DNA samples that led to the arrest of the alleged "Grim Sleeper" serial killer.
The Los Angeles Times says the judge rejected defense efforts to throw out the evidence yesterday. Defense lawyers argued it was illegally obtained because Lonnie Franklin Jr.'s plates were cleared before he'd finished eating pizza and cake at the restaurant.
Taking the witness stand for the first time, Franklin testified he thought they would go into the trash with other plates.
The judge called the defense arguments ridiculous.
Franklin was arrested days after the samples were collected in 2010. Prosecutors allege he shot or strangled 10 women and tried to kill another between 1985 and 2007.
He's pleaded not guilty.
LA County man charged with 9-day girlfriend kidnap
PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles County prosecutors say a Palmdale man has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend with whom he has a child and keeping her against her will for nine days in his apartment.
The district attorney's office says 19-year-old Giovanni McKinnis pleaded not guilty yesterday to seven criminal counts including kidnapping, false imprisonment by violence and corporal injury to a child's parent.
The 20-year-old woman was found Saturday in an apartment after sheriff's deputies investigated a report that she had gone missing December 27. Authorities say the woman had been choked and sexually assaulted, and a punch broken her jaw. She was taken to a hospital and later released.
Authorities say the victim's mother saw the initial assault and kidnapping but didn't call police because she feared McKinnis.
LA COUNTY SEAL
LA County to restore cross to official seal
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County is restoring a cross to its official seal, nearly a decade after one was removed from the original design.
County supervisors voted 3-2 yesterday to put a cross atop the seal's depiction of the historic San Gabriel Mission.
The original seal had a cross over the Hollywood Bowl but it was removed when the seal was redesigned in 2004 after the ACLU of Southern California threatened legal action.
An image of the mission was added but the building didn't have a cross at the time because it was undergoing earthquake retrofitting.
The cross was reattached in 2009, so two supervisors argued the seal should be adjusted for historical accuracy.
However, the ACLU says putting the religious symbol on the seal is divisive and probably unconstitutional.