LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California voters will decide in November whether to repeal the death penalty in a state that is home to nearly a quarter of the nation’s death row inmates, after activists collected the more than 500,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot.
The ballot initiative focuses on the high cost of the death penalty in a state that has executed 13 people since capital punishment was reinstated in the nation in 1976. Another 723 inmates sit on death row pending lengthy and expensive appeals.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Conservative activist Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure with no prescription or illegal drugs in his system, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials said on Friday.
There was no significant trauma to the body of Breitbart, who died in March at the age of 43, and foul play was not suspected, a coroner’s spokesman said in a written statement.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A convicted felon charged with robbing four University of Southern California (USC) students at gunpoint earlier this week has been eliminated as a suspect in the murders of two graduate students from China, police said on Friday.
Jeremy Hendricks, 24, was charged on Friday in Wednesday’s robbery near USC’s fraternity row. Police initially said they were probing possible links between the two crimes and testing the gun used in the robbery for a connection.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Four students were robbed at gunpoint near the University of Southern California on Wednesday, and investigators were testing the weapon in that case to see if it was the same one used to murder two graduate students from China last week, police said.
A man brandishing a handgun confronted the three men and a woman as they walked near USC’s fraternity row after midnight, demanding property from them, Los Angeles police officer Sara Faden said.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Perennial New Year’s Eve master of ceremonies and “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark, whose long-running television dance show helped rock ‘n’ roll win acceptance in mainstream America, died on Wednesday at age 82, a spokesman said.
Clark, one of America’s best-known TV personalities and the longtime host of ABC’s annual “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” broadcast from Times Square in Manhattan, suffered a heart attack and died at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, publicist Paul Shefrin said.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Former New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra was sentenced on Wednesday to 270 days in jail and 36 months probation over charges that he exposed himself to five women who answered his Craigslist ads for an assistant or housekeeper.
One woman told authorities the former ballplayer held a knife and forced her to massage him, prosecutors said.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Eight men charged with running an elaborate online narcotics market that sold drugs to 3,000 people in the United States and 34 other countries have been arrested following a two-year investigation dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb,” prosecutors said on Monday.
The secret ring known as “The Farmer’s Market” operated through the TOR computer network, which allows users to communicate anonymously, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Court papers filed by police in the beating death of an Iraqi-American woman near San Diego cite her divorce plans and daughter’s apparent suicide attempt last year, but do not point to further evidence that the murder was a hate crime.
Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was found bludgeoned in her rented home in a refugee community of the San Diego suburb of El Cajon on March 21 and died of her injuries several days later, after doctors removed her from life support.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A California woman was charged on Wednesday with helping an 86-year-old World War Two veteran kill himself by mixing a lethal dose of Oxycontin into his yogurt, prosecutors said.
Elizabeth Barrett, 66, was charged with one count of assisted suicide, Orange County District Attorney’s spokeswoman Farrah Emami said. Barrett was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail pending an arraignment, and faces a maximum prison term of three years if convicted.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A JetBlue pilot who caused a disturbance on board a flight to Las Vegas, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Texas, has been suspended while the FBI investigates the incident, the airline said on Wednesday.
Flight 191 from New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas, on Tuesday following what federal authorities described as erratic behavior by the captain, who passengers said had to be restrained after he pounded on the locked cockpit door.