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May 29, 2012

Convicted killer hangs himself on California’s death row

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A convicted killer sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of a 13-year-old boy has hanged himself on California’s death row, months before voters in the state are due to decide whether to abolish the death penalty, prison officials said on Tuesday.

James Lee Crummel, 68, was found hanging in his cell at San Quentin State Prison, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Sam Robinson said in a written statement.

May 25, 2012

Police: Tapes could hold clues to more Manson Family murders

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles police detectives are seeking to review old audio tapes of conversations between Manson Family member Charles “Tex” Watson and his former lawyer, hoping they will shed light on any additional murders the cult may have committed.

The eight hours of recorded discussions between Watson and attorney Bill Boyd were made more than 40 years ago and have surfaced as a part of a bankruptcy case involving Boyd’s now-defunct Texas law firm.

May 21, 2012

Student found safe after two days missing in Yosemite

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A 22-year-old college student who went missing in Yosemite National Park in California two days ago has been found safe about five miles (eight kilometers) from the campsite where he was last seen, a park spokesman said on Monday.

Authorities combing the nearly 1,200-square-mile (3,100-square-km) park spotted John Paul Chaufan Field by helicopter at about 3:15 p.m. on Monday and made contact with him, Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said.

May 21, 2012

California college student goes missing in Yosemite

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Authorities combed Yosemite National Park in California on Monday for a 22-year-old college student who disappeared after walking away from the rest of his group during a weekend trip into back-country areas of the park.

John Paul Chaufan Field, a senior at the University of California at Santa Cruz, was last seen at mid-morning on Saturday at a campsite near Kibbie Lake in the park’s Hetch Hetchy area, Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said.

May 21, 2012

Death penalty sought for Iraq war vet in California killings

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California prosecutors will seek the death penalty against an Iraq war veteran charged with six murders, including the serial “thrill” killings of four homeless men in Orange County, a top prosecutor said on Monday.

Itzcoatl Ocampo, a 24-year-old former U.S. Marine, is scheduled to stand trial in September on six counts of first degree murder with special circumstances, including the brutal stabbing deaths of four transients beginning in late December.

May 17, 2012

Family cancels weekend search for missing Hollywood executive

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The family of a Hollywood executive reported missing more than two weeks ago called off on Wednesday a major search planned for this weekend after consulting with authorities.

Relatives of Gavin Smith who had initially asked the public to help look for him also canceled a round of media interviews they had been scheduling for Friday.

May 16, 2012

Mother of homeless man killed by police settles with city

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The mother of a schizophrenic homeless man who died after he was beaten and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun by police in California last year has reached a $1 million settlement with the city of Fullerton, both sides said.

Videotape of the beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, which was repeatedly broadcast on cable television, shows Thomas lying on the ground screaming, “They’re killing me,” as officers swarmed over him, delivering multiple blows and shocks.

May 16, 2012

Retired Los Angeles detective arrested for murder in Hawaii

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A retired Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective has been arrested in Hawaii, accused of murdering his wife nearly six years after he blamed her death on an accidental fall, authorities said on Tuesday.

Daniel DeJarnette, 59, was taken into custody at his home on Hawaii’s Big Island on Monday, Hawaii police Lieutenant Greg Esteban said. He was indicted earlier in the day on a charge of second-degree murder by a grand jury, and pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

May 12, 2012

Big-wave surfer enters record books by riding 78-foot “monster”

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara has been recognized by Guinness World Records for surfing the largest wave ever ridden, a towering 78-foot (24 -meter) wall of water he says he caught at Nazare, Portugal, in November while “totally in the moment.”

McNamara’s record-setting feat was verified by Guinness after an independent panel of big wave and photography experts painstakingly measured still and video images of the colossal wave, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

May 7, 2012

Son of missing Hollywood executive says few clues so far

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The son of a Hollywood studio executive who has been missing for a week said Monday that his father had not used his cellphone or credit cards, leaving no clues to his disappearance.

Gavin Smith, a 57-year-old film distribution executive for 20th Century Fox, was last seen on Tuesday night driving away from a friend’s house in the community of Oak Park, north of Los Angeles, in his black Mercedes.