Judge orders removal of San Diego war cross
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A federal judge in San Diego says a 43-foot war memorial cross must be removed from the top of a mountain in 90 days because it violates the principle of separation of church and state.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said Thursday that it's time for the long-running case to end.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the cross atop Mount Soledad violated the Constitution. After the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the case went back to Burns to consider any alternatives.
Burns says it might have been a closer call if the federal government was on the verge of transferring the property to a private owner. He says the order to remove the cross would be put on hold if there is an appeal.
15 Calif. counties may share $500M to build jails
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Fifteen counties are in line to split $500 million in state-issued bonds to upgrade jails and build classrooms for inmate rehabilitation programs.
The Board of State and Community Corrections announced Thursday that it will vote on allocating the money next month.
A committee recommended the 15 counties from among 36 proposals.
For the first time, the counties had to detail how part of the money would be used for efforts to keep offenders from committing new crimes.
Driver arrested in fatal CA crash on I-580
LIVERMORE, Calif. (AP) - A driver who rear-ended another driver on Interstate 580 in Livermore has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Creel says the collision happened just after 10 a.m. Thursday when 53-year-old Primitivo Garcia failed to slow his Hummer for traffic and rear-ended a Jeep, causing the Jeep to burst into flames in the westbound lanes near North Livermore Avenue.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the driver of the Jeep has died. His name has not been released.
Garcia is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
The eastbound lanes were shut down but reopened about an hour and a half later. Two westbound lanes reopened after that.
Jurors reach penalty decision in OC killings
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - An Orange County jury has reached a verdict on whether to recommend death or life in prison for a man who killed his ex-girlfriend's father and sister and slashed her mother's throat.
The Orange County Register says a Superior Court jury reached the verdict on Thursday but the judge postponed its reading until next Monday.
Iftekhar Murtaza of Los Angeles was convicted last month of murder and other crimes.
Authorities say Murtaza killed the relatives of Shayona Dhanak in 2007 after she blamed her decision to break up on her Hindu family's objection to Dhanak dating a Muslim.
Prosecutors said Murtaza attacked Dhanak's mother, who survived, torched the family's home in the Anaheim Hills, and killed Dhanak's father and sister, whose burned bodies were found in a park.
Hollywood Park relocates infield flamingos
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - The flamingos that dotted the infield lake at Betfair Hollywood Park have found a new home ahead of the racetrack closing.
A bird expert from the Los Angeles Zoo and a 10-member crew caught all but two of the 12 flamingos this week. The birds were transferred via a horse van to Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, Calif., where they will live.
The track says two other birds escaped, but they will be rounded up in the next couple of weeks.
The 75-year-old racetrack will run its last race on Dec. 22. The Inglewood site is scheduled to be redeveloped next year.
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