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POSTED February 7, 2012 7:18 p.m.

TEENS INDICTED IN FATAL MODESTO MARKET SHOOTINGS: MODESTO  (AP) — A Stanislaus County grand jury has indicted three alleged gang members on murder charges for the robbery killings of a Modesto family.

Oloth Phommahaxay, Sophon Ting and Chris Douangkham each face three counts each of murder. Ting and Douangkham were juveniles at the time, but are charged as adults.

Prosecutors say the teens entered the V&V Oriental Market in January 2011 to rob the business.

Store owners Vanh Thammavongsa and his wife, Phouvieng, were fatally shot. Their 28-year-old developmentally disabled daughter, Nanci, was pronounced brain dead and later taken off life support.

The indictment unsealed Tuesday means prosecutors can bypass the preliminary hearing and move straight to trial.

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned again on the charges on Feb. 23. They previously pleaded not guilty.

RASH OF SCHOOL TUBA THEFTS CONTINUES: BELL  (AP) — Some instructors are blaming a rash of Southern California school tuba thefts on the popularity of Mexican banda music.

Thieves have been stealing the marching band sousaphones in recent months and two more were discovered missing on Monday at Bell High School. The instruments are worth $6,000 each.

Bell band director Ligia Chaves-Rasas says thieves cut band room locks before breaking into her office where the tubas are locked up. They only took the brass sousaphones, leaving less expensive fiberglass tubas behind.

Instructors have connected the thefts to the popularity of banda, a dance music anchored by tubas.

Eight tubas were stolen from Centennial High School in Compton. Schools in South Gate, Fremont, Jordan and Huntington Park have also been targeted by tuba thieves.

GANG MEMBER GETS 6 YEARS FOR STEALING GIRL'S PUPPY: POMONA  (AP) — A Southern California gang member has been sentenced to six years in prison for stealing a 9-year-old girl's puppy.

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators say 26-year-old Jose Castrejon grabbed the leashed puppy while the girl waited for her uncle outside a market in the community of Bassett on in April 2010.

Store surveillance video shows the girl clutching the leash and sliding across the sidewalk before she finally let go.

Castrejon got into his truck and drove away with the dog.

He was arrested the following day and the pit bull named Mia was returned to the girl.

Castrejon was convicted of robbery and a Pomona judge sentenced him on Feb. 1.

GINGRICH TO ADDRESS CALIF. REPUBLICAN CONVENTION: SACRAMENTO . (AP) — The California Republican Party will host presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich during its convention later this month.

Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said Tuesday that Gingrich will address the twice-annual gathering in Burlingame on Feb. 25. Del Beccaro calls Gingrich one of the most dynamic figures in GOP politics in the last 50 years.

Gingrich is running behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination but says he intends to stay in the race.

Gingrich's finance chairman in the state, Eric Beach, says California will be a key primary state this year, although it does not hold its primary until June.

MAN SENTENCED IN 4TH TRIAL FOR ATTEMPTED MURDERS: FRESNO  (AP) — A hit man convicted of trying to kill two Fresno residents after his fourth trial in the case will be spending a long time behind bars.

A judge sentenced Jesse Alvarez on Monday to 25 years to life in prison, plus two life sentences, for two counts of attempted murder and a firearms charge.

Prosecutors say Alvarez went to Fresno from Southern California to kill a man in September 2004. When the man's daughter answered the door, Alvarez shot her instead and also shot at the man and his other daughter.

Alvarez maintains that he was in Arizona at the time, though investigators found his palm print at the scene.

The case previously has resulted in two mistrials and a guilty verdict that was later overturned for jury misconduct.

OC ADMINISTRATOR RESIGNS AFTER REFUSING TO LEAVE: SANTA ANA  (AP) — A Southern California public administrator has resigned after refusing to leave office for about two weeks.

Orange County officials say John Williams has agreed to honor his promise to resign Jan. 23, 2012.

Williams had signed a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors last March marking that date as his last day in office.

Instead he reported for work after his purported last day and county workers changed the locks on his office after he left.

The 60-year-old Williams served as the county's elected public administrator since 2003.

He had also served as the appointed public guardian until the board fired him from that role in June amid accusations of mismanagement.

GLIDER LANDS SAFELY ON SKI RUN AT LAKE TAHOE: SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (AP) — Sheriff's deputies at Lake Tahoe say they don't intend to pursue any criminal charges against a glider pilot who made an emergency landing on a ski run over the weekend at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Laurie Harden, a spokeswoman for SoaringNV aircraft, says a veteran pilot and two passengers launched from Minden Tahoe Airport Sunday afternoon but hit a downdraft and had to land near Heavenly's California base.

Resort officials didn't appreciate the excitement .Heavenly spokesman Russ Pecoraro told the Tahoe Daily Tribune it was "some pretty irresponsible behavior" on the part of the company that rents the gliders.

But El Dorado Sheriff's Lt. Les Lovell says there was no ill intent. He says the pilot did as good of job as he could to find an unpopulated spot to land.

MOM PLEADS GUILTY IN METH BREAST MILK DEATH: EUREKA,   (AP) — A California woman accused of killing her infant son by breastfeeding him after she used methamphetamine has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Maggie Wortman entered her plea Monday as part of a deal with prosecutors.

An autopsy on 6-week-old Michael Acosta III found that the infant died of "methamphetamine toxicity" on Nov. 21, 2010.

Prosecutors initially tried to charge Wortman with murder, saying she should have known the dangers of breastfeeding after smoking the drug. But a judge threw out the charge, saying there was insufficient evidence to support it.

Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin had said he planned to re-file the murder charge, if Wortman didn't accept the plea deal.

 

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