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POSTED May 24, 2012 9:10 p.m.

ONE-TIME TOP CALIF. FOOTBALL PROSPECT EXONERATED : LONG BEACH  (AP) — A former high school football star whose dreams of a pro career were shattered by a rape conviction burst into tears Thursday as a judge threw out the charge that sent him to prison for more than five years.

Brian Banks, now 26, pleaded no contest 10 years ago on the advice of his lawyer after a childhood friend falsely accused him of attacking her on their high school campus.

In a strange turn of events, the woman, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison.

During an initial meeting with him, she said she had lied; there had been no kidnap and no rape and she offered to help him clear his record, court records state.

But she refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools.

During a second meeting that was secretly videotaped, she told Banks, "'I will go through with helping you, but it's like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean gave me, I don't want to have to pay it back,'" according to Freddie Parish, a defense investigator who was at the meeting.

4 MORE STATE PARKS DUE TO CLOSE WILL STAY OPEN: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Four state parks slated for a July 1 closure will remain open after local governments and private groups stepped forward and agreed to operate them.

Officials said Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, Hendy Woods State Park and McConnell and Hatfield State Recreation Areas will remain open.

About half of the 70 doomed parks now have deals in place or in the works to remain open. The California Department of Parks and Recreation is closing the parks to bridge a $22 million budget shortfall.

Grizzly Creek park will be operated for the next year by Humboldt County, Save the Redwoods League and the state.

Mendocino County's Hendy Woods will be operated by volunteers and Save the Redwoods.

The other two parks in Merced County will be operated by a private group.

ROB KARDASHIAN, JOE JONAS AMONG MISS USA JUDGES: LAS VEGAS (AP) — Donald Trump's Miss USA pageant is keeping up with the Kardashians.

Pageant officials announced Thursday that Rob Kardashian, who's a former "Dancing with the Stars" competitor and the brother from the "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" reality show, will be among the celebrity judges at the 61st annual pageant June 3 in Las Vegas.

Former "Bachelorette" Ali Fedotowsky, pop star Joe Jonas and "Fashion Police" host George Kotsiopoulos also will help name the next Miss USA.

GRAND CANYON FALL KILLS MARINE WHO WAS GOING HOME: DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A young Marine returning to civilian life in Kansas died this week after falling from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where he had stopped to do some sightseeing on his way home from Camp Pendleton, Calif., his father said.

After two years in the Marines, Jeffery Klingsick had big plans, said his father, Russ Klingsick. The 20-year-old veteran of Afghanistan planned to join a band, become an emergency medical technician and, said his father, watch lots of John Wayne movies.

Russ Klingsick, of Derby, said an investigator for Grand Canyon National Park told the family that his son had left a public viewing area on the South Rim on Tuesday, walked too close to the edge and fell 30 feet to a ledge below, The Wichita Eagle reported Thursday.

The fall knocked him out, and a Marine buddy who was with him began climbing down to help. Jeffery Klingsick regained consciousness but appeared dazed and uncertain of where he was, his father said. As he struggled to get to his feet, he stumbled and went over the edge, falling at least 600 feet to his death.

 

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