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POSTED May 7, 2013 9:09 p.m.

MINN. HIKER FOUND DEAD AT CLIFF BOTTOM IN YOSEMITE: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK  (AP) — A hiker who went missing in Yosemite National Park has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff, authorities said.

Rangers found the body of 73-year-old Kenneth Stensby of Edina, Minn., near the base of the park's Vernal Fall, where he had apparently fallen after stopping to take a photo, park officials said. Search crews had found his backpack on Sunday at the top of the waterfall. His camera was not in the pack.

His body was removed from the area early Tuesday afternoon, a day after it was spotted from the air, according to park officials.

Stensby, 73, from Edina, Minn., had been in the park for several days and was staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel, park officials said. He left a note with the concierge each morning outlining his daily plan.

On Sunday, his note stated that he was planning to hike to the top of Vernal Fall on the Mist Trail and return to the hotel around noon, according to park officials.

Hotel staff attempted to contact Stensby around 5 p.m. that evening, and discovered he had not returned. They then contacted the National Park Service.

The search effort included dogs and a California Highway Patrol helicopter.

Three young tourists were swept over Vernal Fall in 2011 after one of them slipped on a rock. Her two friends fell while trying to save her.

FORMER MODESTO OFFICER TAKES DEAL IN SEX CASE: MODESTO  (AP) — A former Modesto police officer initially charged with sexual assault after being accused of forcing a prostitute to have sex with him while on duty has avoided any additional jail time after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.

After pleading no contest to misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution and petty theft for having sex with the 37-year-old woman while on duty, Lee Freddie Gaines II on Friday was sentenced to time served.

He'll also be on probation for 30 days and will have to pay the city $32.57 in restitution for taking an hour of his work time while having sex with the woman.

Prosecutors say they dropped the sexual assault charges because there was insufficient evidence and the woman — who has admitted to working as a prostitute — changed her version of the events.

Gaines has said the sex was consensual.

DA TO RETRY LANDLORD IN ALLEGED ARSON DEATHS: MODESTO  (AP) — A Modesto landlord whose conviction on arson and triple murder charges was overturned is facing a new trial.

Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager said Monday that there is "ample admissible evidence" to prove 72-year-old George Souliotes started the 1997 fire that killed 30-year-old Michelle Jones and her two children, 3-year-old Amanda and 6-year-old Daniel Jr. She plans to retry him.

Souliotes was convicted of arson and triple murder in 2000. But a federal judge threw out that conviction in March, ruling that Souliotes didn't get a fair trial because his defense was inadequate.

A previous ruling found that Souliotes had proved "actual innocence," and no reasonable juror would convict him based on the current evidence.

Souliotes has been behind bars for 16 years.

 

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