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Bay Area briefs
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Sheriff: Suspect linked by DNA to missing teen
SAN JOSE  (AP) — A man was in custody Tuesday on suspicion of murder and kidnapping after his DNA was found in the bag of a missing girl whose abduction was believed to be a random act of violence, authorities said.

In addition, the DNA of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar was found in the red Volkswagen Jetta of suspect Antolin Garcia-Torres, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.

The victim and suspect did not know each other, she said.

"We believe this is the worst type of crime, a stranger abduction of a young girl," the sheriff said at a news conference attended by Sierra's family.

Investigators found Sierra's pink, Juicy Couture-brand handbag with clothing and a cell phone along the side of the road within two miles of her home shortly after her mother reported her missing in March.

Garcia-Torres, 21, was linked to the case after his DNA — taken during a previous assault arrest — was linked to clothing found in the bag, authorities said. He was not charged in the previous case.

Garcia-Torres was arrested Monday — more than two months after Sierra's disappearance prompted hundreds of volunteers to turn out for searches and authorities to conduct more than 12,000 hours of investigation.

Sierra was last seen leaving her home in Morgan Hill to go to school on March 16. Authorities believe she was kidnapped while walking to a school bus stop.

Garcia-Torres, also of Morgan Hill, had been under 24-hour surveillance since March 28. His vehicle was seized on April 7. The DNA evidence used to arrest him also links him to at least one assault in March 2009, Smith said.

The incident involved a Taser, and the victim managed to get away, Assistant Sheriff Pete Rode said, declining to provide more specifics.

Charges against Occupy Oakland protesters dropped

OAKLAND  (AP) — Alameda County prosecutors have dropped robbery and hate crime charges against three Occupy Oakland protesters.

Thirty-three-year-old Michael Davis, 23-year-old Nneka Crawford and 25-year-old Randolph Wilkins were facing trial on the charges before they were dropped on Monday.

The three were accused of involvement in a confrontation with 42-year-old Kelly Stowers at a Feb. 22 rally. Authorities say Crawford yelled derogatory remarks about Stowers's perceived sexual orientation and Davis robbed her.

The defense said Stowers used racial slurs and insulted and punched Davis.

Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick told the San Francisco Chronicle ( the dismissal was appropriate after Davis pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vandalism in a separate case. The plea deal calls for him to receive three years of probation and stay away from Oakland City Hall.

Appeals court rules for medical pot bans

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A court says two Southern California cities aren't discriminating against the disabled by banning medical marijuana dispensaries.

Bans by the cities of Irvine and Lake Forest were upheld Monday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The bans were challenged by disabled residents who had doctors' recommendations for pot to ease severe pain.

In a 2-1 ruling, the appellate panel said it sympathized with those users but federal law banning marijuana use doesn't exempt the disabled.