• CALIFORNIA BILL WOULD END FINES FOR BROWN LAWNS IN DROUGHT: SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California Assembly has approved legislation protecting residents from fines if they do not water their lawn during the drought.
AB1 by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown advanced unanimously Thursday with 74 votes. It prohibits cities from penalizing residents for having brown lawns.
The San Bernardino Democrat abandoned a similar bill last year because cities in her district relaxed their landscaping rules. She revived the legislation this year as some cities continued warning of penalties for dry lawns even as the California drought persisted.
A Glendora couple last summer was threatened with a $500 fine for not watering their lawn on the same day the state approved $500 fines for wasting water outdoors.
California’s drought-busting slogan is ‘Brown is the new green.’
AB1 now heads to the Senate.
• CALIFORNIA DEATH ROW INMATE DIES OF UNKNOWN CAUSES: SACRAMENTO (AP) — An inmate sentenced to death for killing a brain-injured woman has died of unknown causes.
San Quentin State Prison officials said Thursday that 67-year-old Raymond Edward Steele was found dead Wednesday.
Steele was sentenced to death in 1990 for fatally stabbing Leann Thurman in Shasta County in 1988.
She was in her mid-20s, but court documents say she had the skills of a 10-year-old after suffering brain damage at birth.
He previously had been convicted in 1971 of raping one victim and, separately, murdering his 15-year-old baby sitter.
Sixty-six condemned inmates have died from natural causes since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, while 14 have been executed.
The department reported last month that 67 inmates had died of natural causes, but says the number changes as deaths are reclassified.
• DEPUTIES SHOOT, WOUND DRIVER WHO RAMMED THEM: SANTA ROSA (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies in Northern California say they shot and critically wounded a driver who rammed them with a car.
The shooting happened around midnight Wednesday. The Sonoma County sheriff’s office says in a statement that the incident began when another motorist called to report someone driving in reverse and the wrong way down Highway 101.
Soon after, deputies stopped a woman driving recklessly. Authorities say the driver backed into the deputies, injuring three. Multiple deputies then opened fire and hit the suspect an unknown number of times.
Santa Rosa police Lt. Rainer Navarro said the woman was hospitalized Thursday with life-threatening gunshot wounds.
One deputy was treated and released from a local hospital, and two others received minor injuries.