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BOY HELD IN ATTACK ON WWII VET WILL GO TO REHAB: FRESNO  (AP) — A judge on Thursday decided to send a 12-year-old Fresno boy accused of helping beat and rob a World War II veteran to a rehabilitation program instead of a juvenile correctional facility.

Superior Court Judge James Kelley said the boy should be admitted to the rehabilitation program for pre-adolescents at the Juvenile Justice Campus for a year instead of a "kid prison," the Fresno Bee reported (

The boy and two 15-year-olds broke into the home of Josef Martin, 92, in October, authorities said. The group held Martin at gunpoint, struck him in the face and threw him in a closet as they stole jewelry and cash, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the boy was a suspect in previous crimes but never charged.

The boy's lawyer, Rick Horowitz, who choked up as he spoke on behalf of his client, believes the boy can change for the better and is "very much the product of the environment he's been exposed to." He said the boy was "more or less left to his own devices for many years."

One of the 15-year-olds has appeared in juvenile court, while no charges have been filed against the other as of Dec. 4, the most recent court records available.

As Kelley, the judge, read his decision to the court, the barely 4-foot boy wiped his eyes with a wad of tissues.

Kelley added the home-invasion robbery was troubling because the youths could have chosen not to attack Martin.

"Somebody made the decision to take it a step further and to degrade this man in his own home and to leave him lying on the floor of his own home, perhaps never to get up," Kelley said.

MCDONALD'S TO PAY $50G TO SETTLE BEARD SUIT: FRESNO  (AP) — McDonald's has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against a Muslim employee in Fresno who wasn't allowed to grow a beard.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the settlement was reached Thursday with McDonald's Restaurants of California.

According to the suit, Shaheed Khan was a crew trainer at a Fresno McDonald's in 2005 when he asked to wear a beard to work, citing religious beliefs. He quit after the request was refused.

The commission filed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations. Under the settlement, McDonald's agreed to pay $50,000 to Shaheen and to reinforce training of its managers and staff on existing anti-discrimination policies.

KERN COUNTY MOLEST CASE DISMISSED OVER TRANSCRIPT: BAKERSFIELD  (AP) — A Kern County judge dismissed child molestation charges against a man because a prosecutor allegedly put a fabricated admission of guilt into a transcript of a translated interrogation.

Kern County Superior Court Judge H.A. Staley threw out the case against Efrain Velasco-Palacios on Thursday. Velasco-Palacios had been charged with five counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.

Prosecutors don't dispute that a change was made to a transcript where an admission of guilt was inserted into an English translation of the defendant's Spanish-language interrogation. But they say they plan to appeal the judge's decision.

District Attorney Lisa Green said she believes the mistake arose from a joke that went awry. The prosecutor in the case denied manipulating evidence.