HUNDREDS OF PRISON EMPLOYEES GET LAYOFF NOTICES: SACRAMENTO, (AP) — California prison officials have sent layoff notices to 545 employees, including 140 guards, as the inmate population declines to comply with a federal court order.
Corrections officials said Friday there are 14,000 fewer inmates than four months ago, when a new law began sending those convicted of lower-level offenses to county jails instead of state prisons.
Federal judges, in an order backed by the U.S. Supreme Court, gave the state two years to reduce its prison population by 33,000 inmates to improve medical care. The population peaked at 162,000 in 2006.
The layoffs will take effect Feb. 29, although some of those affected can transfer to other prisons that have vacancies.
Another round of layoffs is planned this fall. Officials could not say how many notices will go out then.
CHIHUAHUA DIES AFTER BEING HIT BY GOLF CLUB: MENIFEE (AP) — Authorities say a 6-pound Chihuahua named Lily has died after getting loose from her Riverside County home and being hit with a golf club by a neighbor.
Sheriff's deputies say 58-year-old Larry Edward Jaurequi (HOW'-ray-gee) of Menifee was booked Thursday for investigation of felony animal cruelty. He allegedly swung at Lily and sent her flying through the air like a golf ball.
Investigators allege he was going to hit her again but witnesses intervened. The dog's owner arrived and took the dog to a vet.
Jaurequi bailed out Friday and is due in court on March 22.
Sheriff's Cpl. Courtney Donowho says Lily died of a lacerated liver, brain damage and a leg fracture.
DEPUTY SHOOTS SUSPECTED BURGLAR AT COFFEE HOUSE: GALT (AP) — Authorities say a suspected burglar was hospitalized with serious injuries after being shot by a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy inside a coffee shop.
The shooting occurred early Friday morning after deputies were called to assist police officers with a burglary alarm call at the "It's A Grind" coffee shop in Galt.
Sheriff's officials say the deputies spotted a man running from behind the counter. One of the deputies opened fire after the suspect allegedly refused to stop, shooting him twice.
Neither the suspect nor the deputy has been identified. Sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos says the suspect was running towards another officer, and a deputy thought he had a hammer in his hand.
A second suspect, who also has not been identified, was arrested a short time later. He was taken to the hospital after being bitten by a police dog.
COLLEGE CLOSES AS SANTA ANA WINDS HIT CALIFORNIA: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Santa Ana winds swept through parts of Southern California on Friday, closing a state college campus as a high-pressure system brought continuing hot, dry weather and extreme fire danger.
California State University, San Bernardino, stopped classes at midmorning as a precaution, affecting some 17,000 students, spokesman Joe Gutierrez said.
"We've had wind damage in the past where it knocked down a tree or a limb," he said.
There were no immediate reports of wind damage but the campus weather station recorded sustained winds of 32-48 mph with gusts of 51 mph early Friday morning, according to a school statement.
Gutierrez said students received warnings by emails, text, voicemails and Facebook messages to stay home or leave as soon as possible.
"If you're in class, stay in class, you're safer indoors. But once your class is over, leave immediately," Gutierrez said.
The 441-acre campus sits at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains and is often swept by the hot, dry Santa Ana winds that roll downslope and through canyons. Some buildings have permanent windbreaks.
CALIF. INVESTIGATING LAP-BAND WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY: SACRAMENTO (AP) — An insurer says California insurance regulators are investigating Lap-Band surgery centers for possible fraud.
Connecticut-based Aetna Inc. says it is cooperating in the probe by the law enforcement branch of the state Department of Insurance.
The insurer says the state is investigating alleged fraud against Aetna health plan members by the 1-800-GET-THIN Lap-Band surgery centers.
Department of Insurance spokesman David Althausen wouldn't confirm or deny there was a state investigation.
The Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/yaoCUw) says the state probe joins local and federal agencies investigating the businesses behind the billboard, radio and television advertising for the surgeries.
The Food and Drug Administration, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Congress are examining alleged misleading advertising and risks of Lap-Band weight-loss surgery.
1-800-GET-THIN marketing president Robert Silverman denies insurance fraud allegations.
RIVERSIDE CO MAN GETS TRO AGAINST 4TH-GRADER: JURUPA VALLEY (AP) — A Riverside County man is defending his decision to obtain a temporary restraining order against a fourth-grader who he says threatened his son with a knife.
Robert Casteel tells the Press-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/xmtWMM) that "something needed to be done."
Casteel was granted the order last week and it will remain in effect until a Feb. 8 court hearing.
Casteel's son told his father the classmate pulled a knife on him and threatened to - quote - "get you after school."
The order mandates that the boy accused of making the threat stay at least 20 feet away from Casteel's son.
EX-MARINE PLEADS NOT GUILTY 5 CALIF. MURDERS: SANTA ANA (AP) — A former Marine convicted of killing three women in Illinois pleaded not guilty Friday to murdering five more women in California.
Andrew Urdiales entered the plea in Superior Court in Santa Ana, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office.
Authorities allege Urdiales killed five women in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties between 1986 and 1995. Many of his victims were prostitutes who were repeatedly stabbed or shot.
Urdiales was convicted in 2002 of two murders in Illinois and a third in 2004 and sentenced to death. Two of those sentences were commuted to life without the possibility of parole in 2002 by then-Gov. George Ryan. When Illinois banned the death penalty, Urdiales' third sentence also was commuted to life without the possibility of parole.
Last year, Urdiales was extradited to Orange County, where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Orange County prosecutors say Urdiales began a killing spree soon after moving to Southern California in 1984 as a 19-year-old Marine. He murdered four women while in the military and a fifth while vacationing in Palm Springs in 1995, four years after his discharge, prosecutors allege.