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State news briefs
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RIVERSIDE DOG'S DEATH PROBED, WATER HOSE SUSPECTED: LAKELAND VILLAGE  (AP) — Riverside County authorities are investigating the death of a pregnant pet dog that reportedly died after a water hose was stuffed in its mouth by a neighbor.

The death of the 3-year-old pitbill mix named Puddles was reported Thursday afternoon in Lakeland Village.

Sgt. Lesley Huennekens of the county's Department of Animal Services says in a statement that Puddles died a short while after fighting with a neighboring dog through a small opening in a fence.

Huennekens says the neighbor is suspected of stuffing a running hose into Puddles' mouth.

Authorities are examining the dog's body to determine a cause of death.

They say if the death resulted from inhumane treatment, animal cruelty charges will be filed.

LA JOLLA RESIDENTS: WHIFF  AT THE CLIFF HAS TO GO: SAN DIEGO (AP) — The birds at La Jolla Cove are causing a stink.

The cove with its majestic cliffs is one of the prettiest spots in San Diego County but bird droppings are getting thicker and the smell is getting stronger.

La Jolla Parks and Beaches spokesman Patrick Ahern said  that bureaucracy and environmental concerns prevent the use of cleaning chemicals.

Residents say maybe the answer is natural seawater and a scrub brush. Thousands of people have signed petitions calling for something to be done.

TEACHER FIRED OVER PORN  PLEADS TO GET JOB BACK: OXNARD (AP) — A fired Southern California science teacher is begging for her job back, telling an administrative hearing she was desperate for money when she decided to perform in pornographic videos.

A six-day hearing on whether 32-year-old Stacie Halas can return to her Haydock Intermediate School classroom in Oxnard ended Thursday. The three-member commission has 30 days to make a decision.

Halas told commissioners on Thursday that she wants to teach, adding she misses the "kiddos."

Halas testified that she was mired in student loan and credit card debt totaling $100,000 in 2006 when she performed in a dozen sex scenes that paid $1,500 each.

The Oxnard School District says Halas was fired because she repeatedly lied about the videos.

JURY CONVICTS HIT-MAN IN OC MACHETE ATTACK TRIAL: SANTA ANA, (AP) — Jurors have convicted a man described by prosecutors as a hit-man who used a machete on his target, fracturing his skull and chopping off his thumbs, some fingers and half his nose.

Antonio Cinco Ortega, 26,  was found guilty Thursday of one count of conspiring to commit murder and one count of mayhem.

Prosecutors allege Mary Sharpski conspired with boyfriend Michael Shores II to murder her husband, hiring Ortega to do the job. The attack occurred in Fountain Valley in March 2009.

Ortega was retried because jurors were couldn't agree on a verdict in 2011.

Shores and Sharpski await retrial on attempted murder, conspiracy and mayhem charges.

Frank Sharpski survived and underwent several surgeries.

Ortega faces 25 years to life when sentenced in January.

SEARCH CALLED OFF FOR MAN MISSING IN SIERRA: FRESNO  (AP) — Authorities have called off the search for a Southern California man missing in the Sierra Nevada.

The National Park Service said Thursday night that it had followed up on all potential clues and there was little information to direct search operations for 53-year-old Larry Conn.

The Los Angeles resident went missing during a trip in Kings Canyon National Park last month. It snowed about 12 inches in the mountains the night after he left on Oct. 19.

He was reported overdue four days later, prompting search efforts.

National Park Service spokeswoman Dana Dierkes says rescuers covered 48 square miles.

CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL FOUNDER SEEKS $5M FROM CHURCH: LOS ANGELES (AP) — The aging founder of the Crystal Cathedral is in court seeking more than $5 million from the ministry he built from scratch in a dispute that has delayed millions in payments to creditors left short-handed when the church filed for bankruptcy two years ago.

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller was in Los Angeles on Thursday for the start of a 10-day trial over copyright infringement, intellectual property and contract violation claims that stem from his ministry's devastating financial collapse. The trial continued Friday with testimony expected from his wife, daughter and son-in-law.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010 with more than $50 million in debt. The Schuller family's claims continue to delay about $12. 5 million in payments to creditors. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange purchased the ministry's soaring, glass-paned Crystal Cathedral last year in a bankruptcy deal and the remaining worshippers will move out by next year.

RALEY’S SUPERMARKET CONTRACT TALKS RESUME: WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A major Northern California supermarket chain and its workers have resumed contract talks — this time with the help of a federal mediator — as the possibility of a strike looms.

West Sacramento-based Raley's had threatened to impose a contract this week that includes a wage freeze and elimination of premium pay for Sunday shifts. But it now says it will hold off until midnight Saturday.

If a deal isn't struck by then, the workers could go on strike. It would be the first strike in Raley's 77-year history.

Raley's operates about 130 stores in Northern California and Nevada, including Bel Air Markets and Nob Hill Foods. A strike could include as many as 7,000 of its roughly 13,000 employees.