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State news briefs
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DEFENDANT STABS LAWYER IN TULARE COUNTY COURTROOM: VISALIA  (AP) — Tulare County authorities say a murder suspect stabbed his attorney in the face in the county's second courtroom attack in one week.

Rafael Mendoza, 29,  attacked his attorney with a makeshift weapon as the jury entered the courtroom Monday during his trial in Tulare County Superior Court.

Sheriff's officials say Mendoza now faces charges of attempted murder for stabbing public defender John Shepard.

Mendoza was standing trial for killing 25-year-old Julian Bravo, whose body was found in a Tulare home in May 2010.

After the attack, officers detained Mendoza and provided first aid to the attorney. The judge declared a mistrial.

Last Wednesday, a former officer on trial for child molestation attacked a detective as guilty verdicts were being read against him.

BIG-RIG CRASH KILLS 3 IN ON I-5 IN BAKERSFIELD: BAKERSFIELD  (AP) — The California Highway Patrol says three big-rig drivers were killed when their trucks burst into flames after one veered into the path of the other two on Interstate 5 near Bakersfield.

The Monday night crash closed the freeway north of Stockdale Highway for about 11 hours.

A spokeswoman for the Kern County coroner's office said Tuesday afternoon that authorities were still working to identify the victims and notify families.

CHP officers are still working to determine how fast the trucks were going. Investigators say the southbound driver's vehicle veered into the dirt center divider and crossed into the northbound lanes, into the path of the other two trucks, which were in different lanes.

CALIF GETS 200 EV CHARGING STATIONS IN SETTLEMENT: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal energy regulators have approved a legal settlement between California and a New Jersey energy company that will see more than 200 electric vehicle charging stations get built around the state.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the settlement between the California Public Utilities Commission and a subsidiary of Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy Inc.

The settlement came in response to lawsuits filed after California's energy crisis, when NRG and other companies overcharged Californians for power.

The company has agreed to spend $100 million for the stations, and will pay the state another $20 million.

The charging stations will be built by NRG subsidiary eVgo starting in early 2013, with 110 of them in the Los Angeles area and 55 in the San Francisco Bay area.

DUI SUSPECT TRIES FREEWAY U-TURN, HITS MEDIAN: TEMECULA  (AP) — Investigators say a drunken driving suspect tried to make a U-turn on a Southern California freeway and slammed into the concrete median — twice.

Marlies Petersen, 53,  of San Marcos was booked Monday for investigation of drunken driving. She was later released.

The California Highway Patrol says a motorist called 911 at about 2 p.m. to report a woman driving a Ford pickup truck erratically on Interstate 15 in Temecula.

Investigators say Petersen slowed and made a left turn and crashed into the concrete center divider. She then backed up and made another run at the wall, slamming into it a second time.

CHP Officer Nathan Baer says she was so intoxicated that she had difficulty standing and walking.

SAN BERNARDINO MAY DISBAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: SAN BERNARDINO  (AP) — San Bernardino may be forced to disband its Police Department while the Southern California city makes its way through bankruptcy proceedings.

The city filed for bankruptcy protection in August after learning it faced a $46 million budget shortfall.

Mayor Pat Morris and City Attorney James Penman told the City Council on Monday that the city must explore contracting with the Sheriff's Department for law enforcement if it is to get approval for its Chapter 9 bankruptcy petition.

The city has 312 sworn officers and a civilian support staff of 150.

A federal bankruptcy judge told the city earlier that it must show it is serious about putting together a financial plan.

The council voted 4-3 on Monday to enter discussions with the Sheriff's Department.