JUDGE MAY EXPAND CALIF. PRISON MENTAL HEALTH CASE: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Attorneys who represent California inmates asked a federal judge Wednesday to expand the court's oversight of prison mental health care to include the Department of State Hospitals.
The department is responsible for treatment at some of California's 33 adult prisons, including one in Soledad that is at the center of the current legal tussle between the state and inmate advocates.
Deputy Attorney General Debbie Vorous, representing the state, told U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton that the state is providing proper care.
But advocates and their first expert witness said two recent examples show that mental health treatment has not improved sufficiently in the prison system despite years of federal oversight.
Two inmates at Salinas Valley State Prison died despite having histories of trying to harm themselves, they said on the first day of what is expected to be a hearing lasting several days.
An inmate identified only as "prisoner A" hanged himself in November, the first suicide since the facility opened in 2003, said Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist who toured the facility along with other state prisons. The prisoner had been sent to Salinas Valley from California State Prison, Sacramento, because he had tried to kill himself there and then cut his own arm in another attempt a week before he succeeded.
He left a message scrawled on his cell wall saying that he'd come to Salinas Valley slightly depressed but his condition had only worsened.
SAN DIEGO MAN ARRESTED IN GUN DEATH OF BOY: SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego man faces three felony charges in connection with the accidental shooting death of a 10-year-old boy.
The Los Angeles Times says 55-year-old Todd Conrad Francis is out of jail Wednesday after posting $100,000 bail.
He surrendered to police Tuesday and was booked on charges of child endangerment, negligent storage of a firearm, and involuntary manslaughter.
On June 4, his daughter was playing with a gun she found in Francis' garage when it discharged, killing Eric Klyaz.
The boy, a fourth-grader, died of a gunshot to the chest. Court documents identify the gun as a Sig-Sauer 9.
Before his arrest, Francis had insisted the gun was unloaded, hidden and kept in a separate spot from the ammunition. The newspaper says charges indicate that investigators do not believe him.
OH BABY! STORK FLIES THE COOP AT SAN DIEGO ZOO: SAN DIEGO (AP) — The public is being asked to keep eyes to the skies for an exotic stork that flew the coop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
UT San Diego says (http://bit.ly/14jrOjB) the bird caught a sudden wind gust and flew away while working with handlers Monday afternoon.
Park officials and birding groups have had no luck finding the painted stork, so now they are asking for help from city residents.
The newspaper says the one-year-old female was in training for the park's Frequent Flyers bird show. It was practicing with handlers when it flew high and got caught in a thermal current, which pulled it out of the park grounds. The bird's wings were not clipped.
The painted stork stands about three feet tall and has white feathers and a yellow beak.
WOMAN CONVICTED IN LA TRAIN PLATFORM DEATH: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury which convicted a homeless woman of second-degree murder in the death of a woman pushed off a Los Angeles train platform heard expert opinions Wednesday on whether the defendant was sane at the time of the crime.
But the panel went home for the evening without reaching a verdict in the sanity phase of Jackkqueline Pogue's trial. Jurors were to resume deliberations Thursday.
Pogue was found guilty late Tuesday in the death of 84-year-old Betty Sugiyama, who was pushed onto train tracks, struck her head and never regained consciousness.
Two experts, one for the prosecution and one for the defense, testified about Pogue's life and said she had been plagued by mental illness since she was 15.
But the prosecution expert, Dr. Mark Jaffe, said Pogue was mentally ill but not insane.
WOMAN STABBED, KILLED ON HOLLYWOOD'S WALK OF FAME: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police in Los Angeles say they've arrested three panhandlers in the fatal stabbing of a young woman who was taking photographs on Hollywood's star-lined "Walk of Fame."
Police say they found the 23-year-old woman bleeding from multiple stab wounds near busy Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Homicide detectives say the woman and a friend were walking in the tourist-packed area where the three suspects were holding signs and panhandling.
They took cellphone photos of the men. Police say that caused a dispute, and the victim was stabbed in the torso.
The woman later died at a hospital. Her identity hasn't been released.
The area attracts beggars and costumed street performers who demand cash for posed pictures with tourists.
IMMIGRANT ADVOCATES SUE US GOV'T OVER DETAINERS: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Immigrant advocates sued the federal government Wednesday alleging immigration agents are filing paperwork to keep arrestees in custody before investigating whether they're in the country illegally.
The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other advocates alleges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement places so-called detainers on those in custody before thoroughly checking their immigration status — in some cases, affecting American citizens.
The detainers are good for 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, and let agents keep immigrants in custody once they are released in their criminal cases.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment on the lawsuit. Officials said the government takes seriously claims that American citizens were improperly detained and has a hotline people can call if they feel they shouldn't be subject to an immigration hold.