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State news briefs
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POLICE SAY FAST FOOD CASHIER STOLE FROM DISABLED: IRVINE  (AP) — Police say a Southern California fast food restaurant cashier repeatedly stole change from a mentally disabled woman.
Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen says the parents of the 38-year-old Irvine woman started suspecting six months ago that their mentally challenged daughter was losing or forgetting her change when she ate lunch at the restaurant.
Recently, the parents suspected a thief was taking the money and they notified police.
The lieutenant tells City News Service that detectives started taking lunch breaks at the restaurant to watch the woman buy hamburgers and it was determined the cashier was pocketing the change and not ringing up the sale.
The cashier, 42-year-old Luis Maximino Lucero Ballinas of Tustin, was arrested Wednesday and he was booked for investigation of misdemeanor theft from a dependent adult.
WOMAN WITH HAMMER SHOT TO DEATH BY LA DEPUTY: ROSEMEAD  (AP) — A woman threatening deputies with a hammer has been shot to death outside a Southern California mental health clinic.
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were called to the Rosemead clinic Wednesday afternoon because 40-year-old Jazmyne Ha Eng was threatening people outside the clinic with a hammer.
Deputy Peter Gomez says in a news release that deputies were confronted by the screaming, hammer wielding woman and she refused to comply with deputy commands.
Investigators say a Taser stun gun failed to subdue Eng and she advanced toward deputies with the hammer held over her head.
Fearing for his safety, Gomez says a deputy fired two rounds, killing her.

NOT GUILTY PLEA IN STOCKTON BOY HIT-AND-RUN DEATH: STOCKTON  (AP) — A Stockton woman accused of running over a child with her car while aiming for another woman has pleaded not guilty to murder.
Authorities say 22-year-old Aushua McDuff-Brown took her friend to a market parking lot to do a custody exchange with the man's ex-girlfriend on Oct. 3. An argument broke out, and McDuff-Brown allegedly tried to run over a woman but struck 3-year-old Ruben Ramirez instead.
Ruben died after being pinned between the car and the store window covering.
McDuff-Brown was arrested days later in Southern California.
WOMAN INDICTED IN CALIFORNIA SEVERED PENIS CASE: SANTA ANA  (AP) — A grand jury has indicted a California woman accused of cutting off a man's penis after tying him to a bed.
Orange County district attorney's spokeswoman Farrah Emami says 48-year-old Catherine Kieu was indicted Thursday on a felony count of torture and a felony count of aggravated mayhem.
Kieu lived with the 60-year-old victim and is suspected of getting into an argument over a future houseguest's visit on July 11, 2011.
After the man went to sleep, authorities say she severed the organ and threw it into a garbage disposal.
With a sentencing enhancement for personal use of a knife, Kieu could face a life sentence without possibility of parole if convicted on all counts. She is due for arraignment Monday.
ROSEVILLE MAN GETS 3 YEARS FOR PONZI SCHEME: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A 49-year-old Roseville man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for bilking investors out of $2.9 million.
The U.S. Attorney's office announced Thursday that Barry Winnett also will have to pay full restitution for his participation in the real estate Ponzi scheme.
According to court documents, Winnett and co-defendant Royce Newcomb set up a fake escrow service in which 22 investors transferred $2.9 million.
Prosecutors say Winnett followed Newcomb's orders to disburse later investors' money to earlier investors and create false documents showing the bogus escrow account had money.
Winnett did not have a license to perform escrow services. The fraud occurred between Jan. 1, 2009 and Feb. 19, 2010.
FONTANA SCHOOL PARENTS ARRESTED OVER KIDS' TRUANCY: FONTANA  (AP) — Three San Bernardino County parents could be facing jail time for allowing their children to miss too many school days.
Fontana Unified School District police arrested two Fontana residents and a Bloomington woman last week under the district attorney's anti-truancy program.
The district attorney's office says the parents ignored numerous warnings to correct their children's truancy. They're facing charges of failure to address truancy and failure to appear in court.
If convicted of the misdemeanors, the parents could face up to a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine for each child who skipped school.
In a statement Wednesday, District Attorney Michael Ramos says studies have shown that truant students are at greater risk of becoming involving with drugs and crime.
LA COUNTY CONTINUED CRIME DECLINE IN 2011: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Serious crime in Los Angeles dropped in 2011 for the ninth straight year, dipping nearly 6 percent to a near-historic low despite a sagging economy and a slight rise in the number of killings, officials reported Thursday.
"On a per-capita basis, we're safer than at any time since 1952," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference.
There were 104,215 violent and major property crimes reported in 2011, down 5.8 percent from 2010.
Seven of the eight major crime categories showed decreases, led by a 19.9 percent plunge in rape reports. Robberies fell by 8 percent, and there was a 9.4 percent drop in reported auto thefts.