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Oakland man charged with murder in connection with March shooting

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A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with a fatal shooting in March, and police say they matched shells at that scene to another shooting three hours later, in which a 9-year-old boy was injured.

The allegations were made in charging records against Melvin Hines III, who is facing charges of murdering Eric Chavis-Reshard Jr., 32, and wounding another man during the same shooting. Hines is not facing any charges related to the shooting that injured the boy in another part of Oakland, hours later.

Police say Chavis-Reshard was shot and killed around 5 p.m. on March 3, on the 1800 block of 88th Avenue. Surveillance footage showed a green Pontiac leaving the scene, investigators wrote in court records.

Hours later, Hines was detained after getting into a police chase with officers who’d spotted him in another car leaving the scene of a shooting on the 8800 block of Plymouth Street, where a 9-year-old boy was injured, police wrote in court records.

Authorities say shell casings found at that shooting matched those at the Chavis-Reshard shooting, as well as casings found in a subsequent search of Hines’ home. When interviewed, Hines denied being involved in the shooting or driving the Pontiac that night.

Hines has pleaded not guilty and remains in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on a no-bail hold. His next court date is a preliminary hearing, where a judge will review evidence against him and decide if there is enough to let the case go on. That has been tentatively set for Jan. 13.

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Interstate Highway Billboards for Cannabis Ruled Illegal Statewide By SLO County Judge

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Last weekend San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett ruled that all billboards advertising for marijuana and cannabis products in California are now illegal due to the wording in Proposition 64.

Proposition 64, which California voters passed in 2016, allowed for the recreational sale and use of marijuana to those 21 and older. Included in Prop 64 was a part banning advertising on highways as a way to help make it more palatable for undecided voters. However, in 2019, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) allowed billboard advertising along highways that cross state borders, including federal and state highways, interpreting Prop 64’s language as only banning billboards within 15 miles of other states.

The change was quickly challenged later that year when a San Luis Obispo construction worker, Matthew Farmer, saw billboards advertising marijuana and said that it exposed his children to cannabis. He immediately got hold of two attorneys and filed suit in October 2019.

“He remembered that in the proposition it said that there would not be any advertising to children,” said Stewart Jenkins, one of Farmer’s attorneys, on Monday, “and that there specifically would not be advertising on interstate highways and the major state highways that get all the way to the border, like 101.”

After over a year in the court system, Judge Garrett finally ruled in favor of Farmer and that billboards on interstate highways are illegal. In the ruling, the judge made it clear that the BCC overstepped their bounds when they allowed billboards last year.

“The bureau [BBC] and its director, Lori Ajax, exceeded their authority in promulgating the advertisement placement regulation,” explained Judge Garrett in her decision.

35 interstate highways in California are immediately affected by the ruling, including major federal highways such as Interstate 5, Interstate 10, and Interstate 80.

The ban will not cover all billboards however, as Prop 64 only covered highways connected to other states, meaning all highways completely within the state will continue to be allowed to have billboards that advertise cannabis.

A Prop 64 correction

“It doesn’t matter if you are pro or anti pot,” explained Los Angeles-based cannabis lawyer Mary Harding. “Prop 64 said, in black and white, that this wasn’t allowed. I wouldn’t call it a victory for those against marijuana or a loss for the pro-marijuana people. It’s just the law being corrected to what the voters wanted in 2016. If there is any victor in this, it’s California voters.

“Those against 64 are happy at the restrictions being put back into place, and the pro-64 people should be happy that they’re bringing it to the letter of the law because next time some interpretation could limit it.”

As of Tuesday, the BCC has not said when the deadline for billboard removal will be or if the ruling will be appealed in the future.

“We are still reviewing the ruling, and it remains to be seen what the next steps will be,” BCC spokesman Alex Traverso said on Tuesday.

If an appeal is filed, the case would likely not be heard in court until next year.

“COVID right now threatens to create a logjam of cases,” added Harding. “If this is appealed it will take awhile.”

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Marine veteran elected mayor in Stockton, Calif., says voters rejected Dem incumbent’s ‘defund police’ push

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Republican Marine veteran Kevin Lincoln unseated a Democrat mayor in Stockton, Calif., citing the residents placing “safety and security” as their top need.

“It all boils down to improving the quality of life for all Stocktonians in our city,” Lincoln told “Fox & Friends.”

“Our homeless population … has not only plagued our city in our county but the state, and even has become a national epidemic here. It’s improving the quality of life, and again, the people of Stockton, they didn’t want to defund the police,” Lincoln said.

Despite Democrats’ confident predictions of a “blue wave” sweeping statehouses in the November election, the final results showed that almost nothing had changed. Yet in California, a Democrat stronghold, Republicans are poised to flip more House seats than in any other state.

The results have shown a significant, reversal from the 2018 midterms, which was marked by a rabid anti-Trump furor that helped Democrats flip seven House seats. Now, the GOP is on the verge of taking back four of those seats.

Lincoln said that the defund the police mantra promoted by the current Democratic mayor Michael Tubbs turned off a lot of Stockton residents, paving his way to victory. Tubbs had won his last mayoral election by a large margin.

“When there wasn’t a clear defund the police movement, there was one at our Stockton Unified Scool district when the current mayor was open about supporting that initiative,” Lincoln said.

“When you have a city that you have a third of your population is under the age of 18, people want to ensure that their kids are safe. We have one of the largest school districts in the nation with over 50 schools and over 40,000 students and, so, safety and security throughout the city of Stockton is extremely important to the residents.”

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Police Commission rules fatal shooting of man holding bicycle part was justified

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The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday that an LAPD sergeant acted within department policy when he fatally shot a 31-year-old man who was holding a bicycle part that resembled a handgun in Culver City in January.

The unanimous decision, justifying the sergeant’s actions and clearing him of any punishment, came after family members of Victor Valencia told the commission during a virtual Zoom meeting that Valencia suffered from mental illness, was of little threat and deserved better.

“There’s other ways to go about things,” said Sara Cervantes, Valencia’s cousin. “What gave the reason for this officer to shoot down my cousin like he was nothing?”

Cervantes and another family member said that officers should be better trained to understand people with mental illness and see them as people deserving of compassion.

Commission President Eileen Decker told the family that the commission would hear all the evidence in the case and “adjudicate the case fairly and objectively in accordance with the law.”

The commission then went into closed session, where it agreed with recommendations from LAPD Chief Michel Moore and a separate panel that reviews police shootings that Sgt. Colin Langsdale, who shot Valencia, should receive a tactical debriefing but was otherwise in line with department policy and therefore justified in his actions.

Valencia’s killing has been protested by activists in the city who said Valencia did not have a gun and should not have been shot.

The commission’s ruling comes amid a broader discussion in L.A. about the role police should play in cases involving people suffering from mental illness, with activists and police agreeing that alternative mental health providers would be better equipped to respond to certain calls for help.

However, it’s likely the call that brought Langsdale to the Culver City street where Valencia was would elicit a police response regardless, given its nature.

According to a report Moore provided to the commission Tuesday, Langsdale responded to the area of South Sepulveda and South Venice boulevards about 12:45 p.m. Saturday after police received reports of a man with a gun — with one caller saying he was “waving it around.”

Langsdale did not have his body camera activated when he first arrived at the scene, according to police. Once he activated it, it captured Valencia already on the ground and Langsdale standing behind the open door of his police car, gun drawn.

Langsdale said he believed Valencia had a gun. Other witnesses at the scene said they also believed he had a gun. Surveillance footage from a local gas station released by police showed Valencia holding up the bicycle part and appearing agitated.

Cervantes, Valencia’s cousin, said she suffers from depression, and that L.A. needs more services and programs for people suffering from mental illness, and LAPD officers need far better training on how to interact with people in the throes of a mental health crisis.

“They need to know how to deal with people with our state of minds,” she said. “It’s not our fault that we go through this mental state.”

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Judge nixes California cities’ lawsuit challenging home marijuana delivery

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By MICHAEL R. BLOOD | The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES  — In what could be a temporary victory for California’s legal cannabis industry, a judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a state rule allowing home deliveries statewide, even into communities that banned commercial marijuana sales.

The court challenge raised a fundamental question in the nation’s largest legal pot market: Where can you buy it? The state earlier ruled a licensed delivery can be made into “any jurisdiction” within California.

But a group of local governments behind the court challenge argued that the state was usurping their authority to regulate marijuana sales within their borders.

While the cities argued that the state rule “removes local regulatory power,” Fresno County Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire agreed with the state that the regulation and local ordinances “do not occupy the same field and are not in conflict.”

Without a conflict, “this matter is not ripe for adjudication,” she concluded in a Tuesday order.

McGuire agreed with the state that the regulation applies to state cannabis license holders, not local governments that filed the lawsuit.

The state regulation “does not command local jurisdictions to do anything or preclude them from doing anything,” she added. “It does not command local jurisdictions … to permit delivery. Nor does it override their local ordinances prohibiting or regulating delivery.”

With the case dismissed, marijuana deliveries will continue under the umbrella of the state rule.

But attorney Steve Churchwell, who represented the local governments, said the ruling did not affect the rights of cities and counties to regulate — or prohibit altogether — cannabis deliveries within their borders.

McGuire noted the state rule “does not impact the rights of any of the (local governments) to regulate cannabis or cannabis delivery.” She added, “Local jurisdictions can impose regulatory and health and safety standards that are stricter than state laws.”

The judge’s reference to the case’s “ripeness” appeared to suggest that the debate might not be over.

Reaction to the ruling — and its potential effect on the market — was mixed.

Ellen Komp, deputy director of the California arm of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as NORML, called the decision a victory for recreational and medicinal users. “It’s an overreach of local control for a city to say that someone living there can’t receive a delivery from a licensed business,” she said in an email.

Cannabis attorney Hilary Bricken said the ruling preserves the status quo. Cities remain free to prohibit delivery, but if a licensed service delivers into a city that bans it, state regulators will not be involved in enforcement. That would fall to local authorities, she said.

The ruling “doesn’t really do anything to advance industry interests or increase access to state-legal cannabis for consumers,” Bricken said in an email.

Josh Drayton of the California Cannabis Industry Association said the delivery issue would continue evolving, along with the marketplace.

“It’s going to be up for interpretation moving forward . I don’t think we’re done having this discussion,” Drayton said. “It’s not settled. We are still in the midst of a cultural shift with cannabis.”

The state Bureau of Cannabis Control declined comment.

 

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California jury recommends life without parole for former baseball star who killed his father, uncle and bystander

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A former minor league baseball player who used a bat engraved with his name to bludgeon to death his father, uncle and a bystander inside a Corona home should spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole, a jury recommended on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Brandon Willie Martin, 27, tilted his head back and clasped his hands behind it when the verdict was read in Riverside County Superior Court in Riverside. Defense attorney Christian R. Jensen patted co-counsel T. Edward Welbourn on the back.

The jury could have recommended the death penalty. Judge Bernard J. Schwartz will make the final decision when he sentences Martin on Jan. 29, 2021.

“This is a case we saw ending this way,” Welbourn said outside court. “We knew and believed so much in his mental illness that we were hoping we put out the correct information to let the jury make the choice that they did.”

Martin had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was released early from a 72-hour mental health hold only hours before he killed his wheelchair-bound father, 64-year-old Michael Martin of Corona; his uncle, 51-year-old Ricky Lee Andersen of Corona; and 62-year-old alarm installer Barry Swanson of Riverside on Sept. 17, 2015.

“I think this verdict is a testament to the humanity of this jury and to the humanity of this community,” Jensen said.

The attorney said  jurors told him afterward that there wasn’t one specific piece of evidence that swayed them, other than they found the testimony of a defense psychiatrist “impactful.”

Juror Thomas Van Dorn, 68, of Moreno Valley, who once worked as a civilian jailer in Whittier, said he strongly believed from the outset of deliberations, which lasted a day and a half, that life without parole was appropriate.

“I feel it’s a little more punishment,” Van Dorn said. “He’s going to wake up every morning knowing what he did.”

Jeremy Swanson, one of Barry Swanson’s sons, sat in the gallery during Thursday’s hearing and afterward said he wanted Martin to suffer a long prison sentence instead of being put to death.

“He deserves to rot and die in prison,” Swanson said. “He is going to have to deal with the politics of prison.”

He added that he believes Martin is mentally ill but that family members exaggerated the severity in their testimony. He said jurors told him they agreed

The District Attorney’s Office said it would not comment until the sentence is final.

Martin was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder earlier this month. The jury also found true a special circumstance allegation of taking multiple lives in the same crime, and further convicted him of one count each of auto theft, evading arrest, obstructing a peace officer and injuring a police K-9.

Martin graduated from Santiago High in 2011 and was the 38th overall selection in that year’s major league draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. The shortstop received a $1 million bonus and, after drug and discipline troubles, was released on March 26, 2015.

At one time, he rented a mansion in Yorba Linda for $6,000 a month. Brea police were called to the home 19 times. Police records note loud parties, a brawl with baseball bats and “blood everywhere,” according to a trial brief.

Following his release from the Rays, Martin lived mostly at his parents’ home, continuing to abuse drugs. He had no job, he had spent all his money, and he was resentful of being supported by his parents, the trial brief said.

The family finally scheduled an intervention for Martin on Sept. 15, 2015, two days after he choked his mother, Melody, and held scissors to her neck. At that intervention, a cousin reported the assaults to Corona police, who took Martin to a county mental health facility for treatment.

Officials there decided that Martin was not a serious threat to others and gave him a bus pass as well as an admonition not to go to his parents’ home. He went there anyway, just as Barry Swanson was installing an alarm system the family ordered because they were afraid of Martin.

“He gave his life for a family he didn’t even know,” Jeremy Swanson said. “I am so proud of my dad. I am honored to be his son.”

 

 

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In California: The battle to save a historic observatory from flames, and meet Mr. Kamala Harris

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Greetings from Palm Springs. Im Robert Hopwood, online producer for The Desert Sun, bringing you a daily roundup of the top news from across California.

The fight to protect Southern California’s Mt. Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast towers, valued at more than $1 billion, continues. The observatory is threatened by the Bobcat Fire, which started Sept. 6 in the Angeles National Forest near Azusa.

Back fires set throughout the day Tuesday near the observatory were effective in decreasing the intensity and spread of the flames, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

“While there is still much work to be done in the southwest and in the northern sections of the fire, your firefighters did incredible work around Mount Wilson today,” the forest service tweeted about 9 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire, which has burned 44,393 acres and is 3% contained, meanwhile expanded to the northeast overnight, according to the L.A. Times. It also jumped Highway 2, which resulted in more evacuation orders for nearby residents.

The Creek Fire, meanwhile, burning just south of Yosemite National Park, exploded into a megablaze due to a dangerous combination of drought and the states obsession with suppressing wildfires.

“This is a situation many of us have been dreading over the past five years,” Chris Dicus, a professor of wildland fire and fuels management at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, told The Desert Sun. “All it would take is a single spark to ignite these trees, and that’s what we saw happen.”

And then there is the bark beetle. Although native to the region, the beetle wreaks havoc during droughts. According to firefighting officials, between 80% and 90% of the Creek Fire’s fuel came from beetle-killed timber.

Under pressure from the amusement industry and tourism-dependent cities, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vowed action “very, very shortly” that could reopen Disneyland and other shuttered theme parks.

“We will be making announcements soon as it relates to theme parks and amusement parks,” he said at a briefing on the coronavirus and the state’s wildfires. “I am not here today to make that presentation, but want folks to know we are actively working in a number of sectors.”

Arrest made in series of East Bay arson fires

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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY – Authorities on Monday announced the arrest of a 46-year-old Tracy man in connection with a series of recent wildfires.

Cal Fire, Brentwood and Tracy law enforcement officers arrested Russell Lee Boyer on Friday and booked him into Contra Costa County jail for multiple counts of “arson to forestland,” according to Cal Fire spokesman Jim Crawford. Boyer is being held on $225,000 bail.

Boyer is suspected of lighting fires in several East Bay counties. Because the investigation is ongoing, Crawford said he could not provide additional information about tRead More – Source

San Franciscos cable cars are back in business after 10-day shutdown for repairs

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Let the climb halfway to the stars resume.

San Franciscos cable cars were back on the streets Monday, climbing hills and shuttling around tourists following a 10-day shutdown for much-needed repairs.

The three lines — Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason and California — returned to service Monday morning after the repairs went as scheduled.

Beginning Sept. 13, workers began overhauling and refurbishing gearboxes that control the movements of the cable lines that pull the cable cars around the city streets. The old gearboxes housed at the Cable Car Barn on Mason Street had been in operation for 35 years.

The rehabilitation project began in 2017 and cost an estimated $6 million.

“The gearboxes have been in place since 1984, and their life expectancy was at an end,” San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokeswoman Erica Kato told this publication through an email. “For the past two years we have been changing out the gearboxes, and the Hyde Line gearbox was the last to be installed. The gearbox that was removed will be rebuilt and kept as a spare.”

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  • San Francisco to completely shut down cable cars for 10 days

Bus shuttles ran in place of the cable cars during their 10-day downtime, and the SFMTA and other city departments were able to complete tasks on related projects.

“During the outage, we were able to perform work throughout the entire system that we would not normally be able to perform under normal conditions,” Kato said. “This included rebuilding switches, replacing pulleys, track repair, cleaning and welding various components. We have also reached out across and coordinated with other city departments to ask them to assist us in working on and around the Cable Car system. We were also able to allow private contractor work Read More – Source

Tulloch Fire in Tuolumne County grows to 90 acres

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JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Firefighters are battling a 90-acre grass fire in Tuolumne County, authorities said.

The Tulloch Fire ignited shortly before 4 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Tulloch Road and Highway 108, southwest of the Tulloch Reservoir, according to Cal Fire. The fire was initially reported at 50 acres but had grown to 90 acres by about 6 p.m.

Cal Fire, in a tweet, said the fire was 60 percent contained as of about 6:30 p.m. Monday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire is one of nine “active incidents” Cal Fire is tracking and the latest to break out amid increasingly hot and dry conditions in Northern California. Pacific Gas &ampRead More – Source

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