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Wife of slain Bell Gardens mayor acted reasonably, attorney says

An attorney for the wife of slain Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo said Wednesday that his client acted reasonably and likely will not be criminally charged.

The lawyer, Eber Bayon, spoke after Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said Levette Crespo shot her husband on Tuesday during a confrontation at the couple's Bell Gardens condominium.

“Domestic violence and battered woman’s syndrome is at the center of this case,” Bayon said. He did not elaborate.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials say the Crespos' 19-year-old son intervened during the argument and that Daniel Crespo punched the teen in the face. Levette Crespo grabbed her husband's handgun and shot him three times in the upper body, said Sheriff's Lt. Steve Jauch, who is overseeing the investigation.

That account of the shooting, investigators said, was based on interviews with the mayor's wife and son. Jauch said detectives were working to establish whether forensic evidence matched what the pair told them.

Daniel Crespo...

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Catfe, new pop-up restaurant in L.A.: It's exactly what it sounds like

In a city where images of dogs perched under restaurant patio tables have become ubiquitous, one man is trying to stake a claim for L.A.'s cat lovers. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for "Catfe."

Organized by Carlos Wong, Catfe promises to cater to the cats of L.A. -- think part petting zoo, part coffee shop -- for four days in Chinatown starting Thursday. (Who doesn’t like kittens with their cappuccino?)

Wong, 31, said he was inspired to bring Asia’s ever-popular cat culture stateside after living in Tokyo last year.

Having secured the go-ahead from public health officials, the Orange County native partnered with Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill shelter, and the Chinatown Business Improvement District, among others, to bring the Catfe concept to life. (Cats will be separated from the food prep area -- so no fur balls in your frappes.)

Earlier this year, Purina One CatCafé hosted a similar short-lived pop-up in New York City.

But Wong is hoping his quirky pop-up in...

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Cal State campuses begin accepting fall 2015 applications

California State University campuses on Wednesday began accepting applications for the fall 2015 term and officials expect the numbers to exceed last year's record.

The system's 23 campuses received more than 760,000 undergraduate applications for fall 2014. Officials hope to increase enrollment by about 12,000 students next fall, a figure that still falls short of expected demand.

Between 20,000 and 26,000 eligible students have been turned away in recent years because of budget constraints.

High school seniors, community college transfers and others seeking admission must apply before Nov. 30, 2014, after which most campuses will stop accepting new applications.

Officials said that prospective students have a number of resources available to help guide their choices, including Cal State's degree database, which provides a listing of undergraduate and graduate programs offered. Students also can complete applications online

Cal State will hold a Google Plus hangout on Oct. 9, where...

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L.A. council candidate received, then swore off developer donations

At a forum Tuesday night in Hollywood, nearly a dozen candidates vying to replace termed-out Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge were asked a question: Will you accept campaign contributions from developers?

Among those answering "no" was candidate Teddy Davis, who once worked for former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

City ethics records show Davis previously received several campaign contributions from developers.

Davis said Wednesday that he was aware of the developer contributions when he answered the question Tuesday night. His campaign manager, Anthony Holland, said Davis understood the questioner to be asking whether he would accept future campaign contributions from developers, not whether he had done so in the past.

Davis said his answer concerning developer campaign contributions wasn't misleading. On Wednesday, he said he is returning more than $3,500 in donations from developers.

The candidate said he decided he would forgo developer donations during the Tuesday forum,...

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Settlement reached in Jose Huizar sex harassment suit, lawyer says

The woman who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar has reached a settlement with the city and her former boss, her lawyer said Wednesday.

“The parties have reached a global settlement,” said Michael Eisenberg, attorney for former Huizar deputy chief of staff Francine Godoy. “The lawsuit’s been dismissed against all parties. And the parties are moving forward and will not discuss the matter any further.”

Godoy filed a lawsuit last year against Huizar, saying he engaged in discrimination and retaliation after she refused to provide “sexual favors.” Huizar called those allegations false but said he had an extramarital affair with Godoy.

A Huizar spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rob Wilcox, an aide to City Atty. Mike Feuer, confirmed that the case was dismissed, adding, "and we’ve paid no money."

Follow @DavidZahniser on Twitter for more news from L.A. City Hall

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Lawsuit: Calvary Chapel's Chuck Smith denied medical help on his deathbed

A daughter and the widow of Chuck Smith -- the founder of the worldwide Calvary Chapel movement -- have sued his former church, alleging a conspiracy to commandeer Smith's ministry and deny him emergency medical attention on his deathbed.

Smith died last year at 86, after a battle with lung cancer. His church started in 1965 as a tiny ministry that appealed to a counter-culture crowd, but quickly blossomed into an enormous brand with more than 1,000 chapels across the nation.

The lawsuit alleges that the church board and Smith's son-in-law hastened the pastor's death, took control of the Costa Mesa-based ministry and cheated Smith's wife and family out of money they were owed.

Calvary Chapel board member and pastor Roger Wing, who is named in the lawsuit, declined comment, but said the church hopes to answer questions once it has reviewed the suit.

Chuck Smith Jr., a son who is no longer affiliated with his father's church, called the suit “groundless” and “deplorable.”

The suit seeks...

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101-year-old man killed in hit-and-run crash in Boyle Heights

A 101-year-old man died Wednesday morning after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Boyle Heights.

The fatal accident occurred at South Lorena Street and Opal Street about 6 a.m., said Felix Padilla, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Traffic Division.

Jose Noriega was crossing South Lorena Street in a marked crosswalk when he was struck by a 1997 Chevy Astro van traveling north. He was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by paramedics, but succumbed to his injuries about 7:50 a.m.

Authorities said the driver, Ricardo Avalos, 41, of Los Angeles, fled the scene. He was followed by witnesses for a short distance who then blocked his path and detained him until officers arrived, Padilla said.

Avalos was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and booked at the Metropolitan Detention Center on $50,000 bail. Alcohol or drugs were not involved, Padilla said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the LAPD Central Traffic Division at...

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Lack of LAPD civilian staff keeping officers off streets, officials say

Los Angeles city officials say they want to hire more civilian staff for the Los Angeles Police Department and are worried that a shortage is cutting into the time officers spend patrolling the streets.

The number of LAPD civilian staff -- who fill positions such as secretaries, typists, analysts and technicians -- has dropped by more than 600 since fiscal year 2007 to 2,691. That means police officers are spending their time trying to fill these gaps, or that necessary work is left undone, said LAPD Asst. Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur at a meeting of the City Council's Public Safety Committee on Wednesday.

"We need our civilian workforce back up to snuff," she said. "We need the right staff to do the job correctly." 

While the number of civilian staff has dropped, the number of police officers has increased by 276 since fiscal year 2007 to 9,809. A report presented to the committee Wednesday compared the ratio of civilian staff to sworn officers at police departments in Oakland, San...

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Neighbors alarmed as entertainment titans battle to run Greek Theatre

A clash of entertainment titans is underway over control of Los Angeles' Greek Theatre, as two sets of companies vie to run and maintain the coveted attraction in Griffith Park.

As a city commission weighs whether the theater's management should change hands, homeowners in the area have become alarmed about whether noise and other nuisances will surge. Scores of people showed up at a meeting Wednesday at nearby Friendship Auditorium to urge parks and recreation commissioners to hold off on the decision.

The Greek is nestled near the entrance of the vast park, accessed by roads that wind through an affluent residential stretch of Los Feliz. Last year, the theater brought in nearly $23 million in gross receipts, yielding $1.6 million in revenue-sharing payments for the city, according to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

Parks officials have recommended giving the contract to Live Nation Worldwide, which recently staged the Made in America festival downtown. Doing so...

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Search underway for Marine who bailed out of Osprey in Persian Gulf

A search is underway in the Persian Gulf for a Marine who was forced to bail out of an MV-22 Osprey that was in danger of crashing, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

A second Marine who also bailed out of the aircraft was rescued. The search for the missing Marine is being conducted by Navy ships, aircraft and boats.

The Osprey was attempting to take off from from the amphibious assault ship Makin Island when it lost power and appeared on the verge of crashing.

The pilot, however, was able to regain control and land aboard the Makin Island.

The Makin Island is part of the Camp Pendleton-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit now on a routine mission in the U.S. Central Command area.

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @LATsandiego

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Hilary Potashner appointed federal public defender for L.A. region

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has appointed a career public defender to the post of federal public defender for the Central District of California, which is based in Los Angeles.

Hilary Lee Potashner, 47, began serving as acting federal public defender Sept. 15 after her predecessors’ retirement, according to a 9th Circuit press release. She will assume the post after the Office of Professional Management completes its background review, the release said.

Potashner has been a public defender in state and federal courts for more than two decades, first for the San Diego County public defender’s office and then for the federal office in the central district beginning in 2001. She has been the office’s chief deputy since 2012. 

In Los Angeles, Potashner has represented former baseball star Lenny Dykstra on charges of bankruptcy fraud and accused LAX shooter Paul Ciancia.

“She is well known and respected by both the bench and bar in the Central District,” 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex...

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Record-breaking mako shark catch draws controversy

Jeff Thomason's record-breaking catch of a 809-pound mako shark with a bow and arrow has netted a school of criticism on social media.

The Texan caught the massive shark in August during a fishing trip off the coast of Huntington Beach.

The shark weighed in at 809.5 pounds, busting the previous world record of 544 pounds, which had been held by Patrick Eger. Mako sharks can grow up to 12 feet long and live up to 30 years.

In a series of photographs, Thomason, who describes himself as a predator hunter, is seen boasting about his impressive catch.

But for some Facebook users, the catch reeks.

Commenters accused Thomason of finning and destroying the ocean and its ecosystem.

Deo Eddo Keju wrote to Thomason urging him to stop hunting sea creatures.

"Please leave our sea creature as they are -- they're important for the ecosystem of our ocean, [especially] here in the Pacific Islands," he said.

Others like Sally Yolen asked Thomason use his knowledge of the ocean to film animals instead of...

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