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Hemet man convicted after DNA links him to two unsolved rapes

A Hemet man was found guilty Wednesday after DNA evidence taken during a theft conviction linked him to two unsolved rapes committed roughly 10 years ago.

Kevin Lawrence Saint John, 45, faces 40 years to life in state prison after a jury convicted him of two felony counts of forcible rape, which carried sentence enhancement allegations, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

In 2012, Saint John's DNA was entered into a state database after he was convicted of receiving stolen property.

His DNA matched with evidence collected during an investigation into two rapes committed in 2004, the district attorney's office said in a statement. He was ultimately arrested at his home in Rancho Cucamonga.

Prosecutors said Saint John entered a 7-Eleven on Aug. 10, 2004, forced a 21-year-old store employee into a freezer and raped her.

He used empty boxes to shield his face from surveillance cameras as he exited the store.

Nearly a month later, he approached another 21-year-old...

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$5-million LAPD payout: 'They shot my son in cold blood,' dad says

A proposed $5-million payout to the family of an unarmed National Guard veteran killed on live TV is the largest settlement the city has made in a fatal police shooting case in at least a decade.

The settlement approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council comes after Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck raised concerns about the officers’ tactics.

Brian Newt Beaird, 51, led police on a dangerous pursuit around southeast L.A. and downtown L.A. on the night of Dec. 13, weaving in and out of traffic in his Corvette at a high rate of speed.

He was shot after he crashed into another vehicle in downtown L.A. and staggered out of the sports car. Beaird's father said he watched the chase live on television, including the moment when his son was killed.

The officers who opened fire have been on paid leave since shortly after the shooting.

Councilman Bernard Parks, a former LAPD chief, said the case was serious enough to warrant such a large payout and that a jury could have awarded far...

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Bed bugs force Lodi movie theater to temporarily shut its doors

A Lodi theater was temporarily closed after several moviegoers complained they were bitten by bed bugs while watching a movie.

After the Lodi Stadium 12 Cinemas closed its doors Sunday following complaints, a pest control company found "small pockets of bed bugs in limited areas of our theater," according to Catherine DePrima, a spokeswoman for Santa Rosa Entertainment Group, which operates the theater.

Pest control employees were working throughout the week to exterminate the bugs and found no live bed bugs Wednesday.

The company plans to reopen the theater Thursday and perform regular inspections throughout the year, DePrima said in an email to The Times.

“We are battling bed bug infestations in many places in California’s Central Valley and are confident in the service that we are providing the Lodi Stadium 12 Cinemas theater complex," DePrima said. "Their pest issues are limited and under control. The theater will re-open tomorrow as planned. ”

Two girls, who watched a movie at the...

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Couple sought after selfies appear following Santa Clarita break-in

Authorities say a Santa Clarita woman whose home was burglarized discovered selfies of an unknown couple uploaded to her online storage cloud days after the break-in.

Detectives are looking for the couple, which they described as "persons of interest," to ask about the July 30 burglary.

It was unclear whether the couple was involved in the burglary, purchased the stolen device or received it as a gift, said Deputy Joshua Dubin of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Thieves entered the woman's home through a window and stole jewelry, cash and electronics, he said. The woman returned home to find her front door unlocked and the house ransacked.

Days after the break-in, the woman logged onto her cloud account, which stores a large volume of digital data, and noticed the selfies of a couple she did not know.

One selfie depicted a man and woman smiling as they laid on a bed. Another set of selfies showed the man and woman smiling in separate photographs.

A time stamp on the...

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Cal/OSHA fines aviation company in death of LAX baggage worker

State officials fined an aviation services company $77,250 on Wednesday for five safety violations related to the death of a baggage worker in February at Los Angeles International Airport.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health leveled the penalty against Menzies Aviation, whose employee, Cesar Valenzuela, 51, died after being thrown from a baggage tug that did not have a functional seat belt.

Cal/OSHA investigators said seatbelts were required for the vehicle and that Menzies' safety policies related to baggage tugs did not require and even discouraged the use of restraints in certain areas of LAX.

"This fatality could have been prevented with a well thought out and implemented safety plan as is required for all worksites in California," said Christine Baker, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations.

Menzies and other aviation service companies contract with airlines to provide cabin cleaners, security personnel, custodians, wheel-chair assistants...

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Ex-South Pasadena coach charged with sexual battery of student

A former South Pasadena High School track coach has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual battery and child molestation of a student, officials said Wednesday.

Pierre Jonas Hernandez, 32, of South Pasadena, is charged with four misdemeanor counts -- three for sexual battery and one for child molestation, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. He entered his plea Tuesday.

Authorities began investigating Hernandez in May, when they were notified that Hernandez may have inappropriately touched a female student the previous month, prosecutors said.

According to Hernandez's profile on the high school alumni page, he graduated in 2001 and said he served in the U.S. Navy.

He described his occupation as a high school track coach and "beast." Hernandez also wrote he can "boss around children, tell unfunny jokes and grow weird facial hair." The profile was last updated in 2009.

Hernandez faces jail and lifetime sex offender registration if convicted of the charges. He...

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Man charged with 15 felonies in deadly gun battle with LAPD

A man found hiding in a dumpster after multiple shootouts with police through the streets of Los Angeles has been charged with 15 felonies, including attempted murder and assault of an officer.

Avel Jowan Turks, 18, of Los Angeles, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon on six counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, six counts of using an assault weapon on an officer, and one count each of shooting at an occupied vehicle, evading police and possession for sale of cocaine base.

Turks was arrested early Monday after a dramatic run-and-gun battle with police through the streets and freeways of South L.A.

Police said the confrontation started near Florence Avenue and Broadway about 2:20 a.m., when police tried to pull over the driver of a Chevy Tahoe for reckless driving.

The SUV sped off, police said, leading officers along surface streets before heading onto the 110 Freeway. The Tahoe briefly got off the freeway before stopping on the Vernon Avenue onramp, where a gunman...

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Driver in Diamond Bar crash that killed 6 pleads not guilty

A Fontana woman accused of driving the wrong way on two Southern California freeways before getting into a head-on collision that killed six, including her sister, has pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder.

Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, allegedly drank alcohol and got behind the wheel early Feb. 9, barrelling down the 57 and 60 freeways before colliding with a Ford Explorer, killing Culbreath’s two passengers and all four in the SUV. Culbreath, who already had a prior conviction for drunk driving, entered her not-guilty plea Tuesday.

At least 17 people reported to the California Highway Patrol seeing the vehicle going the wrong way, officials said.

Culbreath and Joel Cortez, the driver of a third vehicle caught in the crash, were the only survivors. Four family members in the Explorer, who all died, were identified as Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47; Leticia Ibarra, 42; Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20; and Ester Delgado, 80.

Culbreath's passengers -- her sister Maya, 24; and a friend,...

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Sacramento patient is 'low-risk' for Ebola, officials say

State public health officials are calling a Sacramento patient being tested for Ebola a “low-risk” case in an effort to ease fears that the disease may have landed in California for the first time.

An unidentified patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is currently being treated at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, officials announced Tuesday.

The person is being held in a specially equipped negative pressure room, Dr. Stephen Parodi, infectious diseases specialist at the hospital, said in a statement, and all precautionary steps are being taken to prevent any potential spread.

State health officials say a blood sample taken from the patient was sent to a CDC lab in Atlanta for testing yesterday, and that they expect the results in about three days.

In the meantime, officials are trying to assuage fears that Ebola might spread on the West Coast.

“We believe the risk of the spread of Ebola in California is extremely low,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, the state...

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Two students charged in alleged mass school shooting plot

Two South Pasadena teens were charged today with plotting to kill "as many people as possible" in a mass school shooting.

The boys, who are 16 and 17, each face one count of making criminal threats, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Their names have not been released.

The charges come after police launched an around-the-clock investigation last week after receiving information that the two suspects had shared their plans with another teen, who they then threatened to kill, prosecutors said.

South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller said at a news conference Tuesday that the boys had a “very specific plan on how they were going to carry out their sick mission.”

“As they put it, they just wanted to kill as many people as possible," Miller said.

The boys, who were arrested Monday, had researched weaponry, explosives and methods for disarming people, and "very cold-heartedly" discussed their plans with each other online.

The teens also told investigators they...

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CHP officer videotaped punching woman could face 'serious charges'

The California Highway Patrol announced Wednesday that one of its officers faces “potentially serious charges” for repeatedly punching a woman in the head along the 10 Freeway in July, an incident that was caught on video and posted to YouTube, causing widespread outrage.

In addition to turning its criminal investigation over to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office for review, the CHP also said that the officer, Daniel Andrew, had been moved from desk duty to administrative time off.

An internal investigation into the matter remains ongoing.

Andrew was captured on video stopping 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock -- who was walking on the side of the 10 Freeway at the La Brea Avenue exit on July 1 -- then taking her to the ground, straddling her while she was on her back and punching her repeatedly in the head.

In his report on the arrest, Andrew stated that he was trying to protect Pinnock, who reportedly walked into the freeway lanes. Pinnock was arrested in the incident and...

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Family of Corvette driver killed on live TV gets $5 million from L.A.

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a $5 million settlement with the family of a National Guard veteran who officers fatally shot at the end of a wild pursuit last year in downtown Los Angeles.

The settlement comes in the case of Brian Newt Beaird, 51, whose chase last December was broadcast live on television and received national attention.

Several days after the shooting, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he was "very concerned" about the incident and said he was launching investigations to determine whether it required discipline against the officers or better training techniques.

Officials have not said whether those investigations have been completed.

The incident began around 9:30 p.m. as a suspected drunk- or reckless-driver pursuit in Cudahy by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. The LAPD took over the chase when it reached city limits. Beaird was driving erratically and at high rates of speed on freeways and surface streets.

With several LAPD cars following his...

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