Newsletter: Essential California: ‘Life may have been bad, but it made me strong’

Turpins get 25 years to life for torturing and imprisoning their children.

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, April 20. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


David and Louise Turpin, who are the parents of 13 children, each pleaded guilty to 14 felony charges in February, including one count of torture, four of false imprisonment, six of cruelty to adult dependents and three of willful child cruelty. The horrific details of the case have drawn attention around the world, but Friday was the first time some of the siblings publicly spoke for themselves. Their message was largely one of looking toward the future. A number of them described the love they still have for their parents. Jane Doe No. 4, who is 30 years old, walked into the courtroom with tears in her eyes, holding a cup of water and notes in one hand. She spoke softly and looked frail, but her message spoke to strength and resilience. The couple was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Los Angeles Times

‘Red flags’ ignored


A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department team that pulled over thousands of motorists on the 5 Freeway in search of drugs “had a constitutionally troubling impact on Latino drivers,” the inspector general’s office concluded in a widely anticipated report. In a rebuke of the Sheriff’s Department released Friday, the inspector general​​​​ said that not only were Latinos targeted at a much higher rate, but the effectiveness of the sheriff’s special team — which was created to stop the flow of drugs in the Santa Clarita Valley area — was unclear. The report echoes a Times investigation published in October. Los Angeles Times

Unfit to defend?

Decades ago, while representing a woman accused of killing her husband, Gary Turnbull, now 74, had secret sexual relationships with two of her three daughters, eventually having a child with one. Twice he was suspended from practicing law — in 1995 for not paying child support and again in 2004 for not paying bar dues. Now the American Civil Liberties Union is taking an unusual step of intervening to try to remove him from defending a man facing the death penalty in the fatal shootings of two men at a bar south of Bakersfield, arguing that Turnbull’s ethical transgressions and years out of practice make him unfit to take on the case. Los Angeles Times

An immigrant’s story


Elizabeth Alcarraz dreamed of owning her own business. After years working at McDonald’s and at a gas station, the Peruvian immigrant became a street vendor. She drew on that experience to open up her own shop, where she sells homemade treats such as smoothies, elotes and tamales. Los Angeles Times

Elizabeth Alcarraz prepares elotes at Noemi's Fruits in West Carson. She opened her store across the street from where she once worked as a sidewalk fruit vendor.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

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A new dispute: Video footage of Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin has become part of a legal battle in the college admissions scandal, with prosecutors asking a judge to restrict access to evidence they will begin turning over to defense attorneys. Los Angeles Times

Heading to prison: An appeals court will not reconsider its decision to uphold the conviction of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, all but extinguishing the chances the once-towering law enforcement figure had to avoid prison. Los Angeles Times

Dropped in the middle of the night: Did Beyoncé just surprise-drop the best live album of all time? Los Angeles Times

Cool kicks: Those Nikes — buy, sell or hold? Sneakers are now assets trading like stocks. Los Angeles Times


Gaming for good: “Can a social game keep struggling students in college? This Cal State campus says yes.” LAist

Asking for cash: Democrat Pete Buttigieg is planning a series of 11 fundraisers over three days in California next month, as the rising presidential candidate looks to seize on interest from eager donors to power his campaign. Politico

Clampdown from D.C.? “Federal regulators investigating Facebook for mishandling its users’ personal information have set their sights on the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, exploring his past statements on privacy and weighing whether to seek new, heightened oversight of his leadership.” Washington Post

Firing back: A provocative mailer by a deep-pocketed Los Angeles activist equates a state housing bill with “Negro removal,” a comparison that prompted state Sen. Scott Wiener and San Francisco Mayor London Breed to fire back Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle

Fact check: Rep. Duncan Hunter hops a border barrier — but not into Mexico, as his video suggests. Times of San Diego

Coming soon, hopefully: Major League Soccer will expand to 30 teams, with Sacramento in line to get one of the new teams. ESPN

Influencers: The Instagram gardening stars of Southern California. Los Angeles Times

Immigration watch: The Trump administration has set projected dates for closing foreign immigration offices. BuzzFeed


Big price hike: USC is raising the price to rent its baseball field from $4,000 to over $18,000; the City Section says no, thanks. Los Angeles Times


1. When a Santa Ana gardener’s truck got stolen, his community rallied behind him. Los Angeles Times

2. Move over, San Andreas: There’s an ominous new fault in town. Wired

3. The L.A. vintage shop that has the fashion world knocking on its door. Los Angeles Times

4. Lost sea creatures wash up on California shores as ocean climate shifts. Washington Post

5. The bright yellow flowers blanketing L.A. hills are actually invasive — and “evil.” Curbed LA


Checking in: On a recent Friday afternoon, Busy Philipps sat by the window of a Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood, dressed in an orange crop top, orange skirt and a jean jacket, her back to the sidewalk as a steady stream of passersby slowed down to catch a glimpse of the actress and late-night talk-show host. Los Angeles Times

Live from Marseille: Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt tries soccer with a “French fixer-upper.” Los Angeles Times

Trying to drive the narrative: In a bind, Elon Musk hopes autonomous Tesla taxis will drive a new, positive narrative. Los Angeles Times

Behind the music: Rappers YG and Nipsey Hussle grew up in the public eye, transforming themselves from super raw children of the struggle to symbols of aspiration, entrepreneurs, and avatars for Los Angeles. Fader

Sin and Scripture: “He looked like Sammy Hagar, preached like Billy Graham, and brought a 350-pound tiger to church. Then he shot heroin with his son and was busted at the border for running drugs for a Mexican cartel.” Vanity Fair

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.