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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A husband and wife were found shot to death in their home in Encino today in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

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LAPD officers responded to a 911 call of shots fired in the 4800 block of Haskell Avenue near La Maida Street at 12:36 p.m., according to Officer Bruce Borihanh.

Police and fire department paramedics arrived at the scene and found the bodies. According to news reports, the couple was married, and the husband allegedly shot his wife.

Homicide detectives are on the scene. The names of the deceased have not been released.

According to the police, the couple's three children were home at the time. Neighbors found the children wandering outside their home asking for help.

A vigil for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, held outside L.A.'s Federal Courthouse. The Rosenbergs, convicted as "atom spies," were executed three weeks later.

LA Daily News/UCLA

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

City News

Today in Photographs: May 30, 1928

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Sat, May 30, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Civil War veterans join a Memorial Day celebration at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The original newspaper caption read: "Old in years but young in spirit those who fought in the War of the Rebellion again paid tribute to the hero dead of the nation."


Friday, May 29, 2009

The Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders held a press conference and sidewalk vigil yesterday outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Parker Center headquarters for the victims of the Grim Sleeper. The group also questioned the lack of information and progress in resolving the murders of 10 women and one man that date back to 1985.

"South Los Angeles residents have no idea that there is a serial murderer out there," said activist Margaret Prescod, who founded the Black Coalition in the mid-1980s after dozens of women were found dead in alleyways, parks and dumpsters in South Los Angeles. At the time, the police believed the killings were the work of one man they dubbed the Southside Slayer. The Coalition became inactive in the early '90s but Prescod restarted it after last August, when the LA Weekly  broke the news that the Grim Sleeper had struck again.

Margaret Prescod, founder of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders

"Little did we know we would be back in action," said Prescod as a dozen family members of victims and supporters held signs that read: "Every Life is of Value," "Black Women's lives count," "Not in Vain," and "We demand answers," all the while detectives and city employees ambled by.

Prescod also questioned why a 911 eyewitness report of the killer dumping a body in an alleyway in 1987 was kept hidden from the community until now.

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Today was the day convicted fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander's defense presented to Judge David Wesley its case for a new trial. There is much at stake: The original proceedings resulted in Anand Jon, as the designer is known professionally, being convicted of 15 sexual assault charges and one count of rape - for which he could spend a minimum of 67 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Although the jury's verdict seemed to announce an unambiguous belief in Jon's guilt, there's been a fly in the ointment in the form of a rogue juror who is accused of having contacted Jon's sister, Sanjana, both during jury deliberations and afterward. If true, this could provide grounds for the defense's charge of jury contamination.

Alvin Dymally was Juror No. 12 and this morning he endured a long and rocky direct examination by lead defense attorney Leonard Levine. Present were Harlan Braun, who recently became Sanjana Alexander's counsel, Richard Doyle of the District Attorney's special prosecutions division and, drifting in from the Phil Spector sentencing that had just concluded down the hall, Deputy D.A. Pat Dixon.

Levine should have brought his eel-wrestling gloves with him, because time after time Dymally, who fidgeted in the witness stand, wearing blue jeans and a cream-colored short-sleeved shirt, refused to be pinned down on the simplest facts. Dymally's defense weapons were his reflexive denials of being able to remember anything that has occurred over the last seven months, and a somewhat patronizing way of answering questions, invariably beginning with the words, "Mr. Levine" -- exhaled in the patient manner of a driving school instructor or of someone addressing an especially slow child. Levine tried to get Dymally to answer the key question of when he was in touch with Sanjana and who initiated a January 7, 2009 meeting between the two at a Starbucks.

Levine: Who arranged that meeting?

Dymally: Mr. Levine, I cannot remember.

Levine: You don't know who arranged the meeting?

Dymally: You know, Mr. Levine, I can't fully remember.

Levine: Did she initiate the meeting or did you?

Dymally: I'll put it this way: I don't remember.

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11:17  a.m. Department 106, L.A. County Criminal Courts Building

Judge Fidler formally asks if the defense wishes to request a new trial. Doron Weinberg now moves for a new trial. Fidler denies motion for new trial. Weinberg offers two restitution checks, one for $16,811.82, to be given to Lana's sister Fawn Clarkson, to cover funeral expenses; the other, for $9,740, will go to a state restitution fund.

Fidler says Spector is ineligible for probation and so denies him any consideration for it. He sentences him to 15 years to life for the second-degree murder of Lana Clarkson; and, for the gun-use enhancement conviction, the midterm range of four years. Total sentence: 19 years to life in prison.


Phil Spector Sentencing Has Begun

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Fri, May 29, 2009 at 11:02 AM

11:04 a.m. Dept. 106, Standing Room Only

Phil Spector has just entered the courtroom wearing a dark gray chalk-striped suit, with red tie and handkerchief. Judge Larry Paul Fidler as taken the bench. Alan Jackson is here for the prosecution although co-prosecutor Truc Do is absent. Doron Weinberg is here for the defense, as is Dennis Riordan -- both attorneys are from San Francisco.

Donna Clarkson is now addressing the judge. In a sad but steady voice she tells him how cherished her daughter, Lana, was to her family and friends. She says Lana knew from the age three was going to be an actress. "In 2003 Lana was taken from us -- no one should suffer the loss of a child." She says she trusts the court to be fair and thanks the court.

Doron Weinberg now speaks. He says he sympathizes with Clarkson's family but that the evidence brought out in trial did not prove Spector's guilt. He asks that Fidler impose a three-year term for his use of a gun, 15 years for the murder conviction, totaling 18 years. The prosecution has already requested a 19-year sentence, with four years for the firearm charge.

Deputy D.A. Alan Jackson is now speaking to support the prosecution's position on the sentence, calling Spector "a serious danger to society."

Deptartment 106 is packing out with media, D.A. types and lottery-drawn spectators, all of whom have come to see how many years music producer Phil Spector receives for his second-degree murder conviction for the 2003 death of Lana Clarkson. I've been told sheriff's deputies were seen rolling a full-length mirror to the holding area where Spector is going to exchange his prison clothes for a suit and tie.


Scientology Battered on Two Sides

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Fri, May 29, 2009 at 9:11 AM

E-meters along Hollywood and Sunset boulevards must have been going off their dials this week. The

  • Wikipedia
Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology, which has fought the IRS, former members and the state of Florida, now finds itself on even less stable battlegrounds: the French legal system and Wikipedia. Culling information from several sources, a Huffington Post article today said the online encyclopedia Wikipedia "has banned the Church of Scientology and its members from editing its site after discovering that members of the church were editing articles in order to give the church favorable coverage." This is the fourth time, according to the piece, that Scientology has been embroiled in a Wikipedia dispute.

Meanwhile, according to Agence France Press, "the Church of Scientology and six of its French leaders went on trial on Monday on charges of organized fraud that could lead to an outright ban on the organization in France." The charges stem from one woman's accusation that in 1998 her Scientologist employer forced her to undergo Scientology-administered testing and enroll in church courses, and fired her when she balked. A second woman alleges that she was conned into shelling out $28,000 on Scientology gear, including an E-meter.

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Here are some L.A.-area state parks and beaches that have been earmarked for possible closure in Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's new budget proposals. Of California's 279 state parks and shorelines, 200 have been red-penciled for closure to save $143.4  million. Follow the jump to see California's other targeted parks. (Source Photo: Tom Gaffaney/California State Parks)

1. Leo Carrillo State Park.

2. Los Angeles State Historic Park.

3. Los Encinos State Historic Park.

4. Malibu Creek State Park.

5. Malibu Lagoon State Beach.

6. Pio Pico State Historic Park.

7. Point Mugu State Park.

8. Rio de Los Angeles State Park.

9. Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach.

10. Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park.

11. Topanga State Park.

12. Verdugo Mountains.

13. Will Rogers State Historic Park.

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