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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 28, 2014 | By Victoria Kim
In 2008, several scared and hesitant young Cambodian girls stood before U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer to tell her what Michael Joseph Pepe had done to them. "Please don't allow this to happen again," one pleaded in a barely audible voice. "Thank you that you helped me find justice," another told her. Six years and a lengthy legal battle later, Fischer finally handed down a sentence Friday for the onetime U.S. Marine captain, convicted of sex acts with young girls in Cambodia: 210 years in prison, the statutory maximum, effectively a life sentence.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 28, 2014 | By Victoria Kim, This post had been corrected. See note below for details.
Saying she was sending a message to any American who would consider traveling abroad to sexually exploit children, a federal judge on Friday sentenced a retired U.S. Marine captain convicted of having sex with young girls in Cambodia to life in prison. Michael Joseph Pepe, 60, was convicted in 2008 of illegal sex acts with seven girls ages 9 to 12. Six of the girls flew to the U.S. to testify at trial that Pepe, who was working as a civilian teacher in the country at the time, had drugged, bound, beat and raped them in his compound in Phnom Penh.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 27, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
An Orange County jury Thursday found a Riverside County parolee guilty of second-degree murder for his role in a car crash that killed one and injured two in Anaheim in 2009. Oscar Javier de la Torre Villalobos, 27, faces a maximum sentence of 21 years to life for the crash that killed Orlando Botello and injured two others. Officials said Villalobos, who was on parole in Riverside County, and a companion got into a fight with a man on the sidewalk in Anaheim about 7:40 p.m. June 15, then fled to a nearby Home Depot parking lot, where police found and tried to arrest them.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 25, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Democratic state Sen. Roderick Wright on Tuesday was granted a paid leave of absence from his position as he awaits sentencing in May on eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud, leaving the Democratic supermajority no votes to spare in the upper house. Wright's decision could hasten Senate action against Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello), who was indicted last week on 24 federal counts involving the acceptance of nearly $100,000 in bribes in exchange for influencing legislation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 24, 2014 | By Richard Winton
Actress Amanda Bynes was convicted Monday of reckless driving in April 2012 when she crashed into an L.A. County sheriff's deputy's cruiser. Her no-contest plea was entered by her attorney, Richard Hutton, a renowned expert on driving-under-the-influence cases. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Edward Moreton sentenced theĀ "She's the Man" star to three years of probation and three months of alcohol education classes, said Jane Robison, an L.A. County district attorney's spokeswoman.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 21, 2014 | By Garrett Therolf and Matt Stevens
A foster mother convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death of a 2-year-old girl was sentenced Friday to 25-years-to-life in state prison. Kiana Barker, 34, who had been trying to adopt Viola Vanclief in 2010, severely beat the toddler and later called 911 to report that the girl had stopped breathing, prosecutors allege. In October, a jury found Barker guilty of second-degree murder, assault on a child causing death and child abuse. The case was the latest in a years-long series of problems for United Care, a nonprofit foster agency that contracted with Los Angeles County at the time of Viola's death and had placed the girl with Barker.
NATIONAL
February 18, 2014 | By David Zucchino
This post has been updated. See below for details. It was one of the most disturbing war crimes to emerge from the brutal conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: U.S. Army Pfc. Steven Dale Green raped and killed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in 2006 after shooting and killing her parents and younger sister. Then he and his combat buddies from a nearby U.S. Army checkpoint set the girl's corpse on fire. Green, 28, serving five life sentences, apparently has committed suicide eight years after the crimes.
WORLD
February 17, 2014 | By Steven Borowiec
SEOUL -- A left-wing South Korean lawmaker was sentenced to 12 years in prison Monday on charges of treason and praising North Korea, the first such conviction of a legislator since the South transitioned to democracy in the late 1980s. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year term for Lee Seok-ki of the small, leftist Unified Progressive Party. He and six fellow party members were arrested last year after they held a meeting in which they allegedly discussed ways to help the North defeat the South in the event of a war between the two Koreas.
NATIONAL
February 15, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
A jury has found Michael Dunn, the Florida man accused of shooting an unarmed teenager to death during a dispute over loud music, guilty of four charges, but the jury was unable to reach a decision on the top count, first-degree murder. Dunn, who is white, fired 10 shots into an SUV, killing Jordan Davis, 17, who was black. The shooting in a convenience store parking lot in Jacksonville erupted after Dunn asked the teenagers in the vehicle to turn down their music. Dunn was charged with first-degree murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of firing into a vehicle in the Nov. 23, 2012, shooting.
OPINION
February 14, 2014 | By Steve Knight and Joel Anderson
State Sen. Roderick D. Wright (D-Inglewood) was convicted in January of eight felonies, including five counts of fraudulent voting, two counts of perjury and one count of filing a false declaration of candidacy. As of this writing, he is still a fully active member of the state Senate. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg only removed the senator from his Governmental Organization Committee chairmanship at his request. No disciplinary action has been initiated by the Senate leadership.
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