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July 1, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
It was small, as wildfires go -- maybe twice the size of Elysian Park surrounding Dodger Stadium. But the Yarnell Hill fire near Prescott, Ariz., claimed 19 lives, a testimony to the brutal physics of wildfire. “People seem to think fire is sort of an everywhere, all-at-once kind of thing,” said Richard Minnich, a fire ecologist at UC Riverside. “It's a flame line; that's all it is. There's only just a narrow belt of flames and ahead of it is the unburned vegetation and behind it is the burned vegetation.
July 1, 2013 | Robin Abcarian
Rachel Jeantel spent two days on the stand last week as the prosecution's star witness in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman in the case of Trayvon Martin. Many were left wondering whether she ultimately damaged the state's case. She was hostile, uncooperative and difficult to understand. But she was also the last person to speak to Martin before Zimmerman shot and killed him on a Sanford, Fla., sidewalk in February 2012. I wrote that I thought it was a mistake to judge someone like Jeantel, a 19-year-old of Haitian descent who grew up speaking Creole and Spanish, by how she acted on the stand.
June 27, 2013 | By Jeff Gottlieb
This post has been corrected, as noted below. Dr. Conrad Murray's attorney on Thursday countered the testimony of Michael Jackson's eldest son who testified that the physician told him and his siblings “Sorry, kids - Dad's dead” after their father was rushed to the hospital in 2009.  "I don't believe that Prince's statement regarding how he learned of his father's passing was intended to be a quote as to Dr. Murray's words," Valerie Wass said in a statement to The Times.
June 25, 2013 | By Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times
Two former Los Angeles police partners who were found guilty of perjury and conspiring to obstruct justice avoided jail Tuesday when they were sentenced to community labor and probation, capping the first conviction of LAPD officers accused of falsely testifying during a trial in more than a decade. Describing his sentencing decision as among the most difficult a judge could face, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor called the officers' conduct "regrettably shameful" but said he also took into account the careers and lives they had led. He ordered that Evan Samuel, 41, perform 750 hours of service on graffiti removal or some other intensive labor and that Richard Amio, 34, complete 500 hours doing the same type of work.
June 18, 2013 | By Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Recently disclosed National Security Agency surveillance programs have helped disrupt more than 50 "potential terrorist events" around the world over the last 12 years, according to U.S. intelligence officials who described the spying operations as tightly regulated and extremely useful. The officials, testifying Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, identified two new cases - an alleged plot to blow up the New York Stock Exchange, and a U.S. resident who helped finance a terrorist group in Somalia - that they said proved the value of collecting domestic telephone calling records and monitoring foreign Internet traffic.
June 12, 2013 | By Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times
At the height of his career, Michael Jackson had it all. International fame. Grammy-winning records. Unimaginable wealth. But in the final months of his life, as the King of Pop planned his ill-fated comeback in London, one of his biggest motivators was just to make enough money to buy his own home where he could raise his children, according to testimony Wednesday. Jackson broke down in tears as he confided that he was tired of "living like vagabonds" - shuttling his family between a Las Vegas rental and a Bel-Air hotel - said Randy Phillips, concert promoter AEG Live's chief executive who has spent days testifying in a wrongful-death suit filed by the singer's family.
June 10, 2013 | By Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles County Superior Court judge presiding over the Michael Jackson wrongful-death suit admonished AEG Live's chief executive Monday to answer the questions from the Jackson family's attorney. Randy Phillips, who attended two years of law school, was on the stand for the fourth day when Judge Yvette Palazuelos halted proceedings and sent jurors out of the courtroom. She turned to the witness. "Mr. Phillips," she said, "you need to answer the questions being asked without comments.
May 23, 2013 | By Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times
Maria Rodriguez wept in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. Nearly seven years after her boyfriend was gunned down by two men carrying AK-47s, Rodriguez tearfully recounted Thursday how she later broke the news to their young daughter that her father would not be coming home. "I just told her, 'One day we're going to see him, but it's not going to be soon,'" Rodriguez said. Rodriguez's boyfriend, Larry Marcial, 22, was one of three people killed on a quiet South L.A. street in the June 30, 2006, attack, which became known as the 49th Street Massacre.
May 23, 2013 | By Jeff Gottlieb and Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times
The central question in the Michael Jackson wrongful-death trial is who employed Dr. Conrad Murray: Jackson or concert promoter AEG. In testimony that appeared to undercut AEG's claims that the doctor worked for Jackson, a company executive said Thursday that negotiations over Murray's $150,000-a-month contract did not include the singer or his advisors. He also said that the performer's camp never saw the drafts of the agreement. The admission by Shawn Trell, AEG Live's senior vice president and general counsel, appeared to help the Jackson family members who insist the company negligently hired and supervised Murray, now serving time for involuntary manslaughter after giving the singer a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol.
May 21, 2013 | By Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times
Dr. Conrad Murray, who administered the fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to Michael Jackson, did not have a signed contract with the promoter of the London concerts by the singer, who died two weeks before they were scheduled to begin. Whether the contract was valid is a major issue in the wrongful death suit Jackson's mother and three children have filed against Anschutz Entertainment Group. Murray, who worked with the singer for two months to prepare him for the concerts, signed his contract the night before Jackson died, but neither the singer nor a company executive signed.
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