So long, Captain EO

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Well, with the rest of the media tossing out their two cents about the passing of Michael Jackson, I guess I may as well share how I will remember the “King of Pop.”

Child molestation accusations aside, I will always remember Michael Jackson as “Captain EO,” the star of a 3-D movie played at Disney theme parks between 1986 and 1994.

I was bit too young to be a fan of Michael Jackson’s music at the height of his popularity in the 1980s, but the Captain EO movie at Disneyland made an impression on me as a child.

The sci-fi movie, which required 3-D glasses to view, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and executive-produced by George Lucas.

Anyone else out there have fond memories of watching Captain EO save the universe at Disneyland?

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More from Boston: Rockefeller lawyers want convictions dismissed

From the Associated Press:

BOSTON — Lawyers for the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller are asking a Boston judge to throw out his kidnapping and assault convictions.
The defense is challenging the credibility of the state’s mental health expert. They also fault the prosecutor for telling jurors not to allow Rockefeller to pull off the “culminating manipulation” — an insanity defense.
Rockefeller is a German man whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. He was convicted earlier this month in the kidnapping of his 7-year-old daughter and the assault of a social worker.
His lawyers claim the state’s expert was not qualified to testify about whether Gerhartsreiter was legally insane because he gave the wrong definition for criminal responsibility to the jury.
California authorities have identified him as a “person of interest” in the 1985 disappearance and presumed slayings of a newlywed couple from San Marino. A grand jury is investigating the case.

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Hospital worker accused of raping unconscious patient

From the Associated Press:

SANTA ANA — Orange County authorities have arrested an emergency room technician they believe raped an unconscious patient who was awaiting treatment.
Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino says Jesse Pena, 31, of Murrietta remained jailed Friday on $100,000 bail. Pena was arrested Thursday after DNA test results matched him to the crime.
Amormino says a 31-year-old woman who went to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo in February awoke and realized she’d been raped.
Amormino says she disconnected her IV, went to a phone and called 911.
Amormino says Pena worked at other hospitals in Riverside and San Diego counties and investigators want to determine if there are other victims.
Amormino didn’t know whether Pena had a lawyer.

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Coolio pleads guilty to cocaine possession

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LOS ANGELES — Rapper Coolio, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey, entered a guilty plea Friday to a single felony count of cocaine possession, authorities said.

The 45-year-old hip-hop artist was arrested March 6 at LAX after airport officials found cocaine in his luggage, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said in a written statement.

Ivey was initially also charged with misdemeanor counts of battery – for allegedly grabbing the airport official’s arm to prevent the search of his luggage — and possession of a smoking device, however those charges were dropped as part of Friday’s plea deal, Robison said.

Ivey was ordered to enter an 18-month drug rehabilitation program, and can request the case be dismissed after successfully completing it, authorities said.

The rapper is due back at LAX Superior Court on Sept. 28 for a progress report.

*ABOVE: AP photo of “Coolio”

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3 burglary suspects jailed in Azusa

AZUSA — Police jailed three local men Wednesday on suspicion of breaking into a business, officials said.
Gregory Darlin, 22, Denver Bryant, 18, and James Darlin, 28, were booked on suspicion of commercial burglary, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
Police responded to a burglar alarm about 6:45 p.m. at B & Z Truck Bodies, Inc., 501 W. Foothill Blvd., the sergeant said.
Gregory Darlin and Bryant were seen cutting a hole in the chain link fence surrounding the business from the inside, and fled when they saw police, Sutcliffe said.
After an hour-long search with the help of a police helicopter, all three suspects were spotted walking together in the area and detained.
Officials determined Gregory Darlin and Bryant had broken into a building and were presumably cutting a hole in the fence to remove stolen goods Sutcliffe said. James Darlin is believed to have acted as a lookout.
Gregory Darlin and Bryant were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail, according to court records. James Darlin, a parolee, is being held without bail.
All three are due for arraignment in West Covina Superior Court Friday.

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Woman wounded in Rosemead party shooting

ROSEMEAD — A woman was shot and wounded in an apparently unprovoked attack at a party late Thursday, authorities said.
The shooting occurred just after 11:30 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 3400 block of Kelburn Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Martinez said.
“There was a party at the location,” the sergeant said. “For no apparent reason, somebody shot and struck one of the partygoers.”
The wounded woman was hospitalized with an injury that did not appear to be life threatening, Martinez said.
The shooter was initially described only as male, he said, and an SUV may have been involved in the attack.
Sheriff’s gang investigators are investigating the possibility of gang involvement in the shooting, he added, though the wounded woman was not believed to have any gang ties.

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A memory of Michael Jackson

In 1987, nothing said celebrity like Michael Jackson.

The King of Pop owned the music business and he could do no wrong.

I was 26, a new father and still searching for a direction in life. Since I was a salesman, I often had time on my hands between appointments.

It just so happened I was in Hollywood, and decided to kill time at a used bookstore on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, near Highland Avenue.

I walked inside and the place seemed empty except for the large goon standing at the end of one of the rows. The fact he was there made me curious. I walked to the other end of the row and made my way back toward the front of the bookstore, when I noticed a man lying on his side on the floor.

The first thing I saw was a combination of black shoes and white socks. I looked closer and realized the man was Michael Jackson.

“Hey what are you looking at?” I said.

“Books about Disney,” he said.

Jackson had one opened that had pictures of the rides at Disneyland.

“Nothing about music?”

“Nope, I’m really interested in Disney,” Jackson said as he scooped up a stack of about five books and headed for the counter.

I followed.

He pulled out a credit card to pay. I asked for an autograph.

“Sure. You got something to write on?”

I pulled out my wallet and searched for a blank piece of paper. A business card. Anything.

I flipped through the plastic picture holder and stopped at a photo of my infant son, Alex.
“I can sign the back of that,” Jackson said, whipping out a red pen, then scribbling his name. “Nice looking child.”

At that he got the credit card receipt and walked out to the street, where a small, blue Volkswagon was waiting. Jacko and the big guy climbed in and drove off.

Sometimes when I tell the story, people ask, “Did he have a high, squeaky voice. I say I don’t remember.

When they ask “was he wearing a glove?” I give the same response.

Somewhere along the line I lost the wallet, the photo and the autograph. Maybe it would have been a hot property years later when allegations of child molestation were leveled at Jackson.

But then again, maybe not.

The bookstore is gone. The Kodak Theater is there now, and a mall. Whatever character Hollywood had in the mid-80s is mostly gone too.

Now Michael Jackson is a ghost as well.

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El Monte street racing trial nears end

POMONA — Closing arguments began Thursday in the trial of two men charged with murder in connection with an El Monte street racing crash that left a local woman and her two children dead.
The jury was advised they may consider three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter as a verdict, in addition to three counts of second-degree murder.
Robert Canizalez, 20, and Martin Morones, 22, are charged with the Oct. 8, 2007, deaths of 41-year-old Dora Groce, her 8-year-old son Robert and her 4-year-old daughter Catherine in an Oct. 8, 2007, crash at Elliot Avenue and Parkway Drive. Authorities allege the deaths were the result of a street race between the two defendants.
The prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese, argued the case was an obvious case of gross vehicular manslaughter that rose to the level of murder.
“They have no regard for human life,” Okun-Wiese said. “This disregard of human life makes these defendants guilty of murder.”
Defense attorney Henry Bastien, who represents Canizalez, argued that while what his client and Morones did was dangerous, they did not recognize a risk to human life, and therefore lacked the intent or “implied malice” required for a murder conviction.
“Have you ever climbed into the mind of a teenage boy?” Bastien said. “They think differently when it comes to recognition of risk. They just don’t recognize the risk.”
The prosecutor argued that the men knowingly endangered the lives of others when they engaged in a race on a residential street at speeds estimated at 77-87 mph. The men had both lived in a nearby mobile home park, where the Groces also lived, so they were familiar with the area and knew it to be well-travelled and regulated by stop signs.
The disregard for others was further evidence, the prosecutor said, by the fact that the defendants fled the scene.
When Canizalez did return to the crash scene minutes after the crash, as witnesses testified, Okun-Wiese argued he showed no regard for the injured and dying Groces.
“Does he come back to help? No,” she said. “He comes back to threaten people and to make terrible statements.”
According to witness Gerardo Romero, the prosecutor said, following the crash Canizalez stated, “I don’t care about the(expletive) kids, look at my (expletive) car.”
After Morones pushed his damaged car away from the crash scene, Okun-Wiese said, “He flees to Mexico. That’s why he’s here today, because he was apprehended by U.S. Marshals.”
“The facts are so much more than manslaughter,” she added. “They showed implied malice, which is murder.”
“The evidence is overwhelming that they knew what they were doing and didn’t care,” Okun-Wiese said.
Bastien said the evidence did not prove Canizalez and Morones displayed conscious disregard for human life.
The attorney said the road was clear ahead of them and the race occurred in broad daylight, so the racers did not believe they were putting lives at risk.
Bastien said although witnesses testified they saw Canizalez driving erratically only hours before the fatal crash, there was no evidence he had ever crashed or even had a near miss.
“When there are no accidents, that success breeds confidence and fans the flames of invincibility,” he said.
The defendants may have been, “walking around with blinders” concerning the danger street racing poses to human lives, the attorney said, but they were not guilty of murder.
Bastien further argued that a culture filled with movies like “The Fast and the Furious” and video games that glorify the adrenaline rush of racing contribute to the feeling of invincibility young street racers feel.
“They glorify the adrenaline rush, they emphasize the skill level and they desensitize,” Bastien said.
Bastien is expected to conclude his closing arguments Friday, and defense attorney Gary Meastas will present his closing statement on behalf of his client, Morones, before the case is turned over to the jury for deliberation.
In response to the crash, the City of El Monte has installed speed bumps in the area where the collision occurred.
Throughout the trial, a group of about half a dozen members of the defendants’ families as well as the father and husband of the crash victims, Stephen Groce, and his nephew.
Family members of both groups declined to comment during the trial.
Stephen Groce, who lost his wife and two children in the 2007 crash, has filed a a $100 million lawsuit against Canizalez, Morones and the Nissan Corporation, which manufactured the Altima sedan the Groces died in.
Canizalez and Morones face possible sentences of 15 years to life in prison for each count if convicted of murder. Gross vehicular manslaughter carries with it a a possible sentence ranging from less than one year in county jail to six years in prison for each count.
Canizalez has also been charged with witness intimidation after allegedly threatening a young witness at the crash scene.
If convicted of witness intimidation, Canizalez could be sentenced to an additional two to four years in prison.
El Monte police Detective Rick George, who investigated the case, said the crash was a tragedy.
“No matter what, I wish this never happened,” he said.

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