From the Associated Press:
PASADENA — Trial is winding down for a trucker charged with the deaths of a father and daughter killed by his runaway big rig in La Canada Flintridge.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office says closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon in Pasadena Superior Court in the murder and vehicular manslaughter trial of Marcos Costa.
Costa was hauling cars over the San Gabriel Mountains on April 1, 2009, when his brakes failed on the steep Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada Flintridge. The double-decker rig hit a car, killing Angel Posca and his daughter Angelina, of Palmdale, collided with four other vehicles and smashed into a bookstore and a nail salon, injuring three others.
Costa has maintained his innocence.
Officials blame drivers distracted by gadgets for two separate injury crashes late Friday in Industry and early Saturday in La Canada Flintridge.
A man suffered a broken ankle about 8:50 p.m. Friday when he crashed into a telephone pole at Baldwin Park Boulevard and Temple Avenue in Industry, Lt. Steve Katz said in a written statement.
The man told deputies he dropped his cell phone while driving and leaned over to retrieve it, the lieutenant said.
“In doing so, the vehicle veered toward the curb and struck a telephone pole,” Katz said.
The crash brought live electrical wires down into the street, officials said, however electrical service and traffic signals were unaffected. A Southern California Edison crew was summoned to repair the damage.
About five hours later, a 22-year-old man was hospitalized with major injuries when he crashed his car while sending a text message on the westbound 210 Freeway near Foothill Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Ed Jacobs said.
“He was texting while driving,” he said. “His wife or girlfriend received the text a minute after the crash came out.”
The car swerved across westbound lanes, hit the center divider and overturned, Jacobs said.
The driver was taken Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for treatement of injuries that were believed to be life-threatening, officials said.
LA CAADA FLINRTRIDGE — Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Pasadena man and an Altadena teen Tuesday after they broke into a woman’s house, then one of them rammed her car with their own, authorities said.
Ricardo Lopez, 19, of Pasadena, was booked on suspicion of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon, while a 17-year-old Altadena boy was suspected of burglary, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Blume said.
A 54-year-old woman arrived home about 10:45 a.m. and found the suspects inside her house, the lieutenant said.
When Lopez saw the woman was dialing 9-1-1, he ran out to his truck and charged toward the woman’s car, Blume said.
“The truck scraped against passenger side of the victim’s car,” he said, then drove away.
Stolen from the home was four laptop computers and other electronics, Blume said.
The teenage suspect, who was left behind in the scuffle, was found nearby walking on Foothill Boulevard with the help of tips from neighbors, officials said.
Deputies found Lopez sitting in the car believed to have been involved in the incident parked near his home in Pasadena, Blume said. Lopez was arrested, and deputies discovered items allegedly stolen from the house in La Caada Flintridge inside Lopez’s home.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Lopez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail and was due for arraignment Thursday in Pasadena Superior Court.
LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE – The sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station was briefly evacuated Thursday evening after a faulty air conditioning unit filled the building with smoke, authorities said.
The smoke was first reported at 6:42 p.m. at the sheriff’s station, 4554 Briggs Ave. in La Crescenta, Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatch supervisor Michael Pittman said.
The building was evacuated and emergency calls were re-routed to the sheriff’s Temple Station, sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Conti said.
A single inmate being housed in the Crescenta Valley Station jail was secured in a police car during the incident, he added, and Crescenta Valley deputies continued their usual patrols.
The malfunctioning air conditioner bellowed smoke in to the station, though there was no actual fire, officials said.
Firefighters were ventilating the building around 7:30 p.m., and operations at the station were expected to return to normal later Thursday evening.
LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — A man robbed a bank Friday, but left the cash behind after a dye pack exploded, authorities said.
The crime occurred just after noon at the Citizens Business Bank, 858 Foothill Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Blume said.
The robber entered the bank and presented a note to a teller, he said. The note demanded cash and claimed the man had a weapon.
After receiving some cash from a teller, the robber left the bank. A dye pack concealed in the money exploded as the robber exited the bank, and he abandoned the stolen cash.
He was last seen getting into an unknown getaway car, Blume added.
Officials described the robber as a white man in his 50s or 60s with a white mustache and bushy hair. He wore a blue striped shirt and a white baseball cap.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station at 818-248-3464.
From Sandi Gibbons in the District Attorney’s Office:
LOS ANGELES – An attorney investigated as part of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) probe of hardcore child pornography on the Internet pleaded no contest today to one felony count each of possessing child pornography and an assault rifle.
Deputy District Attorney Susan Schwartz of the Justice System Integrity Division said Walter Loustari, who remains free on bail, entered the plea before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan. Sentencing was scheduled for March 3.
Schwartz said the 58-year-old defendant entered an “open” plea, meaning it was not part of a negotiated settlement. His sentence could range anywhere from probation to three years and eight months in state prison.
Loustari, who had a law office in La Canada and lived in Glendale, was charged in October 2009 following an investigation by ICE and the Glendale Police Department.
Authorities said the investigation began in October 2006 as part of ICE’s Operation Predator, in which the agency works closely with local agencies to investigate child pornography throughout the United States.
At a press conference held at Fire Camp 2 in La Canada Flintridge Thursday at 5:30 p.m., officials expressed relief that the foothill communities such as La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Altadena and Sierra Madre had not suffered any major damage as of yet due to rain.
Nonetheless, officials cautioned that the danger posed by the fire-denuded and now soaked hillsides north of foothill comunities has not passed.
Patchy thunderstorms were expected to continue overnight over hillsides that are already saturated with water.
Even after the storm subsides and the sun comes up, mudslides and debris flows will be on “ongoing concern,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Director Gail Farber said. She declined to estimate how long the threat of mudslides would loom over the recent burn areas of the Station Fire.
Though mandatory evacuations were lifted Thursday throughout Sierra Madre, all other evacuations, including those in La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta, remained in effect.
Those asked to evacuate there homes will have to wait at least one more night to find out when it’s safe to return, Farber added.
“We want to bring people home just as quickly as possible,” she said. “However, we are not prepared to make a decision this evening.”
County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said he hoped officials would be able to give residence information Friday morning on when they may be able to return home.