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Category: August 2010

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Frank McCourt is expected to take the stand Tuesday in Dodgers divorce trial

Frank McCourt is expected to take the witness stand Tuesday in his divorce trial, with Jamie McCourt to follow as soon as Wednesday, as the L.A. power couple battle it out in Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles over who owns the Dodgers.

Frank McCourt, who says he is the sole owner of the team, is expected to begin his testimony Tuesday afternoon.

Jamie “He's relieved to be finally getting the opportunity to tell his story,” said his attorney, Steve Susman.
The trial started Monday, with opening statements from Susman and Dennis Wasser, one of Jamie McCourt’s attorneys.

The first witness, Los Angeles estate planning attorney Leah Bishop, testified that at a 2008 meeting with the McCourts, she explained that their postmarital agreement meant that Frank McCourt owned the Dodgers solely, rather than the couple owning the team jointly.

"That's not what it was supposed to be," Frank McCourt said, according to Bishop. Susman said McCourt would address the issue in his testimony.

"He said those words," Susman said. "It wasn't in reference to divorce. It was in reference to what happens when you die."

Jamie McCourt wants the agreement thrown out and the Dodgers declared community property. She has been willing to cede control of the Dodgers to Frank, but the sides remained hundreds of millions of dollars apart on a settlement amount. The two sides apparently had no substantive settlement talks over the weekend.

The chances of a “settlement always get better as the case goes on," Wasser said. "Both sides get pounded, and they get tired."

-- Bill Shaikin

Photos, from top: Frank McCourt enters the County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, where he is expected to take the witness stand; Jamie McCourt arriving with her lawyer Dennis Wasser. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Deputies search near Ventura County lake for body of missing Rancho Santa Margarita woman

Deputies are searching around a Ventura County lake for the body of a missing Rancho Santa Margarita woman allegedly killed six months ago by her husband, authorities said.

Her husband, Richard Forsberg, 61, was arrested Monday on suspicion of murdering Marcia Ann Forsberg, 61, after he allegedly made several incriminating statements about her disappearance, said Jim Armormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

La-me-body-piru Orange County deputies scoured the rural terrain Tuesday morning around Lake Piru near Los Padres National Forest for her body.

Richard Forsberg was arrested at a Palm Springs hospital Monday night after a worker recognized him from a newscast about his wife's disappearance.

Officials spent several hours Monday interviewing Forsberg, who made “incriminating statements implicating himself in the murder of his wife,” Amormino said.

Officials believe Forsberg killed his wife in February at their Rancho Santa Margarita home and rented a vehicle to take the body to another location, Amormino said. The body has not yet been recovered, Amormino said.

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L.A. County underreported child deaths connected to abuse and neglect, audit finds

Click to read the audit report on the disclosure of child fatalities. Los Angeles County officials have failed to follow state law that requires them to publicly disclose child fatalities resulting from abuse or neglect, according to an independent audit released Monday.

The violations involve "potentially dozens" of child fatalities, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

"The board has been misled, but more importantly the public has been misled and that is really inexcusable," Yaroslavsky said. "There is only one possible motivation here, other than the right hand not doing what the left hand is doing, and that is an intent to withhold information from the public."

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said that it was unclear who is responsible for the lack of compliance with the disclosure law. He said that he plans to introduce a motion at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to clarify lines of responsibility.

Department of Children and Family Services Director Trish Ploehn, reached by telephone Monday evening, declined to comment, saying she was still reviewing the auditors' findings. She agreed to an interview with The Times on Tuesday.

The finding by the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review comes amid a growing debate about whether child welfare officials are underreporting deaths of children whose families previously had come to the department's attention.

The independent audit was released just days after county officials closed an investigation ordered by the Board of Supervisors into who provided The Times with information about children who died while their families were under scrutiny by child protective services.

A single-page report on the inquiry written by County Chief Executive William T Fujioka said officials found nothing.

-- Garrett Therolf

Read Therolf's complete story about the audit's findings and other problems in the county's child services department: Los Angeles County didn't report child deaths

Body found in burning car in Studio City

Los Angeles police detectives are trying to determine the identity of a body found early Tuesday in the back of a burning car in Studio City.

Firefighters responding to a call at 3:07 a.m. found the car engulfed in flames on Radford Avenue under the 101 Freeway overpass, said Officer Bruce Borihanh, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Firefighters found human remains in the rear of the four-door sedan and contacted police, Borihanh said.

The LAPD is classifying the death as “suspicious in nature,” Borihanh said.

-- My-Thuan Tran

Photo: Arson investigators at the scene where a body was found early morning in the back seat of a burning car in Studio City. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Glendale man convicted of stabbing girlfriend multiple times

A 48-year-old Glendale man was found guilty Monday of second-degree murder for stabbing his girlfriend to death.

Susan Kim The sanity phase of the trial also began Monday to determine whether Soo Duk Kim was sane when he killed Susan Kim, 45, on Dec. 16, 2007.

Susan Kim was found dead from multiple wounds to her upper torso in her Raymond Avenue home. Immediately after her death, Soo Duk Kim fled and hid in a Koreatown motel, where police arrested him.

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More solo drivers are coming to California carpool lanes. Is it a good idea?

TalkBackLAhttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/emeraldcity/images/2008/01/27/carpool_2.jpgMore solo drivers will now be allowed on California's carpool lanes.

A measure signed by the governor will allow up to 40,000 more California motorists to drive solo in the special lanes. It also extends the lifespan of existing permits for hybrid and electric vehicles.

The bill, SB 535 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by General Motors, would provide thousands of permits for new models of fuel-efficient cars, including G.M.'s Chevrolet Volt, due out later this year, as well as the new Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf.

The measure, which now includes plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars, was opposed by some lawmakers who say carpool lanes are becoming too congested because of all the special permits for solo drivers.

But Yee said his bill was needed because new cars are being built with technology that was not available when the state began permitting fuel-efficient cars to use carpool lanes.

Is this a good idea? Share your thoughts below.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

Golfer sparked Irvine brush fire trying to hit ball, officials say; 150 firefighters respond

A golfer accidentally chipped a rock, setting off a 12-acre blaze next to the Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine, officials said.

More than 150 firefighters from around Orange County battled the blaze, with helicopters overhead and hand crews on the front lines, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Greg McKeown.

The fire spread across two hillsides in dry-as-tinderbox conditions.

"Usually, we're able to close out the fire season in the winters here," McKeown added, "but we haven't been able to do that since 2006. That's just how dry it is out there."

McKeown said no charges have been filed against the golfer, whose name has been withheld. Apparently, the golfer was in the rough and was trying to hit his ball out of it when he accidentally swiped at a rock, which sparked the blaze at 12:07 p.m. Saturday, officials said.

McKeown said brush fires are not uncommon when temperatures reach into the high 70s and lower 80s and conditions are right.

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Paris Hilton 'extremely embarrassed' as police searched SUV, report says

Paris Hilton was "extremely embarrassed" after Las Vegas police pulled her SUV over Friday night and allegedly discovered cocaine in a purse she was carrying, according to a police report.

Police said they pulled over Hilton's vehicle because they smelled marijuana coming from it. When they did so, a crowd gathered, with some taking pictures.

Hilton was "extremely embarrassed, due to all the people taking pictures of her," the report said.

Police allege they found 0.8 grams of cocaine in a purse she was carrying. Hilton denied that the purse was hers but said other items in it, including asthma medication, credit cards and $1,300 in cash, were hers, according to a police report.

Hilton was arrested with her boyfriend, Las Vegas nightclub operator Cy Waits, who was driving the black SUV stopped by police at 11:22 p.m. Friday.


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Marijuana scheme may be at center of West Hollywood triple homicide, detectives say




L.A. County Sheriff's Department officials are investigating whether a medical marijuana reselling scheme is at the center of a triple homicide in West Hollywood.

Detectives said a 31-year-old man who was arrested Monday in connection in the killing of three men at a Kings Road apartment last week was in possession of several pounds of marijuana.

"It is believed the marijuana may have been taken by [suspect Harold Yong] Park from the West Hollywood apartment following the murders," Sheriff's Lt. Pat Nelson said.

The three men may have been buying marijuana from dispensaries and reselling it, Nelson said. Detectives believe they were killed when Park stole the drugs.

Park, of East Hollywood, was taken into custody Monday after he was pulled over in an area patrolled by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's Lomita station in the South Bay, the department said.

His vehicle was identified by an automated license plate recognition system in the patrol car. Detectives had developed leads and staked out the area where the arrest was made.

The three men were shot and killed late Thursday night in an apartment in the 600 block of North Kings Road.


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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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