Eight more women added to Grim Sleeper killings

imageThe Los Angeles Police Department announced their new focus on eight new women connected to the Grim Sleeper. Six were missing persons, one was an unsolved homicide case, and the eighth woman is unidentified.

Lonnie Franklin Jr., a South Los Angeles resident, was arrested last July for the killing of 10 south Los Angeles women. The youngest was 14 years old, and the oldest victim was 36.

Since his arrest, police have collected evidence, including many photos, from Franklin’s home. Evidence led police to identify three missing persons who were at or near his home.

LAPD detective Dennis Kilcoyne said two photo I.D.s were found in Franklin’s home, including one of Ayellah Marshall. She disappeared in February of 2005 at 18 years old. She was a senior at Hawthorne High School.

Another I.D. found belonged to Rolenia Morris. It says she was from Las Vegas Nevada.

With more women being identified through evidence, Kilcoyne said he doesn’t believe “Grim Sleeper” is still an appropriate nickname.

“I think the more we find out, the more we’re going to fill in that gap,” said Kilcoyne.

Police still have photos to comb through and identify, and are asking the community to take a look at them. They hope those frozen in the photos won’t have to be added to the Grim Sleeper’s victims list.

Below is LAPD detective Dennis Kilcoyne talking about what his team has ahead of them.

Police Commission says officer who shot Guatemalan day laborer followed protocol

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck sat with the Los Angeles Police Commission as they announced the results of an investigation into the shooting death of Guatemalan day laborer Manuel Jamines. Police Commission President John W. Mack said the three officers acted lawfully when they pulled out their weapons. The investigation also found that Frank Hernandez, the officer who shot and killed Manuel Jamines, followed LAPD protocol when it came to “the categorical use of force.”

Mack read the statement to a packed meeting at the downtown police department. He said the investigation, headed by Inspector General Nicole Bershon, was “comprehensive” and “exhaustive.”

Manuel Jamines, 37, was shot near Sixth Street and Union Avenue in MacArthur Park on September 5th. He was allegedly drunk and waving a knife in the air when three Rampart division police officers on bicycles found him. They issued orders to Jamines in Spanish and English to put the knife down. When Jamines raised the weapon and went toward them, Hernandez fired two rounds.

A day laborer named Tambric (he declined to give his first name) said he roomed with Jamines in an apartment on Wilshire Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Streetfor about four months. Tambric said he is from Nahuala Solola, the same small town in Guatemala where Jamines was from.

“He was a very nice person, but when he was drunk he was a noisy person,” said Tambric, through a translation by Jeronimo Salguero, co-director of the day laborer center CARECEN.

Luis Carrillo, a Pasadena lawyer representing the Jamines family, said he didn’t expect much from the announcement and that he was there “just to hear the script.”


Luis Carrillo, Jamines family lawyer, tells reporters the results of the investigation are just a “script.”

Arcy Carranza, Carrillo’s office administrator, attended the news conference and said she was “very upset and disappointed” with the investigation’s results.

“I wasn’t surprised but upset because I know the family and their feelings,” she said. “I’m frustrated asking, ‘When is this going to end?’”

Some of Jamines’ cousins live in the United States, but could not attend the news conference. Jamines’ wife and three sons still live in Guatemala. Carrillo speaks to the widow through a translator, because the widow only speaks a native dialect. It’s been argued that Jamines didn’t understand the officers’ commands because he too only understood his native language.

The Jamines family is suing Hernandez in federal court, using the official last name Jamines Chun. Carrillo explained that in federal court, he will get what is known as the compel statements from the three officers. Those statements were taken immediately after the shooting and could shed light on what happened. In state court those statements are not released because they are considered “personnel” items. Carrillo doesn’t expect Hernandez will face any jail time, but he is hoping to win a monetary reward to support the family.

After the news conference, Mack said he was confident with the commission’s ruling after verifying the DNA on the knife recovered at the scene matched with Jamines’ DNA. Mack also mentioned that there were several witnesses who verified the officers’ testimonies.

Several witnesses, however, have come forward saying Jamines was not holding a knife in his hand when he was shot.

“I called one [witness] 20 times, and she only answered twice,” said Carrillo. He believes witnesses are scared to come forward and say what they saw. Carrillo is still waiting for the coroner’s report but said the case will ultimately be “a battle between witnesses.”

When asked whether he believed the knife was planted, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”

Mack mentioned that the commission is “deeply committed to openness of the investigative process with the community,” but that they couldn’t legally say more because “this is a personnel matter.”

Police were expecting protests in MacArthur Park similar to those that happened in the month after the initial shooting.

The complete investigation will be made public and published on the LAPD’s website no later than March 21, 2011.

Prescription discount program debuts in Los Angeles

Listen to the audio story:


Councilman Ed Reyes debuted a prescription discount card at the St. Barnabas Senior Center in Westlake Thursday. The simple white and blue card could save Angelenos up to 20 percent off of their regular prescriptions. The card is free, does not require any paperwork and is available to anyone.

“With this card, people of any age, residency, status or level of health care coverage will be able to secure a 20 percent discount on any prescription medications,” Reyes said.

But the discount card seems a little too good to be true. Here is how it works: If one of your medications is already covered by your insurance, the card will not apply. It only works toward medication that is not covered.

A pharmacist at the CVS pharmacy on Cesar Chavez Boulevard said she fills about 200 prescriptions a day. She declined to give her name, but she said about 50 percent of the daily prescriptions she fills are covered. However, cosmetic prescriptions like acne medication and face creams usually are not. That is where the card could come in handy. CVS Caremark distributes the card.

Another catch is not all pharmacies will accept it. Pharmacies like Rite Aid and Walgreens must choose to participate in the program. So who foots the bill? The pharmacies do.

Brad Stone, who represents CVS Caremark, explains why nine out of 10 retail pharmacies would absorb the costs.

“It’s a good customer loyalty program, drives traffic in their stores, but [the pharmacies] is where the discount comes from,” he said.

The discount card is already used in places like Chicago, Orlando and Atlanta. Los Angeles residents will be able to pick up the card at most community centers and city district offices.

Michael Richardson looks for answers after daughter’s death

Listen to the audio story:


Mitrice Richardson is still on the minds of Angelenos. Her father, Michael Richardson, is holding a news conference and plans to go over details in the coroner’s report with the public. Jasmyne Cannick is a close family friend and is helping Michael put the news conference on. She wants to know why Mitrice’s clothes were found 100 yards away from her body.

“If I fell down that embankment into that ravine, and no animal touched my body, and I ended up dying, my clothes should still be on my body,” Cannick said.

When Mitrice’s remains were found in August, they were badly decomposed. As night fell, those at the scene put what was left of her body in a bag to send the remains to the coroner’s office. Los Angeles County Coroner Ed Winter said her remains were compromised, and because of their mistake, he could not rule it as a homicide. Mitrice’s file is still on a detective’s desk somewhere, but for the most part, the case has gone cold.

Michael believes the community deserves answers. He wants the sheriff’s department to engage the community in a public discussion. Steve Whitmore, the spokesperson for Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, could not comment at press time.

In the meantime, Michael says they are not giving up. They have created websites and Facebook groups asking for justice. They are also asking supporters to send bones to Baca.

“I had fried chicken tonight,” Cannick said. “I’m going to put them in the mail and send them to Lee Baca with a little note that says, ‘From me to you regarding Mitrice,'” Cannick said.

Cannick says that in December 2009, before her body was found, Richardson met with Baca. She says the sheriff told Richardson he may have to deal with the fact that we may never know what happened to Mitrice.

Proposition 21 adds tax to Department of Motor Vehicles registration

Listen to the audio story here:

Proposition 21 is one of the measures on November’s ballet that does not seem to be making many waves. The proposition proposes to tack on $18 to register your vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles. That money will then fund state parks. Officials claim some state parks will be out of toilet paper by October.

At first, this seems like a win-win situation.

But not everyone at the downtown Los Angeles DMV has something good to say about it.

It is 9 a.m. and there is a line outside the door.

We do not know how many people showed up to register their cars, but we do know that in California last year, more than 22 million cars were registered.

That is a lot of cars, and Proposition 21 plans to get $18 from every one of those drivers to help fund 278 state parks.

Joshua Mendez showed up today to register his 1993 Honda Civic. He has to pay $175, but he is not too thrilled that those fees may go up.

“I think they should find another way because why should we be punished for…driving our cars…,” Mendez said. “It’s not like we can do anything about it even if it passes. We’re gonna have to pay that extra $18 to register our vehicle.”

There are dozens of conservation groups across California. Some said the extra money was necessary.

“Those parks area already heavily supported by non-profit organizations, and they do a lot,” said Jane Adams, the executive director of the California Park and Recreation Society. “But yet there is that need for more money to make the necessary maintenance and repairs for our state parks.”

Adams said tax payers will see changes if the proposition is passed.

“It may take a year for people to say, ‘Oh, I see that building was painted, or I see I now have access to those restrooms that have been closed.'”

One manager at the DMV declined to give her full name or be recorded. She said she has been there for 26 years, and no matter the cost, people will pay.

Carlos Cuevas agreed. He was there to register his brand new truck, and he paid $600.

“You have to do it,” Cuevas said. “You have to renew your plates. Because I need to drive to work. You have to drive around, and if you don’t pay, they’re going to stop you and give you a ticket,” Cuevas said.

In November, tax payers will have to decide what is more important: keeping toilet paper stocked in their state parks or pocketing that extra $18.

Crenshaw parents and residents respond to shooting outside of local school

Listen to the audio story here:

After a shooting occurred outside of Crenshaw High School Thursday, parents remained wary when walking their children to class. Two teenagers shot each other near the campus Wednesday afternoon, and one is still in serious condition.

Donna Brown lives about six houses away from where the shooting occurred. The students involved were not from Crenshaw High School, but the occurrence left Brown unsettled.

“Quite frankly, I’m really kind of shocked because I thought all of this stuff was under control,” Brown said.

Police believe the shooting that involved a 17- and 19-year-old was gang related. It occurred around 1:30 p.m., when students were still in class.

Armando Farriez, a police lieutenant, partnered with the Los Angeles Urban League for the “safe passage” program. The program encourages police presence around the high school. But today, Farriez sent even more officers to the school.

“We spoke to a few parents, and they’re always concerned, but they feel a sense of relief when they see us here,” Farriez said.

But even though there were more officers in blue Thursday morning, some parents still believed their children were unsafe. Latoya Winston, a Crenshaw resident who went to the high school as a teenager, does not feel relieved. She walked her freshman daughter to the front gates of the school.

“To me, it’s like they’re just there, to have a look or a presence,” she said of the police. “But to me, it’s not effective because it happened.”

Last year, Crenshaw High School locked students down after rumors spread that a student brought a gun to school. Eddie Jones of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association said this activity just perpetuates a negative image for the high school.

“Crenshaw High School has been and is still getting a bad rap,” Jones said. “I think the parents are upset. I’m sure no parent wants to go to work sitting at a desk and getting a call saying there was a shooting at their school.”

Despite the communities best efforts to distill that negative image, Brown said that image is a reality.

“This was in broad daylight,” Brown said. “I can’t walk. I can’t go walking when I feel like it. I’m ready to move, but because of the economy, I can’t do that.”

Brown has lived in the same house for 36 years, and she sent her daughter down the street to Crenshaw High School. The other day, she walked to the library, and although she felt bad for saying it, she said she felt safer walking west.

Angelenos discuss today’s LA

Los Angeles is thought to be a city of runaways, immigrants and people chasing down dreams.

“People came to start new histories,” said Hector Tobar, a Los Angeles Times opinion columnist who writes about Latino issues.

But for the first time in the city’s recent history, more and more Angelenos are natives, said Dowell Myers, a professor from the University of Southern California’s School of Policy who studies demographics.

This new population is composed of young hopefuls and children of immigrants, and it’s creating a generational divide. Combine that with a budget crisis, an eroding public school system, lack of public transportation and job losses, and you’ve got a city that has lost its identity.

imageSeven residents of Los Angeles felt the same way and wanted to discuss the city’s new identity. Writers, politicians, professors, historians and lawyers gathered for a panel called “Thinking About Now in Los Angeles” on Thursday evening.

More than 40 people packed the small, niche Leimert Park bookstore, Eso Won Books,for the discussion hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Panelists agreed on one thing: we are witnessing a moment in the history of the Los Angeles narrative. Each speaker shared his or her personal narrative of living or arriving in Los Angeles.

Carol Sobel, a civil rights attorney, passed around a picture of downtown Los Angeles in the early 1970s. The audience was surprised to see open land, smaller freeways, and City Hall as the tallest building. Arriving from New Jersey, she didn’t like the relatively small downtown Los Angeles because it felt like it had no spark.

Arielle Rosen shared a story of growing up in the San Fernando Valley during the 1980s. “I remember at a very young age being afraid,” she said. “I’d lock my doors when I got in the car.” When Rosen moved to Boston for college, friends would ask what she was doing.

“The only thing I was afraid of was the police,” said James Thomas, a pastor in the San Fernando Valley. Thomas arrived in Los Angeles in the 1990s from a small town. He drove around Compton unaware of gang territories and staying out past dark. As a new resident, Compton felt like “culture and progress and it was beautiful, but others felt it was very dark.”

After the panelists shared stories and memories from their own lives, they discussed narratives still being written and affected by the past.

The newest trend for Angelenos, especially the baby boomer generation, is nostalgia. “Just look at California Disney,” says George J. Sanchez, a University of Southern California historian.

Sanchez says baby boomers want to go back to the 1950s, and this causes a generational divide, because the younger generation focuses on the city’s ethnic and cultural differences.

Myers says older Angelenos need to talk about the city’s sometime violent past. “You can’t embrace the new until you mourn the old. We need to go back and talk about it.”

Another issue the generational divide affects is the housing market. Because Angelenos are native and younger, they’re renting apartments, not buying houses. “There’s no magic person with deep pockets that’s going to buy us out,” said Myers.

Myers arrived in the late 1980s and has experienced what he called a housing “rollercoaster.” “I look at the current recession and say oh, I remember this.”

Audience members had a chance to discuss their own opinions. “It’s only a housing crisis when it affects the rich people,” said Gerardo Gomez, a resident of Echo Park.

Sobel agreed. She said the poor have always been pushed out and she predicted further class divide and gentrification in Los Angeles. “When I look at L.A. Live, I think of 5,000 homes gone for poor people. We focus on taller buildings with more glass rather than building homes,” said Sobel.

Aside from generational divides in Los Angeles, panelists discussed educational gaps in public school funding, ethnic divides, the gay, lesbian, and transgenders’ experience in Los Angeles, police relations with the community and problems still affecting South Los Angeles.

The panel discussion ended late, but conversations among audience members continued throughout the evening, expressing the continued belief that Los Angeles is a city of possibilities.

A snapshot of the Taste of Soul Festival

Protesters seek decreases in prison spending

William Grant held a magnifying glass to his eyes and read a speech to community members gathered at a protest in South Los Angeles. Legally blind, he testified his supplemental security income has been cut by $100 a month, making it difficult for him to pay his expenses.

On-lookers shook their heads when Grant shared that the state pays over $50,000 a year for his son to be incarcerated in jail, while his resources have been cut.

Grant’s son was convicted and sentenced according to the Three Strikes law for stealing a 10-speed bicycle from his then-girlfriend’s garage.

According to Families Against California Three Strikes (FACTS), Grant’s son is among 57 percent of Third Strikers that were incarcerated for a non-violent offense.

Grant ended his address by urging people to demand that the Three Strikes law, which was introduced in 1994, be modified to violent crimes only.

Protestors asked for legislators to reform the Three Strikes law, the death penalty and to implement the Federal Court order on prison overcrowding.

Students, teachers, and community members held signs in front of Manual Arts High School chanting phrases such as, “the power of the youth don’t stop.”

Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), FACTS, and other organizations arranged the event.

Army Cachero held a brightly decorated sign reading, “educate don’t incarcerate.” Representing the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, Cachero was diagnosed with HIV in 2002.
Cachero said disease education, counselor support and medical expenses are publicly funded by the state. He worries the state’s budget crisis and their commitment to jails will cut funding of programs that support him and other HIV positive people.

Other speakers expressed their concerns through art.

David Montes, a senior high school student, rapped a piece titled, “Schools not Jails.” Alejandra Lemus from the Community Rights Campaign group wrote a poem for the event narrating, “is it really a stretch to ask for books, not bars?”

Organizers passed out letters from Stop the Cuts Coalition and CURB for attendants to sign that will be sent to the State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. The letter urges the state to re-invest money into communities, and support the Federal Court’s order to reduce prison populations by 44,000. It argues that, “Experts agree that reducing the prison population will not threaten public safety.”

While some support the current Three Strikes law and other prison policies, the purpose of the protest was to argue that the increase in prison spending decreases funding in education.

Katie Briggs, a teacher at Manual Arts High School, says cuts in education are “guaranteeing a bleak future.” She continued to ask, “Why invest in the death penalty? Why invest in something final? Let’s invest in something progressive. Let’s invest in something we know in the end helps every one of us. And that’s education.”

City tries to end traffic nightmares

Traffic is synonymous with Los Angeles, but traffic may soon be a little lighter for commuters in South Los Angeles. Stephanie Guzman reports on the project to synchronize signals.