Southern California breaking news and trends

State prison relaxes restrictions on Muslim inmates

North Kern State Prison


North Kern State Prison is in Delano, CA.

North Kern State Prison is relaxing its restrictions on activites for Muslim prisoners. About a dozen prisoners there had contacted the ACLU of Southern California, complaining they weren't allowed to pray in the yard, only in the chapel, which is not always open. They therefore couldn't pray five times a day, as required by their religion. Additionally, inmates said they were not generally allowed to wear their kufis—small, brimless head coverings—and weren't receiving their orders of prayer oil.

ACLU attorney Jessica Price says state prisons are required to make accommodations for inmates with sincere religious beliefs. At first, she thought the kufi restrictions might be a wider safety issue with headgear in general.

"But it turned out, when we further investigated, that the inmates were allowed to wear baseball caps, but they weren't allowed to wear the kufi," she said. "So I think that undercut any potential response that inmates might be hiding something under their headgear. 


Sheriff's deputy charged with perjury in drug case

Los Angeles County Sheriff insignia.

Photo vis conner395 via Flickr Creative Commons

Los Angeles County Sheriff insignia.

An L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy has been charged with perjury and filing a false police report. Francisco Enriguez, 36 turned himself in on Friday and was released on $45,000 bail.

Enriguez is accused of lying about transporting a female suspect arrested during a traffic stop to jail. Enriguez allegedly reported finding drugs in his patrol car after driving the woman to the Century Regional Detention Facility. 

Prosecutors, however, say a different deputy, not Enriguez, transported the woman, and so he could not have found her drugs in his car.

If found guilty, Enriguez faces up to 4 years and 8 months in prison.

Sheriff's Spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department was aware of the case — and that it was actually investigators from the sheriff's department who first noticed the alleged inaccuracy. Whitmore said Enriguez has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case. 


Man arrested after outburst at Norwalk 'Dark Night' screening

Clark Tabor

Clark Tabor allegedly frightened moviegoers at the "Dark Night" Sunday.

Police say Clark Tabor frightened moviegoers at a Sunday night screening of "The Dark Night" when he shouted, held his phone in the air, and yelled, "Does anyone have a gun?” and “I should go off like in Colorado.”

Other patrons alerted security, who found Tabor on his knees in the second row of the Norwalk AMC theater. 

Deputies from the Los Angles County Sheriff's Department (which patrols Norwalk) were called and arrested Tabor on suspicion of making criminal threats, a felony. He's being held on $50,000 bail and is due in court Tuesday in Bellflower.


New alias for person of interest in homeless stabbings

David Ben Keyes


Los Angeles police have identified Courtney Anthony Robinson, who also goes by David Ben Keyes as a person of interest in a wave of homeless stabbings.

Police are looking for a man for questioning regarding a rash of stabbings of homeless people across L.A. Originally identified as David Ben Keyes, police now say the man also goes by the name Courtney Anthony Robinson. To their best knowledge, police say Robinson is from Santa Barbara and may be homeless himself. 

The name "David Ben Keyes" was found on "death warrants" police found at all three crime scenes, along with typed "ramblings," according to police.

The victims, all middle-aged and homeless, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Each was stabbed in the back while sleeping outdoors during the early morning hours. The first stabbing occurred July 3 on Skid Row. The second July 17 in Santa Monica, and the third July 19 in Hollywood. 

LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said those are the victims police know about, though there may be others. "Sometimes folks in our homeless community don't report crimes that happen to them," he said. "They're either scared, or maybe don't want to."


Police looking for person of interest in homeless stabbings

David Ben Keyes


Los Angeles police have identified David Ben Keyes as a person of interest in a wave of homeless stabbings.

A wave of stabbings has hit the Southland's homeless population: in the past two weeks, three middle aged victims have been stabbed in the back as they slept, with the assailant leaving what police called a "death warrant" at the scene.

LAPD is looking for David Ben Keyes, possibly of Santa Barbara, a man they describe as a "person of interest" in the case. Police say Keyes' name was found on typewritten notes left at all three crime scenes — Skid Row on July 3, Santa Monica on July 17, and Hollywood on Thursday morning.

The three victims, one of whom remains in the hospital, survived the stabbings with non-life-threatening injuries. All three knives used in the stabbings were recovered. 

LAPD Commander Andrew Smith cautioned homeless folks to try to stay in shelters at night while police investigate the attacks.