Southern California breaking news and trends

Foul play not suspected in death of 4-year-old girl found hanging

police tape

Photo by Harvey K via Flickr Creative Commons

A 4-year-old girl, found hanging in a bedroom closet in her Westchester home on Thursday, was not a victim of foul play, authorities believe. 

Police believe the child was playing unsupervised for a brief period of time, KTLA reports, before she was found by family members and taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

LAPD detectives from the Abused Child Unit are investigating the incident. "Right now, it's an undetermined death," said LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith, notes the L.A. Times.

Family members, coached by a 911 operator, reportedly attempted CPR until emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

An autopsy is planned for Friday.


Will 25 million tons of floating tsunami debris make its way California?

Japan Prepares To Mark One Year Anniversary Of Earthquake And Tsunami

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Debris and non recyclable home items lay strewn over the ground where houses and factories once stood on March 8 in Kesennuma, Japan. The fishing industry in North Eastern Japan's Tohoku area has suffered greatly after last year's tsunami.

A massive floating debris field may be headed toward Southern California one year after the tsunami that flooded hundreds of miles along the coast of Japan. Scientists are attempting to predict if, and when, the estimated 25 million tons of debris might touch our shores. 

Chapman University scientists are using computer models to mathematically track the path of what has been called "a giant garbage patch," NBC LA reports. Other researchers are taking a weather-based approach to prediction.

Boats, cars, houses and other large items swept out to sea are believed to have sunk, according to experts. What's left is an extensive collection of floaters like plastic bottles, and other environmental and marine-life hazards.

Some of the traveling tsunami trash has already been spotted near Hawaii, and scientists expect to see more hit Seattle in the coming year and then head south.


Trespasser at Eric Garcetti's Silver Lake home served with restraining order

dj eric garcetti

Photo by dublabrat via Flickr Creative Commons

Eric Garcetti with dublab at Sustainable Silverlake Earth Day festival '10.

A man who twice illegally entered the Silver Lake home of L.A. City Councilman and mayoral hopeful, Eric Garcetti, was ordered by a judge on Thursday to stay at least 100 yards away from the house for the next three years.

Garcetti's wife, Amy Wakeland, sought the restraining order against James A. Pagano Jr. who she said appeared to be “an unstable individual” and possibly a substance abuser, the L.A. Times reported. He showed up at the house as recently as last month and walked inside saying he was there for a "DirecTV meeting" with Garcetti.

Pagano, 37, was convicted of aggravated trespassing two weeks ago and has a previous conviction related to a domestic violence restraining order, according to officials.


LA Zoo 'LAIR' exhibit opens: Reptile house welcomed with open claws

lizard LA ZOO LAIR exhibit

Photo by Joe Utsler / CrazyUncleJoe via Flickr Creative Commons

March 8, 2012: The Los Angeles Zoo's newest exhibit, "the LAIR," opens to the public.

Los Angeles Zoo's newest Betty White/Slash-approved exhibit, the LAIR (Living Amphibian, Invertebrates, and Reptiles), is now taking visitors into its multi-habitat house devoted to reptile and amphibian conservation. Approximately 60 species of rare, unique, endangered, neon, venomous, bearded, scaled and flippered friends will inhabit the house.



Ex-LAPD officer Stephanie Lazarus murder trial verdict: Guilty

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Veteran LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus, 49, appears at the Criminal Justice Center for her arraignment on murder charges June 9, 2009. Lazarus is charged with the Feb. 24, 1986 murder of Sherri Rasmussen, her ex-boyfriend's wife.

Jurors found former Los Angeles police detective Stephanie Lazarus guilty Thursday of murdering her ex-boyfriend's wife in Van Nuys just over 26 years ago. Lazarus's defense says it's planning to appeal the verdict.

Lazarus, 51, was convicted of first-degree murder. Lazarus shot 29-year-old nursing supervisor Sherri Rasmussen three times in the chest on Feb. 24, 1986, just three months after the victim married Lazarus' one-time love interest, John Ruetten.

"This case was a tragedy on every level," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck in a press release. In addition to the death of the victim, "the LAPD family felt a sense of betrayal to have an officer commit such a terrible crime."

Beck expressed his condolences and offered the victim's family an apology. "I am also sorry it took us so long to solve this case and bring a measure of justice to this tragedy. We recognize that no verdict by a court can bring Sherri back, nor assuage the grief your family suffered over the past decades."