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KGET: Local News

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    NBC Bay Area is reporting California will alter its 8-year-old ban preventing all registered sex offenders from living near schools or parks, state officials announced Thursday, instead imposing the restriction only on pedophiles and others whose sex crimes involved children.

    The state corrections department said it is changing its policy in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that found the blanket prohibition unconstitutional. The high court ruled this month that restrictions imposed by California voters in 2006 go too far to limit where sex offenders can live.

    Parole agents can still force sex offenders to live more than 2,000 feet from schools and parks where children gather, as required by the ballot measure commonly known as Jessica's Law. But they will have to make the decision for individual cases.

    The March 2 ruling applied only to registered sex-offender parolees in San Diego County, but prison officials will apply the ruling statewide. Some local governments outside San Diego County also have begun repealing their local residency restrictions in response to the high court's ruling.

    It will take about 60 days for the department to review the files of about 6,000 sex offender parolees to decide if the restriction should still apply, department spokesman Luis Patino said. Existing restrictions will stay in effect until then.
    About half of the sex offenders are considered child molesters, he said.

    ``Some people who are not pedophiles ... will probably be removed from the restriction,'' Patino said. ``It will be tailored to people who need it the most.''

    That will help the department by reducing the large number of sex offenders whose whereabouts must be monitored to determine if they are violating the residency law, he said. It also is expected to reduce the number of sex offenders who registered as transient because they could not find permanent housing that met the restrictions.

    ``It will be easier to track the actual pedophiles,'' Patino said, ``the ones that we really need to track.''
    The ruling, and the change in policy, do not affect a different law that will continue to bar certain high-risk child molesters from living within a half-mile of any K-12 public or private school.


    Patino said the department decided to make the changes statewide after it was advised by the state Attorney General's Office that applying the blanket mandatory residency restrictions of Jessica's Law would be found to be unconstitutional in every county.

    It does not change other parts of the law, including a requirement that sex offenders' whereabouts be monitored with tracking devices. Registered sex offenders also still must tell local law enforcement agencies where they live.
    Jessica's Law supporters said the court substituted its judgment for the will of the 70 percent of voters who approved the restrictions.

    Critics of the law, including law enforcement and treatment professionals on the state's Sex Offender Management Board, have repeatedly recommended that the state narrow what the board called a ``one-size-fits-all'' restriction. The board said in a report to the Legislature last month that limiting where sex offenders can live increased the number of transient offenders from about 1 percent to nearly 10 percent, to nearly 6,700 statewide, making them more difficult to supervise. Nearly 1,400 parolees have registered as homeless, the report said.

    One of the San Diego County offenders who sued to overturn the law said he was forced to live in a dry riverbed after his parole agent told him he couldn't live near schools and parks. Two others said they slept in an alley near the parole office.

    ``Having an alarmingly large number of transient sex offenders in California does not make communities safer,'' the board said.

    The high court echoed those criticisms, ruling that applying the residency restriction to every sex offender, no matter the age of their victim, bears ``no rational relationship to advancing the state's legitimate goal of protecting children from sexual predators.''

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield firefighters are working to contain a fire in the 10,000 block of Tungsten Avenue. Bakersfield police is also on scene investigating a possible rape there as well.

    The fire started just before 11 a.m.

    The Bakersfield Fire Department is reporting its engine company firefighters were advised that a potentially armed suspect is inside this home and reported numerous explosions from inside the burning building.
         
    Bakersfield police are securing the scene and say they're investigating a possible rape at the same house.

    However, firefighters have not been able to go inside yet to fight the flames.
         
        


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  • 03/27/15--12:41: Riverbed set on fire again
  • BAKERSFIELD, CA - A large fire in the riverbed in Oildale has flared up again, after it took firefighters hours to put out a fire in the same location overnight.

    It's burning in the Kern riverbed just east of the North Chester Avenue bridge.

    On Thursday evening, fire crews were called out around 7 p.m. for the first fire.
         
    That initial fire was just about two acres when they arrived, but it started spreading down the parched river bed.
         
    The fire grew to six acres, fueled by tinder-dry vegetation, before it was put out about 2:30 a.m. on Friday.
         
    No injuries were reported.

    Witnesses said they saw someone start the fire.
         
    Arson investigators are trying to determine the cause.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The secret witness program is offering a reward of up to $5,000 leading to the arrest and charges in the case of an eighth grader who was found shot to death last April. 

    According to police, 13-year-old Cortez Batiste was found around 1 a.m. dead by the railroad tracks near the 1500 block of East Brundage Lane.
         
    Police now say Batiste's death was gang related.
         
    He was a student at Curran Middle School.

    Police are asking anyone with information to call the department at 327-7111, or you can remain anonymous by calling the secret witness hotline at 322-4040. 


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police are looking to the public for information on the death of 57-year-old Jimmie Lee Wallace, who was killed last February.
         
    The incident happened on Feb. 27, 2014, when police were called out to the 700 block of Watts Drive, where they found Wallace suffering from a gunshot wound in the driveway.
         
    He died at the scene.
         
    According to police, there are no suspects and they do not know whether the incident is gang related.
         
    Police are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and charges against the person responsible.

    If you have information you can call police at 327-7111, or you can remain anonymous by calling the secret witness hotline at 322-4040.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Two of the largest private landowners in California have launched discussions to connect Tejon Ranch and adjacent Wind Wolves preserve with wildlife corridors and public access.

    The proposals being considered would create freeway underpasses that would allow wildlife to migrate east and west of Interstate 5.
         
    Until now, the 270,000 acre Tejon Ranch and 99,000 acre preserve kept a strict distance.
         
    Other proposals call for development of campgrounds, hiking trails and interpretive centers on the eastern edge of Wind Wolves preserve.
         
    That's near where Tejon Ranch plans to build a phased, master-planned community of 12,000 homes and apartment units.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - City planners are looking at new ways to combat urban sprawl in Bakersfield, but a proposed 28-unit apartment complex in downtown is receiving some mixed reviews.

    Veridian Corporation wants to build the complex on 18th Street between C and D Streets, on a lot that's been vacant since the 1960's. 
         
    It calls for a first-floor parking structure and three floors of loft-style apartments, similar to those above the Metro Galleries downtown. The unit also includes a rooftop lounge.
         
    Some long-time residents of the area are concerned the complex would not fit in with their neighborhood.
         
    However, the developer said there is a strong demand for a new apartment complex of this kind in the downtown area.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Bakersfield Music Theater is bringing Dancing at the Stars to Bakersfield Friday and Saturday night.

    KGET's Ryann Blackshere Vargas will take a spin on the dance floor, competing against other local personalities like Father Craig Harrison, county supervisor Leticia Perez and local attorney David Torres.
         
    It's all to raise money for the Bakersfield Music Theater.
         
    Tickets to Saturday's show are sold out.
         
    But you can catch the dress rehearsal for $25 a ticket Friday night at 7 p.m.

    Tickets can be purchased at the door.    

    You can also vote online for your favorite couple, just visit bmtstars.com.
          
    Each vote costs $1and goes toward the fundraiser.

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    FRESNO, CA - Two men have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday after both were charged with laser strikes on law enforcement helicopters.

    One of the men is from Bakersfield and identified as 51-year-old Barry Lee Bowser. 

    According to court documents, Bowser aimed a green laser light at a Kern County Sheriff's helicopter while it was providing support to ground units responding to a man armed with a gun.

    The incident happened on Sept. 12, 2014. 

    It is alleged the pilot had difficulty seeing and the mission was diverted.

    Bowser is scheduled for arraignment on the indictment on March 30. He was ordered detained as a flight risk.

    Bowser faces a prison term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000

    The other man is from Fresno and identified as 28-year-old Johnny Alexander Quenga. He is charged with interfering with the safe operation of a Fresno Police Department helicopter. 

    According to court documents, Quenga repeatedly struck the helicopter with a green laser attached to an Airsoft rifle, which was seized at his residence.

    It is also alleged the airmen experienced vision difficulties.

    Quenga was scheduled for arraignment on Friday, March 27.  

    Quenga faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of interfering with the safe operation of an aircraft, and five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft

    According to United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner , reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as powerful laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. 

    In 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received 3,894 reports of incidents involving laser strikes on aircraft.


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    (NBC NEWS) The highest court in Italy on Friday has overturned the murder convictions of Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend in the sensational 2007 stabbing death of her British roommate.

    The ruling was the latest turn in an odyssey of international justice for Knox, who spent four years in an Italian jail after the killing. She has returned to the United States and vowed not to return to Italy.

    She and the ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted in 2009, then acquitted and freed in 2011. An appeals court overturned the acquittals and ordered a new trial, and they were convicted again last year. Knox was sentenced in absentia to 25 years in prison. Sollecito was sentenced to 28 1/2 years.

    Knox and Sollecito were arrested after the roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found dead in a pool of blood in their apartment in the university town of Perugia, as many as 40 knife wounds over her half-naked body.

    Prosecutors argued that Kercher was killed as part of a sex game. Knox and Sollecito said they were alone together on the night in question, watching a movie, smoking pot and having sex.


    See more HERE


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    SACRAMENTO, CA - Gov. Brown signed emergency legislation on Friday that fast-tracks $1 billion of water spending into our state as it grapples with a historic drought.

    The legislation will offer aid to residents hurt by the drought and expedite spending on water infrastructure. 
         
    Most of the plan funds projects with future dry years in mind rather than the current drought.
         
    Gov. Brown said the funding is just one part of a much larger effort to prepare for "an uncertain future."
         
    Nearly two-thirds of the package goes to flood protection construction to prevent mudslides and sudden storms from overtaking communities. 

    The bill will also will fund grants for water recycling and drinking water for small and poor cities, and to help food banks and wildlife.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police and Bakersfield fire officials are looking into what caused a house fire in southwest Bakersfield on Friday.

    According to the Bakersfield Police Department, a man allegedly raped a woman inside the southwest Bakersfield home on Friday morning and then set the two-story house on fire.

    The incident happened on the 10,000 block of Tungsten Street, near Old River Road and Harris Road.

    BPD officials said they got a call from a woman around 11 a.m. saying she was raped and that the man who raped her was armed with a gun and lighting the house on fire.

    When firefighters arrived on scene, they reported hearing about 20 gunshots coming from inside the home.

    According to the Bakersfield Fire Department, crews had to find a different way to fight the fire.

    The man and alleged victim are believed to be roommates, according to police, but couldn't confirm if they lived at the home on Tungsten Street.

    According to BPD, they are not sure if the man who allegedly raped the woman is on the loose or dead inside the burned home.

    However, BPD is looking for a person of interest who they say was at the home earlier in the morning. That suspect is identified as 22-year-old Adrian Hernandez.

    BPD is set to conduct an investigation once the fire department concludes their investigation.

    One witness described the scene as "unreal" and worried there may be someone in the home.

    "By the time I got over, all of a sudden it felt like a big rush of air coming through the windows. That's when it started busting and you could actually see the flames -- they were probably 40, 50 feet up in the air by then," said Raul Gonzales.

    The damage is estimated to be around $350,000.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - It's been nearly one year since a 13 year old was shot to death in southeast Bakersfield. Police are confirming what has been suspected, Cortez Batiste's death was gang related.

    The secret witness program offering a $5,000 reward for information on who killed Batiste.

    Stay Focused Ministries Director Manuel Carrizalez said, "As many kids as I've buried, that case was the worst one."

    Carrizalez says batiste was shot more than a dozen times.

    "When they killed him like that, they sent a message and I knew that it was serious," said Carrizalez.

    Carrizalez spoke at Batiste's funeral, reaching out to other kids in an effort to stop gang violence -- a message he continues to share with the community.

    Carrizalez said, "Gang violence has spread out, all over the city."

    As the anniversary of Batiste's death approaches, Carrizalez has another message.

    "It just comes with the territory, you know that you know something. The thing is to get involved because it's going to continue," said Carrizalez.

    Anyone with information in encouraged to contact BPD 327-7111, or to remain anonymous, call the secret witness hotline 322-4040.

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    Bakersfield, CA - Could you use a voucher to spay or neuter your dog?

    Marley's Mutts is handing out vouchers worth $30.

    The voucher is good for one dog spay or neuter and includes a microchip, pain meds and rabies vaccine.

    It's happening from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday at the Walmart Neighborhood Market, located at 3111 N. Chester Ave. In Oildale.

    To receive a free voucher you must be a county resident in zip codes 93305, 93306, 93307, 93308 and 93241.

    Last year Marley's Mutts helped spay and neuter more than 1,000 dogs. 

    According to organizers, offering low cost spay/neuter services to the targeted zip codes, together with educating the public, will not only decrease the shelter intake but create a cycle of awareness that can create a solution to pet overpopulation. 

    The vouchers are offered in conjunction with Kern County Animal Control, Critters Without Litters, and San Joaquin Veterinary Hospital.

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    TAFT, CA - A man wanted for murder in washington state is in custody in kern county after a swat standoff in taft. 68-year-old Robert Studer is suspected in the shooting death of his 42-year-old nephew Thursday night south of Seattle.

    Law enforcement in Washington contacted Taft police Saturday afternoon with information that Studer was in Taft. Police and sheriff's deputies found Studer's van behind a business in the 400 block of Center Street.

    After a standoff at the business lasting several hours and involving multiple law enforcement agencies, the SWAT team and a robot went inside the business. Taft police say Studer was arrested without incident.

    Police say King County sheriff's detectives from Washington are on their way to Taft to assist in the investigation.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA Arson investigators are looking into what caused a structure fire in a vacant warehouse in central Bakersfield.
         
    Smoke could be seen from downtown Bakersfield as crews worked to extinguish the fire. 
         
    According to BFD, the fire started just after 4 p.m. near Union Avenue and 34th Street in the rear of the commercial structure.
         
    Fire officials said the structure was vacant but filled with lots of materials inside, which caused delays for firefighters.
         
    They say the fire took about 20 minutes to knock down.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The man who died in an officer involved shooting has been identified as a suspect wanted in connection with a sexual assault incident that happened on Friday morning.

    The shooting happened near Garces High School just before 10 p.m. on Friday night.

    The coroner has identified the man shot by police as 23-year-old Adrian Hernandez of Bakersfield.

    Hernandez was suspected of sexually assaulting a woman in southwest Bakersfield just before 11 a.m. of Friday, March 27. 

    According to the Bakersfield Police Department, Hernandez then started a fire in the home on the 10,000 block of Tungsten Avenue.

    A warrant was then issued for Hernandez's for attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.
         
    According to BPD, A vehicle associated with Hernandez was located at Hart Park, after 9 p.m. on Friday.
         
    That's when police reported they tried to pull him over. Hernandez refused and led offcers on a chase in east Bakersfield.
         
    During the chase, spikes were deployed and Hernandez stopped in the 400 block of Union Avenue, where police say Hernandez got out of the car, with a gun and several officers shot him.

    Hernandez was pronounced dead at the scene.

    According to police, a firearm was recovered from the scene.


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    It's official, 17's Alissa Carlson is no longer a single woman. 
         
    She and Neil Schwartz tied the knot on Saturday at St. Francis of Assisi Church. 

    After the ceremony, friends and family celebrated at a reception at Seven Oaks Country Club. 
         
    The couple met at the KGET studios.
         
    They got engaged last May. 

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    MCFARLAND, CA - Spring time means spring cleaning and that's how some people spent their morning in McFarland.
         
    But they weren't sprucing up their own home, these volunteers painted the rooms of young men living in a group home.

    Casa de Ninos is a multi-dimensional treatment facility for 12 boys ages 13-18.
         
    The name means House of Children in Spanish, but volunteers who helped paint the home today made sure the house means a loving home for each of the young men staying there.
         
    Kern Bridges manages Casa de Ninos, which houses boys with broken backgrounds who've experienced trauma in their lives.

    "Well we believe all treatment starts with a good environment, clean environment. and to spruce up and to give the boys a home environment that is somewhere they can actually call home," said Robert Carter, Kern Bridges program director.

    Volunteers placed a new coat of white and blue paint in each boy's bedroom and the new arcade room.
         
    All the paint was donated by Valspar and the time was donated by a dozen employees from the Lowe's on Rosedale Highway. 
         
    For one volunteer, this project was personal.

    "We wanted to pay it forward. They helped one of our own so we're gonna help them in return," said volunteer Allison Dinwiddie.

    The project was the group's first year volunteering at the home.
         
    They added the home improvement helps them just as much as it helps the young men.

    "They are here all the time and so to be able to bring a new bright sense of color into their lives is, I think, going to make an impact on them as well as us. I know all of us are really excited to be here," Dinwiddie said.     

    The young men who live in the home were out for the day as the work was completed.

    Some visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and others spent their Saturday at Universal Studios.
         
    They'll return home to freshly painted rooms.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A man killed in an overnight shooting in east Bakersfield has been identified by the coroner.

    According to the Kern County Sheriff's Office, 51-year-old Nicolas Gomez was shot and killed around 4 a.m. Sunday in the 1200 block of Quincy Street. 

    Gomez was found by deputies lying in the front yard of a residence suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the face and torso, according to KCSO officials, who pronounced him dead at the scene.

    Homicide detectives were called to the scene and found bullet casings and other evidence of a shooting.

    Witnesses reported hearing several gunshots and seeing a group of people fleeing the area on foot.

    The shooting is being investigated as a homicide. It is unclear if the shooting is gang related.

    Anyone having information on this incident is asked to contact the Kern County Sheriff's Office at 661-861-3110 or contact Secret Witness at 661-322-4040.

    Anonymous "text" tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411).  Just type the key word "KCSO" prior to the message.

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