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KGET: Local News

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  • 07/13/15--18:32: Remembering Candace Coffee
  • BAKERSFIELD, CA - A local stem cell research activist who battled a rare auto immune disease passed away last week, leaving behind two young sons. Candace Coffee was a Bakersfield native and Miss Bakersfield 2003. Her father said due to his daughter's condition and stricken immune system, she contracted several diseases which resulted in her death.

    Coffee hoped one day she would be cured of her disease, Neuromyelitis Optica or Devics. The debilitating disease is very similar to Multiple Sclerosis, causing vision loss, a stricken immune system and weakness or paralysis.

    She contracted the disease in 2002 while doing volunteer work in Tibet and since has advocated for stem cell research. At a press conference in 2005 Coffee, asked lawmakers to pass a bill for stem cell research. "I'm making a plea to our elected officials, please do not limit scientific freedom and major branches of embryonic stem cell research, don't take away my hope," said Coffee.

    Coffee earned a bachelors in international studies and dance from UC Irvine and a masters in public health from UCLA. She danced, played instruments, took martial arts and in 2013 gave birth to identical twin boys, Jude and Jack Coffee-Hanawalt.

    If you would like to attend the service it will be this Saturday July 18 at 1:00 p.m., at Dove Creek Bible Church at 5131 Office Park Drive in Bakersfield.

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    Tuesday morning's fly-by of the dwarf planet Pluto will go down in American History.

    Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator said, "it sounds like science fiction, but it's not... Tuesday morning a United States space craft will fly by the Pluto system and make history."

    The space probe started taking photos of the distant, icy dwarf planet in April. But as the probe approaches Pluto, the images are expected to be hundreds of times more detailed.

    Darren Bly of the Kern Astronomical Society said, "this is pure science, it's pushing the envelop a little bit. Every country has had to do that as long as they were a great country. They were extending their boarders, extending their boundaries, trying to discover what is out there, and this is us going as far as anyone has ever gone."

    Bly said only NASA could pull this off.

    Factoring in the motion of the planets, Jupiter's gravitational boost, the gravitational pull from the other planets, and computing this all over nine years and three billion miles isn't as easy as it seems.

    Bly said, "people would say, that is like hitting a golf ball from New York and hitting a hole in one in Los Angeles, but actually it is even finer than that. It is closer to hitting a golf ball from New York and putting in a key hole in Los Angeles."

    New Horizons is expected to fly past Pluto at 4:39 A.M. Tuesday morning to survey and photograph the dwarf planet. Scientists say it will take another 4 to 6 hours for those photos to make it back to Earth.

    If you'd like to watch a live NASA simulation of the mission click the "hot link" icon on our home page, and you'll be able to download the app.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA.-Fans of a fifty-five-year old book have finally reached the day they've been waiting for.

    The sequel to the Pulitzer-prize winning novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" will be released this morning and book lovers are already lined up in front of Barnes and Noble.

    Author Harper Lee releases the second book "Go Set A Watchman" this morning. That's because the book was written before the critically-acclaimed "To Kill A Mockingbird."

    According to the publisher Harper Collins, "Go Set A Watchman" was written in the mid-1950's and was submitted to publisher's before "To Kill A Mockingbird."  

    The manuscript was assumed to have been lost until it was discovered in 2014. The new book follows the same main characters Atticus Finch and his daughter Scout, and their life twenty years after the first book. 

    The book has already received mixed reviews. Some critics are already saying the story portrays Atticus Finch, the moral hero of "Mockingbird," as a racist. 

    But others note that "Watchman," portrays Atticus as a complicated figure.

    Barnes and Noble has already opened its doors. 

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA.-A huge change in the way officer-involved shootings in Kern County are investigated. 

    District Attorney Lisa Green announced her office will review all future officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death. 

    The new review process, announced yesterday, is set to begin immediately. The DA's office has traditionally reviewed shootings involving 12 smaller police agencies in the county. 

    Now, this policy change will include the Kern Sheriff's office and the Bakersfield Police Department. 

    The agencies will still do their own investigations to determine if an officer involved shooting was justified. Now the District Attorney also will perform a review. 

    District Attorney Lisa Green says she has been pushing for this outcome for some time now, and says both the Sheriff's Department and Bakersfield Police welcome the change. 

    Green and a group of senior attorney's will review each case and make a decision whether to file charges. 

    According to our tally, 14 officer-involved shootings have taken place this year so far. The new policy does not apply to past officer-involved shootings, only those moving forward. 

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA-Family and friends of a man who was shot and killed in east Bakersfield over the weekend came out for an emotional candlelight vigil Monday night.

    "Who wants to wake up to some news saying your little brother, nephew, cousin, like he's gone. Somebody you grew up with, somebody you played with, somebody you chilled with. He was a father," said relative Monica Marie Reynoso.

    Dozens turned up at the First Baptist Church to remember Michael Mascorro Na, 21, and pray for justice.

    Investigators say he was killed in the 2600 block of Niles Street Sunday morning.

    No arrests have been made.

    Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 861-3110 or the secret witness line at 322-4040.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Kern County deputies are investigating a stabbing that happened Tuesday morning near Columbus St. and River Blvd.

    According to deputies, the victim is a Hispanic man in his 20's who suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest.

    The suspect is described as a Hispanic male wearing a white t-shirt and black or gray shorts.

    Deputies say the suspect was seen leaving the scene in a 90's white Ford pick-up. 

    Witnesses told deputies the two men argued in the middle of the street before the stabbing.

    The victim suffered major, but non-life threatening injuries.

    Deputies say its possible the stabbing was gang related.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The elegibility guidelines for free and reduced school lunches for the coming year have been announced.

    Effective July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, participants from households with incomes at or below the levels may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals or free milk.

    Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown here are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Children who receive Food Stamp (CalFresh), California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payments(Kin-GAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) benefits or are in Foster Care are automatically eligible for free meals regardless of the income of the household in which they reside.

    Application forms are being distributed to all households with a letter informing them of the availability of free and reduced-price meals for enrolled children. Applications are also available at the principal’s office in each school. To apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits, households must complete an application and return it to the school for processing. Applications may be submitted at any time during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used to determine meal eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school or program officials.

    Requirements for school officials to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits are as follows: For households receiving Food Stamp (CalFresh), CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR benefits – applications need only include the enrolled child(ren)'s name, Food Stamp (CalFresh), CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR case number, and the signature of an adult household member. For households who do not list a Food Stamp, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR case number, the application must include the names of all household members, the amount and source of the income received by each household member, and the signature and corresponding last 4 digits of the Social Security number of the signing adult household member. If the household member who signs the application does not have a Social Security number, the household member must indicate on the application that a Social Security number is not available.

    Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, the determining official(s), as designated by the sponsor/agency, shall review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the eligibility ruling may discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. Parents may also make a formal request for an appeal hearing of the decision and may do so orally or in writing with the sponsor/agency’s hearing official. Parents or guardians should contact their child(ren)’s school(s) for specific information regarding the name of the determining official and/or hearing official for a specific school, agency, or district.

    If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household's income falls at or below the levels shown above.

    To see the new guidelines click here.

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    (KPRC) A Houston, Texas convenience store clerk fought back during a robbery, shooting and killing two thieves Monday.

    Police say they believe more robbers are on the run.

    Store clerk Dien Tu says he was surprised but prepared when he saw a masked man pistol-whipping his co-worker. Tu had just returned from a quick break in the back of the Super K convenience store.

    Tu said he was wearing a pistol because the store had been robbed just 10 nights before; he doesn't think Monday's would-be robbers saw him until it was too late.

    The wounded men fled, but were down the street trying to flag down an ambulance.

    Read more:

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- More than 73,000 Kern County families are struggling to get by, according to a new report by the United Way.

    The report states One in three California households (31%) do not have sufficient income to meet their basic costs of living. This is three times the proportion officially considered poor in California, according to the Federal Poverty Level.

    For the full report click here.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Court documents released in the case of the man who ran off with a Wofford Heights teen state the suspect confessed to having sex with the teen girl multiple times.

    Deputies say the girl left willingly with Max Kozak, 47. Kozak told detectives his name is an alias he's been using for nearly 20 years, and told investigators they'd never learn his real name.

    He was described in a Sheriff's report as a ranch hand and drifter.

    Kozak told detectives the teen had often talked often about running away from home in Wofford heights due to family problems, and at the point where she was ready to leave, Kozak he picked her up to keep her off the streets.

    Kozak admitted to having sex with the 16 year-old girl more than a dozen times during the last 6 months.

    The pair were were picked up in Texas at the end of June.

    The girl has since been reunited with her parents.

    Kozak remains in custody in Texas, pending an extradition hearing.

    His bail is set at $340,000.

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    UPDATED 8:11 P.M.

    BAKERSFIELD, CA - According to CHP Officer Robert Rodriguez, the deputy involved in the fatal crash in Oildale this evening was on an emergency call with his lights and siren on. The deputy, according to Rodriguez, was headed west on Norris Road and had a green light. Preliminary reports indicate the deputy started turning left onto Airport Drive (on a red arrow) when the motorcyclist struck him. The motorcyclist was headed east on Norris Road on a green light. Rodriguez says a car headed the same direction stopped for the patrol car, but the motorcyclist did not. He struck the side of the patrol car and died at the scene. The name of the man who died has not been released, but Officer Rodriguez says he's a 59-year-old Bakersfield man. The intersection will be closed for several hours while a team of special investigators looks into the crash. Look for updates on 17 News at 11.


    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A Kern County Deputy hit and killed a motorcyclist Tuesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

    The crash happened about 5:12 p.m. at the corner of Airport And Norris Roads, just down the street from Sheriff's Office Headquarters.

    KCSO confirms the motorcyclist died at the scene.

    The CHP closed the intersection in all directions and it is expected to be closed for hours as they investigate. 

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    The California Highway Patrol is leading the investigation of a motorcycle collision with a Kern County Sheriff deputy's patrol car at the intersection of Airport Drive and Norris Road.

    It happened just after 5 P.M. Tuesday evening.

    CHP Officer Robert Rodriguez said, the deputy was headed west on Norris Road responding to an emergency call, with his lights and siren on.

    The motorcyclist, he said, was eastbound on Norris.. both had a green light.

    Then, Rodriguez said, as the deputy started making a left turn onto Airport Drive, the motorcyclist struck the patrol car.

    Rodriguez said, "the left turn arrow was at a red, but that's preliminary information that we know right now. I don't know what the call was that he was responding to. I know that it was an emergency call which required him to travel with his emergency lights and siren."

    Rodriguez said another driver headed the same direction as the motorcyclist did stop for the deputy.

    Brian March said he was traveling directly behind the motorcyclist and he never saw the deputy coming.

    March said, "I didn't see a cop car coming at all... I didn't hear it coming, the only time I saw it was after the guy hit him. The guy on the motorcycle, he had a green light the whole time and by the time he got to the intersection where the crosswalk was, it turned yellow on him, and out of nowhere a cop comes through the intersection."

    The motorcyclist was thrown from his bike and died at the scene.

    The Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team or "MAIT" has been brought in to reconstruct the crash and determine everything from the speed of the drivers to the mechanics of everything involved.

    The deputy is identified as Marvin Gomez. He was wearing a seatbelt and was not hurt.

    The name of the man who died has not been released.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police need your help finding a man accused of making lewd comments and gestures to a girl in south Bakersfield.  

    Police on the afternoon of July 5, the suspect contacted the girl at Howard’s Mini Market on Planz Rd. The girl was sitting in front of the store holding a puppy when the suspect contacted her and made lewd comments and gestures before fleeing in his vehicle, a silver 1990’s to 2000’s BMW 4 door with tinted windows and chrome rims.

    Police describe the suspect as, Hispanic, 25-30, 5’8”, “chubby” build, shaved head, hazel eyes, medium complexion, wearing a white t-shirt, black shorts and red/black checkered house shoes.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective William Wesbrook at (661) 326-3558 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A Kern County Superior Court judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to proceed with a second degree murder trial against a man accused of leading a Bakersfield police officer on a deadly high-speed chase.

    Officer David Nelson died when he crashed at Panorama Dr. and Mount Vernon Ave. early June 26.

    Julian hernandez, 32 of Bakersfield, has pleaded not guilty to 6 felony counts.

    July 10 prosecutors upped the manslaughter charge against Julian Hernandez to second degree murder. That's a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the obvious lack of concern for human life.

    And that's why prosecutors and defense attorneys focused heavily during the hearing Wednesday on what Hernandez reportedly did and did not tell detectives when he was taken into custody.  Hernandez sat in prison scrubs with his attorneys at the defense table taking notes on a pad with a pencil--occasionally prodding his lawyers with comments and questions.

    Much of their questions focused on whether Hernandez slowed down for stop signs, whether he obeyed traffic laws. Prosecutors suggest this was a high speed chase --in excess of 70 miles per hour. Detectives say the police radio traffic indicates officer Nelson tried to stop Hernandez's car because it had paper plates.

    Bakersfield police Det. James Moore testified there's no evidence Officer Nelson ever saw or knew about the loaded shotgun he says Hernandez ditched from his car during the pursuit. Both sides are calling into question Hernandez's motive for running and what the officer knew as the chase unfolded.

    "He told me at one point he planned to drive off the bluffs at Haley Street," Det. Moore testified Wednesday. "[Hernandez] told me he had accelerated to the point it was to the floor. He told me he was not paying attention and he ran through traffic signals." 

    The testimony was interrupted dozens of times by objections from lawyers. There were only two witnesses who testified Wednesday.

    Detectives said in written reports Hernandez admitted to being involved in the chase. He said he had taped a flashlight to the shotgun to snap and post a Facebook picture and then put the weapon in his car to deliver to another person that Hernandez declined to identify.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A Kern County detentions deputy has been arrested on suspicion of drug charges.  Sheriff's officials say Anthony Cercone was booked into the downtown jail Tuesday after investigators found several syringes, glass smoking pipes and other evidence of drug use in the bedroom of his residence.  

    Investigators say on Tuesday morning, a Detentions Deputy at the Lerdo Pretrial Facility found a small amount of suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia located within a restroom accessed only by employees of the facility. Investigators from the Kern County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Section were called out. Narcotics investigators began their investigation and discovered the bathroom is used by a very limited number of employees, and Detentions Deputy Anthony Cercone, who had just finished his shift, was the last employee to access this area.

    Investigators responded to Cercone's residence, located in the Quailwood area, where he was arrested after displaying symptomology of central nervous system stimulant use. 

    Cercone was booked into the Central Receiving Facility for being under the influence of a controlled substance, bringing drugs into a jail facility, and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Investigators believe the drugs were brought into the facility for personal use only and have not discovered any evidence leading them to believe Cercone was providing drugs to inmates.

    Cercone was employed as a Detentions Deputy with the Sheriff's Office for almost eight years.

    Sheriff Donny Youngblood says Cercone is no longer employed by the Sheriff's Office.

    Cercone posted bail Wednesday morning.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - If you're plans take you to southwest Bakersfield this weekend, you may want to find an alternate route.  City officials say the intersection of Gosford Road and Ming Avenue will be closed beginning Saturday morning for construction work.  

    This work will be done between the hours of 7:00 AM and 7:30 PM. Full access to the intersection will be available at the end of Sunday July 19, 2015.

    Detours and alternate access points will be provided during this closure period. This will result in traffic delays, so drivers are urged to use alternate routes. All work on this project is scheduled to be complete on August 3, 2015. The City thanks the public for their patience during the construction of these improvements.

    For more information, please contact city of Bakersfield public works at 661-326-3724.  

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police need your help finding two men suspected of stealing bicycles from an RV park in south Bakersfield. 

    Police say around 5:00 a.m. on May 4, the suspects cut locks off of two bicycles stored in a space at River Run RV Park on 3715 Burr St. and took the bicycles.  They're described as: white, mid-20’s, wearing a dark colored shirt, light colored
    shorts, dark baseball cap, possible red tennis shoes and socks.

    The second suspect is described as white, mid-20’s, wearing dark colored long sleeved shirt with white logo on the front, light colored fishing hat, white socks and shoes.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective Fred Torres at (661) 326-3519 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police need your help finding a man suspected of using a victim's identifying information to make purchases at Toys R Us on Ming Avenue in June.  

    Police say on June 21, at 3:45 pm, and again at 4:30 pm, the suspect entered the store and used the victim’s identifying information to make purchases. The suspect was with a woman who detectives are seeking for an interview. The suspect is described as white, early 20’s, short brown hair, wearing a blue tank top, tan shorts and blue shoes.  

    The woman is described as white or Hispanic, early 20’s, shoulder length dark hair, black tank top, with blue under shirt and dark pants.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective Chance Koerner at (661) 326-3861 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police need your help finding a man suspected of a vehicle burglary last month.   Police say around 1:00 a.m. on June 19, the suspect forced his way into the victim’s vehicle while it was parked in the
    600 block of 18th St.

    The suspect removed the victim’s property and fled in a white four door vehicle. The suspect is described as Hispanic, 25-30, 5’9”, black hair, ear gauges, tattoos on neck and right arm, wearing a green t-shirt and jeans.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective Daniel Brewer at (661) 326-3567 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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  • 07/15/15--18:24: Kern River Fish Hatchery
  • BAKERSFIELD, CA - Fish hatcheries across the state are being hit hard by drought, some have even shut down. With the Kern River at an all-time low, finding water at the perfect temperature to plant fish in Kern County is nearly impossible, which is shutting down production at our local Kern River Fish Hatchery.

    Danny Zide is the manager of the Kern River Fish Hatchery and has been working at the hatchery for 11 years. "This is the first time I have seen us dry up completely and not have fish at all," said Zide.

    According to an emergency action measure from the California Fish and Game Commission hatcheries are at high risk due to drought conditions. "I'll come in the morning and it will be 68 degrees and by the afternoon time it's pushing 80," said Zide. The trick is keeping the water at a temperature that is conducive for the fish, to do that, Zide mixes well water with water coming from the river. "We stop planting the lakes at 78 degrees, larger creeks and streams are 75 and smaller creeks are 70," said Zide.

    Greg Kollenborn, Senior Hatchery Supervisor for California Department of Fish and Wildlife, says there are 21 fish hatcheries in the state. So far, three are have ceased operations because of the drought. In 2011 Kern hatchery planted 109-thousand pounds of fish. Kollenborn says with the rising cost of fish production and the influence of the drought, this year, it planted less than half that amount of fish.

    "As long as we have water and the water is conducive to plant then we plant no water no planting," said Zide. The levy is dry at this hatchery. But Zide hopes everything gets better for the fish and the fishermen. "A gentleman came up had been planning vacation for two months, he asked are you guys still stocking fish and I said unfortunately we're not, and his vacation is bummed out because his kids don't get to fish, so it's a little disappointing," said Zide.

    Officials from California Department of Fish and Wildlife say they hope for a wet winter so operations can go back to normal when supply waters cool. For more information or tour the Kern River Hatchery, visit our hotlink section.

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