O.C. Murder case puts scrutiny on jailhouse informants

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Prosecutors won’t use the testimony of a jailhouse informant in the trial of a man charged with the worst mass killing in Orange County history. That testimony was expected to play a key role in their attempt to send Scott Dekraai to Death Row. But Deputy District Attorney Howard Gundy has conceded a defense motion that claimed tapes of conversations between Dekraai and the informant were obtained in violation of the defendant’s 6th Amendment rights. Dekraai is accused of gunning down eight people – including his ex-wife – at a Seal Beach hair salon in October, 2011. The secret recordings spurred an investigation by the defense into the use of jailhouse informants in Orange County. The court has spent the past several weeks hearing misconduct allegations in the case, and prosecutors have acknowledged they withheld some information from the defense. The trial is scheduled to start in June.

stowawayA Bay Area teenager who survived a flight to Maui in the wheel well of a passenger jet apparently spent hours undetected at San Jose Airport. A security camera captured someone hopping the fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport at 1 a.m. Sunday, six hours before the Hawaiian Airlines flight took off. Officials believe the person seen on the video is the 15-year-old stowaway. Meanwhile, medical experts continue to marvel that the boy survived sub-freezing temperatures and minimal oxygen during the flight. The FAA says that of the 105 people known to have tried to stow away in wheel compartments, just 25 survived.

The University of California will pay $10 million to a former UCLA doctor who claimed administrators retaliated against him after he reported unethical behavior by colleagues. The settlement with Dr. Robert Pedowitz came just before closing arguments were due to begin in a seven-week trial. The orthopedic surgeon claimed the UCLA medical school allowed doctors to take payments from medical-device makers and other companies that may have compromised patient care. UCLA denies the allegations. The university says it settled to avoid the “expense and inconvenience” of further litigation.

lelandyeeState senators are getting a refresher in ethics as part of the fallout from a series of legal cases involving Democratic lawmakers this year. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg canceled committee hearings today and ordered senators and their top aides to devote the day to ethics training. The Senate has suspended Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco following their indictments on federal corruption charges. Inglewood’s Rod Wright, meanwhile, was convicted of lying about where he lives. Steinberg says he hopes senators will be presented with real world situations that will get them thinking about what is and is not acceptable.

PUJOLSAlbert Pujols slugged a pair of long balls in the nation’s capital yesterday to become just the 26th person to reach 500 home runs in Major League Baseball history. The Hall-of-Fame-bound Angel first baseman is the first to hit Nos. 499 and 500 in the same game. The Angels won the game against the Washington Nationals 7-2. Pujols also hit his 400th homer at Nationals Park. That was four years ago when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s the second Angel to reach the 500 home run plateau. Reggie Jackson did it in 1984.