<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sun, 01 Feb 2015 09:05:08 -0800 Sun, 01 Feb 2015 09:05:08 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Struck, Killed by Truck in Fairmont Village]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 08:36:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/univ-fatal-2.jpg

A man was killed after being hit by a truck in the Fairmont Village neighborhood Saturday night.

Police said the 40- to 50-year-old man was crossing the the street in the 4600 block of University Avenue around 6 p.m. when he was struck by a truck.

The man sustained serious injuries and later died in a nearby hospital.

Parts of University Avenue and Menlo Avenue were shut down, and the San Diego Police Department Traffic Division is investigating.

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<![CDATA[Lemon Grove Warrant Sweep Nets 11]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 15:05:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic-cuffs.jpg

The San Diego Sheriff's Department Lemon Grove Traffic Unit and Court Services Field Unit worked together Saturday to conduct an early morning warrant sweep in Lemon Grove.

Together they arrested 11 people on outstanding misdemeanor warrants and cited another five for moving violations. Warrants included driving under the influence, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license, according to a sheriff's release.

The focus, they said, was on DUI-related violations.

Two vehicles were also towed as a result of the sweep.

The operation was funded by the "STEP" grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the release said.

Sheriff's officials said those with outstanding warrants can turn themselves in Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at any sheriff's facility.

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<![CDATA[Pedestrian Hit by Car, Suffers Major Head Injuries]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 15:31:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_generic_police_tape_police_lights_fishtown1.jpg

A 51-year-old man sustained major injuries after being hit by a car in Valencia Park Saturday.

The man was crossing  South Euclid Avenue at Trinidad Way just after 2 p.m. Police said the man made it half way before being hit by a 64-year-old female driver in a 2014 Nissan Altima.

Police said the windshield of the Altima was damaged.

The pedestrian was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital with head trauma and a broken femur.

The cause of the accident was unclear as of this report. Alcohol was not suspected. The Traffic Division is investigating.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.

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<![CDATA[SD Group Demos "Enhanced Interrogation"]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 15:18:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/balboa-torture-clip-2-PIC_0.jpg

A San Diego activist group spoke out against government torture programs in a colorful portrayal at Balboa Park Saturday.

Artful Activists - the same group responsible for the sign that covered Jeremy Henwood's name during a November protest - hosted the San Diego "National Day of Torture: Water Board Dick Cheney Rally" in a direct response to the recent "torture report" released by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The group's Facebook page for the event reads, "...give a little payback to the Man that defends the torture done by the United State against many throughout the world. Dick Cheney."

The "enhanced interrogation techniques" described in the Senate's report released in December have struck up much controversy, with many saying it's "flat wrong" and fabricated. Including Cheney himself.

One of those techniques, Artful Activists co-founder Chris McKay said, was rectal feeding. Something he claims no medical professional would condone.

McKay said the public needs to know that "it's obvious the CIA has failed" and called the agency "obsolete."

"The CIA was created when we had a Cold War," McKay said. "I think it's time to revamp the whole CIA system."

The group had signs posted throughout the park and demonstrated torture techniques, including tying a man with a Dick Cheney mask to a board, covering his face with cloth and pouring water over it while they screamed questions at him. A torture practice dubbed "waterboarding."

The demonstrations took place near the fountain at Balboa Park between noon and 2 p.m.

San Diego Veterans for Peace, San Diegans for 9/11 Truth, The Anti-Media, The Conscious Resistance Network, The Solutions Institute, The Houston Free Thinkers and several other organizations against the silence about the CIA's report also called on people around the world to organize actions in their neighborhoods to stand against the government's practices.

Non-profit Hustle for Humanity partnered with The Global Day of Action Against Torture to raise awareness through the "Hustle for Humanity 30 Seconds Waterboard Challenge" which offers willing participants $300 if they can make it through 30 seconds of "properly applied" waterboarding.

Participants who don't last the full 30 seconds agree to donate $30 to the cause as part of their nationwide awareness campaign.

The official video, which went viral and struck up the challenge, can be seen here.

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<![CDATA[Driver Slams Into 2 Parked Cars in North Park]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 13:33:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/smashed-car-clip-PIC_0.jpg

San Diego Police officers said a vehicle smashed into two parked cars in the 3800 block of Pershing Avenue at University Avenue in North Park Saturday morning.

The 50-year-old driver of the 2012 Jetta was headed south on Pershing Avenue when she veered into two parked cars, San Diego Police Department Lt. Kevin Mayer said.

Mayer said she was "shaken up" and went to the hospital, but did not appear to be injured.

Tow trucks were seen pulling apart the cars to remove them from the street. No one was inside the other vehicles at the time of the crash.

There was quite a bit of property damage, but an estimate was not immediately available.

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<![CDATA[Parts of 2 Freeways to Close for Construction]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 09:53:41 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/road+work+generic.jpg

The California Department of Transportation said they're closing parts of two freeways for late-night road work next week. Motorists should plan accordingly.

Monday - Tuesday: State Route 163

The first of those closures is set for southbound State Route 163 between Interstate 8 and Interstate 5, CalTrans said.

Monday and Tuesday night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. part of the Cabrillo Bridge/Laurel Street Overcrossing will be shut down for retrofitting, they said.

Interstate 8 connector ramps on both sides, as well as the Robinson Avenue on-ramp, Washington Street on- and off-ramps and the University Avenue off-ramp will be closed.

Detour signage will be posted to direct traffic away from trouble areas.

Wednesday - Thursday: State Route 163

CalTrans said northbound SR-163 will also be closed Wednesday and Thursday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. at A Street and 11th Avenue, just north of the Laurel Street Overcrossing. North and southbound I-5 connectors to northbound SR-163 and the Park Boulevard on-ramp to SR-163 will be closed as well.

Drivers will be able to take 11th Avenue northbound to redirect onto I-5, then proceed to I-8 and connect back onto SR-163.

Monday - Saturday: Interstate 5

As part of the Ocean View Rehab Project, CalTrans will shut down parts of Interstate 5 to continue work between Oceanside and the San Diego-Orange County Line, they said.

The work starts Monday and continues through Thursday night from 7:30 p.m. to 5 a.m., then again Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Working in two-mile sections, crews will close three to four lanes at a time between Aliso Creek Rest Area and the San Diego-Orange County Line.

CalTrans said they want to remind drivers that the maximum speed limit in construction zones is 55 mph, for safety reasons.

For more information on the Ocean View Rehab Project, click here.

Additional traffic information can be found here.



Photo Credit: Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fight Between Cousins Ends in Stabbing]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 09:23:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic-stabbing-knife.jpg

A fight between two cousins in Castle Park sent one man to the hospital with a stab wound.

The fight broke out between a 50-year-old man and his 65-year-old cousin in the 3100 block of 38th Street in the Castle Park neighborhood Friday evening, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Police said the 50-year-old suspect stabbed his cousin once in the stomach with a knife. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Police arrested the suspect for assault with a deadly weapon and Mid City detectives are investigating the incident.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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<![CDATA[Driver With Permit Slams Car Into Apartment]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:38:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/car+into+house+0130.jpg

A woman driving on a learner's permit slammed her car into an El Cajon apartment Friday night, according to El Cajon Police.

Nearly half the car ended up in the unit at 1041 North Mollison Avenue at about 8:30 p.m.

The people who live there told NBC 7 at that time of night, they usually sit with their 18-month-old child in the now damaged room, but Friday was an exception. They were not at home when the crash happened.

Police said the driver had a permit, not a license. There is no word on if she was injured in the crash or if she will be cited.

A tow truck was called in to help the fire department pull the car out of the building.



Photo Credit: Danya Bacchus]]>
<![CDATA[Dispatcher Says 911 Waits Not Rare]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:01:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/911-Call-Generic-1.jpg

A former dispatcher is contradicting a San Diego Police Department statement that callers rarely wait several minutes to reach 911 operators.

After NBC 7 reported Thursday that a member of our news team was placed on hold when trying to report an attempted assault downtown and an SDPD spokesman said it was a rare circumstance, Chuck Rickman reached out to us to set the record straight.

Rickman worked as a SDPD dispatcher for 20 years. He said when you call 911 to report an emergency, you don’t expect to be put on hold, but it does happen more often than it should.

"It's real, true life-threatening emergencies that people just can't get through on, and fortunately most of those don't end in someone getting killed or something like that," Rickman said.

Lt. Scott Wahl said the day the 911 call was made had a particularly high volume of calls.

"Our expectation is that we answer those calls as quickly as possible," Wahl said. "This situation that we're referring to is a rare situation that someone's going to wait two minutes and 44 seconds to get in touch with a 911 dispatcher."

Rickman said a caller being placed on hold for several minutes is not uncommon. He said staffing issues are mostly to blame, but that people do abuse the system making emergency calls for non-emergencies.

"'What time is it?' Yeah, it's crazy that people call (and say) 'I don't know where I'm going. Can you give me directions?'" Rickman said. He said those calls tie up the lines and place lives in danger.

"But the bottom line for me is that theyr'e just aren't enough dispatchers there to adequately handle it," he said.

Rickman said he's seen the number of dispatchers dwindle from 92 in 1991 to 66 now, a number SDPD did not confirm.

"The turnover is extremely high," he said. "It takes over a year to train somebody and it's a big problem, but it's not just rare. It happens and it shouldn't."

Last Wednesday, a member of the NBC 7 news team dialed 911 from a mobile phone at 12:04 p.m. to report an attempted assault in downtown San Diego.

She was put on hold. After one minute, she hung up. At 12:07 p.m., she received a call back from a dispatcher who took her report.

When approached about the recording stating that 911 dispatchers were answering other calls, an SDPD spokesperson confirmed the call was not answered immediately and explained why.

"Our dispatchers, they're human and they're busy trying to answer those calls as quickly as they possibly can," Wahl said.

SDPD received more than 200 phone calls in one hour that were handled by 11 dispatchers. The average wait time during that hour was 14 seconds.

“We had 134 911 calls during that hour, and over 71 non-emergency calls just in that hour,” said spokesperson Lt. Scott Wahl.

That high volume of calls produced the second busiest hour for the department’s dispatch that day.

In the day, 88 percent of calls were answered in fewer than ten seconds, 91 percent in fewer than 20 seconds and 98 percent were answered in less than one minute, they said.

However, Wahl said the incident is a rare one for the dispatch center.

"We strive every day to answer those calls as quickly as we possibly can and when they hang up, although their call still stays in queue, it takes time for dispatcher to call back," he said.

He went on to suggest citizens not hang up and call back multiple times because that loads up the queue and slows the process down even more.

Dispatchers have to return each one of those calls, sometimes leaving voicemail messages if their return call is not answered.

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<![CDATA[Bike Sharing Ready to Roll in San Diego]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:56:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/decobikes_pic_1200x675_391732291881.jpg

Many of the empty bike racks popping up around San Diego were finally filled Friday, ready for people to give them a whirl.

The bike-sharing program called DecoBike wheeled in bicycles at 20 of its 80 existing stations across the city on Friday — an unfortunately rainy day.

The idea is that anyone — tourist or local  can pick up a bike at a solar-powered station and drop it off at any other location they choose. Vice President of Operations David Silverman said it’s the greenest, healthiest way to get around, and it’ll cost you less than a cab.

"A lot of people who visit San Diego who come for conventions or just here in town don't have a vehicle, they can use this to get from point A to point B,” said Silverman. “So if they wanna explore other parts of San Diego such as Balboa Park, Little Italy, or the beaches, they can technically ride a bike to those areas."

But the full DecoBike roll out has been a long ride.

The first stations were installed back in October, but the bikes themselves have taken longer than expected to arrive.

"There's been some delays with manufacturing and as well as community outreach. So we've done very extensive community outreach and wanted to get the input from the community,” said Silverman. “But we're happy because we overcame some of those obstacles and finally have the bikes out today."

So Silverman and other DecoBike employees braved the rain and handed out helmets Friday to those willing to hop on the new bikes.

The pay structure breaks down this way: for a one-time user, you can rent a bike for $5 for every half-hour, $7 for an hour, and $12 for two hours. A whole day will cost you $15, a week will be $35 and a month will set you back $50.

The company also has memberships, which run $20 per month for unlimited 30 minute rides or $30 month for unlimited $60 minute rides.

DecoBike will continue adding bikes to its 80 existing stations, and eventually 180 of the high-tech bike racks will dot the city — from beaches to parks to downtown. Click here for a map.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Abandoned Boats Create Costly Problems]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:00:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/liberty0130_1200x675_391690819532.jpg The U.S. Coast Guard says abandoned or poorly maintained boats end up on San Diego beaches a few times a year, causing a costly mess some boat owners can't afford to clean up. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala sailed out to Zuniga Jetty to take a look at the boats and you taxpayers may be footing the bill.]]> <![CDATA[Catching Counterfeiters at the Super Bowl]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:58:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Steve6p0130_1200x675_391722051975.jpg As football fans flood into Phoenix, some unwanted out-of-towners are trying to hock illegal merchandise. NBC 7's Steven Luke explains what federal agencies are doing to crack down on the activity. ]]> <![CDATA[Man Plans Legal Action After Pit Bull Attack]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:54:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bull+mastiff+mauled+by+pit+bulls.png

Dan Hare calls it a horrible attack. His year-and-a-half-old Bull Mastiff named Ziggy was being mauled by a pack of pit bulls he says had dug underneath his fence. Ziggy suffered more than 350 puncture wounds, according to Hare.

“Like a deer. It was like a dead deer, and they were just ripping him apart at both ends," said Hare, 52, of Campo.

Hare said last Saturday, five pit bulls belonging to his neighbor dug under the fence on Oak Drive in Campo. He told NBC 7 as he tried to save Ziggy, a fifth pit bull attacked him. Hare suffered severe bite wounds to his hand, wrist and leg. He also suffered ankle and back injuries.

“These dogs got a taste of blood, especially the one that really worked me, and once that’s done, I know dogs and I love dogs, but once they get a taste of blood, they’re going to come back under the fence again,” said Hare

Now, Hare is planning to file a civil lawsuit against his neighbor to cover his veterinary and medical costs and lost wages.

Hare said he was also bitten three weeks ago by one of the pit bulls, and the neighbor assured him it wouldn’t happen again.

“They called me and apologized. They’ve been pretty nice people and everything. I have no problem with them, but it can’t get any worse than this,” said Hare.

The neighbors were not immediately available for comment. A locked fence surrounded the property with prominent "beware of dog" signs.

Meanwhile, six pit bulls have been impounded and are now under quarantine at the Bonita Animal Shelter. After an investigation, county animal services will determine what will happen with the pit bulls.

If the dogs are allowed to return home, Hare said he will be forced to take drastic action should it happen again.

“I will drop them in the yard. I don’t want to have to do that, I don’t want to have to kill their dogs, but I’m not going to play this game, where I have to hide when I come out of my house. It’s ridiculous,” said Hare.



Photo Credit: Artie Ojeda]]>
<![CDATA[2 Boys on Sidewalk Hit by SUV]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:17:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/216*120/suv+hits+kids+0130.JPG

Two teen boys walking on a sidewalk were struck by a sport utility vehicle in the Skyline neighborhood Friday afternoon.

The 20-year-old female driver was going too fast and lost control of her silver Toyota RAV4 as she took a turn in the 600 block of Meadowbrook at 3:15 p.m., San Diego Police Sgt. Anthony Reese.

She drove up onto a sidewalk and hit the two boys, ages 12 and 14.

"It was really horrifying just to see the kids lying there," said witness Ruby Marquez.

Marquez said the driver immediately ran out of her vehicle to tend to the boys, tears streaming down her face.

"She was trying to help one of the kids — the older looking one — but the younger kid was like unconscious," said Marquez. "Everyone was trying to get him back."

One had road rash, and the other had a skull fracture when they were taken to Rady Children's Hospital, according to Reese.

The driver stayed on the scene, which was cleared at about 5:15 p.m. The SDPD traffic division will determine if she will be cited.

Reese had a word of warning for drivers this Super Bowl weekend.

"Just to make sure that you're aware of your surroundings," said Reese. "Just keep your eyes on the road at all times, and just make sure you look both sides of the street because there's a lot of kids in this neighborhood."

Neighbors say in the last six months, there have been at least three other accidents on that block. NBC 7's own crash database shows one fatality.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego School Counselor Honored at White House]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:00:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SounselorWEBIMG2-PIC_0.jpg

One San Diego counselor received a big honor at the White House Friday.

Tawnya Pringle, a counselor at Hoover High School, was one of five counselors invited to the White House. She was honored as one of the top five 2015 School Counselor of the Year finalists by First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Connie Britton.

The ceremony marked the first time school counselors were honored at a White House event dedicated to their work.

Pringle said the experience was humbling and was one of the “most amazing times of my life.”

“Being a school counselor runs through my blood and my veins and it just doesn’t end when I walk through the door at home,” Pringle said. “I have a passion and it’s been there ever since I entered college at San Diego State because I wanted to give children a voice when maybe they wouldn’t have one and to be an advocate at the school with teachers and helping the parents out too and their families.”

Winners were picked based on their creative school counseling innovations, effective counseling programs, leadership skills and contributions to student enhancement, the White House said.

The winners were chosen for creative school counseling innovations, effective counseling

The ceremony was part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative. Reach Higher is a program dedicated to inspiring students to take charge of their future through education.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Married SDPD Officers Sentenced in Drug Sales Case]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:52:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bryce+jennifer+charpentier.jpg

Two married San Diego Police officers convicted of drug sales and burglary charges were sentenced to three years in state prison in a downtown courtroom Friday.

Bryce Charpentier, 32, and Jennifer Charpentier, 41, admitted to selling and furnishing a narcotic substance, possession of a firearm by an addict, conspiracy to commit first-degree residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession and sale of a controlled substance.

As a result, the two resigned from the SDPD in November. Jennifer also lost partial custody of her kids after her arrest.

In court Friday, Bryce was teary as he apologized to the department and his family. The prosecution, however, called him "manipulative."

In an attempt to argue against jail time, the defense said the two never used their authority status and witnesses did not know they were cops. They also said the two have gotten clean and are active in 12-step programs, and that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder contributed to their actions.

Prosecutors asked for maximum sentences for both, saying other officers who suffer addiction and PTSD don't start distribution labs.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a press conference following the sentencing that "no one is above the law."

"As police officers, their job was to protect the citizens of San Diego; not to victimize them," she said.

Both officers initially pleaded not guilty, but changed their pleas after new charges were filed against the couple, accusing them of stealing prescription medication from their parent, burglarizing a home while on the clock as officers and leading a distribution chain.

Bryce, a six-year veteran of the SDPD, and Jennifer, an 18-year veteran, were arrested in June during a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigation.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman also spoke out about the case saying, "It is reprehensible that these two former officers made the terrible decision to betray and discredit our badge and our profession."

Zimmerman said after the launch of the Sheriff's Department's investigation, she and her department cooperated fully and "the public trust is too important for anything less."

Sheriff Bill Gore joined Dumanis and Zimmerman at the press conference.

"I know I speak for everyone up here today when I say that we'd rather be up here for almost any other reason than to discuss the sentencing and prosecution of law enforcement officers," Gore said.

He said he thinks the collaborative efforts between SDPD and the sheriff's office were successful, adding, "It's been said that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair."

Search warrants said Jennifer got seven different drugs in 71 prescriptions from seven separate doctors and then traveled to 17 pharmacies to fill them. Bryce went as far as Oakhurst near Yosemite to fill 79 prescriptions from six different doctors.

One victim was Jennifer's own mother. During a visit to their home, Bryce texted his wife he was coming back and pulling into the driveway. At that point, Jennifer texted she was taking her mother into the backyard, presumably to distract her while Bryce took prescription medication from her.

Before the couple's sentencing, Jennifer said she and her mom have worked things out and her mom wrote a letter to the court.

The judge said she gave probation serious consideration, but the case does not involve simple street corner drug sales, and denied the motion. However, the two are out of custody until Feb. 6 and will only serve 50 percent of their sentence on good behavior.

The couple was also ordered to pay $5,000 each in restitution.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.



Photo Credit: San Diego Police Dept. Yearbook]]>
<![CDATA[Best San Diego Spots to Watch the Super Bowl]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:11:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDRW-Searsucker-Del-Mar.jpg

The biggest Sunday Fun Day of them all is nearly upon us. If you haven’t decided yet where you’ll watch the game, no sweat -- you can score a touchdown with these San Diego spots.

Even if you’re not into watching the action, these places have plenty of other goodies to party over.

Here are some of the biggest Super Bowl bashes across San Diego County.

Searsucker, Del Mar: This spot is hosting a pig roast party that will follow a Sunday morning brunch. The pig roast starts at the 3:30 p.m. kickoff and costs $35 per person. Searsucker lists other mouth-watering goodies on the menu here. If you come for the brunch at 10 a.m., you can enjoy bottomless mimosas for $15.

URBN St. Brewing Co., El Cajon: If a pig roast really isn’t your thing, salivate over a chili cookoff hosted by this East County bar. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. This party will also feature live music from The Lucky Lonely and you can enjoy $15 pitchers of certain craft beers on tap and $2 off wings.

Harrah’s Resort San Diego, Valley Center: Harrah’s is hosting a giant Super Bowl bash that’s free to everyone, with the option of VIP access for $30. With VIP access, you’d get admission to a tailgate style buffet and celebrity meet and greets with San Diego football greats, including Kellen Winslow, Hank Bauer, Glenn Cadrez and Ed White. All guests can also bid on sports memorabilia. The festivities start at 3:30 p.m.

Prospect Bar & Grill, La Jolla: Get into the festive mood with a pre-game party at 1 p.m. at this La Jolla bar. The party starts with a performance by the Ryan Hiller Band. Prospect is also offering $3 Coors Lights, $6 Jameson whiskey and fireballs and a $13 burger-and-beer combo deal. You also have the chance to win prizes all day.

And, of course, if you are a die-hard 12th Man or loyal to Patriots Nation, you can be among your own kind in these team-centric bars.

If you’re Team Seahawks:

Thrusters Lounge, Pacific Beach: Dubbed “San Diego’s Original Home of the 12s,” this bar will host an outdoor viewing party complete with a beer garden – and a lot of green and blue. You can also partake in the street tacos provided by San Diego Taco Company. Thrusters also will have a raffle for a NFL jersey and other giveaways. Gates open at 10 a.m. Sunday.

If you’re Team Patriots:

Tipsy Crow, Gaslamp Quarter: Patriots Nation, head to the Gaslamp! This popular downtown bar will be hosting a New England-enthusiastic Super Bowl viewing party, complete with a raffle of “tons” of Patriots gear. Tipsy Crow is also offering $3.50 Sam Adams and $6 Ketel One specials.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of J Public Relations]]>
<![CDATA[ Anaheim Ducks to Move AHL Hockey Team to SD]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:29:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/488084957.jpg

The Anaheim Ducks said the National Hockey League franchise will purchase the Norfolk (Virginia) Admirals of the minor league American Hockey League and relocate the team to San Diego.

 

The move by the Ducks is being done in conjunction with the move of other NHL teams’ minor league teams to the West Coast to form a Pacific division of the AHL.

The Los Angeles Kings are moving its team to Ontario; the San Jose Sharks are moving its team to San Jose; the Calgary Flames are moving its team to Stockton; and the Edmonton Oilers are moving its team to Bakersfield.

“With five new AHL teams in the state, today is a landmark day for hockey in California,” said Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli, who are the new owners of the San Diego team. “We are extremely pleased and proud to bring hockey back to the market.”

Samueli, 60, is the co-founder and chairman of Broadcom Corp., a semiconductor manufacturer based in Orange County. Last year, Forbes estimated his wealth at $2.2 billion.

The Ducks said it’s holding a San Diego Hockey Fest Feb. 22 from noon to 3 p.m. at Valley View Casino Center (the former San Diego Sports Arena) to celebrate the return of the sport, with the new season beginning this fall.

The free event will include the unveiling of the club’s name and logo, and other fun experiences intended to attract longtime fans and entice new ones.

San Diego has had a rich hockey history, starting in 1944 when the Skyhawks of the Pacific Coast Hockey League took flight. The Gulls, which were hatched in 1966, have been around in several incarnations, and played most recently at the Sports Arena from 1990 to 2006 when the team, then owned by the Hahn family, folded up its wings.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Caretaker Gets Life for Murdering Elderly Man]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:21:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gerald-Rabourn.jpg

A woman convicted of killing an elderly man she was taking care of, then draining his bank accounts, was sentenced to life in prison in a San Diego courtroom Friday.

Denise Michelle Goodwin, 47, will spend the rest of her life in prison for the 2011 murder of 89-year-old Gerald Rabourn, despite prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

Rabourn, who trusted Goodwin with his money after she cared for his late wife, went missing in 2011 and his body was never found. The district attorney's office said Goodwin took everything he had, then murdered him to avoid being found out.

Although Rabourn's body was never found, she was convicted in October of first-degree murder and murder for financial gain.

Defense attorneys argued during the trial that enough evidence was present to prove Goodwin had made off with Rabourn's money, but not enough to say she killed him.

"She's a thief disguised as a churchgoer; she's a killer disguised as a caregiver," Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell told the judge before the sentencing.

Prosecutors said Goodwin targeted rich old men with no close family and described the case as especially shocking and compelling.

"Gerald Rabourn was sucked in and taken to the cleaners," Mitchell told jurors. "[Goodwin] had found her golden goose. He thought she was wonderful. He thought he was getting something for nothing. When it came to his money, he wanted to keep it."

Before the sentencing, the defense motioned to have Goodwin's charges reduced to second-degree murder, but the motion was denied.

Rabourn's son called Goodwin a "pariah on society." Rabourn's daughter said he was a gentle and kind man who should not have died in a violent way.



Photo Credit: SDPD]]>
<![CDATA[Explosions Heard Before Santee Apartment Fire]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 08:20:40 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/01304p2ndalarmvo-PIC_0.jpg

Arson investigators are searching for the cause of a mysterious apartment fire in Santee that burned two units' worth of people out of their homes Friday and injured two involved.

Forty-five-year-old Charlie Ayers said he heard explosions starting the fire at 1:40 p.m. on Mission Gorge Road.

“I was asleep and I heard two pops. It sounded like backfire at first,” Ayers said.

A neighbor told NBC 7 it was in the back bedroom where the several blasts originated. Ayers said he was in a back bedroom and could not explain the explosions.

The noise of the blasts reverberated through most of the Town Center Apartment complex, yet Ayers said it did not wake his roommate on the living room sofa.

“I went and woke up my roommate and jumped out the window because there was too much flames to go to the door,” Ayers said.

Video captured on a neighbor's cellphone shows brilliant orange flames moving fast through Ayers’ apartment. The smoke and heat were so intense, the unit above was also destroyed.

In that second-story apartment, a 5-year-old girl was treated for second- and third-degree burns. She and her grandmother escaped with help from neighbors.

A Santee firefighter also suffered burns to his hand. The injuries were not considered serious.

Life hasn’t been easy for Ayers lately. Neighbors and friends say his father just died, and he was asked to vacate the apartment in which he lived for more than a decade before fire destroyed it.

Some complex residents find the afternoon fire suspicious. They say often strangers visited at all hours of the day and night.

“I just got a feeling from the people going in and out anything could have gone down,” neighbor Lawrence Smith said.

San Diego County Sheriff's arson investigators combed through the charred remains. They interviewed Ayers, his roommate and eyewitnesses with no firm conclusions to the cause of this blaze.

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<![CDATA[California Lawmaker Roots For Cheerleader Bill ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:37:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/raaiderette3.jpg

Rooted on by a lawsuit first brought on by an Oakland Raiderette, a California lawmaker, a former Stanford University cheerleader herself, has proposed a bill that would force professional sports teams to treat cheerleaders just like any other employee.

“NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades," California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said on Thursday announcing the introduction of AB 202. "They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage."

Her bill would entitle cheer atheletes to be eligible for California's minimum wage, as well as overtime, and the right to paid sick time and workman's compensation, just like any other employee in the state. As it stands, most cheerleaders are treated as independent contractors, and sometimes, even volunteers, Gonzalez said.

The NFL has repeatedly declined comment on this issue, and spokesman Greg Aiello did not immediately return a phone call or email on Friday seeking comment.

Gonzalez, who said cheered at Stanford when she was an American Studies major in the 1990s and also served as a labor leader before being elected in 2013, gave direct credit to Lacy T., an Oakland Raiderette who was the first cheerleader in the country to sue a professional sports teams regarding alleged unfair labor practices in December 2014.

In November 2014, the Oakland Raiders settled a class action suit with the Raiderettes, paying Lacy T. and about 90 other cheerleaders a total of $1.25 million. Lacy T.'s suit, which inspired others around the nation, alleged that the football team violated state labor laws by failing to pay minimum wage. With all the time Lacy T. worked off the field - at practices and mandated community event attendances - she figured she earned less than $5 an hour, far below California's minimum wage.

Three Raiderettes, however, have since rejected that class action suit, and are continuing to pursue their work conditions case against the NFL. The NFL has argued in court that the football league is exempt from state labor laws.

Mike Taylor, a spokesman for the Oakland Raiders, also didn't immediately return a request for comment on Friday regarding Gonzalez's bill.

Gonzalez said that Lacy T.'s case outlined a "stunning system of abuses against cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders stemming from the team’s misclassification of these cheerleaders."

That's because until the class action agreement almost three months ago, the Raiderettes, like many other cheerleaders around the country, were paid to cheer at games, but not paid when they were told to attend mandatory practices and community events. In an interview Friday, Gonzalez did note that the team was the only one seeming to "move ahead" by paying the Raiderettes $9 an hour, on and off the field.

But that's not enough. Gonzalez said she wants this practice to change for all pro sports teams in California. So far, she said she hasn't met any formal opposition to her idea. She hopes that enough people will care about this issue to get on board.

“If the guy selling you the beer deserves a minimum wage, so does the woman entertaining you on the field," she said. " All work is dignified and cheerleaders deserve the respect of these basic workplace protections."



Photo Credit: Michael Abar
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[2 Caught Trying to Cash Stolen Lotto Tickets]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:22:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/scratchers-generic.jpg

Two men were arrested in Oceanside after trying to cash in stolen lottery tickets.

Oceanside police said they responded to a call about a window smash burglary at the Shell Gas station at 2315 Vista Way where lottery tickets and cigarettes had been stolen.

Three hours later, the San Diego Sheriff's Department contacted Oceanside police after the California State Lottery reported the stolen tickets were being used in nearby Vista, a release said.

At that time, a silver Ford pickup had been sighted with two male suspects inside.

California Lottery and law enforcement worked together to follow where the suspects were attempting to cash in the tickets, police said.

The last store the two hit was an AM-PM at 1501 North Melrose Drive. Police responded and made contact with the suspects in the 600 block of Picacho Court in Oceanside.

Police said the suspects were still carrying stolen lottery tickets and a fourth waiver search lead them to find more inside one of the suspect's homes.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property, police said. One of the men was also charged with possession of brass knuckles.

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<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:04:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[36 Officers Bust 1 Man With RV Meth Lab]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:04:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_dfw_generic_dallas_police_2.jpg

One man is in jail after more than 30 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies teamed together to take down a suspected meth lab in Oceanside.

Officers from the Oceanside Police Department's SWAT, Special Enforcement and Narcotics Task Force teams worked together with the Drug Enforcement Administration, County Hazmat and the San Diego Fire Department to execute a search warrant on a 17-acre property housing an RV drug cook, according to Oceanside police.

Because authorities had reason to believe there was a working lab on the property, the execution of the search warrant required extra precautions, they said.

All 17 acres were searched by 36 law enforcement officers and Clandestine Lab-trained officers entered the RV containing the meth lab and secured it, according to a release.

More than four ounces of "freshly manufactured" methamphetamine was seized, as well as a number of other chemicals, including a high pressure cylinder filled with highly explosive hydrochloric gas.

Oceanside police said, "Due to the dangerous nature of the operation and its sheer geographical size," the use of three dozen officers and extra precautions were necessary.

The entire operation took seven hours to complete. Joesph Calcagno, 58, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and possession with intent to sell. The DEA seized some of the chemicals for evidence.

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<![CDATA[Victim of Baseball Accident Reunites with Co-Workers]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:38:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mike-petracca-gofundme-baseball-injury.jpg The Carlsbad man who was the victim of a freak accident involving a softball bat returned to work Friday for the first time and reunited with his coworkers. NBC 7's Chris Chan reports live from Carlsbad.

Photo Credit: GoFundMe]]>
<![CDATA[Tiger Woods Shoots Worst Round As A Pro]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:53:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/462524184.jpg

There was a time, not too long ago, when it seemed like Tiger Woods could shoot an 82 if he played 27 holes. Oh, how the mighty has fallen.

Woods shot an 82 on Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, his worst round ever in a PGA Tour event. When he finished his round in rainy conditions at the TPC Scottsdale, he was dead last in the 132-man field, a whopping 13 shots over par.

Tiger talked earlier in the week about how his swing speed has increased after an off-season spent recovering from another back surgery and working with a new coach. He's hitting the ball farther than he has in years.

Problem is, he much like Randy Johnson or Sandy Koufax in the early stages of their careers, Woods doesn't know where the ball is going. One look at his back-9 scorecard from Friday shows you just how awful his day was:

 

Tiger is scheduled to play in the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines, the course where he has enjoyed the most success of his Hall of Fame career. If he can't get it going there, this could be a long, awful season for the former best golfer on the planet.

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<![CDATA[NFL Says Concussions On The Decline]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:05:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/concussions.jpg

During the Super Bowl each year, the NFL goes through a bit of a self-assessment process. The league is constantly studying trends and issues that spring up (how well they actually deal with said issues is a conversation for a different day).

Among the biggest issues in recent years is traumatic brain injury. The NFL has implemented rule changes designed to cut down on the number of concussions, attempting to eliminate helmet-to-helmet hits. So, how did they do in 2014?

“In light of all the other stuff that was happening off the field,” said NFL Executive V.P. of Football Operations Troy Vincent, “we really had some significant achievements on the field.”

The NFL released its annual Health and Safety Report, and according to their data, the rules changes are working.

“I must credit the players and coaches,” said Vincent, who also spent time as president of the NFL Players Association, giving him a unique ability to see both the league’s desires and the players concerns. “They adopted. They adjusted.”

Vincent took it upon himself to help expedite the process of changing the way players approached hitting, appealing to them on a personal level.

“I started the off-season visiting maybe, eight to 10 players, and we just talked about their style of play, eliminating the impermissible use of the helmet, and we saw players adjust. We saw coaches teaching a different style of technique, and we saw those numbers decline throughout the season.”

Here are the hard numbers, according to the NFL:

-    Concussions in regular season games down 25% in 2014 vs. 2013
-    Concussions in regular season games down 36% in 2014 vs. 2012
-    In 2014, the concussion rate was .43 per game
-    Concussions caused by helmet-to-helmet hits down 28% from 2013-2014
-    Concussions caused by helmet-to-helmet hits down 43% from 2012-2014

In total, when counting the preseason, regular season, and practices, there were 202 reported concussions among NFL players (keep in mind, these are reported concussions). That’s down from a total of 229 in 2013 and 261 in 2012.

Interestingly, 41-percent (83) of those concussions occurred in the preseason and training camp, which only features four games as opposed to the 16-game regular season. One factor is younger players. Of those 83 preseason TBI incidents, 42 happened in practice as rookies adjust to the speed of the pro game and undrafted free agents fight to make a name for themselves and earn a roster spot.

Now, as players avoid going after the head, you’d naturally think they’d start going after the legs. However, the number of knee injuries also dipped a shade in 2014.

There were a total of 187 sprains of the ACL or MCL ligaments last season, down slightly from 193 in 2013.

Vincent noted the NFL is working closely with the NCAA and high school programs across the country through the Heads Up program to re-teach proper tackling technique at an early age. It would appear the effort is starting to yield results.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Another Threat Reported at San Ysidro High School]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:01:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+ysidro+high+school.jpg

San Ysidro High School received another threat – the eighth such one in two weeks – on Friday morning.

San Diego police said the school was temporarily placed into lockdown after they were notified just before 8 a.m. of the threat.

Officers swept the school’s campus and found nothing suspicious.

Officers said the school received a voicemail early Friday morning threatening a bomb and a possible gunman on campus.

The last two threats occurred two days ago -- also morning phone-in threats.

Friday morning, San Ysidro Principal Hector Espinoza issued a statement, saying the school, the school district and San Diego police are treating the threats very seriously.

"Although all threats to date have been 'low-level status,' rest assured we take them seriously and take all precautions necessary to protect our students, staff and community," the statement read.

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<![CDATA[Will Task Force Advice Turn into Real Action?]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 08:23:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Qualcomm-Chargers-Stadium.jpg

Another approach to getting a new stadium built in San Diego has just been put in motion.

It’s an advisory group introduced Friday by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to come up with a game plan by this fall for crafting into a 2016 citywide ballot measure.

The Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group is made up of civic leaders and financial experts. The plan will include the optimal location and the best way to pay for the stadium.

Smart money says the nine members – specifically not branded a “task force,” as previous such efforts went nowhere -- will do everything possible to avoid a tax-based financial scheme that'll require two-thirds voter approval under state law.

The mayor said the city has had plans before, but never anything tangible until this effort.

“This independent group will give San Diegans the first real plan in the past 13 years,” Faulconer said in a statement. “These expert volunteers will explore all possibilities to finance the project, with the clear direction from me that it must be a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers.”

Their real hope, according to group members and officials involved in their appointment, is to find ways to private money so as to face only a simple-majority hurdle to passage.

"The history of these things from San Francisco to Portland, Maine is that two-thirds is virtually impossible,” said Los Angeles Times bureau chief Tony Perry, following a mid-morning news conference east of Petco Park in downtown’s East Village.

“And of course we're in San Diego -- Libertarianville here -- and we don't like taxes for anything. So that, I think, is pretty much a non-starter."

Said Associated Press sports correspondent Bernie Wilson: ”It seems like a creative group; it seems more business-oriented than politically oriented, which some of the former task forces have been."

One key member member is Jim Steeg, who produced 26 Super Bowls for the National Football League and later served as a Chargers executive.

Another is Adam Day, assistant manager of the Sycuan game tribe and board member of the state university system -- two potential players in the financing effort.

They'll be looking not only at downtown's 12-acre East Village site – but revisiting the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, the NFL’s second-oldest venue.

But the greater challenge is sifting through possibilities for bankrolling the billion-dollar price tag of a new stadium, including taxes if they prove unavoidable.

Those options include funding from the league and Chargers, stadium naming rights, corporate partnerships, seat licenses and surcharges on tickets, parking and concessions.

The team also has spoken of exploring the prospect of financially "leveraging" city land such as the 105 acres that encompass the Valley View Casino Center and city-leased retail and real estate properties in the Sports Arena/Midway District.

"There are a lot of different ways to skin the cat,” Steeg said in an interview. “It will involve maybe cobbling together five or six of those concepts to make one. And I think that's the greatest thing -- to have an open mind and try to find one."

A major obstacle in the process is the city’s quest for larger convention facilities.

Hotel owners want the bayfront center expanded on-site. The Bolts want a hybrid facility, linked to a retractable-roof stadium across Harbor Drive.

A statement issued by Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani indicates the franchise is under-whelmed by the new advisory group, and that it will be “pleased to evaluate any other ideas” beyond the nine stadium proposals it’s advanced over 13 years.

But Steeg sees a path to the promised land, and he has a sense that the time is right: "I think you finally have the political will to get it done. And to me that's been the problem all along. Obviously in the last ten years, how many mayors have we had? Eight? Something like that? So we've never had that. We've had all sorts of issues going back and forth."

Either way, with speculation raging around a proposed Inglewood stadium on land held by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Hollywood Park interests, San Diego might wind up on the clock with the NFL, if it’s not already.

As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told journalists at his pre-Super Bowl news conference in Glendale, Arizona Friday: "They do need a new stadium for the Chargers to be successful long-term. It's one of the oldest if not THE oldest stadium in the league … I'm glad to hear (Faulconer has) a task force going. But they've been working at this for 12 years, and it's something we need to show tangible results sooner rather than later."

In the wake of Faulconer’s news conference, onlooker Jan Bourgeois, an East Village resident and Padres mini-season ticketholder, was asked what she makes of what she had heard.

"I agree with most of them that you will not get the 66 and two-thirds, so you need to figure out another way to bring everybody to the table to be able to move it forward,” she told NBC 7.

“Because I love the Chargers. I don't go to the games but I always watch them on TV -- all the preliminaries and follow-ups afterwards."

Along with Steeg and Day, the mayor’s stadium advisory group includes:

  • Doug Barnhart, chairman of Barnhart-Reese Construction
  •  Rod Dammeyer, private equity investor
  • Adam Day, California State University trustee & assistant tribal manager of Sycuan
  •  Walt Ekard, former San Diego County CAO & City of San Diego COO
  • Aimee Faucett, COO of the San Diego Regional Chamber
  • Jason Hughes, president and CEO of Hughes Marino
  • Jessie Knight, executive vice president of Sempra Energy, chairman of the board of SDG&E
  • Mary Lydon, executive director of Urban Land Institute - San Diego-Tijuana
  • Jim Steeg, former NFL executive

An NBC 7 report in January  said the Chargers were less-than-impressed with the mayor’s initial proposal at his State of the City address.

It seems everyone has an opinion about the future of Qualcomm Stadium. Even NBC football analyst Cris Collingsworth gave NBC 7 SportsWrap his two cents.

Anyone wishing to provide input for the project can email the mayor at StadiumInput@sandiego.gov.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Men Airlifted After Fight at Oceanside Bar]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:47:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/oceanside-police-0901.jpg

Two people were airlifted to a hospital after a fight outside an Oceanside bar, police said.

At approximately 12:40 a.m. Friday, police said a fight broke out just outside Larry’s Beach Club on Eucalyptus Street and S Tremont Street.

Police said a mixed group about 12 people, including witnesses and suspects, were outside the bar. By the time police arrived, two men were down on the ground with injuries. One had been stabbed, the other had a head injury.

A police helicopter found one suspect hiding in a brush and the other walking down a side street. Both victims were airlifted to Scripps Hospital La Jolla.

The victim with the head injury is in critical condition and the condition of the victim with the stab wounds is unknown, though he is talking.

Both the victims have been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. The fight is not suspected to be gang-related.

Oceanside Police are investigating.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[House Catches Fire in La Mesa]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:47:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Police+Line+Police+Tape+Police+Generic+Frankford.JPG

A fire at an empty La Mesa home early Friday left no one injured.

At approximately midnight, a neighbor saw flames coming from a home on the 4000 block of 69th Street. That neighbor called 911, then knocked on the door. No one answered.

No one was home at the time of the fire. Firefighters said residents were in the process of moving out and were not on the property.

They said the cause of the fire was likely a space heater left in one of the rooms.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Freak Accident at Ballpark Injures Carlsbad Man]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:32:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Candice11PM0129_1200x675_391431747804.jpg

A 28-year-old Carlsbad man is having to re-learn how to speak and write after a tragic freak accident involving a softball bat.

Mike Petracca was in Las Vegas on Jan. 18 for a softball tournament. Right before the third game, he was walking in between two fields when the bat flew out of another player’s hands and struck Petracca in the temple. Petracca immediately collapsed to the ground and hit his head again.

According to friends, Mike suffered a skull fracture and swelling of the brain.

He has Broca’s Aprasia, which means – although he’s aware of everything around him – he’s lost the ability to speak and do other things associated with that part of the brain.

“Two inches either way. Two inches higher would've missed him. Two inches the other way and we'd be having a different conversation right now,” said Michael Petracca, Mike’s father.

Mike is back with family and friends in Carlsbad. Most of his speech is limited to “yes” and “no” responses right now, but he’s improving every day. In just one week, he regained a significant amount of control and strength in his right arm and hand. He told NBC 7’s Candice Nguyen he’s able to eat and brush his teeth on his own now.

When asked if he feel frustrated, Mike said he was just happy to be alive.

“It's made me more proud of him to see the love people have for him,” said his father.

People from all over the world, especially from softball and LGBT communities, have shown their support with donations and kind words. Some of the donors are from as far as Australia.

“When you look at these donations and what people are saying who don’t even know him saying that – it just makes you feel good about humanity,” said Michael.

We asked what the outreach means to Mike and he said it means “everything” and “[He] loves them so much.”

To help in Mike’s recovery, you can make a donation here: http://www.gofundme.com/mikepetracca

There’s also a fundraiser planned for Saturday February 7: https://www.facebook.com/events/828725507188220/?pnref=story

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<![CDATA[Accused McStay Killer Will Be His Own Attorney]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:22:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Mcstay-family-crop-2013.jpg

The man accused of murdering a Fallbrook family found buried in the desert requested to represent himself in court during an early hearing, claiming he only had six to eight months to live.

Charles Merritt, a former business partner of Joseph McStay, is accused of killing McStay along with Sunny McStay and the couple’s two boys in 2010.

Merritt said he wanted to represent himself for two reasons. He said he only has six to eight months to live due to congestive heart failure and could not afford his own attorney. The San Bernadino judge said Merritt could act as his own attorney.

He said he believes he can work around the clock to move the trail process along faster than his own attorney could. The judge offered a court-appointed attorney at no cost, but Merritt declined.

In a prior hearing, a San Bernadino judge denied a request to unseal search warrants in the case of a Fallbrook family found buried in the desert.

NBC 7 is one of 18 news organizations seeking release of search warrant documents related to the case against Merritt.

The judge would not unseal any portion of the search warrants the media requested, arguing that the release would impede on Merritt's right to a fair trial and would impede an ongoing investigation.

The judge said, however, that he was willing to revisit the case in the future. Some of those documents the media is requesting could be released after a preliminary hearing or sooner, the judge said, if the preliminary hearing is delayed.

The Fallbrook family was believed to have vanished. Family members and other volunteers searched for any sign of them, crime cable shows highlighted their story and an investigation was launched by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

It wasn’t until November 2013, that the family’s bodies were uncovered in Victorville.

The media argued in court that the public has a constitutional right to see search warrant documents and learn more about the investigation, now that Merritt has been arrested and formally charged with the crimes.

But prosecutors strongly disagreed in court. Deputy District Attorney Mark Vos argued the release of the documents could harm what that he characterizes as a continuing investigation and an “open murder case”, despite earlier statements by the San Bernardino Sheriff that Merritt is the only suspect in the case.

The judge set a status conference in two weeks for February 20. A pre preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 3 and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 7.

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<![CDATA[Cabbie: Navy SEAL Punched Me]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:46:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cab+Driver+Damage.jpg

A San Diego taxi driver says he was beaten up by a Navy SEAL. Now, he's filing suit against the SEAL. The taxi driver asked us not to reveal his identity in fear of retaliation.

The driver says he picked up a Navy SEAL and his fiancé from a bar in the Gaslamp and took them to the Hilton Bayfront. He says they paid their fare but as they were getting out of the car, the SEAL punched him.

“I was shocked. I didn't know. I didn't know what to do,” said the driver as he describes the assault. "The whole time he was riding with me. I did not have any words with him. We didn't have any conversation. Nothing. He was quiet.”

The driver said the SEAL, who told police he was a part of SEAL Team 5, punched the driver’s door window, hitting him in the head. As he tried to talk to the SEAL about paying to repair the damage, the driver says, the SEAL punched him again. This punch busted his lip.

According to the police report, the Navy SEAL said the window broke as he was closing the door. He told police in was “in fear of his life” because the cab driver “looked Middle Eastern, possibly from Iraq or Afghanistan. He also told police he thought the driver was “possibly a Muslim extremist”.

The driver is Sikh. He says he’s disappointed in the justice system because he came to the United States for equality.

“I came here so I can have justice. I can make my future. I can make my life better and this looks like it's a corruption," the man said. "I feel sad. I thought this place was the best place on the globe.”

According the report by San Diego Harbor Police, officers on the scene said it looked like the crack in the window was pushed in an outward direction and appeared as if the impact occurred from inside the driver’s seat. The report says the Navy SEAL offered to pay to repair the window but the driver refused and insisted on a citizen’s arrest.

The taxi driver’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, says the SEAL was initially charged but those charges were dismissed. A restitution check of $140 was sent to the driver from the city attorney's office.

NBC 7 reached out to the city attorney’s office and the SEAL’s attorney, both had no comment.



Photo Credit: NBC 7
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<![CDATA[Drug Store Thief Hops Counter, Steals Pills]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:43:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDPD-Generic-police-tape.jpg

A Southern California pharmacy was robbed Thursday when a thief hopped the counter and stole prescription drugs, San Diego Police confirm.

Officers responded to the CVS on Westview Parkway in Mira Mesa just after 7 p.m. following a robbery of the pharmacy counter involving one or more suspects.

Police were investigating the incident as grand theft but have not said whether it is connected to a recent string of robberies targeting pharmacies.

San Diego Crime Stoppers has offered $1,000 reward to information leading to an arrest in a recent robbery at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Navajo Road.

In that incident, someone walked into the Walgreens just before noon on Jan. 21 and handed a demand note to the pharmacist. 

The note said the man had a gun and wanted oxycodone. The employee handed the man the pills and the male left the store in an unknown direction.

Officials believe the man also robbed a San Diego CVS Pharmacy on Eads Avenue in La Jolla on January 13 with a demand note asking for Roxicodone, a generic name for oxycodone.

Officials are asking anyone with information to call the San Diego Police Department’s Robbery Unit at (619) 531-2299 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 News]]>
<![CDATA[Food Fads: Adding Crickets To Your Diet]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:00:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cricket-flour-bob+copy.jpg

For centuries insects have been included in traditional dishes around the world.

Latin Americans eat cicadas, ants and even tarantulas. South Africans put them in porridge. And we all know that Mexican tequila lacks a certain something without that worm.

Now, new food companies are hoping Americans can overcome the ick factor; introducing cookies and snack bars made with cricket flour.

According to the manufacturers, the Exo and Chapul cricket-flour bars each contain up to 40 dried, ground crickets, and that cricket flour has two times more protein than beef and 15 percent more iron than spinach.

In a blind test, Consumer Reports food experts answered the all-important question: How does it taste?

Tasters sampled six snack bars from the two manufacturers, as well as some Bitty cricket-flour chocolate-chip cookies. There were no off-notes in the bars, nothing unusual in the taste.

For the most part the bars had pretty simple straightforward ingredient listings with things like fruits, nuts, honey, flax, and of course crickets.

As for the cookies, they tasted more of coconut than crickets.

Consumer Reports advises that because crickets are closely related to shrimp, people with shellfish allergies should avoid products containing cricket flour.

It’s worth noting that cricket flour doesn’t come cheap. While regular flour is three to six cents an ounce, cricket flour costs about $1 an ounce.

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<![CDATA[Hot Air Balloon Wedding Ends in High-Flying Drama]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:07:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Hot+air+balloon+landing+0129.jpg

A pilot who landed a hot air balloon carrying a wedding party in the middle of a residential San Diego street Thursday says the emergency maneuver was the safest option for getting him and his eight passengers on the ground. 

Magical Adventures Pilot Phil Brandt said he knew about 20 minutes into the flight that he would not make the trip's Rancho Penisquitos destination because of changing wind conditions. After earlier attempts in open field and a number of rooftop near misses, Brandt chose Sorrento Valley's Lusk Boulevard to set down the balloon

“I chose the safest option I had with the conditions I had,” Brandt said.

Despite the risks caused by buildings and power lines near by, Brandt says there was no traffic below. He steered the basket into tree tops to slow it down and limit skidding on the street.

It's just that kind of unpredictability that frightens and frustrates nearby Sorrento Valley resident Sandra Williams. Williams says in the last 10 years she has had one hot air balloon collision with her home and several near misses.

“They can't control them they float out of an area that makes any sense,” Williams said.

Brandt says in 25 years and 7,000 flights, he's made emergency landings on roadways several hundred times. He considers this a a safe alternative with no injuries nor property damage.

“It was a controlled landing but at an unusual location,” Brandt said.

The pilot says he is required to contact the Federal Aviation Administration Friday to report details of the landing. He could be sanctioned or cited, but said he doesn't expect to be based on the circumstances.

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<![CDATA[Outside Attorney Fees Cost More Than Settlement Award]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 09:12:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic-gavel.jpg

The city of San Diego is settling a pension lawsuit for $70,000 after spending more than $2 million on outside attorneys.

In a gender discrimination case, it’s granting $875,000 in legal fees to a plaintiff’s attorney to whom a jury awarded $101,000 damages.

All that money could cover the salaries of 65 new police officers, or 25 percent of a new fire station’s cost.

When it comes to spending and defending taxpayer bucks, the city received frustrating results in those cases – for which the City Council is scheduled to approve payments next week.

The costliest lawsuit involved a woman who retired after 33 years with the city.

She was single, and challenged the fact that only married retirees get a "surviving spouse  continuance benefit" – half of a retiree's pension – on grounds of illegal "marital status discrimination".

The city's legal eagles squawked for 12 years.

"They're in the 'fight' mode, not in the 'solve' mode,” says her attorney, Michael Conger. “They've hired outside counsel that has really been most interested in churning the file and making money."

Conger isn't making any money from the case; he just wants the city to stop subsidizing married retirees' post-death benefits to their spouses – a form of life insurance.

"What the city's essentially doing is they're giving married employees at retirement a Rolex, and unmarried employees a Timex,” Conger analogized in an interview Thursday. “And they're defending the case by saying 'What's the problem? They both tell time.' That's essentially what's happened for 12 years."

Conger's getting $875,000 lawyers' fees from the city in the case of a veteran female lifeguard awarded $101,000 in a gender discrimination suit over not being promoted.

Similar suits by four other women in the lifeguard’s division cost the city $350,000.

In the pension case, Conger said, the city argued the spousal benefit is necessary for recruiting new employees: "The city's done away with the pension system since 2012 for everyone but police officers. Now they have 401(k) plans. And they still can attract highly competent people."

Conger figures workers could replace the subsidy with a dollar per paycheck.

Taxpayer advocate Richard Rider has one word for the outcome of those cases: “Insane”.

Rider, chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters, recalls that a three-year case he filed years ago saved county taxpayers $3.5 billion while running up legal fees of only $500,000, split among seven attorneys.

Noting that San Diego’s outside legal fees and payments to plaintiffs and their counsel are approved by City Council members, Rider observed: "They have a tendency to genuflect to experts…the most important characteristic for a city councilman is not intelligence, it's not education -- it's skepticism. It's even being cynical. We need more of it. We seem to have a dearth of it down there right now."

By way of response, city attorney's spokesman Gerry Braun pointed out in an email to NBC 7that Conger represents labor unions that opposed pension reform measures.

“The source of Mr. Conger’s frustration is the retiree health reform that was adopted by the City Council will save taxpayers as much as $800 million. Conger keeps challenging it, and we keep winning.”

Braun said the spousal benefits pension case was settled to "avoid another decade of litigation" – and that that Conger had sought greater damages, and attorney fees.

In the lifeguard case, according to Braun, Conger requested more than $3 million.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[SDPD Responds to 911 Wait Time Concerns]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:51:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Generic+911+smart+phone.jpg

When you call 911 to report an emergency, you don’t expect to be put on hold but it does happen, San Diego Police Department officials said Thursday.

A member of the NBC 7 news team dialed 911 from a mobile phone Wednesday at 12:04 p.m. to report an emergency in downtown San Diego.

She was put on hold. After one minute, she hung up. At 12:07 p.m., she received a call back from a dispatcher who took her report.

When approached about the recording stating that 911 dispatchers were answering other calls, an SDPD spokesperson confirmed the call was not answered immediately and explained why.

SDPD received more than 200 phone calls in one hour that were handled by 11 dispatchers.

“We had 134 911 calls during that hour, and over 71 non-emergency calls just in that hour,” said spokesperson Lt. Scott Wahl.

Wahl confirmed the time it took our staffer to reach a 911 operator was two minutes and 41 seconds.

That high volume of calls produced the second busiest hour for the department’s dispatch that day.

In the day, 88 percent of calls were answered in fewer than ten seconds, 91 percent in fewer than 20 seconds and 98 percent were answered in less than one minute, they said.

However, Wahl said the incident is a rare one for the dispatch center.

"We strive every day to answer those calls as quickly as we possibly can and when they hang up, although their call still stays in queue, it takes time for dispatcher to call back," he said.

He went on to suggest citizens not hang up and call back multiple times because that loads up the queue and slows the process down even more.

Dispatchers have to return each one of those calls, sometimes leaving voice mail messages if their return call is not answered.



Photo Credit: Vladimir Koletic, Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[BP Agents Intercept $430K in Meth at SD Checkpoint]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:11:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/1-29-15-Border+Patrol+Agents+Foil+Meth+Smuggling+Attempt+at+I-8+Checkpoint_photo+4.jpg

A Mexican national was busted at a San Diego border checkpoint with more than $430,000 of methamphetamine hidden in his car.

Just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped a 43-year-old man driving a 2007 Kia Sorrento at the Pine Valley checkpoint on Interstate 8 after a K9 alerted them, officials said.

The vehicle was then sent to secondary inspection where agents found 34 cellophane-wrapped bundles of methamphetamine inside an aftermarket compartment tucked under the SUV's back seat, according to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Officials said they found 48.15 pounds of meth worth an estimated street value of $433,350.

The man was subsequently arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Border Patrol seized the SUV.



Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Would Boost CA Smoking Age From 18 to 21]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:12:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic-smoking-teen.jpg

A Southern California lawmaker wants to increase the legal smoking age in the state from 18 to 21 in an effort to make it harder for teens to get their hands on cigarettes.

Democratic State Sen. Ed Hernandez introduced Senate Bill 151 on Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reports.

“We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them,” Hernandez said in a statement.

The bill is likely to face opposition from tobacco companies, who have again become major players in Sacramento, the newspaper reports.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Men Accused in Fatal Pot Shop Robbery Bound for Trial]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:50:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/north+park+shooting+0425.JPG

Two men accused of robbing a North Park dispensary at gunpoint, resulting in the shooting death of an alleged accomplice will stand trial, a judge said Thursday.

Kurese Bell, 18, is charged with murder, attempted murder and robbery in the April incident, and Atiim Smith, 22, is charged with attempted murder and felony robbery.

Smith is suspected to have been the getaway driver after his prints were found inside a vehicle police impounded following the robbery, a latent print examiner testified.

Another defendant, Jonathan Vincent Collins, 21, who avoided police for five months before being found by U.S. Marshals in Texas, pleaded guilty to robbery and gang allegations and is expected to be sentenced to 12 years in state prison on April 2.

According to police, two of the men entered the store in the 3800 block of Ray Street in the middle of the day April 25 and held the people inside at gunpoint.

The men got into a shootout with a security guard, resulting in one of the suspects being shot and killed. The security guard was also shot in the pelvis, according to testimony heard Thursday.

Bell was also charged in a robbery at a smoke shop just four days prior to the dispensary robbery. He was 17 at the time, but charged as an adult for the crimes.

Both defendants are headed to trial and their next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11.

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<![CDATA["Our Silences" Unveiled in San Diego]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:11:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Our-Silences-0129_3.jpg

A massive bronze art put on display Thursday in downtown San Diego has already done what the artist had hoped it would - open up dialogue.

San Diego is the first city in the U.S. to showcase a bronze exhibit by Mexican sculptor, Rivelino which addresses the right of free speech. 

“Our Silences” is made up of 10 bronze figures weighing approximately a ton each.

Each figure has a metal plate covering its mouth, representing the importance of freedom of expression.

“What this exhibit is about is precisely about making anyone who sees this anywhere in the world to understand is that it’s important for them to say what they think, to say what they feel,” Rivelino said.

With one important exception, he added, “Freedom of expression does not mean freedom of aggression.”

The exhibit also includes a "touch box," a cubic sculpture made of steel with smaller pieces based on the larger figures.

The sculpture has toured many cities around the world where it creates a different experience based on the local landscape.

Rivelino said in the three days of setting up the exhibit, his staff has faced 3,000 questions.

"That is just a sample of what will happen over the two months that this exhibit will be here," he said.

The Consulate General of Mexico partnered with the Port of San Diego to bring the exhibit to San Diego as a way to raise awareness about Mexican art in the U.S.

“For San Diego to be the first city, the stop in the US, I think speaks volumes,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer at Thursday’s installation.

The project also aims at strengthening common grounds between the two nations.

"Our Silences" will remain on display until March 15 in Ruocco Park at the corner of Harbor Lane and Pacific Highway in downtown. 



Photo Credit: NBC 7 Jeff Herrera]]>
<![CDATA[Gunmen Who Took $500k in Jewelry Sought]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:23:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/del-cerro-robberies-all.jpg

Two men suspected of making off with $500,000 worth of jewelery during a December armed robbery are still being sought by local authorities.

San Diego Crime Stoppers and the San Diego Police Department's Robbery Unit said on Dec. 7, the two were armed with handguns when they approached a man standing by his car near the intersection of Bernadette Lane and Saint Therese Way in Del Cerro.

They took two bags with more than $500,000 in jewelry inside out of the man's car before taking off on foot westbound down Bernadette Lane, police said.

Police were able to use surveillance footage to capture pictures of the men who are described as 30- to 40-year-old medium-skinned men between 5 foot 8 inches and six feet tall. Suspect one weighs 180 to 200 pounds, was wearing a blue sweatshirt, dark colored pants and a black ball cap. The other weighs 150 to 180 pounds and was wearing a gray jacket, dark jeans and a white ball cap.

Both men were armed with black handguns, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the SDPD Robbery Unit at (619) 531-2299 or Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477 or by clicking here. A $1,000 reward is offered for anyone with information leading to an arrest.



Photo Credit: Crime Stoppers]]>
<![CDATA[SD's First Legal Pot Shop Wins Appeal]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:13:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Pot+Appeal+Pic-PIC_0.jpg

A San Diego State University professor who obtained the first conditional use permit for the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary is cleared to move forward with the business, according to a report from KPBS.

In October, the San Diego Development Service Commission approved the City of San Diego's first medical marijuana dispensary license. SDSU business professor Dr. David Blair was the man behind it all.

Blair, a business ethics professor, applied for the license to open A Green Alternative on Roll Drive in Otay Mesa. But Barbara Gordon, a North County drug specialist, appealed the ruling.

The city's Planning Commission, however, denied the appeal unanimously Thursday, KPBS said.

A Green alternative will be the second legal dispensary in San Diego county and the first for the city, according to KPBS.

“We’re just so thrilled, grateful and humbled by it,” Blair said in October of the permit approval.

Having been diagnosed with HIV and PID, Blair uses medicinal marijuana and recalls having to drive to Los Angeles to get his prescription filled legally.

He said he is dedicated to following the rules and setting an example for other marijuana dispensaries that may come to San Diego.

“We play by the rules. We always intend to play by the rules and we will only play by the rules,” Blair said.

Opponents said the one-story commercial building where the dispensary will be located is not the right place for a pot shop.

But according to KPBS, the nearest neighborhood is nearly five miles away, and to get to the nearest residence - a prison - one would have to travel two miles.

The dispensary will be located at 2335 Roll Drive #4 near near Siempre Viva Road just east of State Route 905.

Blair noted that when he is teaching, he does not medicate the day before so he can be alert for his classes.

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<![CDATA["Revenge Porn" Site Immoral, Not Illegal: Defense]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:56:29 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Kevin+Bollaert+0116.JPG

A man accused of posting more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos of women to a website to extort them for money sat quietly in court Thursday morning, as he watched his defense attorney try to convince the jury of his innocence.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Emily Rose-Weber said while 28-year-old Kevin Bollaert's business may have been "immoral" or "sleazy," it was not illegal.

The case went to a jury on Thursday afternoon.

She compared her client's now defunct website Yougotposted.com, to other websites that defend people's reputations.

Bollaert faces 31 felony counts, including six counts of exortion, after ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands submitted photos to his website. The photos included links to the victims' social media accounts.

Deputy Attorney General Tawnya Austin said victims were directed to another website, created by Bollaert, called ChangeMyReputation.com. Victims were charged $300 to $350 to have their photos removed.

The victims were distraught and desperate to have the photos removed, Austin said during opening statements. In her closing argument, Austin described the site as a "blood sport."

"All that blood on the floor. All that humiliation. The fact that I'm the one that makes all the money off ot it. I just provided the venue -- not my bad," Austin told jurors. "That's not the way the law works."

In addition to paying a hefty fine, victims were also told they must submit another photo to Bollaert holding a sign with their birthdate.

Rose-Weber argues her client should not be held legally responsible.

"Is it illegal to host a website where bad things happen?" Rose-Weber said in her opening statement. "Is it illegal to hold up a big blank canvas to anyone who wants to paint it?"

Rose-Weber described Bollaert to the court as an aspiring web developer who wanted to start a business in the tech industry.

The so-called "revenge porn" case is the first of its kind, filed by state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The prosecution is expected to make their closing arguments Thursday.

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<![CDATA[Facebook's 'N-Word' Policy Shocks Dad]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:15:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/facebook-generic.gif

A San Marcos father is upset about a post on his daughter's Facebook page. He says someone posted a derogatory term about African Americans but when he reported it to Facebook, administrators said there is nothing they can do.

"It's showing kids that it's OK. You can do what you want,” said Cody York of the post that used the N-word. York says he immediately responded to the person who posted it.

“After I saw that and made a comment to him about think of yourself talking to your mother or would you talk to your loved ones like that.”

York said he immediately reported the comment to Facebook Administrators saying it contained hate speech or symbols. He was surprised by the response.

“Facebook got back to me today (Wednesday) and said they reviewed it and it doesn't violate their community standards.”

The post used the N-word but spelled it with an “ah” at the end, instead of an “er.”

Dr. Roy Whitaker, a professor at San Diego State University, said this is a touchy subject. He isn’t surprised some people may feel free to use the N-word, especially on social media, and don't see it as offensive.

"It's obviously going to be a touchy term, particularly when those individuals not in the black community use the term," Whitaker said. "Of course the context will of course matter in terms of who uses the term and how they use the term.”

He went on to say, “In terms of youth culture in particular, and the social media networks, with them listening to hip hop and other forms of music, there’s a currency to the term and so it gets brought into different communities and different sectors.”

But York said in no way is it acceptable.

“Just getting the word out to parents, saying monitor your kids Facebook," York said. "They may talk one way in front of you, but you never know when they are with their friends or away from home.”

A Facebook spokesperson sent NBC 7 this statement:

“We aim to find the right balance between giving people a place to express themselves and promoting a welcoming and safe environment for our diverse, global community. Not all disagreeable or disturbing content violates our Community Standards. For this reason, we offer people who use Facebook the ability to customize and control what they see by unfollowing, blocking and hiding the posts, people, Pages and applications they don’t want to see.”

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