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This Hour: Latest Northern California news, sports, business and entertainment

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Gov. Jerry Brown spends $270,000 during primary

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Jerry Brown is reporting that he spent just $270,000 during his primary bid for re-election as he continues to build a financial advantage over Republican challenger Neel Kashkari.

The Democratic governor on Thursday reported raising $5.7 million in the first half of the year. That expands the amount of cash he has on hand to $22.4 million as of June 30.

The latest poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Brown with a 19 percentage-point lead over Kashkari.

Kashkari is a former U.S. Treasury official who helped oversee the federal bank bailout during the recession. He faces tough odds against a well-funded incumbent seeking an unprecedented fourth term.

Kashkari has not yet filed his semi-annual financial statement, which is due next week.


No decision on California death penalty appeal

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's attorney general says it's too soon to say if the state will appeal a federal judge's ruling that the state's death penalty process is unconstitutional.

Kamala Harris said Thursday that a decision will be made by year's end on last week's ruling by U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

She says she personally opposes capital punishment, but will follow the law.

Harris says it's also too soon to know if Wednesday's botched execution in Arizona will have any affect in California. She says she doesn't know if any execution can be done humanely under current circumstances.

Harris made her comments after presenting valor awards to law enforcement officers at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento.


Prison mental health panel gets interim director

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - An interim director has been appointed to help guide the work of a council that advises California agencies on mental health treatment for residents at risk of incarceration.

Nathan Stanley was named to the post Thursday after the members of the Council on Mentally Ill Offenders told The Associated Press they couldn't meet the council's legal obligations without staff help.

Most of the 12 volunteer members work fulltime professional jobs.

Stanley doubles as associate director of field operations for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He will do both jobs while officials search for a permanent executive director.

The panel is supposed to make recommendations to the prison system, state agencies and law enforcement on cost-effective ways to keep the mentally ill from committing crimes.


Appeals court upholds proposed bullet train route

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A state appeals court has upheld a proposed route for California's bullet train project connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to the Central Valley.

The decision issued Thursday is a short-term win for Gov. Jerry Brown, who has made the $68-billion project a priority.

The original lawsuit filed by Bay Area cities had argued that a planned path through the Pachecho Pass hurts the environment. The state argued the project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because of federal oversight.

Thursday's court decision left the project open to other environmental lawsuits.

Plaintiffs' attorney Stuart Flashman says it's not clear if his clients will appeal. He says the authority still has a lot of hurdles ahead.

The appeals court is expected to rule on two other high-speed rail challenges.


Alleged pot grower charged with starting wildfire

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A suspected marijuana grower has been charged with lighting a forest fire that burned a remote part of the Sequoia National Forest.

A federal grand jury returned a 5-count indictment Thursday charging 45-year-old Edgardo Fournier-Nigaglioni with starting the so-called Nicolls Fire, which started July 11 and burned more than 2 square miles in the mountains northeast of Bakersfield.

According to court documents, Fournier-Nigaglioni admitted to setting the fires to escape fellow marijuana growers he believed wanted to kill him.

He said he thought that the others in his crew had turned against him and dug a grave to dispose of his body, rather than pay him what he was owed.

Investigators this month have linked two California wildfire to marijuana grows.


California man gets 14 years for rape

LOS BANOS, Calif. (AP) - A Central California man has been sentenced to 14 years and eight months in prison following his conviction on charges that he drugged and raped two men.

Prosecutors say 25-year-old Thomas Zavaleta attacked the men in separate incidents in 2012 while they were unconscious in the bathroom of his Los Banos apartment. He was accused of taking photographs of the 21-year-old victim and videotaping his attack on the second victim, a 24-year-old man.

Jurors watched the 17-minute video during the trial.

The Merced Sun-Star reports that Zavaleta said through his attorney that he was sorry before Merced County Superior Court Judge Marc Garcia sentenced him on Tuesday. The jury had convicted him of numerous felony sexual assault counts.

Zavaleta will be eligible for parole after serving about five years in prison.


Drought starting to kill salmon in Klamath Basin

ORLEANS, Calif. (AP) - Low warm water conditions from the drought are starting to kill salmon in Northern California's Klamath Basin - the site of a massive fish kill in 2002.

Sara Borok (BORH-rok) of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said a survey of the Salmon River on Wednesday found 55 dead adult salmon and more dead juveniles than would be expected this time of year. The reason is low and warm water related to the drought.

Fisheries officials do not want see a repeat of 2002, but there is little to do but pray for rain. Even in the Klamath River, which has dams to store water, there is little available for extra releases.

The Salmon River is a tributary of the Klamath River.


Docs: slain suspect had 4 girlfriends who died

Court documents show a man fatally shot by Sunnyvale officers last month had relationships with four women who died.

Glen Griggs was killed when he brandished a BB gun at officers trying to serve a warrant for his arrest.

The San Jose Mercury News reports the officers were investigating the disappearance of Griggs' girlfriend.

The warrant detailed his relationship with three other women who died between 2003 and 2006.

The newspaper says the full facts of Grigg's possible involvement in those deaths will probably never be known.

The deaths of two women who lived with Griggs involved excessive amounts of alcohol. Police said the death of a third woman whose body was found at a recycling center is obviously suspicious.

Griggs' uncle said he doubts his nephew committed murder.


$50,000 reward offered in Stockton bank heist

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) - Authorities in Northern California are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a fourth suspect in connection with a bank robbery that spun into a police chase and deadly shootout.

The FBI said Thursday it will be contributing $20,000 to a reward fund that also includes $20,000 from the Bank of the West and $10,000 from Stockton Crime Stoppers.

Officials say they want to find the driver who dropped off three armed robbers outside the bank last Wednesday before driving away in a black Buick.

The car was found two days later.

Two of the robbers and one hostage were killed during the shootout. The third robber who police said used the hostage as a human shield faces murder and attempted murder charges.


Professor charged with taping students in bathroom

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An accounting professor has been charged with secretly taping students in his San Francisco apartment's bathroom.

Prosecutors say Mark Landis, who taught at San Francisco State University and University of San Francisco, frequently hosted students at his home. In November, a male student found a camera hidden in a tissue box on the toilet.

District Attorney George Gascon told KTVU-TV that investigators identified 15 people who were videotaped, so Landis is charged with 15 misdemeanor counts of invasion of privacy. Gascon said there may be more victims out there.

Landis, who is released on $100,000 bond, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. The station said attempts to contact him and his attorney were unsuccessful.

Landis resigned at San Francisco State last Friday. He taught at USF for two years.


Mom accused of leaving kids in car ordered held

PLEASANTON, Calif. (AP) - A mother charged with leaving two toddlers in a car while she gambled at a Northern California casino has been ordered held by a judge who deemed her a flight risk.

Phaley Nget of Oakland didn't enter a plea on misdemeanor child endangerment charges at her arraignment Thursday.

The Contra Costa Times reports a public defender asked the judge to release Nget because she has other children to look after, but the judge ordered her held on $100,000 bail.

Court papers show that after officers rescued the children, ages 2 and 3, and found Nget she told them she was away from the vehicle for five minutes to use the casino's bathroom. However, surveillance video showed she was gambling for 26 minutes.

The children were taken into protective custody.


Kids at California summer camp find hidden gun

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) - Police say children at a summer camp found a loaded shotgun hidden under a Santa Rosa elementary school building.

Police Sgt. John Cregan told the Press Democrat on Thursday that the children were searching for marbles two days earlier when they discovered the weapon inside metal grating at the base of the building. One round was loaded in the chamber and four more were in the tube of the sawed-off shotgun.

The children found the weapon Tuesday after camp had ended, and told their camp counselors about it the next morning.

Cregan said the weapon had many of the characteristics of a "hood gun" - a weapon stashed by gang members to keep at the ready for possible confrontations.

Investigators were trying to determine who owned the gun.

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