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Two men who appealed convictions that led to life sentences for the death of man during a botched marijuana robbery have had their charges lowered but their basic life sentences upheld. The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office says Marvin Johnson Jr., and Simon Thornton were convicted in June 2012 of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and several other charges, for the incident at Lake Mendocino’s Bushay campground in 2011. The prosecution said Johnson hatched the robbery plan and recruited others in Willits to join him, but it was Thornton who started the violence by using a baseball ball when the victims fought back. The Court of Appeal in San Francisco ultimately found a glitch in a jury instruction and ordered a reversal of their original first-and-second degree murder convictions and gave the DA the option of either a new trial or a conviction for second-degree murder. The DA agreed to the lesser charge and last Friday both men appeared before their original judge for new a sentence, but still ended up with life terms, with just a few months’ shorter on the minimums.

Another lawsuit has been filed for last December’s fire at the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship. An attorney representing several of the families of those killed in the fire has filed a master complaint in Alameda County against the building’s owner and manager. Other families have filed individual lawsuits alleging unsafe conditions existed at the building long before the fire that killed 36 people attending a concert within the maze of illegal living spaces. The DA is still investigating whether criminal charges should be filed against the building’s owner and leaseholder, but the lawsuits filed so far allege they negligently ignored safety hazards.

The California Department of Public Health is asking you to eliminate standing water around your property to help reduce mosquito populations in an effort to prevent Zika and West Nile virus infections. The State Public Health Officer says as the rainy season comes to an end and temperatures go up, we will see a jump in mosquito activity and you can help curb that by dumping out any containers that hold standing water. She says mosquitoes can breed in very small amounts of water so frequently clean your birdbaths and pet watering dishes, and dump water from the little dishes under your potted plants.

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