A 52-year-old Parlier man was sentenced Tuesday in Fresno County Superior Court to 50 years to life in prison for fatally shooting another man last year.
A jury last month found Cesario Garibay Benitez guilty of first-degree murder in the March 7, 2010, killing of Israel Lopez, 34.
During the trial, prosecutor Lymarc Jenkins said Benitez, Lopez and other farmworkers lived together at a Parlier home and that Benitez often bragged about being the boss. When Lopez stood up to Benitez, Benitez shot the unarmed Lopez in the head, Jenkins said.
Farmersville mom pleads not guilty
Danielle Elizabeth Downing, 24, of Farmersville pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder in the death of her newborn girl whose body was found in a trash can in October.
Tulare County Superior Court Judge Ronn Couillard appointed the public defender's office to represent her. Downing is being held without bail on the murder charge and one count of child abuse causing death.
Downing was arrested last week after a four-month investigation in which Farmersville police said physical evidence, witness statements and coroner's findings pointed to homicide.
Visalia suspect faces death penalty at trial
Murder suspect Ryan Jones of Visalia lost a bid Tuesday to avoid a death penalty trial in the 2009 death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.
Jones is charged with the murder of Natalynn Miller, who died of blunt force trauma on March 22, 2009. Tulare County Superior Court Judge Valeriano Saucedo ruled that the special circumstance of torture can stand, making Jones eligible for the death penalty if found guilty.
Assistant District Attorney Shani Jenkins said the District Attorney's Office will seek the death penalty. A trial date will be set in May.
Meanwhile, the girl's mother, Nicole Lee, is charged with child endangerment resulting in serious bodily injury. A trial date will be set later this month. If found guilty, she faces 10 years in prison.
Fresno Co. board OKs pension tier
Fresno County supervisors on Tuesday signed off on a new tier of retirement benefits for future employees.
The new benefit package, which will apply to employees hired after June 10, dictates that workers pay more toward their pensions and collect less.
The plan comes as the county struggles with a pension system that is paying out more than it is bringing in. In the coming fiscal year, supervisors will spend roughly 14% of the budget to sustain retirement, or about $227 million.
Savings from the new retirement tier initially will be small. But as new employees are hired and begin to retire, the savings will grow.
The county expects to save $17.3 million by 2018 and $101 million by 2038.
Fresno State professor honored
A Fresno State professor received the California Journalism Education Coalition's Lifetime Achievement Award at Saturday's San Joaquin Valley Scholastic Press Association conference for high school students.
Gary Rice was honored during the 81st edition of the conference at Fresno State, where Clovis West High School took top honors by winning the newspaper sweepstakes trophy, said Fresno State spokesman Tom Uribes.
The coalition praised Rice for his commitment to preparing student journalists to become reporters with his community journalism program, Uribes said.
Rice also was recognized for supporting high school journalism through the SJVSPA conference.
Job-training director in Visalia to retire
Community Services and Employment Training executive director Carolyn Rose will retire from the Visalia-based organization that she led for 30 years, the group said Monday. Her last day will be June 29.
The nonprofit group oversees about 40 programs, including job training, Sequoia Community Corps for young adults, home weatherization, foreclosure counseling and safe haven youth centers.
Rose was hired as executive director in 1982. Since then, the group's annual budget grew from $612,000 to $24.3 million. The Visalia Chamber of Commerce named Rose as 2007 Woman of the Year.
Post offices plan passport fair
Valley post offices are hosting passport fairs Saturday as part of "Passport Day in the USA."
Passport information will be available and applications will be accepted without an appointment.
The events will be held at: Tranquillity Post Office, 25560 Scaggs Ave., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Reedley Post Office, 1509 11th St., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Madera Post Office, 201 S. D St., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Los Banos Post Office, 1135 6th St., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Fresno Downtown Post Office, 1900 E St., 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For passport forms visit usps.com/passport or travel.state.gov/passport. U.S. citizens.