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News Scan

Texas Switches To a Different Execution Drug: Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press reports that the busiest death penalty state in the nation is switching to the use of pentobarbital in its three-drug cocktail used for lethal injections. The switch is due to a shortage of sodium thiopental, which Texas has used since 1982 when it became the first state to do lethal injections. This shortage is forcing multiple states to find alternative drugs. Pentobarbital has recently been used in executions in Oklahoma and Ohio.

San Francisco Begins Enforcement of Sit/Lie Law: CBS San Francisco reports that police officers have begun enforcing a new law passed by voters in November that makes sitting and lying on sidewalks illegal between 7am and 11pm. For now, police officers are giving out verbal or written warnings and are directing people to city services instead of handing out tickets. Brian Molony, one of the founders of the new Haight Ashbury Merchants Association, says he hopes the law will help clean up the Haight, where businesses can have a really hard time.

Familial DNA Used in Rape and Robbery Case: Stephen Baxter of the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports on the second arrest in the nation to use DNA from a family member to connect a suspect to a crime. Three years ago, a 24-year-old employee at the Kind Grind Coffee Shop in Santa Cruz was threatened with a knife, sexually assaulted, and locked in the walk-in refrigerator as the suspect took the cash from the register and fled. On Friday, 21-year-old Elvis Lorenzo Garcia was arrested for the crime. Police sent DNA evidence to the state Department of Justice laboratory in November 2008. In November 2010, DNA from a relative of Garcia's was matched to the DNA from the crime scene. Authorities ruled out the relative and kept a close watch on Garcia, and police obtained arrest and search warrants for him. His arraignment was postponed until later this month,  when prosecutors say he will be charged with eight counts including kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, burglary and the use of a knife.

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