In California: A flurry of activity in Kristin Smart's '96 disappearance

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Authorities serve multiple search warrants in the 1996 case of the missing Cal Poly freshman. Plus: President Trump's SOTU takes aim at the Golden State's sanctuary law. And we asked Democratic presidential candidates questions on four issues important here. Wednesday's spotlight: Housing.

It's Arlene with news for Wednesday.

But first, Hollywood actor, producer and director Kirk Douglas died Wednesday at age 103.

Actor Kirk Douglas, whose career spanned more than 60 years, died on February 5, 2020. He was 103 years old.
Actor Kirk Douglas, whose career spanned more than 60 years, died on February 5, 2020. He was 103 years old.

To the world, he was a legendary actor and a humanitarian who inspired those around him, his son Michael Douglas wrote in an Instagram post. "But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine (Zeta-Jones), a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great-grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband."

Kirk Douglas liked to refer to himself as “the ragman’s son,” but to most people, the cleft-chinned actor was the epitome of an old-fashioned movie star.

In California is a daily roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms and beyond. Click here to get this straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Could Smart's 1996 disappearance be solved?

A member of the Los Angeles Sheriffs Dept. searches a vehicle during an investigation outside of a home in connection with a cold case in Los Angeles. Search warrants were served Wednesday at locations in California and Washington state in the investigation of the disappearance of Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996.
A member of the Los Angeles Sheriffs Dept. searches a vehicle during an investigation outside of a home in connection with a cold case in Los Angeles. Search warrants were served Wednesday at locations in California and Washington state in the investigation of the disappearance of Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has served search warrants for four locations across two states in the case of Kristin Smart, who went missing in 1996.

Two of the warrants are in San Luis Obispo County, one is in San Pedro and another is in Washington state, authorities said.

Smart, of Stockton, was 19 and a freshman at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, when she disappeared. She was last seen on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend; fellow students had escorted her home after an off-campus party.

Last month, the FBI told Smart's mother to be ready for an update on the case.

A man named Paul Flores reportedly was the last person seen with Smart but he was never arrested or charged in the case. On Jan. 29, the sheriff’s office announced it had two trucks in evidence that belonged to members of the Flores family in 1996.

4 in brief: Owls, dams, LinkedIn and the Oscars

This barn owl at the Ojai Raptor Center was rescued from Highway 101 in Santa Barbara in "very critical" condition. But the bird is expected to make a full recovery.
This barn owl at the Ojai Raptor Center was rescued from Highway 101 in Santa Barbara in "very critical" condition. But the bird is expected to make a full recovery.

A barn owl found badly injured off Highway 101 in Santa Barbara has returned to the wild and is expected to find her/his way back home.

A Fresno-based water agency drops out of a $1.4 billion effort to raise the Shasta Dam. The feds are undeterred.

Sunnyvale-based LinkedIn has a new CEO.

Don't have cable? Here's how you can still watch Sunday's Oscars.

Pardoned for the 'crime' of being gay

After he was found having consensual sex with men in 1953, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin spent 50 days in a Los Angeles jail on a misdemeanor "lewd conduct charge" and forced to register as a sex offender. On Wednesday, nearly seven decades later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom posthumously pardoned him for the "crime."

Rustin's pardon is the first in a series that Newsom plans to issue as part of a new clemency initiative that will take a step toward undoing decades of wrongful prosecution and violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the state.

The governor called for others to apply for pardons, opening and expediting the process of seeking clemency for people who, like Rustin, were subjected to unjust arrest and discrimination.

“I thank those who advocated for Bayard Rustin’s pardon, and I want to encourage others in similar situations to seek a pardon to right this egregious wrong," Newsom said in a statement.

Democratic presidential contenders on: housing

In few places is the housing crisis as severe as California, which will face an estimated shortage of 3.5 million homes by 2025, ranks 49 out of the 50 states in homes per capita, and has more than 150,000 individuals experiencing homelessness.

The next president will oversee the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and make spending decisions on everything from rental assistance to low-income housing tax credits.

The Desert Sun enlisted State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, to ask Democratic primary candidates about the state's housing troubles and their plans to address them. Each candidate was given the same set of questions to answer within a specific timeframe.

See how they answered here.

Trump's guest a Calif. man whose brother was killed by undocumented immigrant

Jody Jones of Farmersville tearfully stands during Tuesday's State of the Union address. He was recognized by President Trump following his brother's death during a 2018 "reign of terror."
Jody Jones of Farmersville tearfully stands during Tuesday's State of the Union address. He was recognized by President Trump following his brother's death during a 2018 "reign of terror."

A Tulare County man made a tearful appearance during Tuesday's State of the Union Adress as one of 11 special guests invited by President Trump.

Jody Jones was there because his brother Rocky was shot to death in the parking lot of a convenience store in December 2018. Police said Gustavo Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, killed Rocky during a 24-hour "reign of terror" that saw Garcia commit nearly a dozen crimes across Tulare County before dying in a high-speed chase.

Garcia had twice been deported and had been arrested on a drug charge shortly before killing Rocky Jones.

Trump in the speech blamed California's "outrageous law declaring their whole state to be a sanctuary for illegal, criminal immigrants."

The president claimed that in sanctuary cities, "local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed."

Mike Boudreaux, the county sheriff on the Jones case, also blamed the sanctuary law for what happened. Garcia's drug charge was a misdemeanor; the state's law allows for coordination with federal immigration authorities in felony cases. PolitiFact labeled Trump's sanctuary claims "mostly false."

Research has shown that immigrants, whether legal or undocumented, do not commit crimes at higher rates than U.S.-born residents. In fact, a report done by the libertarian Cato Institute that analyzed Texas data found immigrants are jailed and commit crimes at a lower rate than citizens.

What else we're talking about

Virginity tests: What they are, how they work and why California could ban them.

In mobile home parks, where residents own homes but not the land where they sit, the question comes up again and again: Who is responsible for capital improvements?

Great Wolf Lodge will open a new resort and indoor water park on Aug. 1 in NorCal's Manteca. Act now to score discounted stays.

When should truancy become a juvenile court matter?

That's the question behind an unusual case the California Supreme Court heard Wednesday in Sacramento. The case centers on an Oxnard student who allegedly had more than two dozen absences when officials turned her case over to the courts.

The Ventura County Public Defender's office argued the girl should have had a chance to go before a Student Attendance Review Board, an in-house body that's supposed to work with students and families to keep children out of the juvenile court system.

In the 2015-16 school year, when this happened, 1,375 parents and children were cited for truancy in Ventura County. Senior Deputy Public Defender William Quest said the school never tried to find out what was behind the missed class time.

“Before we just try to prosecute this little girl, let’s try and help her,” Quest told a lower court in 2017.

The court now has 90 days to issue its decision.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Marshall Project, The Cato Institute, PolitiFact, CBS.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kirk Douglas, Kristin Smart, SOTU, sanctuary, virginity test: Wed news

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting