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Jail inmate death ruled homicide

 March 3, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, March third.

The death of a county jail inmate last year, has been ruled a homicide. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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A former S-D-S-U football player pleaded not guilty yesterday to a charge of possession of child pornography.

20 year old Nowlin Ewaliko was being investigated in an alleged rape, when police say he was found in possession of child pornography.

Police and prosecutors have not talked about the nature of the material that they found in his possession.

Ewaliko was one of three former S-D-S-U players accused of raping a 17-year- old girl at an off-campus house party in October 20-21.

The District Attorney's Office announced late last year that no charges would be filed in the rape case.

If convicted of the possession count, Ewaliko faces up to three years in prison, and would have to register as a sex offender.

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New data shows just how much our recent storms have improved the drought in California.

Before those storms, nearly all of California was in drought, including in the extreme and exceptional levels.

Now, the U-S Drought Monitor says no areas are in the highest levels, while 49-percent is in moderate or severe drought, 34-percent is abnormally dry and nearly 17-percent of the state is free of drought.

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Governor Newsom yesterday announced the state will extend the tax deadline for *most* counties in the state, including ours, to October 16th.

His announcement comes after the I-R-S deadline was already extended for those living in counties impacted by recent storms.

But state officials say the extension will be a hurdle for state lawmakers.

The Legislature and governor rely on the April tax deadline to figure out the state budget that’s due in June.

The budget deadline can’t be changed.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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The county Medical Examiner has ruled that the death of a jail inmate last year was a homicide. 

Reporter Kitty Alvarado has the details.

46 year old Lonnie Newton Rupard was found unresponsive in his cell at the San Diego Central Jail on March 17th of last year.  He was taken to the hospital, where he died. Now – nearly a year later —  the medical examiner’s report says Rupard suffered from severe mental illness,  and at the time of his death had pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration and COVID.  His death has been declared a homicide. The medical examiner is not going to list something as a homicide if she’s not convinced that it is, hands down. Paul Parker is the executive officer of the county’s Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board. He says these decisions aren’t made lightly. The autopsy report also says Rupard refused treatment and care multiple times. I am committed to compassionate care for everyone in our custody, and we can do better and we are doing better now Sheriff Kelly Martinez says  her department is hiring a consultant to look into creating a separate facility for inmates with mental health issues. Rupard’s death is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit and Internal Affairs….Their findings will be submitted to the District attorney and U-S attorney’s office for review and possible charges. KA KPBS News.

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The city of San Diego on Tuesday released a draft of its plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 20-35.

But reporter Jacob Aere says climate activists want more details and a specific timeline on how that's actually going to happen.

The draft of San Diego's Climate Action Implementation Plan includes strategies to cut natural gas emissions from buildings across the city, provide public access to clean and renewable energy … and improve transit options that don't involve cars. The plan also calls for waste reduction and restoring green spaces. But The Climate Action Campaign’s Brenda Garcia Millan (ME-yon) says more needs to be done in order for the city to make its 2035 target for net zero emissions. “So we are cautiously optimistic because even though the plan is finally out it is still missing important deadlines and benchmarks as well as costs for many of its actions.” The city’s Environment Committee will discuss the implementation plan on March 9. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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As homeless encampments grow in downtown San Diego, there are plans to close Golden Hall as a homeless shelter.

My colleague Maureen Cavanaugh spoke with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria yesterday and asked why it’s being closed.

That was San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Maureen Cavanaugh.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is studying psychedelic drugs as a treatment for P-T-S-D and other disorders.

For decades, some scientists have viewed psychedelics as a potential treatment for addiction and other psychiatric conditions.

But research was thwarted by government regulation and concerns about recreational drug use.

As Jonathan Ahl reports for the American Homefront Project, the V-A now is trying to work around those obstacles.

Jesse Gould is a retired Army Ranger. He was a mortarman, meaning he regularly launched shells from a metal tube just a few feet away. He says the repetition of those blasts was like getting hit in the head over and over again Gould These concussive forces over time can have very similar issues and damages on the brain. I was not diagnosed with that, but had to figure that out for myself, being around all of these explosions Gould was eventually diagnosed with PTSD, but all of the conventional treatments didn’t help him. That’s why he turned to psychedelics Gould And a lot of traumas don’t go away but you are able to handle them better, right? We can’t change our past, but we can handle how we process things and how we allow things to completely take over our lives. And that is a gift that my own psychedelic therapies have given me. VA clinics in New York, California and Oregon are conducting studies using psychedelic drugs - like MDMA, also known as Ecstacy, and psilocybin, a compound produced naturally by some mushrooms.That makes the VA one of dozens of institutions studying psychedelics. Dr. Josh Seigel is part of a team researching the drugs at Washington University in St. Louis. He says while the data shows psychedelics are successful in treating PTSD, severe depression and anxiety, there isn’t consensus among researchers on exactly how they work. Siegel says some believe the mental journey someone has while on the drugs is the cause, while others look to the science: Siegel These drugs, which are, in the case of psychedelics, hitting specific serotonin sub receptors and this produces changes in brain plasticity, and that’s why the drugs work. And maybe it has nothing to do with the acute psychedelic experience. Siegel says he is excited the VA is getting more involved in studies of psychedelics, as it is a major sign of overall acceptance of the drugs as part of a therapy program. Advocates for psychedelic use say a big hurdle to their widespread acceptance is a need for highly trained doctors and nurses to administer them. Eapen Trampy is a lobbyist for Silo Wellness. He says patients going through psychedelic therapy are very vulnerable to suggestion, and require practitioners of the highest training and ethics: Eapen But at the same time, there have been numerous scandals where a facilitator sexually abuses the person they are leading through a psychedelic or MDMA experience Trampy says even with those caveats, he is glad the VA is getting involved in studies with psychedelics, but he is concerned the agency’s public support is measured. Lisa Brenner is clinical psychologist with the VA, and testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee in September. Brenner (VA researchers are engaged in research around this, however they need very specific safety and IRB approvals to ensure that we are keeping our veterans safe while we are exploring these new interventions. These current projects are not funded by the office of research and development, but VA is engaged and watching closely.) Advocates for psychedelic therapies are hoping the federal Drug Enforcement Administration will take the Schedule 1 designation off of MDMA and psilocybin, paving the way for more research and use. They are hoping to avoid a state by state set of decisions as has been the case for medical marijuana. I’m Jonathan Ahl in St. Louis.

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans.

Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Coming up.... San Diego researchers say cross border sewage is not just polluting the water. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Local researchers say the sewage polluting the ocean off South County beaches is also polluting the air.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson explains.

Billions of gallons of sewage tainted water has flowed across the international border and out into the ocean in the past few months.  Many southern beaches were closed most of the year because of health risks, but the dirty water is also impacting the city’s air quality.  Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Kim Prather says sea spray from waves is carrying bacteria out of the water and into the air. “You can see it in the air, but what is physically getting into people in terms of respiratory? We also want to start looking at hospital admissions and we also want to look at what gets indoors.” Researchers sampled the air in Imperial Beach between January and May in 2019.  They also sampled water in the Tijuana River and found aerosols from the ocean contained bacteria and contaminants present in the river.  Findings are published in the current edition of the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Erik Anderson KPBS News.

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A former San Diego Unified parent says the district agreed in a settlement to pay for her medically fragile son’s private education.

But now, it’s refusing to reimburse her thousands of dollars in expenses.

inewsource reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño explains.

"Heather Russell and her son Ethan were among 15 families that sued the state for better accommodations for their children with disabilities. Later, Russell filed as a homeschool and began teaching Ethan after San Diego Unified agreed to pay for his educational expenses. But now, Russell says the district is denying reimbursements. RUSSELL SETTLEMENT “These aren’t funds that go to frivolous things. These are funds that go specifically to help Ethan, to help his education, to help him progress.” The district told Russell that as a parent she doesn't qualify as a provider under the agreement, but she notes that nothing in the settlement prohibits her from being reimbursed. Education attorney Matthew Storey said it looks like both parties have different interpretations of the agreement.  He adds that the educational expenses Russell is asking for are standard. RUSSELL SETTLEMENT “It’s going directly to the education of the student, so I’m surprised that there’s a level of pushback.” San Diego Unified told inewsource that it’s unable to comment on legal matters. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño.

For more on this story, go to inewsource dot org.

Inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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That’s it for the podcast today. This podcast is produced by KPBS Senior Producer Brooke Ruth and Producer Emilyn Mohebbi. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner has ruled that the death of a jail inmate last year was a homicide. In other news, the city of San Diego announced this week that it’s closing Golden Hall as a homeless shelter. Plus, local researchers say the sewage polluting the ocean off South County beaches is also polluting the air.