News Briefs

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Two Corral Fire suspects scheduled to be arraigned

The two Culver City residents charged with causing the November Corral Fire will appear in Van Nuys Superior Court on Thursday for their arraignment. Eric Matthew Ullman, 18, and Dean Allen Lavorante, 19, had their first day in court on Feb. 14 before Judge Michael K. Kellogg. They did not issue pleas, although their attorneys said after the hearing that any wrongdoing that occurred on Nov. 24 was not criminal.

The other three suspects charged with causing the fire-city of Los Angeles residents Brian Alan Anderson, 22, William Thomas Coppock, 23 and Brian David Franks, 27-pleaded not guilty in December. They are scheduled to return to court on April 21 for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial.

The five suspects are charged with felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury and recklessly causing a fire to an inhabited structure. The District Attorney’s Office says the blaze was started “during and within an area of a state of emergency,” which would require a mandatory state prison sentence if the suspects were convicted. Attorneys for Coppock and Franks have said they do not believe there was a state of emergency in effect when the fire began.

The Corral Fire burned 4,900 acres and destroyed 86 structures, 53 of them homes. Also, 37 vehicles and a mobile home were destroyed.

Another 45 structures, including 33 homes, were damaged. Six firefighters were injured, including one who received second-degree burns to the face.

School board agenda includes special education review, budget cuts

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education will vote on proposed budget cuts for the 2008-09 school year, including staff layoffs, at its meeting on Thursday.

Also on the agenda is a report by Lou Barber & Associates on its review of the district’s special education program.

The review was conducted as part of a deal with the city of Santa Monica so the city would increase its annual contribution to the district.

-Jonathan Friedman