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News from the San Joaquin Valley

MANTECA, Calif. (AP) - A 12-year-old Manteca boy died after playing a dangerous choking game, authorities said.

Waisake Naivaluvou Jr. died earlier this week. He was found on the floor behind his bedroom door, his karate belt wrapped around his neck.

Authorities ruled out foul play and suicide. Instead, they believe the seventh-grader purposely cut oxygen to his brain in order to get a rush.

Local police knew little about the game but cases like Waisake's have been reported with other elementary and middle school students across the country.

"I don't want to say it's uncommon, but we had heard very little about it," said Capt. Dave Bricker of the Manteca Police.

Children in middle and elementary school are at the age when they begin to test limits, said Marc Kluender, a clinical psychologist from Modesto.

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FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A man was arrested after police said he held up an elderly woman in her own home and used her car to steal her possessions.

Fresno police Sgt. Mike Manfredi said Gregory Jennings, 29, is facing charges of home invasion robbery, robbery, attempted carjacking, auto theft and burglary.

Police said Jennings had earlier robbed another woman, jumping in through the passenger side of her car and taking her purse before taking off.

Jennings was chased by witnesses into a senior citizen apartment complex, where he began stealing from the second old lady, police said. She had left her home briefly to take out her trash.

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) - It's not unusual to for inmates to write letters to local newspapers, but they're not usually calling for the release of a stuffed dog named Freckles.

Gina Phillips, who is serving time in a Kern County jail on a drunken driving charge, wrote to The Bakersfield Californian asking for help getting her 7-year-old daughter's toy back.

Authorities impounded Phillips' car during the arrest in September. The car is parked at AV Towing in the Mojave area. Only a car's owner is allowed inside the vehicle, a spokeswoman for the towing company said. And the car is not registered to Phillips, the woman told the newspaper.

"She would just like something familiar," Vi Richards said of her granddaughter. "Everything's all new to her just now."

The girl is living with her grandmother while Phillips is in jail. She has had Freckles since she was 2.

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