There’s a New Mayor in Town PAGE 3 Breakers Dunk Edison PAGE 18 | SPORTS Holiday Happenings & GIFT GUIDE INSIDE THE COASTAL REAL ESTATE SECTION “Our Town-Our Paper” lbindy.com December 13, 2013 | Volume X, Issue 50 PHOTO BY MITCH RIDDER Nicholson Murder Trial Underway By Andrea Adelson | LB Indyy The defense attorney for a Lake Forest man accused in the bludgeoning-murder of Laguna Beach resident Damon Nicholson told a Superior Court jury that an accomplice was responsible for the deadly attack during his opening statement on Wednesday. Matthew Thomas Dragna, 23, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder committed during the late-night robbery of Nicholson in his lower level duplex on Oct. 23, 2009. Dragna, looking considerably heavier since his arrest and wearing dark framed glasses and a gray striped shirt in the courtroom, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Among several witnesses who testified Thursday in Judge James A. Stotler’s courtroom were men who engaged in sexual relations with Nicholson on the night he was murdered as well as the previous Ho, Ho, No! Some proved less than ready to take in the spirit of conviviality – from ice skating to sing alongs --that blanketed downtown during Laguna Beach’s Hospitality Night. More photos in Limelight. TRIAL, page 37 Emerald Bay Gate Improvements Get Green Light By Jennifer Erickson | LB Indy In a matter that has proved extraordinarily divisive to Emerald Bay residents since 2011, Laguna Beach’s City Council voted 3-1 on Tuesday to approve proposed road improvements at the gated community’s main entry, which do not include a controversial trafﬁ c signal as originally envisioned. The Council adopted a resolution approving design review and a coastal development permit for the proposed project, with no trafﬁ c light and with various conditions. And they amended the resolution to stipulate that if any trafﬁ c signal were to be proposed in the future, staff would require the processing of a separate coastal development permit. Council member Toni Iseman dissented. Council member Bob Whalen recused himself and left Council chambers since he works for a law ﬁ rm that represents a governing board within EMERALD, page 24 Momentum Builds for Police Memorial By Jennifer Erickson | LB Indy The spirit of seasonal giving held sway at the City Council meeting Tuesday. Detective Larry Bammer, president of the Laguna Beach Police Employees Association, came forward to express his appreciation for contributions made towards the installation of a memorial honoring ofﬁ cers who died on duty. But he later admitted he “was ﬂ oored” when just-installed Mayor Elizabeth Pearson proposed a matching campaign of up to $10,000 for the project. That offer was preceded by the presentation of a $5,000 check for the memorial from Allan Simon, owner of Firebrand Media and publisher of the Indy. MEMORIAL, page 28 Murder victim Damon Nicholson Gloria Jewell Defining Excellence in Luxury Real Estate 714.749.7476 | email@example.com gloriajewell.telesproperties.com 1060 Flamingo road | laguna Beach | Gorgeous lot 9583 Square Feet | offered at $695,000 Gloria Jewell: Bureau of Real Estate BRE # 00810998 ©2013 Teles Properties, Inc. Teles Properties is a registered trademark. Teles Properties, Inc. does not guarantee accuracy of square footage, lot size, room count, building permit status or any other information concerning the condition or features of the property provided by the seller or obtained from public records or other sources. Buyer is advised to independently verify accuracy of the information.