- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Judge bans cameras in Peterson trial

REDWOOD CITY — The judge who will oversee Scott Peterson’s murder trial banned cameras from his courtroom for the duration of the case yesterday in a brief hearing that ended with another delay.

In the 20-minute hearing, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi banned cameras throughout the trial — over objections from journalists — and accepted a delay at the request of Mr. Peterson’s attorney, Mark Geragos, who is defending another murder suspect in Southern California.

Prosecutors had asked to start Mr. Peterson’s trial Feb. 17. After the judge agreed to Mr. Geragos’ request to push back the date, neither side gave an estimate of when the trial might begin.

Left undecided was the sequestration of jurors considering two counts of murder against Mr. Peterson, 31, who faces the death penalty if he is convicted in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and the couple’s unborn son.

Another hearing is scheduled for Monday.

MASSACHUSETTS

Pizza makers consider low-carb dough

BOSTON — Pizza might be hailed as the food of the gods, one of America’s best-loved meals, a hearty delectable dish that fills the stomach and seems to soothe the soul.

But to low-carb dieters, it’s just a gut-bursting disk of dough.

That has caused pizza makers around the nation to wonder whether the low-carb craze will force changes in one of America’s best-loved foods.

They’re saying, “Hey, we’ve got a problem here. Pizza’s built on bread. It’s the No. 1 enemy of the Atkinites,” said Tom Boyles, senior editor of Pizza Marketing Quarterly, a publication that follows the pizza industry.

Although industry sales haven’t taken a hit, some pizza operators are considering offering customers low-carb pizzas. “Pizza operators are asking themselves, ‘Do I want to do this?’ and they’re bouncing the idea back and forth,” Mr. Boyles said.

COLORADO

Woman survives runaway ride

DENVER — A woman was shaken but unhurt after a wild, 75-mile ride at speeds over 100 mph that began when her brakes failed and her car accelerated out of control.

Police finally stopped the car on Interstate 70 in west Denver by getting a cruiser in front of it, slowing gently till the bumpers of the vehicles touched, then bringing both to a stop.

“It had a mind of its own,” 20-year-old Angel Eck said Sunday. The car “kept accelerating, and my foot wasn’t even down on the gas.”

Miss Eck was westbound on I-70 in Limon Friday night when her 1997 Pontiac Sunfire began racing out of control. Nothing she tried would slow the car down.

After about 45 frantic minutes, she was able to reach a friend on her cell phone. He called 911.

CONNECTICUT

Submariner faces murder charges

NEW LONDON — A Navy submarine technician who had just returned from six months of war duty was arraigned on murder charges yesterday.

Prosecutors charged Charles A. Davis Jr., 21, with strangling his girlfriend and their 5-month-old daughter. He could get the death penalty if convicted and was jailed on $3 million bail.

The body of Belinda Parker was found Saturday night in the basement of her home in Groton, a belt wrapped around her neck, police said. The baby, Jalen Davis, was dead nearby under a blanket.

The sailor is assigned to USS Memphis, which returned to its base in Groton about two weeks ago after an undisclosed mission in the war on terrorism. According to police, he said he had killed the two after arguing with Miss Parker. The sailor and Miss Parker were engaged, relatives said.

FLORIDA

Billy Graham leaves hospital

JACKSONVILLE — The Rev. Billy Graham was released from a hospital yesterday, about four weeks after he fell and broke his left hip, officials at the Mayo Clinic said.

The 85-year-old evangelist was in Jacksonville on Jan. 6 for a checkup at the Mayo Clinic when he fell and broke his hip in his hotel room. Surgeons at St. Luke’s Hospital performed a partial hip replacement later that night.

Mr. Graham since has been receiving physiotherapy at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Doctors expect him to have a full recovery and said he should be able to return to his normal ministry scheduled in the next few weeks, said hospital spokesman Erik Kaldor.

IDAHO

Heart seen as cause in condemned man’s death

BOISE — A man on death row for killing and dismembering an 11-year-old newspaper delivery girl has died after suffering an apparent heart attack.

James Edward Wood, 56, died Sunday at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution. Prison officials said a heart attack was the likely cause, but they were awaiting a coroner’s review.

Wood pleaded guilty to killing Jeralee Underwood, who was kidnapped in 1993 as she collected money from customers on her newspaper route in Pocatello. Wood was arrested about a week after the slaying and led authorities to the girl’s body, which had been thrown into the Snake River.

KENTUCKY

Carbon monoxide kills family of 4

JEFFERSONVILLE — A family of four died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a broken natural gas stove, officials said.

Bert Thacker, 49; his son Marvin, 13, and daughter Heather, 11, were found dead in their home Sunday morning, Montgomery County Coroner Wallace Johnson said.

Mr. Thacker’s wife, Mary, 32, the mother of the two children, was taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, where she died early yesterday.

The family apparently had been asleep when carbon monoxide from a natural gas stove with faulty ventilation began filling their home.

The bodies were found by Mrs. Thacker’s sister.

MINNESOTA

State’s adults back idea of tolls

MINNEAPOLIS — A poll by the Star Tribune found that most Minnesotans support paying for new highway lanes with user tolls.

Of 821 adults surveyed statewide, 69 percent supported the idea of tolls. Twenty-three percent preferred increasing the gas tax to build the lanes and open them to everyone.

MISSOURI

‘Clown Bandit’ bungles burglary

CLAYTON — Police in the St. Louis area are calling it the case of the “Clown Bandit,” after a man created a comedy of errors as he broke into a liquor store last week.

The man was seen on surveillance video stealing booze. But just off camera, he slammed face first into a door. Then he lost his balance and fell.

He also grabbed some cigarettes and a magazine, police said, and bagged his goods. But he couldn’t get out the window from where he came in so he threw all the stolen items out the window. The liquor bottles broke.

The man went away empty-handed, police say. The stolen goods were valued at $30.

MONTANA

Death row inmate commits suicide

DEER LODGE — A killer hanged himself in his cell Monday, becoming the fourth inmate since July to commit suicide in the prison that houses Montana’s death row.

Rodney Sattler, 36, made a noose out of bed sheets and shoelaces and tied it to a vent at the Montana State Prison, officials said.

Sattler, 36, was awaiting execution for the 1995 murder of fellow inmate Ray Martinson. Sattler bludgeoned Martinson to death with the seat post from an exercise bicycle, citing self-defense.

No execution date had been set. Sattler previously was convicted of another slaying, for which he got a 30-year prison sentence.

NEBRASKA

State workers fix chandelier

LINCOLN — How many state workers does it take to change a light bulb? If you’re talking about the bulbs in the 3,500-pound chandelier that hangs in the state Capitol Rotunda, the answer is five or six.

The delicate process of lowering the bronze chandelier to change its 136 40-watt light bulbs, which happens about once a year, was undertaken Friday.

“It’s real critical when you come to land it,” said Tom Kaspar, an architect with the state building division. “It’s like the lunar lander coming down.”

The chandelier hangs on a steel chain 80 feet down from the top of the Rotunda’s dome and 30 feet above the ground.

A winch housed in a closet on the seventh floor raises and lowers the chandelier.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Thieves take 500-pound sign

NASHUA — Star-struck thieves swiped a landmark neon sign destined for a local museum. The 5-by-10 neon star decorated a shopping center from 1962 until the past year.

Witnesses said the star, which had been stored behind a building, was carted off in pickup truck during the weekend. Police said it would have taken several persons to move the 500-pound star.

NEW YORK

Harlem gets new public school

NEW YORK — On the first day at their brand new school yesterday, a strange thing happened: High school students applauded teachers.

Even when told to be quiet, the students clapped and hooted. They cheered for math teachers. They clapped for science teachers. They rose to their feet for English teachers.

The students, 400 seventh- through 12th-graders, are the inaugural group to attend classes at the first new public school built in Harlem in more than 50 years. The Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change’s new campus has wireless classrooms, an airy gym and a library with 20,000 books.

Among the guests for the opening ceremonies was Cecilia Marshall, widow of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who argued the Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court in 1954. That case led to the dismantling of state-sanctioned segregation in public schools.

OHIO

Natural healers may be licensed

CLEVELAND — A bill to license natural healers is pending in the Ohio House. The bill would create a board to set standards for the healers, who would have to refer patients to doctors for diagnosis and treatment when appropriate.

Sponsoring Republican Rep. Merle Grace Kearns said people are spending a lot of money on natural remedies, so they should be regulated.

OKLAHOMA

Tribe, feds reach land agreement

QUAPAW — The Quapaw Tribe voted overwhelmingly to accept an agreement with the federal government to begin determining who owns land and mine tailings at the Tar Creek Superfund site.

The land on the 40-square-mile site is held in trust by the Interior Department for Quapaw members. The land is covered by as much as 75 million tons of mine tailings.

OREGON

Group wants land labeled wilderness

CAMP SHERMAN — Environmental groups are pushing Congress to designate nearly 11 million acres of Oregon land as wilderness, off-limits to roads, development, recreation and logging.

The land in question stretches from an old-growth forest that cradles the Metolius River to 6 million acres of sage- and juniper-covered high desert in central and southeastern Oregon.

PENNSYLVANIA

Rangers test Valley Forge cabins

PHILADELPHIA — American schoolchildren learn all about the hardships endured by George Washington’s men at Valley Forge. But a recent weeklong experiment suggests that the soldiers’ log cabins were pretty comfortable.

Park Ranger Marc Brier and several volunteers spent Tuesday to Sunday in a replica of a Revolutionary soldier’s cabin — in weather colder than most of the 1777 winter — and monitored the temperature inside and out.

By Sunday afternoon, with the thermometer reading 31 degrees outside, the temperature inside the mud-and-clay structure was 64 by the wall near the fireplace, 70 in front of the fire, and 47 by the door.

“We have this image of the soldiers, a few guys huddled around a campfire in the snow, instead of a professional army that was able to come in here, build 2,000 log cabins, and dig miles of trenches,” the park ranger said. “They even built a bridge across the Schuylkill in January. If they were hurting so bad, how did they do these things?”

He said the men’s accounts back his findings.

WASHINGTON

State senator apologizes for slur

OLYMPIA — A state senator apologized yesterday for using a racial slur during an argument with another legislator, a blunder that prompted some black leaders to press for his resignation.

“I realize this has been very hurtful to members of the African-American community and for that I am truly sorry,” Republican Sen. Alex Deccio said on the Senate floor. “I feel if the Reverend Martin Luther King were here today, he would accept my apology, so I’m asking you to do the same.”

Some black leaders said they would accept the 81-year-old lawmaker’s apology only if he resigned.

“This individual is not deserving of being a representative of the people,” said Carl Mack, president of the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He traveled to Olympia yesterday to demand Mr. Deccio’s resignation.

Mr. Deccio used the slur Thursday during a heated argument with Rep. Tom Campbell, another Republican, about health insurance reforms. Both men are white.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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