- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

ALABAMA

Rudolph trial venue set

HUNTSVILLE — A federal judge approved a plan yesterday to try serial bombing suspect Eric Rudolph in Birmingham but pick jurors from throughout northern Alabama, instead of just from the three-county area around the state’s largest city.

U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith approved the joint proposal that had been agreed to by defense attorneys and federal prosecutors. Rudolph had sought a change of venue.

Rudolph is accused of setting the Jan. 29, 1998, bomb outside an abortion clinic that killed Officer Robert Sanderson and critically injured nurse Emily Lyons. The trial is set for Aug. 2, although Judge Smith said he will rule soon on a defense motion to delay the trial for as long as a year.

NEW YORK

Orthodox Jews mourn leader

NEW YORK — Thousands of Orthodox Jews gathered Monday and yesterday at the grave of Lubavitcher rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson — whose leadership made the sect a major force in Judaism — in observance of the 10th anniversary of his death.

Men and women from around the world lined up for hours to pass by the rebbe’s walled-in grave in a Queens cemetery.

“The rebbe breathed a spirit into my life,” said Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, who traveled from Moscow. “Every rabbi is a reflection of the rebbe, and that is why there has been no one selected as a leader to replace him. We are all our father’s sons.”

The observance ran from sundown Monday to sundown yesterday, or the third of Tamuz — the anniversary of the 92-year-old grand rebbe’s death — according to the Jewish calendar.

ALASKA

Coast Guard to check cruise ship security

JUNEAU — The Coast Guard plans to make on-board inspections of cruise ships docking in Juneau this season. Plans include monitoring passengers, crew, baggage and cargo security.

By July 1, large passenger ships must have installed an automatic identification system, a device similar to a transponder that tracks the position of an aircraft.

ARKANSAS

Soldier electrocuted in training exercise

LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas soldier who wanted to be an Army Ranger was electrocuted accidentally in a training exercise, officials said Monday.

Pvt. Van Ryan Marcum, 21, was halfway through his 14-week basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga., when he touched a charged metal structure, base spokeswoman Elsie Jackson said.

Drill sergeants rushed to apply first aid and called an ambulance. Pvt. Marcum was taken to a base hospital, where he later died.

Pvt. Marcum’s uncle, Paul Henley, noted the irony that Pvt. Marcum had served as an apprentice electrician for his father in Florida.

CALIFORNIA

Detective calls Peterson ‘calm, cool’

REDWOOD CITY — Scott Peterson was “calm, cool, relaxed” after his wife was reported missing on Christmas Eve in 2002, said the first detective called to the couple’s home for a “suspicious missing person” report.

Detective Allen Brocchini testified yesterday that Mr. Peterson did not appear distraught that his wife, Laci, was nowhere to be found.

Also yesterday, jurors heard for the first time Mr. Peterson’s account of what he did that Christmas Eve day, as prosecutors played a videotaped police interview at his trial that had been made Christmas Day.

Appearing tired but calm, Mr. Peterson recounted to Detective Brocchini what happened after he left home for a fishing trip — expecting that his wife would have walked their dog and baked gingerbread cookies in his absence.

Detective Brocchini was summoned after several officers deemed Mr. Peterson’s story “suspicious.”

COLORADO

Military clears dean in assault scandal

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Pentagon has cleared the Air Force Academy’s faculty dean of wrongdoing in the school’s sexual assault scandal, contradicting the conclusion of a congressional panel that also investigated problems at the school.

Brig. Gen. David Wagie, 54, faces no disciplinary action, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Dewey Ford said Monday. Gen. Wagie will retire Aug. 1 after 32 years of service, the last six as dean.

“His involvement was thoroughly investigated by the Department of Defense inspector general, and he was cleared of any wrongdoing,” Col. Ford told the Gazette of Colorado Springs. The military’s full report is not expected until later this summer.

A panel formed by Congress to investigate the scandal blamed Gen. Wagie and others in the academy leadership for the scandal in which dozens of female cadets said they were ignored or punished for accusing other cadets of rape.

CONNECTICUT

Patient’s rights end at prison walls

HARTFORD — The state Supreme Court ruled the state’s Patient’s Bill of Rights doesn’t extend to prisoners.

The court ruled in the case of Bryant Wiseman, 28, a mentally ill Hartford man who died after a prison fight. Wiseman’s mother sued state prison officials, prison guards and prison health care workers, claiming they failed to properly treat her son’s schizophrenia.

FLORIDA

Biker sets record across continent

MIAMI — A motorcyclist made the 5,632-mile trek from the northernmost road in Alaska to the southernmost tip of Florida in 100 hours and set a transcontinental record.

“I’m a little tired … a little bit bruised,” biker Gary Eagan said by phone from Key West, Fla., yesterday, a day after finishing the journey on his Ducati Multistrada.

He bested the old transcontinental record of 114 hours and 49 minutes, set last year by a BMW rider from Maryland.

A few hours after starting his solo journey in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a truck forced Mr. Eagan off the road and his motorcycle flipped over, breaking his windshield, one rearview mirror and an auxiliary fuel tank, and shearing off the saddlebag. He patched the bike together and drove on.

“I think I broke my big toe and dislocated my finger and elbow a little bit,” said Mr. Eagan, 56, of Salt Lake City.

GEORGIA

Patients get Medicaid reprieve

ATLANTA — Gov. Sonny Perdue offered a 90-day reprieve to 1,700 nursing home patients who had been scheduled to lose Medicaid benefits when the state’s new budget year begins July 1.

He said the delay will give them time to make new arrangements. But he left no hope he will reverse his administration’s budget-cutting policies for the program.

KANSAS

Competitors gather for women’s air race

WICHITA — Competitors in an event billed as the longest all-woman air race in the world begin gathering this week.

Thirty-three planes and 68 pilots are expected to participate in this year’s Air Race Classic that starts today. The event has its roots in the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, in which Amelia Earhart was among the competitors.

KENTUCKY

Black schools chief is first for state

SHELBYVILLE — In a move civil rights activists say was long overdue, the first black superintendent of a public school system in Kentucky was hired yesterday when longtime educator Elaine Farris got the job in Shelby County.

“I feel like I’ve opened some doors for minority candidates,” she said after her selection by a 3-2 vote of the school board in this county 30 miles east of Louisville.

MINNESOTA

1854 flotilla to be re-enacted

ST. PAUL — A flotilla of riverboats will begin chugging up the Mississippi River this week in a re-enactment of the 1854 Grand Excursion. The original trip was organized by railroad officials hoping to promote development opportunities on the frontier.

Participants will set off from Rock Island, Ill., and stop in river cities for parties and festivals. They are to arrive July 3.

MISSOURI

Six break record for Ferris wheel ride

ST. LOUIS — And you thought you were wasting precious time going around in circles.

Six persons say they have a claim on the world record for consecutive hours on a Ferris wheel after three days spent on a ride at Six Flags St. Louis.

The 36-hour record will be submitted to Guinness World Records this week. The riders got off the wheel twice during the contest that began Wednesday, because of lightning. They ate and slept on the wheel.

The contest was in honor of the 1904 World’s Fair, which was held in St. Louis.

At the end of the contest, all six riders were entered into a drawing for $1,000, which was won by Rhonda Crocker, 42, of Bonne Terre. Six Flags gave each of the five other riders $500, three-year season passes to the park and concert tickets.

NEVADA

Officials clash over land use

RENO — Reno city planners are recommending that the city annex 7,500 acres in Cold Springs, where a developer plans to build nearly 6,900 homes.

The move threatens to strain relations with Washoe County. Many Cold Springs residents say the annexation would ruin their rural lifestyle. County officials say the city’s report ignores zoning and regional planning goals.

OHIO

Multi-vehicle crash kills six persons

OAK HARBOR — A tractor-trailer and three passenger vehicles crashed on a two-lane bridge, killing two adults and four children who were in a sport utility vehicle that went into the creek below, authorities said yesterday.

Authorities think the occupants of the SUV were returning to the Detroit area from Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky when the accident happened late Monday on state Route 2, a heavily traveled road between Toledo and Cleveland, State Highway Patrol Sgt. Tony Myers said.

The victims were in an SUV that was found upside down in waist-deep water. The SUV “disintegrated,” Trooper Chris Capizzi said.

The cab of the tractor-trailer and a second SUV also ended up in the creek, Trooper Capizzi said. The fourth vehicle, a car, remained on the road.

Trooper Capizzi said it appeared from evidence and witness statements that either the truck or the second SUV had crossed the center line.

TENNESSEE

Disabled inmates escape from jail

NASHVILLE — Three inmates, two with artificial limbs, escaped from jail by squeezing through an 8-inch gap onto the roof and using bedsheets to descend three stories. Two were captured Monday.

William Clay Bohanan, 40, Berl Keith McKinnie, 38, and Billy Leo Potts Jr., 39, fled Saturday night from a special needs cell at the medium- and maximum-security jail in Nashville.

McKinnie has a prosthetic foot and Potts a prosthetic leg. McKinnie was caught by the U.S. Marshals Service in north Nashville late Monday night.

Bohanan — awaiting trial on homicide and arson related to a 1993 fire in which two children died — was captured about 15 miles east of the jail.

Potts, who faced charges including robbery and theft, remained at large.

McKinnie faced charges related to a police pursuit in a stolen car, and is a suspect in a homicide case and wanted for an aggravated sexual assault.

TEXAS

Storm blows out hospital windows

DALLAS — Wind gusting to 70 mph and hail the size of baseballs pounded the Texas Panhandle, smashing almost all of the windows on one end of a six-story hospital, where one patient was injured by flying glass.

“It blew out the lobby. The windows are shattered. They blew in on the patients,” said Mary Barlow, a spokeswoman for Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital in Amarillo.

About 30 rooms in the 410-bed hospital were affected by Monday evening’s storm, and about 100 patients had to be moved to other rooms. The neonatal intensive care unit was hit and about a dozen babies had to be moved.

WEST VIRGINIA

Man fights for backyard burial

JUNIOR — A man diagnosed with a terminal illness is fighting officials for the right to be buried in his back yard.

Dan Vest has emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Vietnam veteran said after town officials found out about his wishes they passed an ordinance outlawing burials on personal property within city limits.

“[My family] built this house,” Mr. Vest said. “This is where I was raised.”

Mr. Vest said he plans to sue the city, but representatives from the Barbour County Circuit Clerk’s office say nothing had been filed.

“We have an ordinance that says you can’t be buried in your back yard,” said Mayor Gary A. Miller. He said the ordinance recently went into effect.

WISCONSIN

Swimming pool springs a leak

GRAFTON — Just as hot weather is arriving in Wisconsin, the village swimming pool has sprung a leak — to the tune of 35,000 gallons a day.

Local officials must decide whether to make the repair, which could shut down the pool for four weeks, or live with the leak through the swimming season — and pay $8,500 in extra expenses to keep the pool filled.

Last summer, the Family Aquatic Center had 27,041 visitors in 75 days. Officials expected it would bring in about $125,000 in revenue.

WYOMING

Appeals panel hears race riot lawsuit

CHEYENNE — Attorneys sparred Monday over whether victims of a 1921 race riot that destroyed the black neighborhood in Tulsa, Okla., waited too long to seek restitution.

The attorney for the plaintiffs — about 150 survivors and 300 descendants of those who were killed or lost property — argued they could not have filed the lawsuit until after a 2001 report disclosed new information about the riot.

Attorneys for Tulsa and Oklahoma argued that the two-year statute of limitations expired in 1923. “There’s nothing new in this commission report except the black perspective,” Larry Simmons, deputy attorney for Tulsa, told the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In March, a federal judge threw out the lawsuit, saying he could not find a reason to extend the statute of limitations.

The city’s thriving black community of Greenwood was reduced to ashes after whites and blacks clashed on May 31, 1921.

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