- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

CALIFORNIA

Killer patriarch sentenced to death

FRESNO — A judge yesterday sentenced to death the patriarch of a clanlike family for killing nine of his children, many of whom were born of incest and sexual abuse.

Jurors had recommended the death penalty June 29, after convicting Marcus Wesson of nine counts of murder. They also found him guilty of sexually abusing the daughters and nieces who grew up in his household.

Judge R.L. Putnam earlier in the day had said the evidence presented in the case supported the jury’s recommendation.

Judge Putnam also sentenced Wesson to a combined 102 years in prison for 14 counts of sexual abuse.

UTAH

Smart hopes accused kidnapper will stay in hospital

SALT LAKE CITY — The father of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart said he hopes the man accused of kidnapping her will be kept in a mental hospital now that he has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.

The decision Tuesday by Judge Judith Atherton will send Brian David Mitchell to a state hospital until he is deemed capable of standing trial.

Elizabeth’s father, Ed Smart, said he does not think his one-time handyman will change.

Mr. Mitchell, 51, is accused of kidnapping Elizabeth, who was 14, from her bedroom in 2002, sexually assaulting her and keeping her as his second wife for nine months. During competency hearings, he repeatedly shouted biblical admonitions and sang hymns, prompting him to be removed from court several times.

Associated Press

A judge on Tuesday declared Brian David Mitchell mentally incompetent to stand trial in the 2002 kidnapping of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart.

COLORADO

Beloved dog returns to seniors’ complex

COLORADO SPRINGS — After disappearing for 10 days, Skip the dog is back among the 165 residents of a senior-citizens complex that adopted him a year ago.

The Bernese mountain dog mix vanished from Brighton Gardens on July 15 and reappeared at the front doors of the center on Monday, a little thinner and slightly dusty but otherwise in good shape. Staffers and residents do not know how he disappeared or how he got back, but they were happy to see him.

Shaun Anderson, Brighton Gardens’ director of community relations, said Skip, who has “a really sweet soul,” is known for stopping to visit residents who are ill or sad. He is so beloved that his portrait hangs in the reception area.

IDAHO

Sex offender dad arrested in stabbing

WALLACE — A sex offender who had been sought for a week in the near-fatal stabbing of his 12-year-old daughter was arrested early yesterday, Sheriff Chuck Reynalds said.

John R. Tuggle was thin and dirty and offered no resistance when he was arrested after nearly a week on the run in the mountains, Sheriff Reynalds said. He is being held in the Shoshone County Jail on a warrant for attempted murder.

Mr. Tuggle’s daughter was stabbed repeatedly and left for dead on the side of a mountain road July 20 and was found four to five hours later by campers who heard her yell. She remained in serious condition yesterday at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.

Sheriff Reynalds praised Conoco convenience-store clerk Sue Boren, who said she became suspicious of the man who walked into the store about midnight wearing camouflage clothes and a red bandanna and acting jittery.

“As soon as he walked out of the store and I didn’t see a vehicle, I thought I better give the sheriff’s office a call,” Miss Boren said. “They picked him up a couple blocks away.”

INDIANA

Killer executed without ‘hoopla’

MICHIGAN CITY — A man convicted in a 1988 triple murder was executed early yesterday by lethal injection, the fourth person executed this year in Indiana.

Kevin A. Conner had said he didn’t want any last-minute appeals or clemency, and in his final statement, he said he didn’t want any “hoopla.”

Conner, 40, was executed for killing three men in Indianapolis in 1988. He beat and stabbed 19-year-old Steven Wentland and fatally shot Anthony Moore, 24, and Bruce Voge, 19.

His final statement was, “Everybody has to die sometime.” It also included an expletive and ended with, “Let’s get on with the killing.”

KANSAS

Teen sentenced to clean vomit

OLATHE — A high school student convicted of battery for vomiting on his Spanish teacher has been ordered to spend the next four months cleaning up after people who throw up in police cars.

Johnson County Magistrate Judge Michael Farley said during the sentencing Tuesday that he considered the boy’s actions “an assault upon the dignity of all teachers.”

The teen, now 17, vomited on teacher David Young as he turned in his textbook on the last day of classes at Olathe Northwest High School. His attorney, Brian Costello, said the student vomited because he was nervous about his final exams.

But two other students testified that the teen said he threw up intentionally. One girl said he told her in advance that he planned to throw up on Mr. Young on the last day of school. The girl wasn’t in class when the teen threw up, but she testified that the boy later told her: “You missed it. I did it.”

MASSACHUSETTS

Black officers sue over drug test

BOSTON — Seven black police officers who were fired after failing a drug test that relied on hair samples have sued the police department, claiming the screening method is racially biased.

The officers were fired between 2002 and 2004 after they tested positive for cocaine. Members of the force are tested each year.

The officers’ attorney, Reba Rutkowski, who filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, said the test results can be skewed by the texture of black people’s hair, and by certain hair care products.

NEWYORK

Main charges dropped against Gotti’s son

NEW YORK — In a surprise on the eve of trial, a prosecutor announced in court yesterday that the son of late mob boss John Gotti no longer is charged with conspiracy to murder radio talk-show host Curtis Sliwa.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McGovern said John A. “Junior” Gotti also was no longer charged with aiding and abetting the attempted murder of Mr. Sliwa, though a charge of conspiring to kidnap Mr. Sliwa will remain when the case goes to trial next month.

Prosecutors earlier had included the charges relating to Mr. Sliwa in an indictment that accused Mr. Gotti of leading the Gambino organized-crime family after his father was put behind bars. Charges in the indictment included fraud and extortion.

But a centerpiece of the indictment was the charges relating to the attack on Mr. Sliwa, who was shot June 19, 1992, as he hailed a cab in Manhattan. Prosecutors say Mr. Gotti tried to arrange Mr. Sliwa’s death because Mr. Sliwa criticized his father on the show.

Mr. McGovern did not explain why the government has decided not to proceed with the murder conspiracy charge against Mr. Gotti.

NORTH DAKOTA

$55 million bridge nears completion

NEW TOWN — Crews working on the new Four Bears Bridge have put its last segment into place. A total of 484 segments form the bridge, which spans 4,500 feet over Lake Sakakawea west of New Town.

Crews are working to seal the deck, install lighting and prepare the pavement before the $55.4 million structure opens to traffic this fall.

OREGON

Woman elected president of church

PORTLAND — The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has elected a woman to be president, the first female chief executive for the 770,000-member Protestant denomination.

The Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, senior pastor at Disciples Christian Church in Bartlesville, Okla., won overwhelming support Tuesday from the 3,000 delegates attending the denomination’s General Assembly.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Firefighter loses job; wed captain’s daughter

COLUMBIA — A firefighter who married a fire captain’s daughter was fired Tuesday after a judge ruled against a request to let him keep his job while he sues the city over its anti-nepotism policy.

The judge denied Matt Cooper’s request, saying the city’s policy is clear.

Mr. Cooper, 25, was told he was going to be fired after his June 18 marriage to Brooke Lowery, 21, the daughter of fire Capt. Herbie Lowery. But Mr. Cooper sued to block the termination, claiming he is not the captain’s immediate family member.

Mr. Cooper’s attorney, Molly Elkin, said she was disappointed, but the firefighter, who had worked with the Rock Hill department for 21/2 years, would continue to fight.

It could be months before the case is heard; Mr. Cooper has requested a jury trial.

WASHINGTON

Bomb plotter gets 22 years

SEATTLE — The man convicted of plotting to blow up the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the year 2000 was sentenced yesterday to 22 years in prison.

Ahmed Ressam’s sentence reflected his cooperation in telling international investigators about the workings of terror camps in Afghanistan.

But Ressam, 38, could have received a shorter sentence had he not stopped talking to investigators in early 2003. Prosecutors argued that his recalcitrance has jeopardized cases against two of his co-conspirators.

Ressam was arrested in Port Angeles in December 1999 as he drove off a ferry from British Columbia with a trunk full of bomb-making materials.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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