- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

ALABAMA

Measure conceals crime victims’ IDs

MONTGOMERY — A state commission approved a proposal to conceal the identity of crime victims from the public in Alabama.

Members of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center Commission voted to move most information that could identify a crime victim from police report forms’ front page, which is available to the public, to its back page, which is confidential.

ARKANSAS

38% of students said to be overweight

LITTLE ROCK — Thirty-eight percent of Arkansas’ public school students are overweight or at risk of being overweight, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences reported.

The finding was the same as data from last year, when UAMS also studied the effects of a 2003 state law that called for mandatory and voluntary changes in schools to address obesity.

CALIFORNIA

Molester ex-priest denies fresh charges

LOS ANGELES — Michael Wempe’s attorney doesn’t deny his client was a child molester in the 1970s and ‘80s, but he insists the once-revered priest never committed the reported crime for which he is going on trial — molesting a boy in the 1990s.

“These new charges were fabricated,” defense lawyer Leonard Levine said ahead of today’s scheduled opening statements in Wempe’s trial. “He’s being prosecuted not for what he’s charged with, but for what he did 20, 30 years ago.”

Wempe, 66, was once charged with molesting 13 boys in the 1970s and ‘80s, but the charges were dismissed after the U.S. Supreme Court in July 2003 struck down a state law that allowed retroactive prosecution of decades-old sex-crimes charges involving children.

FLORIDA

10 months after death of Terri, Schiavo weds

SAFETY HARBOR — Michael Schiavo, whose brain-damaged wife was at the center of a battle that played out on a worldwide media stage, has remarried, family members said.

Mr. Schiavo married his longtime girlfriend Jodi Centonze — by whom he has already sired two children — Saturday in a private church ceremony, said John Centonze, the brother of the bride.

Mr. Schiavo’s late wife, Terri, died March 31 after he got a court order requiring that that her feeding tube be removed. She had suffered irreversible brain damage after collapsing at age 26 in 1990.

Terri Schiavo’s parents and siblings fought for years to keep her alive. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, the White House and the Vatican became involved in the effort.

ILLINOIS

Drunk-driving suspect flees in police car

CHICAGO — A Chicago woman arrested for drunken driving slipped off her handcuffs and drove away in a police cruiser, police said Saturday.

Chicago resident Veronique Armour, 22, was stopped early Friday as she drove in the wrong lane on a city street. While a police officer was removing her 1995 Honda Civic hatchback from the street, she somehow escaped the handcuffs and drove away in the officer’s cruiser, said police spokeswoman Joann Taylor.

She was caught a few minutes later in a parking lot about a mile away, police said.

In addition to charges of driving under the influence and related traffic violations, she faces charges of possessing a stolen vehicle and escaping from police.

INDIANA

School uses cannon to scare birds

TERRE HAUTE — School workers have tried everything from Alice Cooper music to orange objects painted with the faces of predators to scare off the crows.

Now they’re using a cannon at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Vigo County School Corp. crews began using a liquid-propane cannon that produces a thunder-like sound every 20 minutes on Friday morning.

“So far, so good,” said Kim Salmon, the school’s secretary-treasurer.

The cannon will be used on school days 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. to create a boom reaching 130 decibels. Comparatively, smoke alarms produce noises between about 80 to 90 decibels.

Despite the school district’s efforts to frighten the birds from the area, Principal Sharon Pitts said they have become unbearable since Christmas break ended.

MASSACHUSETTS

Police arrest suspect in fake-bomb heists

LOWELL — A man who reportedly held up banks by claiming he had a bomb in a bag was arrested after police found the bag actually contained books — including a phone book that had a mailing label with the man’s full name and address.

“It was clearly not his best move,” Lawrence, Mass., Police Chief John J. Romero said.

George Melendez was arrested Thursday at his home in Lowell and charged with the Jan. 6 robbery of a bank in Dracut. Police said he is also likely to face charges in bank robberies in Lawrence and in Salem, N.H.

Investigators said Mr. Melendez would hand tellers a note claiming to have a bomb in his bag and demand large bills. As he left with the cash, he would leave behind the bag, prompting Dracut and Salem police to call in bomb squads as a precaution, police said.

In each case, the satchel-type bags contained tangled wires and books.

MISSOURI

Torching ex-husband draws 25-year term

GALENA — A woman who killed her ex-husband by dousing him with gasoline and setting him on fire has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Barbara Ann Banning, 60, poured the fuel on her ex-husband while he was sitting in a recliner recovering from knee surgery. She then lit a piece of newspaper on a stove and threw it at him.

Neighbors put out the flames, but Fred Bounous died hours later.

“No one’s going to miss him more than I will,” said Banning, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Public defender Brian Smith said Banning snapped after years of emotional and physical abuse.

NEW JERSEY

Princeton alumnus donates $101 million

PRINCETON — For Peter B. Lewis, the Cleveland philanthropist and chairman of auto insurer Progressive Corp., even donating to one’s alma mater is about doing it better than the last guy.

Mr. Lewis, 72, a 1955 graduate of Princeton University, has given the school $101 million to build a new performing-arts center and improve the school’s creative-arts programs. It’s the largest single monetary gift on record at the university.

“Why wasn’t it $99 million or $100 million?” Mr. Lewis asked, acknowledging that the previous record for a donation was $100 million, by Hong Kong developer and graduate Gordon Wu in 1996. “It’s sort of a tongue-in-cheek, ego thing. I wanted to give the biggest gift.”

Mr. Lewis’ total contributions to the university now exceed $220 million and make him the school’s “most generous donor in the modern era,” according to a statement from Princeton.

NEW YORK

Cardiologist chosen Cornell’s new prexy

ITHACA — Cornell University chose a cardiologist and leader in research ethics as its next president, only the 12th in the Ivy League school’s 141-year history.

David Skorton, president of the University of Iowa since 2003, said he had no immediate grand plans for change at Cornell, but would work to strengthen its ties with the communities it serves.

His first job, he said, will be to listen.

“I will have open meetings, open forums, an open-door policy and calling bingo in the dorms at night, trying to get the students to talk to me and tell me what’s really on their minds,” Mr. Skorton said Saturday after being chosen by a unanimous vote of Cornell’s board of trustees.

Mr. Skorton takes office July 1, succeeding Jeffrey Lehman, the first alumnus to guide the school. Mr. Lehman stepped down in June after less than two years, citing differences in strategic vision with the college’s trustees.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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