- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2006

ALASKA

Village volunteers bolster security

ANCHORAGE — Young volunteers, most of them just out of high school, will patrol the village of Chevak in western Alaska.

The police force was eliminated to save money. Many small communities throughout Alaska can no longer fund public safety programs because state aid has been slashed and fuel prices are soaring.

ARIZONA

Four-year-old killed in hit-and-run accident

PHOENIX — A 4-year-old girl reportedly kidnapped by her father last summer in an attack that also left three relatives dead was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver, authorities said.

Jennifer Cervantes was playing outside a mini-mart where her mother was selling items a few feet away when she was hit by a truck Sunday, police said.

The driver, a 72-year-old man, pulled into a parking lot and surveyed the damage to his truck before looking at the child and driving off, authorities said. He was arrested at a nearby home after witnesses followed his truck and called police.

In July, Jennifer’s father, Rodrigo Cervantes Zavala, was arrested in Mexico, accused of abducting Jennifer and her baby brother and killing her grandparents and uncle, officials said. The children, found with Jennifer’s father, were returned to their mother.

Mr. Cervantes Zavala faces kidnapping and murder charges.

COLORADO

Officer avoids prison in death of Iraqi

FORT CARSON — A military jury yesterday ordered a reprimand for an Army interrogator convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing him headfirst into a sleeping bag and sitting on his chest.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. also was ordered to forfeit $6,000 salary and was restricted to his place of work, worship and barracks for 60 days. After hearing the sentence, Welshofer hugged his wife, and soldiers in the gallery broke into applause.

Welshofer, 43, had originally been charged with murder and faced life in prison. On Saturday, he was convicted instead of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty. The lesser charges could have resulted in three years and three months in prison, a dishonorable discharge, loss of pension and other penalties.

MASSACHUSETTS

Winter returns with snowstorm

NORTHAMPTON — A January heat wave came to an end yesterday across New England as a storm brought dropping temperatures and heavy snow that closed scores of schools and caused road-closing traffic accidents.

Up to 10 inches of snow was possible in some areas from eastern New York state to New Hampshire.

Temperatures had been in the 50s and as high as 60 last week, but the mercury dropped on Sunday, and yesterday it struggled to reach the 30s.

Boston’s Logan International Airport closed for 37 minutes during the morning, Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella said.

NEW YORK

Police halt pranksters’ pants-down ride

NEW YORK — From the waist up, they looked like perfectly normal commuters. That wasn’t good enough for police.

Eight pranksters who dropped their pants and showed their underwear on the subway on Sunday were taken into custody and issued summonses for disorderly conduct. All were ultimately released, said Improv Everywhere, the group that organized the stunt.

Charlie Todd, who founded Improv Everywhere in 2001, said it’s not his group’s intent to offend. He said he wants to create scenes of chaos and joy in public places around New York.

A judge will determine whether those issued summonses will be punished.

PENNSYLVANIA

Woman appeals lettuce-flinging fine

EASTON — A woman fined $173.50 for throwing salad greens out of her car says lettuce not be too quick to judge her.

Dawn Higgins, 47, was cited Oct. 18 while parked outside a Wal-Mart in Lower Nazareth Township in eastern Pennsylvania.

“Lettuce comes from the ground; therefore, it can go back into the ground,” she said. “It’s biodegradable. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”

She said she took her daughters and a friend to the store, and they stopped at a McDonald’s. She said she pulled into a parking space to finish her meal, but decided not to eat the leaves atop her salad.

After failing to appear in court Dec. 22, she discovered she had been convicted in absentia and owed the state $173.50. She has appealed to Northampton County Court, where she said she will call her children and their friend as witnesses. She also plans to bring along a salad to show leaves to the judge.

TEXAS

Exercise boosts mood, study finds

AUSTIN — Just 30 minutes of brisk walking can immediately boost the mood of depressed patients, giving them the same quick pick-me-up they may be seeking from cigarettes, caffeine or binge eating, a small study found.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that people suffering from depression who walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes reported feeling more vigorous and had a greater sense of psychological well-being for up to an hour after completing the workout.

Lead researcher John Bartholomew said the study, published in the December issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, reinforces past research that has found consistent exercise, along with medication and counseling, can help people overcome depression.

VERMONT

Short sentence is legal, defense says

MONTPELIER — An attorney for a man who was ordered to spend at least 60 days in prison for sexually assaulting a young girl says the sentence cannot legally be changed despite the outrage it spawned.

In court papers, lawyer Mark Kaplan wrote that the short jail term and long probation imposed on Mark Hulett by Judge Edward Cashman on Jan. 4 was similar to other sentences meted out by Vermont courts.

Judge Cashman has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on a prosecution motion to reconsider Hulett’s sentence, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Robert Simpson said yesterday. He declined to comment on Mr. Kaplan’s argument.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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