- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2007

FLORIDA

Forecasters lower hurricane estimate

MIAMI — Government forecasters minimally reduced their prediction for the Atlantic hurricane season yesterday, but said up to nine hurricanes and up to 16 tropical storms are expected to form, which is still a busier-than-average season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintained its estimate that three to five of the hurricanes will be major storms of Category 3 or stronger. The original report forecast up to 17 tropical storms, with up to 10 becoming hurricanes.

Despite the slight reductions and a harmless season so far, NOAA said atmospheric and oceanic conditions mean the season likely will be more active than normal. On average, there are 10 named Atlantic storms and six hurricanes, three of them major.

Federal forecasters’ move yesterday follows that of Colorado State University hurricane researcher William Gray, who slightly lowered his forecast last week. Mr. Gray’s initial projection called for 17 named storms and nine hurricanes, five of them intense. He revised it to 15 named storms and eight hurricanes, four of them intense.

GEORGIA

Deputy kills self while facing charges

ATLANTA — A north Georgia sheriff’s deputy charged in a drive-by shooting along with the Towns County sheriff and another deputy has killed himself, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spokesman John Bankhead said yesterday.

Towns County Deputy Jessie Gibson died less than a month before the district attorney planned to bring charges against him, the other deputy and the sheriff to a grand jury in the county along the North Carolina line.

The GBI was notified at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday after family members found Deputy Gibson’s body behind his house. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Mr. Bankhead said.

Deputy Gibson, 56, and Chief Deputy Eddie Osborn, 41, faced aggravated assault and obstruction charges in a July 9 shooting at the home of Gary Dean of Hiawassee. A GBI affidavit says Mr. Dean was “involved in an ongoing intimate relationship” with Deputy Osborn’s wife.

No one was injured in the shooting.

Towns County Sheriff Rudy Eller surrendered to GBI agents last month and is free on bond. The GBI says Sheriff Eller lied to investigators about a handgun they think was used in the shooting at Mr. Dean’s home in an effort to protect Deputy Osborn, who is also out on bond.

NEW YORK

Clerk turns gun on store robber

ALBANY — A robber’s clumsy pursuit of cash left him staring down the barrel of his own shotgun after he set it on the convenience store counter and the clerk snatched it, officials said.

Surveillance video captured the man in sunglasses and a hooded sweat shirt, stuffing money from the register into his pockets and leaving his gun unattended early Tuesday.

That was when Quail Street News clerk Hafiz Alam grabbed the weapon by the barrel, quickly turned it around and pointed it at the man, who dashed out.

Seconds later, the robber rushed back into the store and leapt over the counter. Mr. Alam and the robber struggled over the gun off-camera, authorities said. The gun went off, but neither man was injured.

The robber drove off, but not before a truck driver took down a license plate number. Police said they tracked the suspect, Justin Walker, 22, to an Albany apartment, where they fired tear gas inside and got him to surrender. Mr. Walker was arrested and charged with robbery.

NORTH CAROLINA

State must review execution protocol

RALEIGH — A panel of North Carolina’s top officials must reconsider the state’s execution protocol because it failed to hear arguments from attorneys for inmates and mistakes in approving a revised injection process, a judge ruled yesterday.

The decision from Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison offers another victory for the attorneys of death row inmates, who have pushed the state’s lethal injection laws into a legal tangle that has halted executions since January.

Those attorneys argued in May that the Council of State — comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor and eight other elected officials — failed to consider arguments from those representing the condemned inmates. Judge Morrison agreed, writing in his decision “the essence of due process is the right to be heard.”

The decision puts North Carolina’s execution debate back in front of the state’s top officials.

A spokeswoman for North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a member of the council of state whose office also has defended the group in court, said his office was reviewing the decision and had no comment.

PENNSYLVANIA

Bigamist intended to father child

NORRISTOWN — A woman killed her longtime husband hours before he was to leave on a trip to Morocco to try to impregnate his new second wife, prosecutors said in filing murder charges yesterday.

Myra Morton, 47, surrendered yesterday to face murder charges in the death of Jereleigh Morton, also 47, who was shot in his bed early Sunday morning in his million-dollar home outside Philadelphia.

The killing happened just hours before Mr. Morton was to travel to Africa to try to conceive a baby with his second wife, whom he met on the Internet last year and married in March, prosecutors said.

Mrs. Morton reluctantly agreed to the second marriage and even traveled to Morocco to sanction it under Islamic law, authorities have said.

Prosecutors suggested that jealousy and control of the Mortons’ more than $6 million in assets were suspected motives for the killing. “$6 million is an awfully large motive,” First Assistant District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said.

TEXAS

Teacher helps inspect Endeavour

HOUSTON — Teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan spent her first full day in space yesterday helping her fellow crew members inspect Space Shuttle Endeavour for damage as they zoomed toward the International Space Station.

Mrs. Morgan was fulfilling the space program’s quest to send an educator into space — a dream that could have died in 1986 with the Challenger explosion that killed teacher Christa McAuliffe and six astronauts. The shuttle launched Wednesday evening.

Mrs. Morgan and the shuttle crew were spending much of yesterday checking for damage from debris shaken loose during the launch. Late in the morning, the astronauts began using Endeavour’s robotic arm to slowly scan the shuttle’s wings and nose.

WASHINGTON

Commuters warned of highway delays

TACOMA — Officials warn that northbound lanes of Interstate 5 from Tacoma to Seattle could become a parking lot today when the Transportation Department shuts down several lanes near the Interstate 90 interchange.

Congestion is expected for 19 days as crews replace expansion joints. Officials urge commuters to take alternative routes — or a vacation.

WISCONSIN

Police capture elusive monkey

MADISON — Authorities captured a diaper-wearing monkey who led them on a downtown search after biting a woman.

The 20-year-old woman reported being bitten on the thumb as she tried to pet the animal early Wednesday.

The woman was walking by State Street Brats, a popular nightclub, where a man had the monkey on a leash inside its beer garden. People walking by were petting the monkey, who was wearing a white diaper.

The monkey bit the woman, who suffered four small punctures on her thumb, police said. The monkey was taken into custody downtown to be quarantined for 10 days, police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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