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Around the Nation

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2007

Soldier gets 110 years in Iraq attack

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — A soldier convicted of rape and murder in an attack on an Iraqi teenager and her family was sentenced yesterday to 110 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 10 years.

The sentence was part of a plea agreement attorneys for Pfc. Jesse Spielman had made with prosecutors that set the number of years he could serve in prison, regardless of the jury's recommendation.

The jury had recommended life with parole, a sentence under which he would have to wait longer for the possibility of freedom.

Pfc. Spielman was convicted late Friday of rape, conspiracy to commit rape, housebreaking with intent to rape and four counts of felony murder.

Military prosecutors did not say Pfc. Spielman took part in the rape or murders but said he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout.

Lightning strikes water plant

HARRINGTON PARK, N.J. — Lightning struck twice at a water plant that serves more than 750,000 people, leaving some with little or no running water yesterday, authorities said.

United Water New Jersey told residents to boil water before consuming it and ordered them not to use any water for nonessential purposes.

Lightning hit the plant Friday night, and a second strike around midnight cut power to the plant, located in Haworth, and hobbled backup generators, United Water spokesman Rich Henning said.

Condemned killer seeks new trial

ATLANTA — A man sentenced to death for killing a police officer is seeking a new trial and will have his case heard by the state Supreme Court.

In a 4-3 decision, the high court granted Troy Davis' appeal after a lower court denied him a new trial.

Davis' attorneys say several witnesses who initially testified against their client have since recanted or contradicted their testimony.

Prosecutors have said much of that evidence was used in earlier appeals, which were denied, and shouldn't be considered new evidence.

Davis, 38, was convicted of killing Savannah police Officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot twice after he rushed to help a homeless man who had been assaulted.

Man pleads guilty in plane theft

BUFORD, Ga. — The man accused of stealing a plane from a Florida airport and flying it 350 miles to Georgia has pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, court officials said.

Daniel Andrew Wolcott of Buford, Ga., entered the plea Thursday in federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., a court representative said.

A sentencing hearing is pending. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but his plea agreement means Wolcott likely will receive a reduced sentence, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said.

On Oct. 9, 2005, Wolcott, then 22, stole a Cessna Citation 7 jet worth $7 million from the St. Augustine/St. Johns County Airport in Florida. Wolcott then flew to Gwinnett County Airport-Briscoe Field, taking on board five friends who were unaware the plane was stolen.

Historic mantels stolen from home

RAMAPO, N.Y. — The thieves who kicked in the door of an empty house last month weren't after any ordinary valuables; they wanted the 19th-century home's decorative wooden mantelpieces.

The mantel bandits made off with seven of the valuable fireplace frames, each worth at least $1,000, police said Friday.

"This definitely was organized," Ramapo police Detective Keith Schwartz said.

The mantels, crafted between 1810 and 1820, were taken July 19 or 20 from a property known as the Smith House, which is part of a large estate. Developer Ramapo Land Co. plans to build luxury housing in the area but preserve the Smith House, President Jack O'Keeffe said.

19th-century readers saved from trash bin

PHILADELPHIA — An antiques collector stumbled upon a Civil War-era rarity that was about to suffer the same fate as yesterday's trash.

Antiques collector Stephen Burns discovered that a pile of periodicals intended for the garbage heap turned out to be dozens of issues of Little Pilgrim, a children's reader published in Philadelphia in the 1850s and '60s. The periodical featured fiction, poetry, riddles and other items for young readers.

Mr. Burns was at an auction when a bidder bought a box of books, then offered him the primers in the bottom of the box. They would have just been thrown away, he said.

Mr. Burns, 65, hopes to make the periodicals part of the curriculum in schools. He is seeking corporate sponsorship for an education program that could be used in classrooms.

From wire dispatches and staff reports