- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2007

CALIFORNIA

Driver survives plunge off parking structure

LOS ANGELES — A car plunged off the top level of a four-story parking garage early yesterday and landed on a steel awning two levels below, injuring the driver.

“Somehow, she accidentally jettisoned off the parking structure and landed below,” said Fire Department spokesman Ron Myers. “How that occurred, we don’t know.”

The driver is an employee at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and was recovering there, officials said.

FLORIDA

Trial starts in killing of girl, 9

MIAMI — Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of a registered sex offender accused of abducting, raping and killing a 9-year-old central Florida girl by burying her alive.

The defendant, John Evander Couey, is charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted in the notorious 2005 killing of Jessica Lunsford, a crime that prompted a nationwide crackdown on sex offenders.

The child was abducted from her bedroom in the central Florida town of Homosassa in February 2005. Couey, who lived nearby, confessed to the killing and told police where to find her body. His confession has been thrown out of court because police did not allow him to talk to a lawyer at the time. Investigators found her blood on a mattress in Couey’s bedroom.

ILLINOIS

Woman charged with reckless homicide

OSWEGO — The driver of a car crammed with eight teenagers when it crashed into a utility pole — killing four — was charged yesterday with reckless homicide in addition to drunken driving.

Sandra Vasquez, 23, was charged as friends of the teens flooded at least one victim’s Myspace.com page with messages of grief and others gathered at a makeshift memorial at the scene of Sunday’s crash.

Miss Vasquez was charged with eight counts of aggravated driving. Police already had charged her with driving while intoxicated, saying her blood-alcohol level was above the state’s legal limit of .08 percent.

Four of the teens, ranging in age from 14 to 17, were killed. Four others were injured, along with Miss Vasquez. She remained hospitalized yesterday in serious condition.

INDIANA

19 indicted in drug conspiracy

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal grand jury yesterday indicted 19 persons on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine after a long-term investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Indiana State Police.

Two men, both Mexicans, were named on charges of money laundering.

“These indictments are the result of investigative teamwork,” said DEA special agent in charge Gary G. Olenkiewicz, who heads the agency’s Chicago field division.

OHIO

Students post fake school notice

TRENTON — Edgewood City Schools Superintendent Tom York said he was perplexed when he logged onto the district’s Web site to announce a one-hour delay for cold. He found an announcement that school was canceled for snow — which wasn’t in the forecast.

Now two teenage girls are accused of gaining unauthorized access to the Web site and posting the fake winter school closing.

The two Edgewood High School students were charged Friday and face expulsion. The fake notice, posted Feb. 5, confused many parents and persuaded some students to stay home.

PENNSYLVANIA

Trial delayed after suspect stabs self

PITTSBURGH — A man stabbed himself just before he was to go on trial yesterday for sex crimes against a runaway who said she was secretly hidden in his home for a decade, his attorney said.

Thomas John Hose, 49, was hospitalized yesterday morning after he was found bleeding in his home, defense lawyer Jim Ecker said.

Mr. Hose is charged with counts including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault. A judge set a new trial date of May 14 and ordered that Mr. Hose be given a psychiatric evaluation.

The runaway, Tanya Nicole Kach, now 25, was discovered last year after she told a convenience-store owner she was on a missing-persons Web site. The owner called police, and Miss Kach told authorities she ran away from home 10 years earlier and had been living in Mr. Hose’s house.

TENNESSEE

Mayor vetoes English measure

NASHVILLE — Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed a measure yesterday that would have made English the official language of Nashville, saying it was unconstitutional, unnecessary and mean-spirited.

“This ordinance does not reflect who we are in Nashville,” Mr. Purcell said.

The measure passed 23-14 last week by the Metro Council required all government documents to be in English, except when multilingual communications are required by federal rules or are needed “to protect or promote public health, safety or welfare.”

TEXAS

Prosecutor charged with corruption

RAYMONDVILLE — A South Texas prosecutor who has tried to oust several county officials for suspected misconduct was himself arraigned yesterday on corruption charges filed by a special prosecutor.

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra blocked the door of his office and dared police to arrest him Sunday as they tried to serve a search warrant looking for evidence of abuse of office, theft and oppression.

“We had no other choice but to place him under arrest,” Raymondville Police Chief Uvaldo Zamora told the Valley Morning Star.

Yesterday, Mr. Guerra was charged with three counts of theft by a public servant and one count of interfering with the public duties of a peace officer.

Special prosecutor Gustavo Garza said Sunday that the accusations involve “a $10,000 attempted extortion,” the sale of a car that belonged to the state and an $800 telephone-bill reimbursement.

UTAH

Gunman killed in mall shooting

SALT LAKE CITY — Shots were fired inside a shopping mall last night, causing “some fatalities,” authorities said. The gunman was killed.

“There have been multiple victims, and there are some fatalities. … I can’t confirm the number,” police Detective Robin Snyder said outside the Trolley Square Mall. “The suspect has been killed.”

Details remained sketchy last night.

WASHINGTON

Fumes spur evacuation from mall; dozens ill

SPOKANE — Hundreds of persons were evacuated from a mall Sunday afternoon after noxious fumes of unknown origin sickened people inside, fire officials said.

KREM-TV reported Sunday night that 37 persons had sought treatment at area hospitals. Spokane police called the fumes a “possible chemical irritant,” but officials were unsure what the irritant was.

Of those seeking treatment, 32 went to local hospitals. None of the conditions was considered life-threatening, Fire Chief Bobby Williams told the Spokesman-Review.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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