- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2007

MICHIGAN

Killer released as he turns 21

PONTIAC — A convicted murderer who was 11 when he shot a man with a rifle was released from state supervision yesterday, a day before his 21st birthday.

Nathaniel Abraham was the first person charged with murder to be prosecuted under a 1997 state law that allowed children of any age to be prosecuted as an adult in a serious felony case.

Though convicted as an adult, Mr. Abraham was sentenced to juvenile detention with the expectation that he would be released when he turned 21.

“Show us all that you have become a caring, productive member of society,” Oakland County Probate Judge Eugene Moore said in granting Mr. Abraham’s release.

MISSOURI

Abducted teen ‘terrified’ to contact parents

ST. LOUIS — A Missouri teen held captive for 51 months told Oprah Winfrey off-camera yesterday that he was “terrified” to contact his parents.

Shawn Hornbeck, 15, said that he was not ready to discuss the details of his abduction, but that “he prayed that one day my parents would find me and I’d be united.”

His parents told Miss Winfrey they have not asked their son what happened on the advice of child advocacy specialists, but are convinced that their son did not contact them out of fear for his life, theirs or the lives of other members of their family.

“There’s no way in the world that if he was able to do whatever he wanted to do … there’s no doubt in my mind he would have [come home],” Shawn’s stepfather, Craig Akers, said.

The comments were made the same day that Michael Devlin, 41, pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping another boy on Jan. 8.

ALASKA

Ex-mayor accused of misusing funds

ANCHORAGE — The former mayor of Fairbanks and his wife were indicted Wednesday on charges of funneling more than $450,000 in federal grants to fund construction of a church where he is the pastor.

Jim and Chris Hayes also were accused of using the federal money — meant for low-income youths — to buy a plasma television for their home, pay for a family wedding reception and cover other personal bills.

The 92-count indictment says the couple diverted government funds awarded to a local social services center run by Mrs. Hayes to pay for construction and furnishings for a church her parents founded. Charges against them include money laundering and illegal application of government grants.

Mr. Hayes, 61, was mayor of Alaska’s second-largest city from 1992 to 2001.

CALIFORNIA

Marine pleads guilty in Iraqi civilian’s death

CAMP PENDLETON — A Marine corporal pleaded guilty yesterday to kidnapping and murdering an unarmed Iraqi civilian last year, and said his sergeant made sure the victim was dead by firing a burst of gunfire into the man’s head.

Cpl. Trent Thomas, 25, was the first of seven Marines and a Navy medic accused in the case to plead guilty to murder. Four others have pleaded guilty to reduced charges in exchange for their testimony.

Prosecutors said the eight-member squad kidnapped Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, in Hamdania, took him to a roadside hole and fatally shot him, placing an AK-47 and shovel by his body to make it look as if he were an insurgent caught planting a bomb.

Thomas, a St. Louis-area native who was on his second tour of Iraq during the April 26 killing, is to be sentenced in the coming weeks.

CONNECTICUT

Family sues neighbor over killing

NEW HAVEN — A lawyer accused of killing a man he thought had molested his daughter has been hit with a $5 million lawsuit by the victim’s family.

The sister and parents of Barry James claim the killing caused them emotional distress and are seeking a court order placing a $5 million lien on the property and any other assets of Jonathon Edington.

A hearing on the lawsuit was planned for Monday in Bridgeport Superior Court. The claim was filed Tuesday, said Richard Meehan, attorney for the family of Mr. James, who police concluded did not molest Mr. Edington’s 2-year-old girl.

“There should be compensation to his estate, particularly his parents, for the ordeal they witnessed,” Mr. Meehan said. “They have not been able to return to their home because of this.”

Mr. Edington, 29, pleaded not guilty to fatally stabbing Mr. James on Aug. 28.

FLORIDA

8 plead not guilty in boot camp death

PANAMA CITY — Attorneys for seven former juvenile boot camp guards who were videotaped manhandling a teenager and a nurse who watched the altercation entered not guilty pleas yesterday on behalf of their clients to manslaughter charges stemming from his death.

The seven guards and nurse face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet also agreed to modify bond conditions for the eight defendants during the brief hearing, allowing them to leave Bay County while the case is pending.

The eight worked at the now-closed Bay County sheriff’s boot camp last January, when Martin Lee Anderson, 14, collapsed there while performing exercises. The guards said they were trying to revive him, but the Anderson family and others were outraged at the footage showing the boy being kneed and struck. He died a day later.

MISSOURI

‘Trouble’ finder jailed in pit bull maulings

INDEPENDENCE — A man was sentenced Wednesday to 100 days in jail for freeing a trio of pit bulls that mauled three men, reportedly to “see what kind of trouble he could cause.”

The length of time Bryan Smith will spend in jail coincides with the amount of time the most seriously injured of the victims spent in the hospital, said Van Buckley, a spokeswoman for the Jackson County prosecutor’s office.

Smith, 34, of Independence, also was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

OKLAHOMA

TV helicopter pilot saves stranded deer

NORMAN — The pilot of a TV news helicopter used the wind from the aircraft’s rotor to push a stranded deer to safety after it lost its footing on a frozen lake and could not get up.

A small crowd had gathered to watch the deer struggling, its hooves repeatedly slipping, near the shore of Lake Thunderbird about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

With the helicopter’s camera rolling, KWTV pilot Mason Dunn used the wind from the rotor to push the deer, initially sending it into a break in the ice where the animal managed to hold on to the ice with its front legs.

Mr. Dunn then lowered the helicopter and the wind sent the deer sliding on its belly across the ice until it reached shore and scampered into a wooded area.

TEXAS

Truck driver gets life in deadly smuggling

HOUSTON — A truck driver was spared the death penalty and sentenced to life in prison yesterday for his role in the nation’s deadliest human smuggling attempt — a journey that ended in the deaths of 19 illegal aliens crammed in a sweltering tractor-trailer.

Tyrone Williams, 36, was convicted last month on 58 counts of conspiracy, and harboring and transporting illegal aliens.

More than 70 aliens were locked for hours inside his trailer during the 2003 trip from south Texas to Houston. Nineteen died from dehydration, overheating and suffocation. Williams abandoned the container near Victoria, about 100 miles southwest of Houston.

A jury deliberated for 51/2 days before sentencing Williams. The sentence comes with no possibility for parole.

UTAH

Teens sought in attack on home director

AMERICAN FORK — Three pregnant teens living in a group home whacked the director in the head with a frying pan, tied her up and then fled in a stolen minivan, police said.

The director, who was tied up with power cords Tuesday, eventually broke free and called police, police Sgt. Shauna Greening said. She also freed another pregnant teen tied up in the attack, she said.

Authorities thought the teens — two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old — left the state and a search was under way. Police said the teens also stole the director’s purse, checkbook, credit cards, cell phone and video camera.

The motive wasn’t clear. Parents of the girls, who are from California, Texas and Illinois, were notified, police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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