Ex-trooper likely to be tried in spring
MARION — A former state trooper charged with murder in the 1965 fatal shooting of a black man at a civil rights protest will likely be tried next spring, the judge said yesterday.
James Bonard Fowler, 73, is accused of fatally wounding Jimmie Lee Jackson when law officers disrupted a protest march in Marion on Feb. 18, 1965.
Mr. Jackson's killing led to historic voting rights protests at Selma.
Circuit Judge Tommy Jones said he would hold a conference call Friday to set dates for motion hearings and possibly the trial. Limitations in the rural court's schedule mean Mr. Fowler's case will likely be set for early spring, he said.
Mr. Fowler, a Geneva farmer who has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail, contends he fired when Mr. Jackson tried to grab his gun during a struggle in a cafe where a number of protesters had fled.
Defense attorney George Beck has filed motions to dismiss the indictment and, if a trial is held, to move it from Marion. Key witnesses that could confirm Mr. Fowler's account have died, Mr. Beck said.
University employees abusing credit cards?
PHOENIX — State university employees are using school-issued credit cards at a new high rate. The purchases at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University have tripled over four years, reaching $147 million last year with 5,725 cards in circulation.
Records show that since 2000, the universities have caught at least 13 employees misusing a total of nearly $112,000.
Passenger forces bus off road, tries to flee
KERR — A Greyhound bus careened off a highway after a passenger who had been acting erratically grabbed for the steering wheel, police said. The woman tried to flee, but fellow passengers chased her down.
Eleven persons were taken to hospitals for treatment, said state police Cpl. Adrian Ray.
The bus ran off Interstate 40 in the flat Delta country of eastern Arkansas on Monday evening and came to rest sharply tilted to one side and nearly concealed by thick trees.
"It was like we were lifted off the ground, and we were flying through the trees," said passenger Paula Smith, 41, of Indianapolis.
The woman who grabbed for the steering wheel ran after the bus stopped, but other passengers chased her and held her until police arrived, according to passengers.
Cpl. Ray identified the woman as Victoria Combs, 27, and said she was among those taken to hospitals. Yesterday, though, state police spokesman Bill Sadler said troopers were still trying to confirm her identity. He said troopers had received conflicting statements from passengers and the driver as to whether the woman had boarded the bus in Nashville or Memphis, Tenn.
The woman had been acting erratically since she boarded the bus, "saying she was afraid someone was going to kill her," said passenger Charlotte Simmons, 29, of Hot Springs. Miss Simmons said the woman complained to the driver at one point that other passengers were spraying drugs in her face.
Greyhound said 49 persons were aboard the bus, which had started its trip in Richmond.
Deliveryman sentenced to death for murders
LOS ANGELES — A pizza deliveryman was sentenced to death yesterday for the murders of 10 women and an unborn baby during the 1980s and '90s in Los Angeles neighborhoods beset by a crack-cocaine epidemic.
A jury in May recommended the death penalty for Chester Turner, and Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders agreed yesterday.
"I don't think any jury would arrive at a different conclusion and would, in any court, demand a death penalty," Judge Pounders said.
Turner, 40, declined to say anything in court after several of the victims' relatives spoke at the hearing. The case will automatically be appealed.
Prosecutors said Turner preyed upon prostitutes and other impoverished women with drug problems who lived primarily in South Los Angeles.
He was convicted April 30 of 10 counts of first-degree murder, plus one count of second-degree murder for the death of one victim's unborn baby. That victim, Regina Washington, 27, was 6½ months pregnant when Turner strangled her with an electrical cord behind a vacant house in September 1989.
Another victim was found slumped over a portable toilet, and one woman was found in front of a crack house.
Turner was already serving an eight-year prison sentence for the 2002 rape of a woman on Skid Row when his DNA linked him to the 10 killings carried out between 1987 and 1998.
Coin flip banned by state's governor
HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed a law requiring that all elections in Connecticut now be determined by choice, not chance.
The law bans the previous practice of using a coin flip to determine the winners of primary elections that end in ties. Special run-off elections are now required.
Green groups push for river's protection
ATLANTA — If environmental groups have their way, Georgia's stretch of the Conasauga River could become the first in the state that's afforded the highest level of protection by the federal Clean Water Act.
A petition filed by Environment Georgia and the Southern Environmental Law Center asks the government to define the river as an "outstanding national resource water."
Days numbered for kitschy 'Car Kabob'
BERWYN — A kitschy landmark that made a cameo in the movie "Wayne's World" will be dismantled to make way for a pharmacy.
Officially named the Spindle, the towering sculpture of eight cars impaled by a massive steel pipe became famous for its appearance in the 1992 comedy starring Mike Myers as Wayne and Dana Carvey as his buddy, Garth.
Despite years of rust and layers of bird droppings, the Spindle — also known as the "Car Kabob" and the "Eight Car Pileup" — continues to draw movie fans to a shopping center parking lot in this suburb west of Chicago.
"From a marketing standpoint, I like the Spindle," said Berwyn Mayor Michael O'Connor. "It has definitely been a plus for the community."
Still, he said, the quirky sculpture will be removed this summer to make way for a Walgreens pharmacy. It could be moved elsewhere, though the cost of doing so would likely be high.
California artist Dustin Shuler, who built the piece in 1989, calls the dismantling "painful" and "a loss for Chicago."
"Personally, I would have moved the Walgreens and left the Spindle where it is," he said.
Corn demand spurs crop-dusting interest
WEST LAFAYETTE — Crop-dusting planes are in high demand this summer, with far more pilots taking to the air to apply fungicides. Officials say part of the reason is an increased demand for corn and the vegetable's rising price.
The Office of Indiana State Chemist at Purdue University has certified 118 pilots this year, four times more than usual.
Thousands of lobsters released into waters
STONINGTON — Thousands of tiny 2-week-old lobsters were put into state waters as part of an ongoing effort to keep lobster populations strong. Staff from a hatchery in Stonington released about 10,000 to 12,000 of the half-inch lobsters at two sites in Penobscot Bay on Sunday.
An additional 17,000 juvenile lobsters were released in June.
School, student reach settlement in 'taping'
ROME — A school district agreed to pay $33,250 to settle a lawsuit by a former student who accused an elementary school teacher of wrapping tape around his head for talking too much.
Adam Roser, now 16, claimed Elaine Main wrapped tape around his head several times, covering his mouth, ears and nose for several minutes in January 2004. Adam had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and was being treated by a school psychologist, the lawsuit said.
The settlement was approved Monday by state Supreme Court Judge John Grow.
Mark Wolber, an attorney for Adam and his mother, argued that the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill school district in central New York "did not do enough in response to what occurred." But he said the settlement was "sufficient to deter teachers and school districts from treating these incidents lightly."
Calls to a law firm representing the school district and Miss Main were not returned. The district's superintendent, Norman Reed, declined to comment.
Miss Main is still listed on the school district's Web site as a teacher of remedial math at E.A. McAllister Elementary School. Mr. Wolber said she was suspended for 30 days and deducted one week's pay.
The lawsuit maintained that the teacher subjected Adam to ridicule by his classmates, causing him "pain and fear of attending school."
FBI: Suspect plotted pipeline blowup
SCRANTON — An American accused of plotting to blow up oil pipelines sought to bring down the Bush administration and expressed regret for the death of an al Qaeda leader, an FBI official said yesterday.
Michael Curtis Reynolds wrote a series of e-mails to FBI agent Mark Seyler, who posed as an al Qaeda sympathizer and promised to give Mr. Reynolds $40,000 to blow up a refinery in Wyoming, Mr. Seyler told a federal court.
Mr. Reynolds, 49, from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., faces charges of planning to attack energy installations, trying to enlist al Qaeda members via the Internet and possessing hand grenades.
The government accuses him of scheming to attack the Alaska and Transcontinental pipelines and other energy installations to prompt a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Mr. Seyler described e-mails in which Mr. Reynolds, a divorced father of three who called himself "Fritz," said he wanted to blow up the Williams Refinery in Wyoming because he said it had lax security and was in a remote location that would enable the attackers to escape.
Mr. Reynolds wrote that his planned attack would help topple President Bush.
Mother, 2 children killed at apartment
NORTH CHARLESTON — A mother and her two children were fatally shot early yesterday at an apartment complex, authorities said.
Two of the bodies were discovered in an apartment where two young children were found unharmed, Dorchester County sheriff's Sgt. Michael Miller said.
The bodies were identified as Diane R. Grant, 44, and her 20-year-old son, Jatavius Lee Devore, Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet said. The third body, 15-year-old De-Anna Devore, was discovered about four hours later outside, in front of another apartment at Archdale Forest Apartments, authorities said.
Authorities said they did not know a motive for the shootings or have any suspects.
Authorities received a call shortly before 2:30 a.m. from a resident who reported hearing four gunshots, Mr. Nisbet said. Deputies did not initially find anything, but then saw an open apartment door and found two bodies. The unharmed children, described as an infant and a toddler, were asleep, Sgt. Miller said.
"We got maybe only one or two calls" at the time, Sgt. Miller said. "But now we have several people who heard what sounded like gunshots and a female screaming."
Game fish found with more mercury
MADISON — Mercury levels in walleye, a prized game fish, increased as much as 19 percent from 1982 to 2005 in the southern part of the state, according to a Department of Natural Resources study.
Mercury in the atmosphere from coal-burning power plants could have contributed, a University of Wisconsin ecologist said.
From wire dispatches and staff reports