Teens indicted in rape, assault
WEST PALM BEACH — Thee teens suspected in the gang rape of a woman and the assault of her 12-year-old son at a crime-ridden housing project were transferred yesterday from juvenile to adult detention at the Palm Beach County Jail.
Jakaris Taylor, 15, and Nathan Walker, 16, were charged Wednesday in a 14-count indictment that included accusations of sexual battery, kidnapping and burglary. The judge postponed a hearing for Avion Lawson, 14, who faces the same charges, after his attorney failed to appear.
Authorities said the three were identified through fingerprints and DNA found inside the woman's home.
Prosecutors think the three were among an armed group of as many as 10 teens wearing masks who raped the 35-year-old woman. The attackers also beat her son and poured cleaning solution into his eyes, police said.
Fire preparedness at highest level
BOISE — The nation's wildfire preparedness was raised to its highest level yesterday as dozens of new fires started in the bone-dry West, including a rapidly growing blaze on the grounds of the Idaho National Laboratory. No laboratory facilities were in immediate danger.
The West had been at Preparedness Level 4 for a few weeks when National Interagency Fire Center officials raised it to Level 5, effective yesterday.
The change allows fire managers to request help from international crews, and National Guard units could be mobilized. Yesterday, fire center spokesman Ken Frederick said new crews were arriving in the Pacific Northwest from Alaska and the Southeast.
About 15,000 U.S. firefighters were already battling nearly 70 fires greater than 100 acres in 12 states.
Truck carrying cheese ignites, makes fondue
SACRAMENTO — A tractor-trailer hauling blocks of cheese erupted in flames early yesterday, turning much of its cargo into freeway fondue.
No one was hurt, but boxes containing hundreds of pounds of provolone, cheddar, American and other cheeses clogged the burned truck and littered the side of Interstate 80 north of downtown Sacramento.
"It went pretty quick," said truck driver Frank Barker, who pulled over at 3:45 a.m. when he saw smoke coming from under his truck.
Mr. Barker said he tried to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, but the blaze was too big. He gave up and rescued his dog, which was traveling with him from Salt Lake City to the San Francisco Bay area.
Confined TB patient taken to hospital
DENVER — A man who had been quarantined with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis for nearly a year was transferred to a hospital in Colorado yesterday for treatment.
Robert Daniels, 27, has a multiple drug-resistant form of TB. He was placed in a jail ward at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix last August under court order after medical authorities complained that he had endangered others.
Yesterday morning, Mr. Daniels was taken to Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center, which specializes in treating respiratory diseases. Under an agreement worked out between Arizona and Colorado authorities, Mr. Daniels will have a round-the-clock security guard outside his door, hospital spokesman William Allstetter said.
Linda Cosme, a lawyer for Mr. Daniels, said her client's transfer to Denver was sought by Maricopa County medical experts because Mr. Daniels' condition was deteriorating.
Environmentalists for wind power proposal
BANGOR — Two of Maine's largest environmental groups threw their support behind a $100 million wind power proposal that calls for 38 turbines to be erected on Stetson Mountain in Washington County.
Maine Audubon and the Natural Resources Council of Maine said they are endorsing the proposal by UPC Wind Management, which has a pending application with the state.
Spiders tip off family to fire
HEMLOCK — A woman who hates spiders is crediting them with helping save her from a house fire.
Danielle Vigue, 18, says she awoke early Tuesday to find spiders in her room, and started killing them. When more showed up, she says she went across the hall and got into bed with her 15-year-old sister, Lauren.
A fire apparently was smoldering in the attic of the home about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.
A few hours later, Miss Vigue's 48-year-old mother, Debra, and 8-year-old sister, Shelby, smelled smoke, and flames confronted the family when they opened the door to the room Miss Vigue had earlier left.
"I will never kill another spider again," she told WNEM-TV in Saginaw.
Teen accused of killing girlfriend's child
CINCINNATI — A judge ruled that a teenager will be tried as an adult for the death of an 18-month-old boy he is accused of repeatedly swinging against a wall because he was frustrated with the child's toilet training.
Derris Smith, 18, the live-in boyfriend of the child's mother, has been charged with murder. He was 17 on June 27, when authorities say he inflicted the beating that led to Malakai Glenn's death four days later.
The boy's mother, 20-year-old Sasha Glenn, testified Wednesday that the impact of the child hitting the wall left drywall stuck to his head and cracked a wooden door.
After the hearing, Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Lipps said Mr. Smith should be tried as adult. The case will now go to a grand jury.
Couple to wed, pick up Potter book
PORTLAND — One Oregon couple's wedding night will be especially magical.
Courtney Lanahan, 23, and Shawn Gordon, 24, of Clackamas are heading straight from their wedding reception today to a bookstore to get the final Harry Potter book.
The book's official release date is tomorrow, but many stores will be hosting midnight events to celebrate the debut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
"It's the best wedding present," said Miss Lanahan, a Harry Potter fan.
The couple will miss the pre-release activities and probably won't win the costume contest when they show up in their wedding attire. But as a wedding gift, the Barnes & Noble at Clackamas Town Center that she frequents will get them the first spot in line.
Miss Lanahan, an elementary school teacher working as a substitute, said they aren't leaving for their honeymoon until a week after the wedding so she has that time to finish the book.
Fast food helps police arrest counterfeiters
EASLEY — Bags of uneaten fast food helped police foil a couple of counterfeiters, authorities said.
An officer who pulled over a car in January noticed food from several different fast-food restaurants and a large amount of cash, federal prosecutors said.
The officer went back to the restaurants and found that people matching descriptions of those in the car had paid for the food with fake $100 bills, authorities said.
A total of $6,000 in counterfeit bills eventually was found in the car, prosecutors said.
Michele Ann Reynolds, a 35-year-old passenger in the car, pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of counterfeit money. The driver, Henry Lee Orr, 45, also has pleaded guilty to counterfeiting and is awaiting sentencing.
Teenager pleads guilty to being a hit man
LAREDO — A teenager accused of being a hit man for a drug cartel pleaded guilty to murder yesterday, abruptly ending a trial that exposed the cartel's workings in the U.S. and Mexico.
Rosalio "Bart" Reta, 17, was immediately sentenced to 40 years in prison. He still faces separate charges in another killing in Laredo that reportedly was carried out on the orders of the Mexican Gulf Cartel.
Witnesses testified Wednesday that Reta and two other men working for the cartel were paid $15,000 to kill a Laredo man in January 2006. Phone records linked the hit men, the ring leader and suppliers of the guns and car used in the shooting, Detective Robert Garcia testified.
Reta decided to plead guilty but retain his right to appeal, after his statement to police was allowed as evidence over his attorney's objections, said the attorney, Eduardo Pena.
Police arrest man after 20-hour standoff
VANCOUVER — Police arrested a weapons suspect early yesterday after using tear gas to end a 20-hour standoff in which a police officer and a hostage were shot.
Matthew Hastings, 28, was taken in a patrol car to the county jail and was being held on outstanding warrants. Other charges were pending, police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said.
The standoff started at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday, when police arrived to arrest Mr. Hastings on accusations he had jumped bail and failed to check in with his community corrections officer. Mr. Hastings had been charged in January with marijuana possession, theft of a firearm, sale or manufacture of a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm.
The hostage, Shane Runyon, 33, was shot once in the abdomen, police Officer Steve Capellas said. Police Cpl. Chris LeBlanc was shot under the arm. He was in serious condition.
Truck smashes into motel room
ANTIGO — A sport utility vehicle hurtled through a motel parking lot Wednesday, hitting two cars before smashing into a room and killing a man, authorities said.
Jesus Manuel Quirios Castillo, 26, died in the early morning crash at the Good Nite Inn, the Langlade County Sheriff's Department said.
Motel manager Robert Lindemann said the GMC Yukon rammed through the room after crashing through a bay window. Mr. Castillo's 24-year-old brother was in the room with him but wasn't injured, Mr. Lindemann said.
From wire dispatches and staff reports