Plane lands safely despite malfunction
POINT MUGU — A twin-engine turboprop aircraft with malfunctioning landing gear skidded to a safe landing at a Navy air station yesterday, authorities said.
The Grumman G-159 carrying nine passengers and three crew members was on a military flight from San Nicolas Island to Point Mugu, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.
The Phoenix Air plane circled for about an hour to burn off excess fuel, said Vance Vasquez, spokesman for Naval Base Ventura County.
The airplane set down gently before skidding onto its left wing, then spun off the runway. Officials said its left main landing gear was stuck in the up position. The engine was off, but the propeller continued rotating in the wind.
Several persons jumped out as fire trucks sprayed the craft, according to televised reports.
San Nicolas Island is a Navy-owned island off Southern California.
Man pleads guilty to killing campers
OCALA — A man accused of gunning down two campers with an AK-47 assault rifle pleaded guilty to murder yesterday and received two consecutive life terms.
Leo L. Boatman, 21, of Clearwater, changed his plea in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
Prosecutor Brad King said he offered the deal after talking with the families of Amber M. Peck and John L. Parker, both 26-year-old Santa Fe Community College students whom Boatman apparently shot at random.
They two were camping in Ocala National Forest in January 2006 when Boatman attacked them.
"I can't offer an explanation because there is none," Boatman told Circuit Judge Willard Pope.
FEMA to help build hospital replacement
AMERICUS — The Federal Emergency Management Agency said yesterday it will spend $9.3 million to build a temporary replacement for the Sumter Regional Hospital, a southwest Georgia facility that was pummeled by a tornado in March.
The hospital, which serves eight counties, was struck with uprooted trees, flying cars and other debris during the March 1 storm. For nearly two months, doctors treated more than 5,400 patients in tents near the facility.
FEMA said the funds will cover about 75 percent of the estimated $12.4 million cost of a new building. The decision was applauded by Georgia's two senators, Republicans Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.
The March 1 tornadoes killed nine persons in Sumter, Taylor and Baker counties, and caused more than $210 million in damage, demolishing dozens of Georgia homes and businesses.
Three arrested in counterfeiting plot
HONOLULU — Three persons were arrested for bleaching $1 notes and using a computer printer to make them look like $100 bills, according to the U.S. Secret Service.
Marc Antolin, his wife Milani Antolin and her sister Sherilyn Milan were charged with conspiring to produce $100, $50 and $20 notes. They each face 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Sergeant held in soldier's death
JUNCTION CITY — A Fort Riley soldier was arrested in the weekend shooting death of another soldier from his battalion, authorities said.
Spc. Christian Quinones, 21, was fatally shot in the chest late Saturday in an apartment building in Junction City, authorities said.
Police arrested Sgt. Castulo J. Salas, 27, on a charge of involuntary manslaughter early Sunday, police Capt. Tim Brown said. He appeared in court yesterday and was assigned a public defender. Bond was set at $50,000, and another hearing was set for Thursday.
Authorities did not release any additional details about the shooting or say what led them to Salas. No one was immediately available to comment yesterday at the public defender's office.
Fort Riley spokeswoman Alison Kohler said both soldiers were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division.
Court-martial begins in Iraqi girl's killing
FORT CAMPBELL — A Fort Campbell soldier accused of acting as a lookout while his colleagues attacked and killed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family pleaded guilty to some lesser offenses yesterday as his court-martial began on rape and murder charges.
Pfc. Jesse Spielman pleaded to conspiracy to obstruct justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.
He still faces trial on the more serious charges in the March 2006 attack on Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and her family. Under military law, a soldier present when a crime occurs can be found guilty if prosecutors can establish that the soldier had prior knowledge.
Three other soldiers have pleaded guilty for their roles in the crimes and received sentences as long as 100 years. Another soldier was discharged from the military before he was charged and could face the death penalty if found guilty in federal court in Kentucky.
A military judge was expected to begin seating a jury for his court-martial on the rape and murder charges later in the day.
Fireworks, parade mark bridge's 50th
MACKINAW CITY — Fireworks displays launched from three points around the Mackinac Bridge capped a three-day 50th birthday celebration for one of the world's longest suspension bridges.
Fireworks on Mackinac Island kicked off Saturday night's pyrotechnics. Displays followed in Mackinaw City, on the bridge's south end and in St. Ignace to the north. The bridge was closed for the fireworks and earlier in the day for a parade.
A memorial and statue were dedicated in honor of the ironworkers who built the bridge, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The bridge, 5 miles long including approaches, carries Interstate 75 across the Straits of Mackinac, which separates lakes Michigan and Huron, and connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas.
Lightning strike injures Boy Scouts
CIMARRON — Lightning struck a New Mexico mountaintop, injuring a group of Boy Scouts as they were hiking back down from the summit.
None of the nine boys or two adults with them on Baldy Mountain was seriously injured, though one was later airlifted to a Santa Fe hospital for treatment.
"They have some tingling," said Marcal Young, Scout executive director of the Caddo Area Council, which includes eight Arkansas and two Texas counties. "I guess it wasn't direct because in most cases, that would probably be a fatal situation."
The lightning struck Sunday afternoon while the boys were hiking back down toward the treeline. Most were able to walk to a base camp at an elevation of 10,000 feet, where vehicles from the Philmont Scout Ranch and at least one ambulance took them to area health facilities, Philmont officials said.
All were treated and returned to the ranch or were en route yesterday morning, said John Van Dreese, associate director of programs for Philmont.
Woman accused in stepfather's killing
NEW YORK — A New York City woman reportedly strangled and sexually mutilated her stepfather and then checked herself into the psych ward of a local hospital, a police spokesman said yesterday.
The mutilated body of Eric Goodridge, 55, was discovered Saturday afternoon at the Queens home of his 26-year-old stepdaughter, Brigitte Harris. Mr. Goodridge had been strangled, the New York Medical Examiner's office said.
She was discovered in the New York borough of Staten Island, where she had checked herself into a hospital psychological ward, the Queens District attorney's office said.
Police said the investigation is ongoing but that they planned to arrest her once she was released from the hospital.
Notes that seemed to accuse Mr. Goodridge of abuse were found in her apartment, the New York Daily News newspaper reported. One note said: "At first, I blamed myself. Now I know it's not my fault." Another read: "He wrecked my life."
Girl, 13, charged in father's shooting
PITTSBURGH — Police said a 13-year-old girl fatally shot her father with a shotgun early yesterday morning.
The girl has been charged as an adult in the killing of Matthew Booth, police said. Mr. Booth, 34, was shot in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun at his home in Elizabeth Township, about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, authorities said.
The house, which Mr. Booth, his daughter and 14-year-old son shared with an array of animals, was in deplorable condition, police said.
"They had a number of animals, dogs, cats and rabbits. They hadn't cleaned up after them," said James Morton, assistant superintendent of Allegheny County Police.
The girl, whose name has not been released, was to be arraigned yesterday on a charge of criminal homicide. Police said her parents were separated and the mother's whereabouts were unknown.
Driver hits barrier at nuclear plant
OAK RIDGE — A driver ran a checkpoint at a nuclear weapons plant early yesterday and crashed into a barrier, then fled on foot, authorities said. Oak Ridge police were searching for the driver.
Guards at the Y-12 plant, a primary storehouse for bomb-grade uranium, said the man "appeared to be impaired in some way" when they stopped him about 5 a.m. at a security checkpoint near a rear entrance, spokesman Bill Wilburn said.
They asked the man for identification, but he hit the gas and drove through the checkpoint. The vehicle crashed 300 yards away into a gate-like security barrier that was activated by guards.
"When he hit that, he jumped out of the car and ran away. He left the car there with the engine still running," Mr. Wilburn said.
Mr. Wilburn said the guards told him the car had been hot-wired and there were no weapons inside. "They checked the car very thoroughly before they moved it. They found nothing," he said.
Authorities play Bach to fight gang activity
TACOMA — City authorities, fed up with gang activity in public places, are taking Bach their bus stop.
Transit workers are installing speakers this week to pump classical music from Seattle's KING-FM into the Tacoma Mall Transit Center. The tactic is designed to disperse young criminals who make drug deals at the bus stop or use public transportation to circulate between the mall and other trouble-prone places.
The attack by Bach, Brahms and Beethoven follows the theory that prompted the city to stage pinochle games on dangerous street corners: Jolting the routine in such spots throws criminals off balance.
Skeptics include Tony Wilson, a bus driver for 18 years.
"It could do one of two things: It could calm the beast, or it could just stir things up," Mr. Wilson said. "I think the reason we don't have music on the buses is that you can't please everyone. It would just cause drama."
If the stream of divertimentos, scherzos and polonaises reduces disorder at the mall, speakers may be installed at more bus stops, said Rod Baker, chief of public safety for Pierce Transit.
Carbon monoxide sickens team
JANESVILLE — Carbon monoxide seeped into a volleyball team's bus as it traveled through southern Wisconsin, sickening nine persons, including three girls who were flown to a Milwaukee hospital for oxygen treatment.
The small bus's exhaust system apparently malfunctioned Sunday, allowing the potentially deadly gas in, Janesville Fire Commander Tim Ehlers said. All three adults and six girls, ages 15 to 17, were taken to hospitals.
The three girls with the most serious symptoms were taken by helicopter to St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee for treatment in an oxygen-rich chamber and were in stable condition, a hospital supervisor said.
The team, from Schaumburg Christian School outside Chicago, was traveling to Watertown for a youth volleyball camp and pulled over in Janesville after the girls began feeling ill.
Carbon monoxide has no color, odor or taste. Symptoms of carbon-monoxide poisoning include headaches, weakness, nausea, vomiting and confusion.
Frontier Days ends nine-day run
CASPER — Cheyenne Frontier Days wrapped up on Sunday.
Billed as the world's largest outdoor rodeo, the event was hit with heavy rains on several days of a nine-day run. Steer wrestlers had to wear goggles to keep the mud out of their eyes as they grappled with the slippery animals.
This was the 111th staging of the rodeo known as the "Daddy of 'em All."
From wire dispatches and staff reports