Exploding oil tank kills two teens
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A crude oil storage tank exploded as two teens were jumping on it, hurling the youths 150 yards to their deaths, deputies said yesterday.
The tank exploded Saturday night during a party in Routt National Forest, about 135 miles west of Denver, Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Michael Joos said. Vapor from the 160 barrels of crude oil in the tank may have been forced out through a relief valve by the pressure of the teens jumping on the top, Sheriff Joos said.
He said deputies were trying to determine whether a campfire or a cigarette lighter ignited the vapor. Some of the 18 persons at the party had started a campfire, Sheriff Joos said, but he was not sure how close it was to the tank.
A dog also was killed but no other injuries were reported, Sheriff Joos said. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation was investigating.
Investor, others offer bond for Wilson
ATLANTA — A prominent New York City-based investment manager yesterday said he and 10 others have volunteered to post a $1 million bond to free Genarlow Wilson from prison while he appeals his 10-year sentence for sex with a minor.
Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press that Wilson deserves a chance to get his life back on track.
Mr. Tilson's offer was made public by Wilson's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, who called on Douglas County District Attorney David McDade to agree to a reasonable bond amount in advance of a hearing July 5. But Mr. McDade said yesterday that the particular crime means Wilson is not eligible for an appellate bond.
Wilson, now 21, was convicted of aggravated child molestation stemming from a 2003 New Year's Eve party where he was captured on videotape receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl. At the time, he was 17 and Georgia's age of consent was 16.
Earlier this month, a Monroe County Superior Court judge called Wilson's sentence "a grave miscarriage of justice" and said he should be released. The state attorney general is appealing that decision, saying it could free more than 1,000 child molesters.
Charges reduced in race-tinged beating
JENA — Attempted murder and conspiracy charges against a black high school student accused in the December beating of a white student were reduced yesterday to less serious charges that could mean far less time in prison if he is convicted.
Mychale Bell still faces trial today on charges stemming from the Dec. 4 beating. But instead of facing sentences totaling 80 years, he now faces maximum sentences totaling 22 years if convicted in the racially charged case.
Mychale was one of five black Jena High School students charged in the beating, which occurred about three months after three white students were suspended for hanging nooses from a schoolyard tree. Prosecutors have refused to discuss details of the case.
Mychale's charges were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years, and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery, which would carry a maximum sentence of 7½ years, according to statutes on the state government Web site.
Transmitters track endangered snake
KENNEBUNK — State biologists are using small radio transmitters to learn about the black racer, a snake on the state's endangered species list. The $30,000 tracking project studies the snake's range and terrain.
So far, the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has implanted transponders into two black racers and released them into the woods.
Time-capsule gas to be analyzed
NORMAN — The Plymouth Belvedere buried in a time capsule was rusty and undrivable, but gasoline stored with the car could have scientific value.
The people who put together the time capsule 50 years ago in Tulsa included two containers of gasoline in case fuel was no longer available for the Plymouth when the vault was unsealed this year.
"We're going to begin fingerprinting the gasoline and compare it to modern-day gasolines," said Paul Philp, a professor of petroleum and environmental geochemistry at the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Philp, who specializes in environmental forensic work, hopes researchers will be able to use the comparison of old and new gas as a reference to determine the age of gasoline spills that have leaked into the ground.
The time capsule, a concrete vault buried under the lawn of the Tulsa County Courthouse, was unsealed June 15. Although the Belvedere had been sealed in protective wrapping, water had penetrated the vault and the two-door hardtop was covered with rust.
2-year-old found with mother's body
ERIE — A woman's decomposed body and her malnourished and dehydrated 2-year-old son were found by police investigating a foul odor in a locked apartment.
The body of Tammy Graves, 36, was found Sunday evening. Officials said she likely died within the past week, and an autopsy yesterday revealed no evidence of foul play.
It may take weeks for toxicology tests to determine how she died, Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said. Investigators were looking into the woman's medical history, the coroner said.
Her son was placed with a relative whom police did not identify. The boy's malnourished condition was solely the result of being alone after his mother died, police said. He otherwise appeared to be well-tended.
Authorities had not located the boy's father, who did not live with the mother and son, District Attorney Brad Foulk said.
Killer plans joke before execution
SAN ANTONIO — A Texas man scheduled to be executed tonight wants to die laughing.
Patrick Knight, 39, has been soliciting jokes on the Internet and plans to tell one of them before receiving a lethal injection, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Michelle Lyons said yesterday.
"He says he wants to keep his execution light," she said.
Knight was sentenced to die for the August 1991 murder of his two elderly neighbors in Amarillo. Miss Lyons said a friend of Knight's set up a page on MySpace.com to solicit jokes, and "hundreds" of suggestions have arrived in the mail.
"I'll be enjoying my last days on earth," Knight is cited as saying, adding that he wants jokes "to keep me and others with [execution] dates laughing."
Miss Lyons said that although Knight will be allowed to tell his joke, none of his executioners in the death chamber will be laughing. "Everybody who is there takes it very seriously and will not be participating in the joke," she said.
In charity race, runners drink beer
SUAMICO — Only in Wisconsin do beer and exercise mix.
Several hundred people laced up Sunday morning for a two-mile charity race in which suds were the refresher of choice. Competitors in the 19th annual Beer Belly Two might not be considered athletes, but they know how to have a good time.
"My kids are running it, so hopefully they're already at the finish line and I'll see them in an hour or so," said racer Doug Burmeister. "You know, there's a lot of beer stops."
The race has raised more than $350,000 for local charities since its inception.
From wire dispatches and staff reports