- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2008

OHIO

Inmate says he’s too fat for execution

COLUMBUS | A death row inmate scheduled for execution says he’s too fat to be put to death, claiming executioners would have trouble finding his veins and that his weight could diminish the effectiveness of one of the lethal injection drugs.

Lawyers for Richard Cooey argue in a federal lawsuit that Cooey — 5-feet-7 and 267 pounds — had poor veins when he faced execution five years ago and the problem has been worsened by weight gain.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court, also said prison officials have had difficulty drawing blood from Cooey for medical procedures.

Cooey, 41, is sentenced to die for raping and murdering two young women in 1986. His execution is scheduled for Oct. 14.

TENNESSEE

Attorney: Winkler takes custody of children

MEMPHIS | Mary Winkler, the woman convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 shooting death of her minister husband, has taken custody of her three daughters, one of her lawyers said Monday.

Rachael Putnam, a custody attorney, said the former minister’s wife picked the girls up Friday from the slain man’s parents, Dan and Diane Winkler.

The lawyer said the children will live with Winkler at her home near McMinnville, about 60 miles southeast of Nashville.

Winkler, 34, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter last year for shooting her husband, Church of Christ minister Matthew Winkler, 31, at their Selmer home in March 2006.

Sentenced to three years in prison, she received probation for most of it, spending only 12 days in jail after her sentencing and two months in a mental health facility before being released.

The children — ages 11, 9 and 3 — had previously been living with their grandparents and had court-ordered visits with their mother.

CALIFORNIA

Soil on Mars may be harmful

LOS ANGELES | Scientists said the Phoenix spacecraft has found a substance in Martian soil that might be detrimental to possible life.

If confirmed, it could mean the soil may not be as friendly as once thought.

Scientists previously reported that the soil where Phoenix landed in May was Earth-like, containing nutrients such as magnesium, sodium and chloride.

The latest lab tests show the presence of an oxidizing substance.

NASA is investigating whether the substance could have gotten there by contamination.

DELAWARE

Agents enforce laws on illegal dumping

DOVER | Enforcement agents from Delaware’s natural resources department have doubled patrols for illegal dumping after seeing an 11 percent increase since last year.

The department’s enforcement director, Chief William McDaniel said statistics for the first six months of this year revealed the increase.

The state also is using surveillance cameras at dump locations to catch illegal dumpers.

The first penalty for dumping is a $500 fine, and landowners can seek payment for land damaged by illegal dumping.

According to the state’s mid-year study of reported violations to the environmental department, open burning is still the state’s most common reported violation.

FLORIDA

Man dials 911, complains about sub

JACKSONVILLE | The sauce for a spicy Italian sandwich was apparently a must have for one Florida man.

The man, Reginald Peterson, called 911 twice after a sandwich shop left off the sauce.

Mr. Peterson initially called the emergency number Thursday so that officers could have his subs made correctly, according to a police report. The second call was to complain that police officers weren’t arriving fast enough.

Subway workers told police that Mr. Peterson, 42, became belligerent and yelled when they were fixing his order. They locked him out of the store when he left to call police.

When officers arrived, they tried to calm Mr. Peterson and explain the proper use of 911. Those efforts failed, and he was arrested on a charge of making false 911 calls.

HAWAII

Top tourism official urged to resign

HONOLULU | Members of the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s board of directors have urged the group’s executive director to resign after e-mails containing sexually explicit material were found in his government account.

Rex Johnson acknowledged receiving the e-mails and forwarding them to “fishing and baseball buddies” who often exchange jokes online.

He has apologized to the board.

Anti-tobacco lawyer reports to prison

KENTUCKY

ASHLAND | Anti-tobacco lawyer Richard Scruggs has reported to a federal prison in eastern Kentucky.

Prison spokesman Larry E. Whitman said Scruggs entered a federal prison in Ashland at 11 a.m. Monday. He is beginning a five-year sentence for conspiring to bribe a judge with $50,000.

Scruggs was one of two people to plead guilty to the charge. Prosecutors said Scruggs wanted a favorable ruling in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees from a settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance cases.

In the 1990s, Scruggs used a corporate insider to take on tobacco companies in lawsuits that resulted in a $206 billion settlement. That case was portrayed in the 1999 film “The Insider” that starred Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

NEVADA

Man pleads guilty in ricin case

LAS VEGAS | An unemployed graphic designer who authorities say poisoned himself with toxic ricin in his Las Vegas motel room pleaded guilty Monday to possessing a biological toxin.

Sitting in a wheelchair, Roger Bergendorff was told he could spend three years and a month in federal prison. He also pleaded guilty to possessing unregistered handgun silencers.

A third charge was dropped.

Authorities said the case had no ties to terrorism.

The judge scheduled sentencing for Nov. 3.

NEW JERSEY

Rutgers president gives back bonus

NEW BRUNSWICK | Rutgers University President Richard McCormick and his wife are giving his $100,000 bonus back to the university.

The university said the money will go toward the Rutgers University Foundation to pay for financial aid for undergraduates.

Under Mr. McCormick’s employment contract, he’s eligible for a $100,000 annual bonus when the Rutgers Board of Governors decides he has met goals set out for him. His annual base salary is $550,000.

His decision comes as the university is raising tuition by 8.5 percent.

NEW YORK

Two electrocuted while changing tire

OGDENSBURG | A veteran state trooper and a civilian were electrocuted while fixing a flat tire on an antique fire truck when the truck’s ladder touched a high-voltage power line, police said.

The fire truck, from the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, was being returned to Canada from a parade near Syracuse when a tire went flat near the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, said Ogdensburg Police Chief Richard Polniak.

State Trooper Shawn Snow was under the truck fixing the tire while a Canadian man was extending the truck’s ladder to distribute the weight away

“How it ended up touching the wires, whether a piece of equipment failed and it slipped and touched the wires, or whether the act of jacking it up higher on one side caused it to touch, we just don’t know yet,” Chief Polniak said.

Trooper Snow, 47, was a 19-year state police veteran. Authorities were withholding the name of the Canadian man until his relatives could be notified.

NORTH DAKOTA

Doctor says he sold his clinics

FARGO | A doctor accused of improperly handling narcotics said he sold his five RapidCare Clinics in Grand Forks and in Minnesota.

Dr. Rodney Lee’s medical license was suspended last month for sloppy handling of narcotics, letting assistants fill out drug prescription forms for patients, and accepting unused drugs from his patients and keeping them in an unlocked drawer.

OHIO

Officer acquitted of killing woman

LIMA | An Ohio jury has acquitted a white police officer in the drug-raid shooting death of an unarmed black woman who was holding a child.

The shooting in January shook the city of Lima in northwest Ohio and touched off protests.

The all-white jury on Monday found Sgt. Joseph Chavalia not guilty on misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide and negligent assault.

He had faced up to eight months in jail if convicted of both counts.

Sgt. Chavalia fatally shot Tarika Wilson and injured the year-old baby she was holding. Prosecutors said he carelessly fired before he knew who he was shooting or whether she had a gun.

His attorney said Sgt. Chavalia heard gunfire and thought his life was in danger.

OREGON

Plane crash kills four in house

GEARHART | A small plane crashed into a seaside house in heavy fog early Monday, killing two people aboard and two children in the vacation home it struck, authorities said.

A third child was unaccounted for after the crash, which apparently occurred soon after the plane took off from nearby Seaside in northwest Oregon.

The single-engine plane clipped a tree and then plowed into the house, followed by explosions. A second, vacant home nearby was heavily damaged.

The pilot and his only passenger also were killed. Their identities were not released.

The four-seat Cessna was owned by Aviation Adventures in Seaside. The company had rented it to the pilot, city officials said.

The impact shook homes a half-mile away in this resort town.

When the plane crashed, six people were in the four-bedroom rental home at Gearhart for a family reunion and vacation, City Administrator Dennis McNally said. A mother and two children were flown to Portland for treatment at a burn center, said Michael Griffiths, executive director of the emergency transport service Life Flight.

Two more people in the family party had gone out for a walk before the crash and were uninjured, Mr. McNally said.

The names of family members were not released.

TEXAS

Man dies of burns from power lines

DALLAS | Authorities in Dallas said a man burned over half of his body while apparently trying to steal copper wire from a high-voltage power line has died.

The Dallas County medical examiner’s office confirmed Monday that James Buster McKay died at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Mr. McKay, 51, died Saturday. He had been listed in critical condition with third-degree burns.

Police Senior Cpl. Gerry Monreal said Mr. McKay was found on a transformer atop a utility pole and had “grabbed one of the live wires.”

Authorities said several wires had been cut.

Copper thefts have increased across the nation as the salvage price for the metal has risen sharply in recent years.

WASHINGTON

Shoe with bones found on state beach

PORT ANGELES | An athletic shoe containing bones and flesh has been found on a Washington state beach and authorities are investigating whether it may be linked to a series of human feet found in shoes along the coast of British Columbia.

Clallam County prosecutor Deb Kelly, who acts as coroner, said Monday the flesh and bones had been sent to the King County medical examiner’s office in Seattle to determine if the remains are human.

If the foot is human, the next step would be DNA testing to see if it matches feet found washed ashore in British Columbia.

Authorities said a woman told the Clallam County sheriff’s office on Saturday that she found the black, high-top shoe along the beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 30 miles west of Port Angeles.

Miss Kelly said county investigators would meet later this week with members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Five athletic shoes containing human feet have been found along the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland since August 2007. The Strait of Juan de Fuca separates the Canadian island and Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

A sixth foot found in June in British Columbia was determined to be an animal paw that had been shoved inside a shoe as a hoax.

DNA testing linked one of the Canadian feet to a depressed man who went missing a year ago. Investigators have also concluded that two of the five feet belonged to one man and that one foot was from a woman.

British Columbia coroner Jeff Dolan has said there was no evidence the feet were severed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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