- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA

Marines charged in nurse’s slaying appear in court

@Brief.bigbody.noindent:FAYETTEVILLE | It’s a scene that’s become all too familiar in North Carolina’s military communities.

“It is so close to home, and it is back to back,” said Takisha Word, 30, a combat veteran’s daughter from Fayetteville. “It kind of makes you leery.”

The latest is Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, 24, a maternity ward nurse at Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center whose body was found Sunday not far from Camp Lejeune.

That’s where her husband - Marine Cpl. John Wimunc - served as a combat engineer alongside Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden.

Cpl. Wimunc and Cpl. Alden made their first court appearance Tuesday, wearing a uniform of a different sort: orange coveralls and handcuffs.

Cpl. Wimunc is charged with murder in his wife’s death, and both men are charged with setting fire to her Fayetteville apartment.

OREGON

‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ hospital to be torn down

SALEM | So long, Cuckoo’s Nest.

Oregon State Hospital, the mental institution where the 1975 movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed, is making way for a new complex. Most of the dilapidated, 125-year-old main building will be torn down and replaced starting this fall.

Although mean Nurse Ratched was pure fiction, the Oregon State Hospital has struggled with some very real troubles over the years, including overcrowding, crumbling floors and ceilings, outbreaks of scabies and stomach flu, sexual abuse of children by staff members and patient-on-patient assaults.

Politicians had been talking for years about the need to replace the hospital, but didn’t get serious about it until a group of legislators made a grim discovery during a 2004 tour: the cremated remains of 3,600 mental patients in corroding copper canisters in a storage room.

Although “Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed here, neither the movie nor the 1962 Ken Kesey novel on which it was based makes any specific references to Oregon State Hospital.

CALIFORNIA

Manson follower eyed for release

SACRAMENTO | State parole officials Tuesday considered releasing a follower of Charles Manson who is dying of brain cancer, but the governor and others said her decades-old crimes were too brutal for her to be shown such mercy.

Susan Atkins‘ doctors and officials at the women’s prison in Corona made the compassionate release request in March because of her deteriorating health.

Atkins also has had her left leg amputated and is paralyzed on her right side, her husband and attorney, James Whitehouse, told the California Board of Parole Hearings.

He said doctors have given her three months to live.

“Why should we continue to incarcerate her at this point in life?” Mr. Whitehouse said. “She can’t sit up in bed. … She literally can’t snap her fingers. She can put sentences together three or four times a day, but that’s the extent of it.”

Atkins, two other women and Manson were convicted of the 1969 cult killings of seven people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. They were sentenced to death, but their terms were commuted to life sentences when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.

Atkins, 60, has been imprisoned for 37 years, longer than any other female in state history.

The request for compassionate leave has generated a small storm of opposition, leading to a packed hearing before the state parole board. Atkins, in a hospital near the Southern California prison where she was housed, did not attend.

Los Angeles County prosecutor Patrick Sequeira related gruesome details of the murders to the parole board as some in the audience cried.

COLORADO

Archdiocese hit with sex-abuse suit

DENVER | A man sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver on Tuesday over sexual abuse after seeing documents released as part of a big settlement last month that name the same priest he says molested him as a teenager.

The accuser claims he was abused by the late Harold White, an ex-priest who was named in the bulk of the cases that were settled this month. Mr. White was removed from the ministry in 1993 and died in 2006.

The lawsuit claims the abuse occurred in 1969 or 1970 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Loveland when the plaintiff was 14. It seeks unspecified damages.

Michael Finnegan, a lawyer with the Minneapolis firm representing the man, said the man decided to sue after seeing church documents about Mr. White that were released as part of the settlements.

According to the suit, the documents - posted on the firm’s Web site - show Mr. White admitted in February 1961 to sexually molesting five or six children. That was seven years before he was moved to St. John’s.

“He was outraged and saddened to see the archdiocese, to see the bishops and priests that he trusted, would cover up and conceal this for so long,” Mr. Finnegan said.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Jeanette De Melo said church officials haven’t received a copy of the lawsuit. She said the archdiocese is willing to meet with anyone who claims abuse by clergy and offer help in healing.

The documents were released to help the plaintiffs find healing and resolution, she said. She declined to comment on their use as grounds for another lawsuit.

The archdiocese has settled 43 sex-abuse cases since 2005 for a total of $8.2 million. Under the settlement reached this month, the archdiocese agreed to pay $5.5 million.

Two other lawsuits besides the new one remain unresolved.

FLORIDA

Juror jailed for judicial insult

OCALA | A potential juror who cursed at a Florida judge and ended up in jail says she was upset because she didn’t want to perform jury duty.

Sarah Muller, 23, of Summerfield, Fla., told the Ocala Star-Banner from her Marion County Jail cell that when County Judge James McCune Jr. refused to dismiss her from a jury pool Monday, she got upset and called the judge a crude, two-word name referring to the anus.

“I just didn’t want to do jury duty. That’s the best excuse there was,” Ms. Muller said, adding, “Sometimes I get upset and I say things. I didn’t know I would go to jail for freedom of speech.”

The Star-Banner said Ms. Muller first attempted to explain to the judge she had a medical condition that needed constant attention.

When that didn’t sway Judge McCune, she said she was “a racist” and so should be disqualified.

Judge McCune denied her dismissal once again, at which point Ms. Muller insulted him and was jailed on a criminal contempt charge.

Asked if she had any advice for other would-be jurors, Ms. Muller said, “Don’t say any cuss words at all. Maybe even ‘damn’ will get you kicked out.”

ILLINOIS

Gator haunts forest preserve

JOLIET | Staff at Illinois’ Will County Forest Preserve said a 4-foot American alligator spotted in the preserve has thus far eluded capture.

The gator, which was first reported Saturday by a group of bird watchers and resurfaced for a second time Monday to the surprise of forest preserve staff, is thought by officials to be a former pet that was released into the area, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

Forest preserve spokesman Bruce Hodgdon said he met Monday with members of the Chicago Herpetological Society to discuss their options for removing the reptile.

He said the current plan is to catch the alligator alive and release it into its natural habitat after a period of rehabilitation.

However, they have to catch it first.

“It’s a waiting game now,” said a Chicago Herpetological Society member who only gave his first name, Dan. “All you’re going to see sticking out right now is going to be nostrils and a pair of eyes.”

MASSACHUSETTS

Ex-mob boss gets shorter sentence

BOSTON | A former New England mob boss was sentenced in a plea deal that should have him out of the locker by January.

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison but gets credit for time served while awaiting trial and for good behavior.

The 74-year-old admitted to misleading investigators in 1999 about the disappearance of nightclub owner Stephen DiSarro. He had suggested a former mob leader was involved.

Salemme led the New England mob in the early 1990s.

He pleaded guilty in April to federal charges of making false statements and obstruction of justice.

MICHIGAN

Ex- fugitive wants sentence tossed

LANSING | A housewife caught at her upscale home near San Diego 32 years after escaping a Detroit-area prison asked a judge Tuesday to set aside her original sentence for selling heroin in hopes of winning back her freedom.

Susan LeFevre, 53, has been in a Michigan prison since May, where she has served out at least 5 1/2 years of her sentence.

Under sentencing laws from the 1970s, LeFevre likely would have to serve at least that many years before being eligible for parole in 2013, Michigan Department of Corrections officials have said.

Her attorneys filed a motion in Saginaw County Circuit Court arguing a judge in 1975 gave her an illegal 10- to 20-year sentence for selling about 3 grams of heroin, her first offense.

At the time, she agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and violation of drug laws, hoping to be granted leniency.

Her attorneys asked Judge William Crane to resentence LeFevre but did not specify how long her new sentence should be.

LeFevre’s attorney Barbara Klimaszewski said a first-time offender pleading guilty to selling a small amount of drugs likely would get probation.

It was unknown if prosecutors would challenge the request.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael Thomas.

LeFevre’s attorneys said that at the time of her sentencing, when she was 19, the circuit court’s policy was to give all defendants in heroin cases 10 years to 20 years, regardless of their individual characteristics or criminal records.

The policy later was ruled improper by the Michigan Supreme Court, according to Ms. Klimaszewski.

LeFevre said in court papers that she had no chance to review a pre-sentence report that she said falsely portrayed her as making $2,000 a week selling drugs and being acquainted with “higher-ups” in the drug world.

NEW YORK

Cop in shooting failed sobriety test

NEW YORK | An off-duty police detective failed a required sobriety test after wounding an armed suspect, leading a union official to suggest Tuesday that officers will think twice about stepping in when they’re off the job.

The shooting early Sunday was the first time an officer failed a Breathalyzer test since a rule took effect last September.

The test - the same one used in drunken-driving stops - now is administered to any officer who kills or wounds someone. Previously, a senior officer at the scene would determine whether those involved appeared sober at the time.

In this case, the detective’s blood alcohol content was 0.09 percent, and the legal limit is 0.08 percent, authorities said Tuesday.

Police officials said the shooting appeared to be justified; a preliminary investigation showed the officer faced an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.

But it wasn’t clear whether the detective would face disciplinary charges over the test results.

“The fact that alcohol may have been consumed off duty doesn’t necessarily mean that a shooting was outside of department guidelines,” said police spokesman Paul Browne.

The police union contends the new rule is excessive.

WASHINGTON

U.S. moves to revoke citizenship

SEATTLE | The Justice Department asked a federal court to revoke the citizenship of an 86-year-old Washington state man it says served in a Nazi unit.

A complaint filed Tuesday in Seattle says Peter Egner severed as a guard and interpreter with the Security Police and Security Service in Yugoslavia during World War II.

The unit slaughtered 17,000 Serbian civilians.

The Justice Department says Mr. Egner did not divulge the information when he moved to the United States in 1960 or when he gained citizenship in 1966.

The Bellevue man denies serving with the Nazis.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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