- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2008

OKLAHOMA

Crane topples, kills man watching construction

OKLAHOMA CITY | A crane holding a church steeple toppled Thursday morning, crushing a car and killing an 80-year-old man who was watching the construction from inside the vehicle.

The man’s wife, 78, who also was in the car, was taken to a hospital in good condition, ambulance officials said.

The accident happened in the parking lot of a new church being built in southwest Oklahoma City at 10 a.m. A group of people had gathered to watch the installation of the steeple, Deputy Fire Chief Cecil Clay said.

The state medical examiner’s office identified the victim as Winfred Stafford of Oklahoma City. Grace Assembly of God Pastor Joe Hancock said he and his wife were longtime church members.

The crane operator was not injured.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the state Labor Department and the owner of the crane, Barnhart Crane and Rigging Co., will investigate.

TEXAS

Residents begin cleanup after Dolly

HARLINGEN | Residents across South Texas slogged through knee-deep muddy waters, tiptoed around downed power lines and dug through debris Thursday, but were thankful that Hurricane Dolly didn’t pack the wallop they had feared.

Downed power lines remained the greatest danger, and South Texas officials urged people to stay home one more day “unless it’s life or death.”

One person in Matamoros, Mexico, died from electrocution after walking past a power line on the ground.

Residents picked up the pieces of their houses and businesses blown apart by the storm.

But as dry skies spread over the region, they were struck by relief that the storm didn’t take many lives.

Even so, there will be substantial cleanup: President Bush declared South Texas a disaster area to release federal funding to 15 counties, and insurance estimators put the losses at $750 million.

FLORIDA

Man pleads guilty to boat deaths

MIAMI | One of two men accused of killing four people aboard a fishing charter last year pleaded guilty Thursday in exchange for an agreement that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

Kirby Archer, who had previously pleaded not guilty to the September boat hijacking and killings, pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping, illegal seizure of a maritime vessel and other charges.

Prosecutors said Archer, 36, and Guillermo Zarabozo, 20, hired the charter boat Joe Cool to go to the Bahamas, then tried to divert it to Cuba. Mr. Zarabozo has pleaded not guilty and blamed Archer for killing the captain, his wife and two crew members.

Prosecutors announced Thursday that they will not seek the death penalty.

ILLINOIS

Couple discloses tapes of Peterson

CHICAGO | Two friends of former police officer Drew Peterson told a newspaper that he made incriminating statements during secretly taped conversations following the disappearance of his fourth wife - claims that Mr. Peterson denies.

“If they recorded me for seven months, it’s going to clear me more than it’s going to hurt me,” Mr. Peterson told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Paula Stark and her husband, Len Wawczak, told the Chicago Sun-Times that they secretly taped Mr. Peterson after being contacted by the Illinois State Police in mid-November. They said they continued recording conversations through mid-June, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

The couple said the former suburban Bolingbrook Police sergeant had wished aloud that he’d cremated his third wife’s remains and asked them to set fire to a memorial to his missing wife, Stacy.

“If I said anything close to that, it was taken out of context,” Mr. Peterson told the AP.

Neither the state police nor the Will County State’s Attorney’s office would comment about the couple’s account.

NEW YORK

Ex-Spitzer aides face ethics charges

ALBANY | Three former aides to ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the former head of the state police were charged with ethics violations Thursday over travel records released to discredit a political rival, a scandal that consumed Mr. Spitzer’s administration before it was wrecked by another involving a prostitute.

Mr. Spitzer was not charged. The state Public Integrity Commission criticized the Democrat, saying he reneged on promises to cooperate fully in the investigation but said it did not have enough evidence to charge him in the misuse of travel records concerning then-Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, a Republican.

The commission found that former Spitzer aides Darren Dopp, Richard Baum and William Howard and former state police head Preston Felton conspired to smear Mr. Bruno by releasing his travel records to a reporter. At issue were trips to New York City on days in May and June 2007 that he met with lobbyists and attended fundraisers.

NORTH CAROLINA

Giuliani’s son sues over team dismissal

RALEIGH | The son of former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is suing Duke University, claiming that his golf coach manufactured accusations against him to justify kicking him off the team to whittle the squad.

Andrew Giuliani, 22, who will be a senior this fall, contends that he had dreams of becoming a professional golfer and was dismissed without cause from the golf team in February without a chance to defend himself. He said Thursday that he sued “to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else at Duke.”

Duke spokesman Michael J. Schoenfeld said the university would “vigorously defend this lawsuit” and insisted on fairness for all participants in its sports programs.

Mr. Giuliani was dismissed because coach O.D. Vincent III wanted to cut the team from 13 players to about half its size, the lawsuit said. He claims a breach of contract because he was recruited by Duke’s previous coaching staff.

PENNSYLVANIA

Hospitalization set in son’s poisoning

PITTSBURGH | A mother accused of repeatedly injecting her 4-month-old son with saltwater will be sent to a state mental hospital after a psychiatrist testified Thursday that the woman is severely depressed.

Judge Jeffrey Manning ordered Amber Brewington, 21, of Duck River, Tenn., to spend no more than 90 days at Mayview State Hospital before returning to court.

Psychiatrist Christine Martone, who evaluated Mrs. Brewington twice, testified at the competency hearing that she should be tested for Munchausen by proxy, a syndrome in which a caregiver fakes or induces illness in others to generate sympathy.

Mrs. Brewington also has a borderline personality disorder, is severely depressed and admits having suicidal thoughts, Dr. Martone said.

Mrs. Brewington has been accused of poisoning her son, Noah King, with saltwater. She was arrested after a nurse at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh told police that she saw Mrs. Brewington disconnecting the baby’s feeding tube. She is charged with attempted homicide and other crimes.

Noah was transferred July 9 to the Pittsburgh hospital, where he remains in critical but stable condition.

UTAH

Safety violations found at mine

PRICE | The operator of a collapsed Utah mine violated safety protocols by cutting coal pillars that should have been left standing to prevent cave-ins, federal regulators said Thursday.

The officials said a subsidiary of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. undermined other pillars by excavating coal from tunnel floors. They also faulted the company’s engineering firm, Agapito Associates Inc. of Grand Junction, Colo., for conducting a flawed evaluation of mining dangers.

Murray Energy chief Bob Murray has insisted that taking down the pillars, a practice called retreat mining, had nothing to do with the collapse. He argued from the start that it was caused by an earthquake.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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