- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ARKANSAS

5 children die in house fire

BENTONVILLE — Five children have died in a house fire in Bentonville, Ark., after their parents couldn’t get to them.

Fire Chief Dan White said the children were upstairs when the fire broke out and their parents were asleep downstairs.

Chief White said the parents were awakened by a smoke alarm early yesterday but could not get upstairs because of smoke and flames.

The children ranged in age from 7 to 13. Their parents escaped from the burning house but authorities have not said yet if they were injured.

Chief White said the blaze appears to have been accidental.

MASSACHUSETTS

Pet owners turning to wheelchairs

SHELBURNE FALLS — When Gary Mikus learned that an incurable nerve disease was starting to paralyze the hind legs of his German shepherd, he immediately dismissed the idea of putting the dog to sleep.

Then he spotted an ad in a pet food store: “Eddie’s Wheels For Pets. Help for Handicapped Pets.” Now the dog, named Bear, which has been Mr. Mikus’ constant companion for a decade, has a lot of living left to do — much of it in his new pet wheelchair.

A growing number of pet owners are turning to custom-built wheelchairs to restore mobility to furry friends whose legs, hips or backs don’t work. The two-wheel carts support the dog’s midsection with a padded saddle, and are secured with a shoulder yoke and chest strap.

ALABAMA

No charges in gas death

BIRMINGHAM — Alabama authorities did not file charges against a homeowner who said yesterday he fatally shot a man who was siphoning gasoline from his truck in the middle of the night, only to discover the victim was a cousin.

Robert Lee Warren of Hatchechubee said the man identified by the coroner as Henry J. Moses, 40, made a threatening move toward him after being confronted, so he pulled the trigger in self-defense.

“That’s what he did, and I was in fear of my life,” Mr. Warren said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. “We’re cousins. I didn’t know it at the time. It was dark.”

Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr. said Mr. Moses died of a single gunshot to the chest about 2 a.m. CDT on Easter Sunday. The body was found near a blue pickup truck under an awning that Mr. Warren used as a carport, he said, but it was unclear how much, if any, gasoline was taken.

CALIFORNIA

Qantas jet blows tires

LOS ANGELES — An Australia-bound jetliner carrying 232 people blew four tires while aborting takeoff and got stranded on the runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

No injuries were reported among those on Qantas Flight 12 late Monday, LAX spokeswoman Treva Miller said.

Flight operations at the airport were not affected.

The pilot aborted takeoff after a warning light came on as he took the Boeing 747-400 down the runway at 11:05 p.m., Miss Miller said. The tires blew when the pilot slammed the brakes, she said, and the plane came to rest on an adjacent runway.

The passengers were taken to hotels and the flight was rescheduled to depart for Sydney yesterday afternoon, Qantas spokeswoman Agnes Huff said. Crews worked overnight on the plane, Miss Huff said, and it will be used for the rescheduled flight.

CONNECTICUT

Race prompts fraud charge

HARTFORD — Prosecutors say a video shows a Connecticut corrections officer running a 40-yard-dash in women’s clothing and high heels — at a time he claimed he was too injured to work.

Garrett A. Dalton of Naugatuck has been charged with workers’ compensation fraud. He is accused of participating in a radio station’s contest for Hannah Montana concert tickets last year. Not only did he have to dress in drag but he had to carry an egg on a spoon.

Authorities were alerted after someone saw Mr. Dalton in a TV news report. Prosecutors say the 41-year-old collected more than $5,000 in workers’ compensation after he reported a work-related injury in June.

He didn’t win the contest.

FLORIDA

2 dead, 5 hurt in crane fall

MIAMI — Part of a construction crane plummeted 30 floors at the site of a high-rise condominium yesterday, smashing into a home the contractor used for storage and killing two workers, police said.

Five workers were injured, including one in critical condition, officials said. The other four had injuries not considered life threatening.

The crane’s main vertical section was intact, but the part that fell was a 20-foot section that workers had been raising to extend the equipment’s reach, Miami fire spokesman Ignatius Carroll said.

Fire officials said rescue efforts were hampered because the crane remained unstable.

The two-story house that was damaged was used in the movie “There’s Something About Mary,” Mr. Carroll said.

Mary Costello, a senior vice president for Bovis Lend Lease Holdings Inc., which was managing the construction, said the accident occurred when a subcontractor tried to raise the crane section and it came loose.

The accident occurred 10 days after a 20-story crane collapsed at a New York construction site, killing seven people.

ILLINOIS

Study: Preemies at risk as adults

CHICAGO — The largest study of the long-term consequences of premature birth finds that children born early have higher death rates in childhood and are more likely to be childless in adulthood.

Experts called the research significant because it followed 1.2 million Norwegian births for decades. It also raises questions about future risks for even tinier and sicker babies saved today by modern medicine.

“Are we improving their survival but at the expense of significant problems down the road?” asked study leader Dr. Geeta Swamy of Duke University Medical Center.

Most preemies grow up to have good health and normal reproduction, but the researchers found heightened risks compared with babies born at full term from 1967 to 1988. The findings add to known consequences of premature birth such as lung problems, disabilities, mental retardation and being held back in school.

In the study, appearing in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 60,000 Norwegian children were born premature, about 5 percent overall. Only single births were included.

INDIANA

7 pupils, driver hurt in crash

INDIANAPOLIS — Police say seven kindergartners and a school-bus driver have minor injuries after their bus veered off a road and landed on its side in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Police Sgt. Matthew Mount said no other vehicles were involved in yesterday morning’s accident.

The children and driver were taken to a hospital.

MICHIGAN

Mayor, ex-aide plead not guilty

DETROIT — Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges they lied under oath about having an affair.

The mayor and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty appeared for separate hearings in the scandal that is threatening to cut short Mr. Kilpatrick’s second term.

District Court Magistrate Steve Lockhart entered not guilty pleas for each of them on charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. Both were released on personal bonds.

The two are accused of lying under oath about an affair and their roles in the firing of a top police official. Text messages first reported by the Detroit Free Press revealed a flirty and sometimes explicit dialogue between the two.

Attorneys for Mr. Kilpatrick and Mrs. Beatty said their clients will be exonerated.

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges Monday following an investigation that began in late January after the Detroit Free Press published excerpts from 14,000 text messages that were sent or received in 2002-03 from Mrs. Beatty’s city-issued pager.

NEBRASKA

Lawmakers retainq death penalty

LINCOLN — Nebraska lawmakers rejected a measure to repeal the death penalty.

Twenty-five votes were needed to advance the debate, but only 20 senators voted for the bill yesterday.

The state Supreme Court ruled last month that the electric chair amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. It was the state’s only means of putting inmates to death.

The vote leaves the state with no means of execution.

NEW YORK

McQueen heirs sue for name, likeness

NEW YORK — Heirs of the late actor Steve McQueen have gone to court to stop an apparel manufacturer from using the King of Cool’s name and likeness to promote its products without their consent.

Chadwick McQueen and The Terry McQueen Testamentary Trust say in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that Mr. McQueen’s name and likeness have been stolen by Belstaff USA Corp. They asked the court to stop the company from marketing jackets, coats, sweaters, T-shirts, pants and shoes under the name of the actor, who starred in classics such as “Bullitt” and “The Great Escape. He died in 1980.

The lawsuit said the rights to merchandise carrying Mr. McQueen’s name belong to his two children, Chadwick and Terry. The lawsuit says Terry McQueen died in 1998, leaving her rights and assets to her daughter, Molly Flattery, through the trust.

The lawsuit seeks a judicial order to stop Belstaff and related companies from manufacturing or selling items that carry the actor’s name or messages related to him. It also seeks unspecified damages.

A telephone message left at Belstaff’s Manhattan office was not immediately returned yesterday. Belstaff is based in Italy.

TEXAS

Father guilty in oven case

GALVESTON — A young father was convicted yesterday of severely injuring his infant daughter by putting her in a microwave, with jurors rejecting his claim that he was insane at the time.

Jurors deliberated about four hours before finding 20-year-old Joshua Mauldin guilty of felony injury to a child.

After the verdict, jurors began hearing testimony in the punishment phase of the trial. Mauldin faces punishment ranging from probation to life in prison.

Mauldin pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, saying he was having a psychotic episode when he put his then 2-month-old daughter, Ana, in a hotel microwave for 10 to 20 seconds last May while her mother and grandmother were away.

But prosecutors countered that Mauldin was driven by anger that he was in a loveless marriage and was stuck in a new town with a baby he didn’t want to care for.

Mauldin sat emotionless as his daughter’s foster mother detailed in penalty-phase testimony how Ana’s wounds still need to be cleaned every day and how she screams during the painful process. The witness, Heather Croxton, said she hopes to adopt Ana, who is now 1 year old.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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