- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

FLORIDA

Web searches found at girl’s home

ORLANDO | Someone performed Internet searches for “neck breaking” and “household weapons” on the home computer of a Florida mother charged with killing her missing 3-year-old daughter, according to court documents released Wednesday.

The Orange County State Attorney’s office released almost 800 pages of discovery documents in the case of Casey Anthony, 22, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in the June disappearance of her daughter Caylee.

On March 17, someone used the Anthonys’ home computer to do Google searches for peroxide, shovels, acetone, alcohol and how to make chloroform. Traces of chloroform, which is used to induce unconsciousness, were found in the trunk of Miss Anthony’s car during forensic testing by a Tennessee lab.

Cell phone records include text messages in which Miss Casey calls herself “the worst mother” and calls Caylee a “little snothead,” according to the documents.

Caylee has not been seen since June, but she wasn’t reported missing until a month later. The child’s grandmother first called authorities in July to say that she hadn’t seen Caylee for a month and that her daughter’s car smelled like death.

HAWAII

School closings mulled in state

HONOLULU | The state schools superintendent has ordered officials to study closing schools in 20 areas on five islands to save money.

The move comes as the economy slows and Hawaii tax revenues decline, forcing budget cuts at all state departments. The state Department of Education estimates that it may need to slice $70 million from its $2.4 billion budget next year.

Closing a single school could save the state more than $500,000 a year on average.

“We know there are schools that are under utilized or under capacity,” Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto told the state Board of Education’s Audit Committee on Tuesday.

Under the plan, task forces made up of both school and community members will investigate whether it would be prudent to close or consolidate a school, said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of business services.

ILLINOIS

Ex-coach charged with taping gymnast

CHAMPAIGN | A former University of Illinois gymnastics coach has been charged with secretly videotaping a gymnast in a campus locker room.

John Valdez, who coached Justin Spring at the Beijing Olympics, was charged Tuesday with one count of unauthorized videotaping, said Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz. The charge is a Class 4 felony and carries a potential sentence of one to three years in prison.

Mr. Valdez resigned from the university in October, citing personal issues.

A gymnast training on Sept. 25 with Mr. Valdez in the gym used by the men’s gymnastics team noticed a hand-held video camera partially hidden under a T-shirt in an open locker, Miss Rietz said.

The 22-year-old gymnast, who is a student, reported the camera to Mr. Valdez but later called campus police and found that the incident had never been reported to them, the prosecutor said.

INDIANA

More elves needed for Santa Claus

SANTA CLAUS | HELP WANTED - Town of Santa Claus, Ind., desperately seeking dozens of kind-hearted volunteers with legible handwriting and a belief in the REAL North Pole.

“Short and simple, we need more Elves,” said Pat Koch, who put out the call this week because the town’s tiny post office has been hit by an avalanche of children’s letters to St. Nick.

There has been a 700 percent increase so far this month as online chatter about the town’s free Santa letters spreads faster than eight tiny reindeer through cyberspace.

More mothers are blogging about free Christmas things to do with their children, said Paula Werne, a spokesman for Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, which is owned by the Koch family.

Usually the post office has received 2,000 children’s letters by Thanksgiving, on its way to 10,000 by mid-December.

But Miss Werne said this year that there’s already been more than 15,000.

KANSAS

Girl, 5, finds $7,000 at Goodwill

WICHITA | A 5-year-old girl shopping with her mom at a Wichita Goodwill store discovered an envelope containing $7,000 on the floor of the thrift store, Goodwill said.

Gayle Goetz with Goodwill Industries said Claire Dingler, 5, handed the envelope to her mother, Ginger Johnson, after seeing “lots and lots of money” inside, the Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

Miss Goetz said Mrs. Johnson handed the money to store employees and asked, “Wouldn’t anybody just turn it in?”

Goodwill told the Star that the owner of the money was found and the cash returned.

MASSACHUSETTS

Nurse accused in plot to free rapist

WRENTHAM | A Massachusetts nurse has been charged with trying to help a convicted rapist accused of stabbing his attorney escape from prison.

Deborah Girouard, 44, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Wrentham District Court to charges of smuggling and aiding an inmate’s escape.

Prosecutors said Miss Girouard smuggled saw blades and other items into the MCI-Cedar Junction prison in Walpole to try to help Che Blake Sosa, 39, escape.

Sosa is serving a lengthy prison sentence for multiple rape convictions and is awaiting trial on charges that he stabbed his defense attorney in court in February 2007.

Miss Girouard was a contract nurse at the prison.

MICHIGAN

Murder charge filed in Amber Alert case

SAGINAW | A Saginaw man was charged Wednesday with fatally beating his wife in an incident that sparked a brief nationwide search for the couple’s missing children.

Jose Olguin, 35, was charged with open murder and carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, said Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael Thomas.

The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The weapon charge has a maximum sentence of five years.

Mr. Olguin is charged with fatally beating his wife, Erica Olguin, 32. Her body was found Monday at the family’s Saginaw home.

The weapon involved in the charges was a hammer, Mr. Thomas said.

MISSOURI

Homeless man freed after 3 years in jail

JOPLIN | A homeless Missouri man who sat in jail for nearly three years because he couldn’t raise bail was acquitted in an assault case.

A Jasper County jury deliberated for little more than an hour Tuesday before acquitting Curtis J. Downton. He released from custody.

Mr. Downton spent two years and eight months in jail because he was unable to post a bond that had been reduced to $3,500 three months after he was arrested in March 2006.

Mr. Downton had been accused of attacking a friend after a night of drinking and drug use. The men gave substantially different accounts of what happened the night the attack occurred.

NEVADA

Police ID suspect in student’s killing

RENO | A former Marine has been arrested in the slaying of a 19-year-old college student who authorities said was abducted while sleeping at a friend’s house, the victim’s family and police said Wednesday.

James Michael Biela, 27, was arrested Tuesday night and booked into the Washoe County Jail on suspicion of murdering Brianna Denison. He’s also charged with the kidnapping and sexual assault of another woman in Reno a month earlier, Reno Police Chief Michael Poehlman said.

Detectives are investigating whether DNA evidence links Mr. Biela to other crimes in Reno or surrounding areas.

Mr. Biela was arraigned before a justice of the peace Wednesday and requested a public defender, Washoe County sheriff’s spokeswoman Brooke Keast said. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 10.

Mr. Biela was being held without bail. Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick said prosecutors have the option of seeking a death sentence in the case.

NEW MEXICO

DUI suspect runs over self

SANTA FE | A man has been accused of driving drunk and leading police on a chase that finally ended with him running over himself.

Roy Travis Aguilar, 21, was treated for minor injuries at a Santa Fe hospital and booked into the Sandoval County detention center on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated, fleeing a police officer, careless driving and two other outstanding traffic warrants.

A tip on a police hot line Sunday afternoon reported a possible drunken driver on a highway.

State Police Officer Grace Romero spotted Mr. Aguilar’s pickup truck swerving across both lanes of the highway, driving slowly and then fast. He refused to stop.

After narrowly missing other vehicles, police said Mr. Aguilar drove through a ditch and a barbed-wire fence before stopping. He tried to put the truck into park, but it ended up in reverse.

Police said that Mr. Aguilar fell from his open door and that both of his legs were run over by the front driver’s side tire.

NEW YORK

Three new balloons join parade lineup

NEW YORK | “Toy Story” astronaut Buzz Lightyear, Dr. Seuss’ gentle elephant Horton and a Smurf are joining Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The giant cartoon characters will take their place among dozens of other balloons, 28 floats, 10 marching bands and hundreds of clowns and cheerleaders wending their way down Broadway in Thursday’s spectacle. The parade also features performers including Miley Cyrus, Trace Adkins, James Taylor and the Radio City Rockettes.

Organizers say about 3.5 million people are expected to pack Manhattan streets to see the 82nd annual parade, with 50 million watching on television. The route winds from Central Park West to Herald Square, in front of Macy’s flagship store.

OKLAHOMA

Separation planned for conjoined twins

OKLAHOMA CITY | A set of 1-month-old girls thought to be the first known American Indian conjoined twins are doing well and will be separated, doctors said.

Preslee Faith and Kylee Hope Wells were born Oct. 25 and are joined at the liver and rib cage, said David Tuggle, a pediatric surgeon who will be involved in the separation.

“They are very cute, and they hold each other,” Mr. Tuggle said Tuesday of the twins.

The twins’ parents are Kyle Wells, 21, and Stevie Stewart, 20, of Calumet. Both have a history of twins in their families.

Mr. Stewart, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, said the girls already are developing personalities. For example, Kylee “is laid-back and sleeps through anything, even her sister crying,” he said.

TEXAS

Storms destroyed 60 platforms

HOUSTON | This summer’s back-to-back punches from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike destroyed 60 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, but the structures represented only a minute percentage of the region’s overall production, the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) said Wednesday.

Before the storms, the Gulf of Mexico had about 3,800 production platforms accounting for roughly 25 percent of domestic oil output and 15 percent of natural gas. They can range from small barges in knee-high depths that produce 100 barrels a day to massive structures in 7,000 feet of water with daily capacities of thousands of barrels.

In its final damage assessment, MMS said the platforms destroyed by Gustav and Ike accounted for about 1 percent of the Gulf’s oil and natural gas production.

The MMS also said 31 platforms with extensive damage could take from three to six months to repair. Another 93 with moderate damage could take one to three months to fix.

The agency said it conducted the assessment in coordination with oil and gas operators.

WASHINGTON

Hitler’s bookmark found after theft

SEATTLE | Authorities have recovered a stolen 18-carat gold bookmark that reportedly was given to Adolf Hitler by his longtime mistress, Eva Braun.

Christian Popescu, a Romanian national, was arrested Tuesday outside a Bellevue Starbucks after trying to sell the bookmark to an undercover agent for $100,000, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court.

Federal prosecutors said the bookmark was among several items taken in an auction-house heist in Madrid, Spain, six years ago. At the time, some antiquities experts questioned its authenticity.

The bookmark is engraved with a portrait of Hitler as well as an imperial eagle and swastika, and its inscription indicates that Braun gave it to Hitler to console him after German forces surrendered at Stalingrad.

“My Adolf, don’t worry,” it reads, adding that the loss was “only an inconvenience that will not break your certainty of victory. My love for you will be eternal, as our Reich will be eternal. Always yours, Eva. 3-2-43.”

Regardless of its authenticity, federal agents said its theft broke the law.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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