- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2008

ARKANSAS

Schools can admit illegal immigrants

LITTLE ROCK | Arkansas’ colleges and universities can admit illegal immigrants, the Arkansas attorney general’s office said.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in an advisory opinion Wednesday that schools don’t have a duty to verify the citizenship status of the potential students they admit. The state’s higher education director earlier this year ordered schools to check the immigration status of potential students.

“It is my opinion in response to your specific questions that undocumented individuals may enroll in Arkansas’ public colleges and universities and that such schools are not obliged to verify citizenship as a condition of enrollment,” Mr. McDaniel said in the opinion, answering questions submitted by state Rep. Rick Green, a Republican.

The opinion, however, noted that there was nothing barring schools from making citizenship a requirement of admission to a school or from checking immigration status on their own.

CONNECTICUT

Fire hits complex for elderly, disabled

WATERBURY | A fire injured 16 people at an apartment building for the elderly and disabled early Thursday, forcing firefighters to use a ladder truck to rescue some residents from upper floors, officials said.

The fire in the Eastgate complex was reported shortly before 4 a.m. in a first-floor apartment and sent smoke throughout the four-story building. Eight apartments were seriously damaged.

Two women were in critical condition at Bridgeport Hospital, and a man was in fair condition, hospital spokesman John Cappiello said. The man and one of the women were in the hospital’s burn treatment center, and the other woman was in intensive care, he said.

The other victims included a firefighter who suffered a shoulder injury.

INDIANA

City can’t find buried time capsule

ELKHART | Call it the time capsule that time forgot.

A city committee voted recently to open a time capsule buried in 1958, when the city was celebrating its centennial. The plan was to display the items, then add modern ones and rebury it until 2058.

Trouble is, no one seems to know exactly where the capsule is.

Several committee members thought the capsule was buried in a park, but the capsule there was buried in the 1970s to commemorate the U.S. bicentennial celebration.

Committee member Paul Thomas doubts the 1958 capsule exists because it wasn’t mentioned in detailed committee meeting minutes from that year or in an extensive centennial brochure.

NORTH CAROLINA

Procedure ignored for slain soldier

RALEIGH | A pregnant soldier’s unit at Fort Bragg didn’t follow procedures for keeping track of newly arrived personnel, the Army said in a report Thursday on the disappearance of the woman, whose body was found this summer at an off-base motel.

The report also said one noncommissioned officer had been reprimanded for lying during the investigation. Two others also were reprimanded. But the report said the oversights and mistakes would not have prevented the death of Spc. Megan L. Touma, 23, of Cold Spring, Ky.

Spc. Touma was a dental specialist who arrived June 12 at Fort Bragg after traveling from a base in Germany. Her decomposing body was found June 21 in a motel room bathtub not far from the North Carolina base.

The report said the noncommissioned officer in charge of Spc. Touma’s unit, the 19th Replacement Co., failed to follow “a number of redundant checks and balances.”

Sgt. Edgar Patino, 27, of Hope Mills, was the father of Spc. Touma’s unborn baby and has been charged with first-degree murder. Investigators said Spc. Touma and the married Sgt. Patino began a relationship while both were stationed in Germany.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Man who killed 3 sentenced to death

SUMTER | The killer taunted investigators, scrawling in blood on one dead man’s wall: “Victem 4 in 2 weeks. Catch me if u can.” He lit candles around the body and laughed when the man’s daughter called and asked to speak with her father. “You can’t,” he told her. “I killed him three hours ago.”

Investigators said they may never know why Stephen Bryant, who was on probation after 18 months in prison for burglary, started killing in 2004.

He pleaded guilty last month to three murders and a nonfatal shooting in Sumter County, a mostly rural area in central South Carolina.

On Thursday, a judge sentenced him to death for one of the killings, and life in prison for the other two.

TEXAS

Residents can prepay for college again

AUSTIN | Once again, Texas parents can lock in current college tuition rates and start paying now, even if their would-be graduates are infants.

Comptroller Susan Combs on Wednesday unveiled the Texas Tuition Promise Fund, which allows parents to start paying undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees for their children’s future education. Enrollment is open to all Texas residents.

The plan is a reincarnation of the Texas Tomorrow Fund, which has been closed to new participants since 2003, when lawmakers deregulated college tuition and rates increased sharply.

Parents could choose to buy credits at one of three price levels, ranging from the highest-cost, four-year-universities, like the University of Texas at Austin, to a two-year community college.

At this year’s rates, for instance, a parent of a newborn could pay $60.36 a month to buy a year of tuition and fees at an average four-year university. The parents of a 7-year-old would pay $81.53 a month for future tuition and fees.

Enrollment runs through Feb. 28 of next year, but the first payments would be due May 1. Similar plans are available in other states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, Virginia and Florida.

WASHINGTON

Stolen guns used in fatal rampage

SEATTLE | The man accused of a shooting rampage that left six people dead in northwestern Washington stole the guns used in the attacks as well as a pickup truck involved in a high-speed chase, authorities said.

According to documents unsealed Wednesday in Skagit County District Court, Isaac Zamora stole a rifle, a handgun and ammunition from a residence near his mother’s home in the small town of Alger, about 70 miles north of Seattle.

The Sept. 2 shootings that claimed the life of a Skagit County sheriff’s deputy, two Alger-area residents and two construction workers, continued as the shooter fled south on Interstate 5, firing at two cars and a Washington State Patrol trooper on the freeway, fatally injuring one driver.

After a high-speed police pursuit, Mr. Zamora, 28, surrendered at a sheriff’s office about 20 miles south of Alger.

Mr. Zamora has been charged with six counts of murder and four counts of assault. He is being held on $5 million bail with his next court appearance set for Oct. 3.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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