- - Thursday, August 13, 2009


Activist sentenced for ‘littering’

TUCSON — A judge has ordered an Arizona man to pick up trash for 300 hours after he was caught leaving jugs of water in the desert for illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico.

Walt Staton, a member of the group No More Deaths, was cited for leaving the jugs in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. A federal jury in June convicted him of littering.

Mr. Staton also was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation, and he’s banned from the refuge for a year. He could have been sentenced to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine. Federal prosecutors had requested a $5,000 fine.

Members of No More Deaths and other supporters applauded Mr. Staton as he left the federal courthouse.


3 children drown; mom faces charges

LITTLE ROCK — The mother of three young children who drowned after she drove her car into a manmade lake in central Arkansas told police she fell asleep behind the wheel on Johnny Walker Road before the April 19 crash, waking only after feeling water surge into her car, court documents show.

Amber Turley, 26, told officers she tried to pull her three sons — Aaron, 8, Alex, 7, and Anthony, 2 — out of Brewer Lake during an early-morning thunderstorm April 19, but lost sight of them. Officers found the boys, limp and not breathing, after Anthony’s diaper floated to the surface, according to a police report.

Miss Turley faces three counts of felony endangerment of a child. Toxicology reports from the state Crime Laboratory show a blood sample collected from the mother after the crash tested positive for marijuana and benzodiazepines. She also had a blood alcohol level of .05, the crime lab reported. The legal limit in Arkansas is .08.

Miss Turley quit drinking about two hours before leaving the party to drive her boyfriend home, witnesses said. The police report shows the boyfriend sent her a text message asking her to have a good night, and she sent him a message back about 3 a.m.


Orbiter’s Mars shot available online

PASADENA — NASA says its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned a dramatic oblique view of a Martian crater that a rover explored for two years.

“The new view of Victoria Crater shows layers on steep crater walls, difficult to see from straight overhead, plus wheel tracks left by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between September 2005 and August 2007,” the space agency said.

“The orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera shot it at an angle comparable to looking at landscape from an airplane window. Some of the camera’s earlier, less-angled images of Victoria Crater aided the rover team in choosing safe routes for Opportunity and contributed to joint scientific studies.”

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been studying Mars since 2006, returning more data about the Red Planet than all other past and current missions to Mars combined. The new Victoria Crater image is available at www.nasa.gov.


Children, gator fight over rope

HARBORDALE — Police were called to break up a bizarre tug of war that broke out between several middle school children and a 10-foot alligator, witnesses said. Police cut the alligator loose from the rope.

Observers said the small group of children tied a raw chicken to the end of a large rope Tuesday to attract the attention of an alligator swimming in a canal. The plan worked too well when the gator devoured the chicken and got its snout stuck on the rope, which the children weren’t willing to give up, the St. Petersburg Times reported Wednesday.

Postal carrier Kim Kryza said she spotted the tug of war and dialed 911.

“They were pushing and pulling the gator back and forth on the rope,” she said. “But the gator was huge, and these kids were kind of small. I was afraid one of them would get pulled in.”

Officers said feeding gators is illegal in the city, but no charges will be brought against the children.


5-legged puppy gets TV hearing

CHICAGO — The case of a puppy that used to have five legs and was saved from a Coney Island animal show is going before a court TV judge in Chicago.

Plaintiff John Strong, who operates a New York animal show that features disfigured animals, is suing the dog’s original owner, Calvin Owensby, for $4,000.

Mr. Strong says Mr. Owensby reneged on an agreement to sell him the animal for $3,000. Mr. Owensby says they didn’t sign a contract.

Mr. Owensby sold the Chihuahua-terrier mix to a North Carolina woman who wanted to keep the pooch out of the animal show. She had the dog’s fifth leg removed.

Former New York District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s show is being taped and will air Sept. 21.

Mr. Strong says if he wins the case, he plans to fight in court to reclaim the dog.


Quaker activist gets school access

RALEIGH — Attorneys say a rural North Carolina school district will allow a Quaker peace activist to distribute information to high school students about alternatives to joining the military.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that Sally Ferrell’s group, North Carolina Peace Action, now has the same access to the students as military recruiters.

For years, Miss Ferrell has been asking permission to warn students to think twice before joining the military. The Wilkes County School Board had denied her access, with the superintendent calling her activities unpatriotic.

The ACLU says it reached a settlement after lawyers argued it was a matter of free speech. Wilkes County is about 50 miles west of Winston-Salem.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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