- - Thursday, December 23, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Toyota to pay family of runaway Lexus

LOS ANGELES — Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay $10 million to the family of four people killed in a runaway Lexus crash that led to recalls of millions of the automaker’s vehicles, an attorney said Thursday.

The amount was released Thursday by Orange County lawyer Larry Willis, who represents the dealership that lent the Lexus to the family, attorney Jean-Paul Jassey said. Mr. Jassey spoke with Mr. Willis and represented several media organizations, including the Associated Press, that filed a motion opposing efforts to keep the details sealed.

The dealership was privy to the confidential September settlement agreement but has not reached its own agreement with those who sued.

The settlement amount was first reported Thursday by the Los Angeles Times. Toyota, which did not admit or deny liability in the settlement, said it was disappointed that the amount had been made public.

FLORIDA

Purse that hit gunman sells for $13,000

PANAMA CITY — The purse a Florida school board member used to smack a man who was holding other board members at gunpoint has sold for more than $13,000 in an auction.

Authorities say the Brahmin purse Ginger Littleton used Dec. 14 in an unsuccessful attempt to disarm gunman Clay Duke after sneaking up on him sold Wednesday for $13,100 on eBay. The buyer lives in Alexandria, Va., and asked to remain anonymous.

The purse manufacturer, based in Fairhaven, Mass., said it would match the bid. That means the charity founded by Mike Jones, the security guard who shot and wounded Duke before he killed himself, will get a total of $26,200 from the sale. The purse is from the discontinued Almond Collection and originally sold for $345.

MARYLAND

Indoor marijuana farm found at crash site

ELLICOTT CITY — A Baltimore area man has more than just insurance claims to worry about after a car crashed into his home.

Police say the crash revealed that Richard Marriott, 44, had an indoor marijuana farm.

Mr. Marriott and another person were not injured when a BMW driven by Bryan Bolster, 20, crashed into Mr. Marriott’s house and burst into flames on Dec. 10. Mr. Bolster died in the crash.

Howard County police say fire investigators found the drugs. Police obtained a search warrant and found nearly 20 large marijuana plants. Mr. Marriott was arrested and was being held Wednesday on $15,000 bond.

NEBRASKA

WWII pilot who repaid village rescuers dies

LINCOLN — Fred Hargesheimer, a World War II Army pilot whose rescue by Pacific islanders led to a life of giving back as a builder of schools and teacher of children, died Thursday morning. He was 94.

Mr. Hargesheimer was shot down by a Japanese fighter while on a mission over the Japanese-held island of New Britain in the southwest Pacific in June 1943. He parachuted into the trackless jungle, where he barely survived for 31 days until found by hunters. They took him to their coastal village and for seven months hid him from Japanese patrols.

Mr. Hargesheimer later returned to help the village build its first school.

VIRGINIA

Robertson questions harsh pot laws

RICHMOND — Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says harsh penalties for marijuana possession are costly for the nation and damaging to young people. But a spokesman said he is not calling for decriminalizing pot.

The spokesman said Thursday that Mr. Robertson made the comments on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” in the context of faith-based approaches to treating offenders.

Spokesman Chris Roslan said Mr. Robertson “unequivocally stated” he is against the use of illegal drugs.

The comments, however, were widely interpreted on several websites as an endorsement by the Christian Coalition founder of legalizing marijuana. They were celebrated by NORML, a group that advocates legalization of the drug.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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