- - Friday, February 19, 2010

CONNECTICUT

Case against lacrosse players dropped

BRIDGEPORT — Prosecutors have dropped their case against three Sacred Heart University lacrosse players accused of conspiring to sexually assault a woman in a Connecticut dorm room.

A judge dismissed charges Wednesday against Nicholas Travers, 18, of Smithtown, N.Y. Prosecutors said they also won’t pursue charges against Zachari Triner, 18, of Mansfield, Mass., and Timothy Sanders, 19, of Ashburn, Va.

Mr. Sanders’ attorney, Wayne Keeney, said an investigation showed that Mr. Travers was not in the room at the time and that the other two didn’t commit a crime.

All three were charged in November with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault. Mr. Sanders also was charged with first-degree unlawful restraint.

MARYLAND

Lawmaker: Ban first-cousin marriages

ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland state legislator said it’s time to ban marriages between first cousins and stop playing what he calls “genetic roulette” with their offspring.

Delegate Henry B. Heller, Montgomery County Democrat, said he wants to bring Maryland “into the enlightened world of other states such as West Virginia and Arkansas” that already prohibit unions of first cousins.

Mr. Heller is a retired special education administrator. He said couples who are first cousins are at an increased risk of having a child with birth defects.

The bill would make an exception for people who are older than 65 or infertile. Mr. Heller said he has “no problem” with those couples if they want the companionship.

Twenty-four states prohibit marriage between first cousins.

NEW YORK

Ex-police boss gets 4 years in prison

WHITE PLAINS — Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was hailed as a hero after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and nearly became secretary of homeland security, was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison.

District Judge Stephen C. Robinson went beyond federal sentencing guidelines, which suggested 27 to 33 months. He said the guidelines do not take into account “the almost operatic proportions of this case.”

The judge said that after Sept. 11, Kerik “in many ways acted in the highest tradition of a public servant,” but then he added: “The fact that Mr. Kerik would use that event for personal gain and aggrandizement is a dark place in the soul for me.”

He said some of the crimes were committed while Kerik was “the chief law enforcement officer for the biggest and grandest city this nation has.”

Kerik, a protege of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s, pleaded guilty in November to eight felonies, including tax fraud and lying to the White House while being vetted for the Department of Homeland Security post in 2004.

The judge said Kerik, 54, made “a conscious decision to essentially lie to the president of the United States to get a Cabinet position.”

Kerik told the judge he had “become a better person.”

“I know I must be punished,” he said before being sentenced. “I only ask that you allow me to return to my wife and two little girls as soon as possible.” His daughters are 7 and 9 years old.

As Kerik left the courthouse Thursday for his home in Franklin Lakes, N.J., he read a statement apologizing to the nation and hoping that history will judge him “for 30 years of service I’ve given to the country and the city of New York.”

He will have to surrender voluntarily on May 17.

NORTH CAROLINA

Duke players’ accuser charged with assault

DURHAM — The woman who falsely accused three Duke University lacrosse players of rape nearly four years ago has been charged with attempted murder, arson and other counts after a fight with her boyfriend, police said.

Crystal Mangum, 31, was arrested late Wednesday on charges including assaulting her boyfriend, Durham police said.

Durham County jail records indicate she was charged with attempted murder, first-degree arson, assault and battery, identity theft, communicating threats, damage to property, resisting an officer and misdemeanor child abuse. A judge ordered that she remain in jail on a $1 million bond.

Authorities released the audio of a 911 call in which a girl who said she was Miss Mangum’s 9-year-old daughter called for help.

Police said they found Miss Mangum and Milton Walker fighting when they arrived at the home just before midnight. Miss Mangum then went into a bathroom and set some clothes on fire in a bathtub, police said.

NORTH DAKOTA

Board delays vote on ‘Fighting Sioux’

The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux will live to fight another month after the state Board of Higher Education took no action at Thursday’s meeting on whether to jettison the nickname and logo.

By allowing the controversy to slide until the March meeting, board members will be able to wait for the North Dakota Supreme Court to rule on the issue. The court is expected to hear arguments in March on whether the board can rule on the nickname before the Nov. 30 deadline.

A majority of board members appear to favor retiring the Fighting Sioux, the nickname and logo, which has been criticized as offensive and racist. The NCAA has said it will penalize the university unless it either gets rid of the nickname or receives permission to use it from the state’s two namesake tribes.

The university has received permission from the Spirit Lake Sioux but not the Standing Rock Sioux. A group of Spirit Lake Sioux have sued to stop the board from retiring the nickname before Nov. 30, hoping that the Standing Rock tribal council will give its permission before then.

University officials want to resolve the issue quickly so UND may apply to join the Division 1 Summit League. The league has refused to consider the university’s application until the nickname issue is resolved.

OREGON

Klamath Basin deal helps farmers, fish

SALEM — A century-old fight over water from Oregon’s Klamath Basin ended Thursday with signed agreements that give farmers water and power for their crops and lay out the removal of four dams that have blocked salmon from prime spawning grounds.

For decades, American Indian tribes, farmers, salmon fishermen and conservation groups have fought in courts and centers of power over who gets the scarce water in the basin.

Those longtime adversaries gathered in the Oregon Capitol Rotunda for Thursday’s signing of two landmark agreements.

One lays out a road map for removing four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The other details how to share water between fish and farms and restore the ecological balance of the basin.

UTAH

Flight diverted after bomb threat

SALT LAKE CITY — An airliner that was diverted midflight because of a bomb threat was being scoured by investigators at Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday.

Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann said a flight attendant found a note while the 757 was en route from Denver to San Francisco and turned it over to the pilot.

Miss Gann said the passengers and crew were taken to the international terminal, where the FBI planned to interview passengers while trying to figure out the note’s origin.

Transportation Safety Administration spokesman Dwayne Baird said the flight attendant found the note in the plane’s galley.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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