- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CALIFORNIA

L.A. moves to close pot dispensaries

LOS ANGELES | The Los Angeles City Council has given preliminary approval to a plan that would close most of the hundreds of pot dispensaries in Los Angeles.

The ordinance passed 11-3, with a final vote expected next week.

The ordinance would cap the number of dispensaries at 70 and require the shops to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other public gathering spots.

Hundreds of dispensaries have opened in Los Angeles over the past few years despite a previous moratorium.

FLORIDA

Broadcaster faces child porn charges

GAINESVILLE | Longtime University of Florida sports broadcaster Steve Babik is facing federal charges of having child pornography on his home computer.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that Mr. Babik, 50, is charged with one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

His attorney, Larry Turner, said Mr. Babik pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was released with restrictions. Mr. Turner said it was too early in his investigation to comment on the charges.

The University of Florida Athletic Association said Tuesday that Mr. Babik has been fired.

Mr. Babik was the sideline reporter for Gators football games and handled other radio duties. He had been at UF since 1987.

ILLINOIS

Witness: Ex-cop threatened ex-wife

JOLIET | Former police officer Drew Peterson threw his ex-wife to the floor one night, grabbed her throat and told her he “could kill her there and then,” a one-time co-worker of the woman testified Tuesday at a hearing to determine what evidence can be admitted in Mr. Peterson’s murder trial.

Kathleen Savio, who mysteriously drowned in a bathtub six years ago, essentially is testifying from the grave during the hearing. Witnesses are telling a judge how Mrs. Savio discussed fears that Mr. Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, would kill her. Prosecutors are offering the first detailed look at evidence they contend ties Mr. Peterson to Mrs. Savio’s 2004 death.

The hearing stems from a state law that allows a judge to admit hearsay evidence in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors can prove a defendant killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying. The law was passed after authorities named Mr. Peterson a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, then exhumed Mrs. Savio’s body and reopened the investigation into her death.

MASSACHUSETTS

‘Spenser’ novelist Robert Parker dies

BOSTON | Robert B. Parker, the blunt and beloved crime novelist who helped revive and modernize the hard-boiled genre and branded a tough guy of his own through his “Spenser” series, has died. He was 77.

The cause of death was not clear. An ambulance was sent to Mr. Parker’s home in Cambridge on Monday morning after reports of a sudden death, said Alexa Manocchio, spokeswoman for the Cambridge police department.

Prolific to the end, Mr. Parker wrote more than 50 novels, including 37 featuring Boston private eye Spenser.

The character was the basis for the 1980s TV series “Spenser: For Hire,” starring Robert Urich.

MICHIGAN

Court won’t close Lake Michigan locks

TRAVERSE CITY | The U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to order the immediate closure of shipping structures near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes. The decision came before authorities said DNA from the ravenous invaders had been found in Lake Michigan for the first time.

The court rejected Michigan’s request for a preliminary injunction to shut the locks and gates temporarily while officials and interest groups debate a long-term strategy. The court’s one-sentence decision includes no explanation and doesn’t say whether the justices would consider the case on its merits.

Hours later, federal officials said two DNA samples taken beyond the final barriers between Chicago-area waterways and the lake had tested positive for carp, including one in the lake’s Calumet Harbor.

MISSISSIPPI

Ex-politician, coach drop assault claims

MADISON | A former congressman from Mississippi and a youth soccer coach have dropped assault complaints against each other after a scuffle last month.

Former U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering and coach Chris Hester accused each other of simple assault after a Dec. 6 soccer game for 10- and 11-year-old boys. Mr. Pickering’s son’s team was playing Mr. Hester’s team.

Mr. Hester claimed Mr. Pickering yelled at him, pulled him out of his vehicle and struck him. Mr. Pickering said the coach had verbally abused his son and claimed he was defending himself from the coach.

A judge on Tuesday agreed to a request from both men to drop the complaints.

NEW YORK

Dismissal denied in Letterman case

NEW YORK | A jury should get to decide whether a TV producer’s dealings with David Letterman were attempted blackmail or just hard-nosed business, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon refused to throw out a charge of attempted grand larceny against the producer, Robert Halderman. The ruling puts the case on a path toward trial, which could bring testimony from the “Late Show” host about events in his private life that have been pushed into public view.

The case spurred Mr. Letterman to tell viewers in October that he had slept with women on his staff.

Prosecutors said Mr. Halderman demanded $2 million to keep quiet about the talk-show host’s affairs. Mr. Halderman said he was just offering Mr. Letterman a chance to buy, and keep private, a thinly veiled screenplay about Mr. Letterman’s life.

A trial date could be set at his next court appearance March 9.

VIRGINIA

Multiple deaths blamed on surrounded gunman

APPOMATTOX | A lone shooter was responsible for multiple deaths and injuries Tuesday, and more than 100 law enforcement officials had him circled in the woods where they think he’s hiding, state police said.

A spokeswoman could not say how many were dead or injured in the shootings or what sparked the violence.

The gunman also fired at a sheriff’s deputy and a state police helicopter, which had to land with a ruptured fuel tank after one or more rounds struck it, the spokeswoman, Corrine Geller, said. No police were injured.

The violence began shortly after noon when an injured man was found on a rural stretch of road. A deputy who went to investigate fled after he heard gunshots, Miss Geller said.

Appomattox, about 100 miles southwest of Richmond, is best known as the place where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to end the Civil War.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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