- - Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Suspect held in ‘Grim Sleeper’ killings

LOS ANGELES — Police made an arrest Wednesday in the so-called “Grim Sleeper” serial killings, in which a man is thought to have killed 11 people since 1985, a law enforcement official said.

Detectives have spent years probing at least 11 slayings between 1985 and 2007, in which the killer targeted young black women and one man.

The killer was dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because he apparently took a 14-year hiatus in his crimes.

GEORGIA

Refinery agrees to fines for fatal blast

SAVANNAH — Imperial Sugar has agreed to pay more than $6 million in fines for safety violations at two of its U.S. plants, including the Georgia refinery where a dust explosion killed 14 employees in 2008.

Federal regulators announced the settlement Wednesday after nearly two years of wrangling with the Texas-based company as it contested penalties first proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA sought to fine Imperial Sugar $8.7 million.

The settlement includes more than $4 million in fines for 124 safety violations at Imperial Sugar’s plant near Savannah, where the explosion was caused by sugar dust igniting like gunpowder.

The company agreed to an additional $2 million for 97 violations OSHA later found at its plant in Gramercy, La.

ILLINOIS

Peterson murder trial to be delayed

JOLIET — Former police officer Drew Peterson’s trial on charges of killing his third wife will be delayed while prosecutors appeal a judge’s decision to exclude some evidence considered crucial to the case, lawyers said Wednesday.

Jury selection was set to begin Thursday in Mr. Peterson’s trial in the 2004 drowning death of ex-wife Kathleen Savio.

But Will County Judge Stephen White ruled Tuesday he would not allow a jury to hear some hearsay, or secondhand, evidence, including statements that Mrs. Savio is said to have made to others. Such evidence is considered crucial to the case because prosecutors have not yet produced physical evidence linking Mr. Peterson to Mrs. Savio’s death, firsthand witnesses or a confession.

NEW YORK

11 charged in Russian spy case

NEW YORK — The 11 people accused of spying for Russia were formally charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, more than a week after the FBI announced their arrests.

The indictment charged all the defendants with conspiring to act as secret agents and also charged nine of them with conspiracy to commit money laundering. And it demanded that those accused of money laundering return any assets used in the offense.

The indictment, a charging document that can be used at trial, contains far fewer details of the purported crimes than were inside two criminal complaints filed last week. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on the indictment.

PENNSYLVANIA

2 missing after boat, barge collide

PHILADELPHIA — A disabled sightseeing boat adrift in the Delaware River with at least 37 people aboard was struck by a barge, spilling passengers into the water and leaving two people unaccounted for after a frantic rescue effort.

The amphibious “duck boat” had gone into the water just after 2:30 p.m. and suffered a mechanical problem and a small fire, officials said. It was struck about 10 minutes later, capsized and sank.

Searchers were looking for a 16-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man thought to have been aboard the duck boat, police Lt. Frank Vanora said. There were no reports of serious injuries, but fire department officials said three people were taken to hospitals.

There were 35 passengers and two crew members aboard the boat, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Bud Holden. Coast Guard boats assisted by police and fire crews worked to rescue people from the water, he said. A spokeswoman for the duck-boat company says 39 people were aboard, but the reason for the discrepancy wasn’t clear.

TEXAS

Police chief whose son killed 2 back at work

DALLAS — Dallas’ police chief returned to work on Wednesday, weeks after officers fatally shot his son for killing a fellow officer and a 23-year-old man.

Police Chief David Brown thanked those who supported him following the June 20 shootings, when his son David Brown Jr., 27, fatally shot Lancaster police Officer Craig Shaw, 37, and neighbor Jeremy McMillan, 23. An autopsy showed the chief’s son had marijuana and the hallucinogenic PCP in his system.

The shootings stemmed from a domestic dispute at an apartment complex in Lancaster. Officers returned fire and killed David Brown Jr., whose girlfriend had contacted police.

WASHINGTON

Coast Guard copter crashes, kills 3

SEATTLE — A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crashed a few hundred yards off the coast of Washington on Wednesday, killing three of four crew members on board.

Rear Adm. Gary Blore, commander of the 13th Coast Guard District, said the cause of the crash is not known but there were downed power lines on the beach near the helicopter’s wreckage.

Witnesses told local media that the helicopter was flying at a low altitude when it approached La Push, Wash., a small outpost on the Quileute Nation reservation. It is about 100 miles west of Seattle, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

Adm. Blore said it’s not unusual for Coast Guard helicopters to fly low. He said the power lines had been about 250 feet above the water level and those lines are marked in navigational charts.

Quileute tribal member Rio Jaime told the Peninsula Daily News that he saw the helicopter clip the power lines with its tail, sending it into the water.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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