- - Friday, March 12, 2010

ALABAMA

Professor accused of 3 killings fired

HUNTSVILLE — The University of Alabama in Huntsville has fired the professor accused of shooting six co-workers, killing three.

University spokesman Ray Garner confirmed Thursday that biology professor Amy Bishop received a termination letter Feb. 26 from Jack Fix, dean of the College of Sciences. It didn’t give a reason for her dismissal.

The firing was effective Feb. 12, the day three professors were killed and two professors and a staff member wounded during a faculty meeting.

Mrs. Bishop is jailed awaiting a hearing on capital murder and attempted murder charges.

Also Thursday, a Massachusetts district attorney said a judge has scheduled an inquest April 13 through 16 into the 1986 shooting death of Mrs. Bishop’s brother. It originally was ruled an accident, but new information has emerged since the Alabama shooting.

LOUISIANA

Ex-officer pleads in shooting cover-up

NEW ORLEANS — A second former New Orleans police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to covering up the deadly shooting of unarmed residents after Hurricane Katrina, and a judge called the plot a “despicable” scheme that immeasurably compounded the storm’s damage.

Jeffrey Lehrmann, who left the police department in 2006 and is a special agent at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, which means he had knowledge of a crime and didn’t report it.

Another former officer pleaded guilty last month to a conspiracy charge.

MASSACHUSETTS

No-contest plea in boy’s Uzi death

SPRINGFIELD — A Massachusetts sporting club is donating $10,000 to children’s charities as part of a deal settling criminal charges in the death of an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi during a gun fair.

Christopher Bizilj’s parents approved the Westfield Sportsman’s Club’s plea deal, reached Thursday in Hampden Superior Court, where his mother’s description of their grief left the judge visibly shaken.

Christopher, a third-grader from Ashford, Conn., died after the accidental shooting during an October 2008 gun fair at the Westfield club. His father and brother were a few feet away.

Three men who arranged the gun fair and provided the weapons are scheduled to stand trial in June on charges of involuntary manslaughter, including a former police chief for Pelham, Mass.

Through its attorney, the Westfield club pleaded no contest Thursday to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and paid a $1,000 fine, the maximum it faced under state law.

NEW JERSEY

American held after al-Qaeda sweep, shootout

BUENA — Yemen counterterrorism authorities captured a U.S. citizen of Somali origin after he shot his way out of a hospital in the Middle Eastern country, where he was being held after a sweep of al Qaeda members, authorities said Thursday.

Authorities in Yemen are holding Sharif Mobley, 26, who was being treated in Republican Hospital in San’a when he got into a shootout with guards, killing one, as he attempted to escape, said Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for Yemen’s embassy in Washington.

Mr. Mobley graduated from high school in 2002 in the southern New Jersey town of Buena, and records show he previously lived in Philadelphia and Newark, Del. It wasn’t clear when he went to Yemen, though his mother told WMGM-TV in Atlantic City that he was there when she talked to him in January.

As his father, Charles Mobley, pulled out of the family’s driveway on the way to see a lawyer Thursday, he said: “I can tell you this: He’s no terrorist.”

RHODE ISLAND

Mediator to lead talks over teacher firings

PROVIDENCE — The head of a troubled Rhode Island school that fired all its teachers has agreed to use a mediator in upcoming negotiations with the teachers union.

The announcement came Thursday during a meeting that included Central Falls School Superintendent Frances Gallo and the teachers union. It was their first meeting since city leaders voted last month to fire all the teachers from Central Falls High School after the end of the school year.

President Obama has called it an example of holding failing schools accountable.

Ms. Gallo said the closed-door meeting focused on what qualities the school’s next leader should have. The current principal is being fired.

Teachers union President Jane Sessums said she is hopeful the firings can be prevented.

UTAH

Hall of Famer Olsen dies

SALT LAKE CITY — Pro Football Hall of Famer and former television actor Merlin Olsen has died. He was 69.

Utah State, Mr. Olsen’s alma mater, said he died outside of Los Angeles early Thursday after battling cancer. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining, last year.

Mr. Olsen was an All-American at Utah State and a first-round draft pick of the Los Angles Rams in 1962.

The burley giant from northern Utah joined Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier on the Rams’ storied “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line, known for either stopping or knocking backward whatever offenses it faced. The Rams set an NFL record for the fewest yards allowed during a 14-game season in 1968.

Mr. Olsen was Rookie of the Year for the Rams in 1962 and is still the Rams’ all-time leader in career tackles with 915. He was named to 14 consecutive Pro Bowls, a string that started his rookie year.

Mr. Olsen also was an established television actor with a role on “Little House on the Prairie,” then starring in his own series, “Father Murphy,” from 1981 to 1983 and the short-lived “Aaron’s Way” in 1988.

From wire dispatches and staff reports