- - Thursday, November 25, 2010

FLORIDA

Charges dropped in cat-cruelty case

MIAMI | A Florida teen no longer faces animal-cruelty charges in a string of cat killings with prosecutors saying Wednesday that the defense showed some of the cats may have been killed by other animals.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges against 19-year-old Tyler Weinman, who was arrested in June 2009 after a two-month string of 33 cat deaths in Miami-Dade County.

A forensic veterinarian hired by Mr. Weinman’s attorneys found puncture marks consistent with large animal bites on the eight cat carcasses that had been preserved.

The veterinarians who made the original report saying at least 19 of the deaths were man-caused admitted that the defense expert was correct, and authorities had no other carcasses to examine.

Defense attorney David Macey said Mr. Weinman was innocent and unfortunately lived in the middle of where the deaths happened.

MISSISSIPPI

Civil rights museum facing difficulties

JACKSON | Mississippi had some of the worst violence of the civil rights era, yet nearly a half-century later, it’s one of the few civil rights battleground states with no museum to commemorate the era.

Several events during the era, like the bludgeoning death of Emmitt Till and the murders of three civil rights activists in Philadelphia, Miss., forced the nation’s eyes on the segregated South.

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour took the reins on the project and picked a commission that chose the private Tougaloo College in north Jackson, a hub of civil rights activity during the 1960s and ‘70s, as the museum site in 2008.

But organizers have raised just $470,000 toward the estimated $73 million price tag, and have spent more than half of even that on consultants.

Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter, a member of Mr. Barbour’s museum study commission, disagreed with the suggestion that Mississippi’s leaders aren’t truly interested in creating a museum, saying the Tougaloo site drew criticism from those who wanted the museum in downtown Jackson

“The problem has not been resistance to the concept of having a civil rights museum,” he said. “But I do think it’s important that those who are interested get together on where it would be located.”

OREGON

Police-station call leads to arrest

EUGENE | The young man apparently just wanted to phone his parents. But his mistake came when he made the call from the Eugene, Ore., police station lobby.

Police say an officer working a desk assignment Wednesday recognized the man from surveillance footage of Tuesday’s robbery of a Wells Fargo bank branch. The officer notified detectives, who arrested the man nearby.

Police say 23-year-old Nathan Alan Bramlage was booked into the Lane County Jail for investigation of second-degree robbery and violating probation.

Detective Ralph Burks told the Register-Guard, “I just assume that he didn’t believe that we’d recognize him.”

PENNSYLVANIA

Del Monte sold in leveraged buyout

PHILADELPHIA | Del Monte Foods Co. agreed Thursday to be bought by a group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in a deal worth about $4 billion excluding debt, the latest in a flurry of private equity transactions.

The $19-per-share offer for the company, which makes Meow Mix cat food, Milk-Bone dog biscuits and its name-brand canned fruits and vegetables, represents a 5.6 percent premium over Del Monte’s closing stock price of $17.99 on Wednesday, and a premium of about 23 percent over its opening price on Nov. 18, when media reports about a possible deal began circulating. Del Monte’s stock has surged 62 percent this year.

Vestar Capital Partners and a fund run by Centerview partner James Kilts will join KKR in the deal, which ranks as one of the largest U.S. leveraged buyouts of the year. The three partners will assume about $1.3 billion in Del Monte’s debt. When including the debt, the company said the deal value is worth $5.3 billion.

Del Monte can try to solicit higher offers until Jan. 8, 2011, during a so-called “go shop” period. Del Monte said it expects the deal to close in March if it gets no higher bid. It also said it plans to keep its headquarters in San Francisco.

TEXAS

School sets mark for twins, triplets

DALLAS | A Texas high school has set a Guinness World Record for the most multiple-birth students in a single class, with 10 pairs of twins and a set of triplets, officials say.

The 23 students are all in a junior class of 429 at Pearce High School in Richardson, the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday.

“I only call them by last names, because I don’t know the identical ones apart,” senior assistant principal Chakosha Powell says.

The twins and triplets all say they’re used to the confusion. Jessica Saucier, who has a twin named Rebecca, said she gets called by the wrong name every day.

“I pretty much answer to both names,” she said.

Last year, when the Pearce students were sophomores, they tied a Guinness record for most twins in one class, 10 sets.

When Guinness officials created a new category for most multiple-birth students in a class, it allowed the school to count its set of triplets — Bradley, David and Luke Bailey — alongside its 20 twins.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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