- - Sunday, November 7, 2010


Two arrested in boy’s shooting

LOS ANGELES | Two reputed gang members were arrested in the Halloween killing of a 5-year-old boy who was shot in the head as he showed off his Spider-Man costume in his backyard, police said.

Marcus Denson, 18, was arrested Thursday at a home near the shooting site after a brief chase, Los Angeles police Capt. Dennis Kato said. Leonard Hall Jr., 21, was arrested about 2 a.m. Friday at an apartment building several miles north of the site, Capt. Kato said.

The men, both reputed members of a local street gang, were booked on suspicion of murder and remained jailed, he said. Their bail was set at $1 million each, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Aaron Shannon Jr. was flexing the muscles of his Spider-Man costume and posing for photographs in the backyard with his uncle, grandfather and cousin Halloween afternoon when he was shot, police and relatives have said. Investigators said they think Mr. Hall and Mr. Denson were in an alley behind the house when the former pulled a handgun and fired several shots through a chain-link fence into the yard.


Jury still undecided on murder sentence

NEW HAVEN | A Connecticut jury ended a third day of deliberations Sunday without deciding a sentence for a man convicted of killing a woman and her two daughters in their suburban home in which the girls were tied to their beds, doused in gasoline and left to die in a fire.

Steven Hayes was found guilty last month of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters — 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela — in 2007 in Cheshire. Jurors are to return Monday to deliberate on whether to execute Hayes or sentence him to life imprisonment.

His lawyers have argued that he should be spared the death penalty because his mental capacity was significantly impaired.


Shuttle launch reset to end of month

CAPE CANAVERAL | Space shuttle Discovery’s final voyage was postponed Friday until the end of the month so NASA can fix a fuel leak.

It’s the fourth delay in a week for Discovery’s mission to the International Space Station with six veteran astronauts and the first humanoid robot bound for orbit.

NASA tried to launch Discovery on Friday, but a potentially dangerous hydrogen gas leak cropped up midway through the fueling process and the countdown was halted. The launch was initially put off until at least Monday. But by early afternoon, it was clear that more time was needed to fix the problem on the fuel tank.

NASA is now targeting Nov. 30 for Discovery’s final liftoff. The space agency has to wait until then because of unacceptable solar angles for most of November. Those sun angles would cause the shuttle to overheat while docked to the station.


Nuns net $262,000 for Wagner card

BALTIMORE | A rare Honus Wagner baseball card that was bequeathed to an order of Roman Catholic nuns has sold at auction for $262,000.

The Baltimore-based School Sisters of Notre Dame put the card up for sale after inheriting it from the brother of a deceased nun. The sale price exceeded the expectations of auctioneers at Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries.

The nuns will receive $220,000 from the sale. The total sale price includes a 19.5 percent buyer’s premium. Sister Virginia Muller, who was entrusted with the card, said the proceeds will go to the order’s ministries in more than 30 countries around the world.

Collector and card shop owner Doug Walton of Knoxville, Tenn., bought the card.

About 60 of the T206 Honus Wagner cards, produced between 1909 and 1911, are known to exist.


Court won’t rule on immigration law

OMAHA | The Nebraska Supreme Court won’t weigh in on whether municipalities can enact immigration-related restrictions on where people can live or work, the court said in an opinion issued Friday.

A federal judge had asked the state’s highest court to consider the issue as she hears a lawsuit challenging the city of Fremont’s ordinance barring illegal immigrants from renting or working there.

The high court said the request didn’t allege a violation of state law, so it won’t take up the question. Fremont voters approved the ordinance in June, but it has yet to go into effect.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, also known as MALDEF, have challenged the ordinance as discriminatory.


Conductor who burned Koran sues over firing

NEWARK | A former New Jersey train conductor fired after publicly burning pages from the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks filed a lawsuit Friday seeking reinstatement and monetary damages.

Derek Fenton’s dismissal violated his constitutional right to free expression, the American Civil Liberties Union said in its lawsuit.

Mr. Fenton burned part of the Muslim holy book to protest plans to build an Islamic center several blocks from the World Trade Center site. Police ushered him from the scene, but he was not arrested. NJ Transit said it fired him two days later for violating its code of ethics.

Mr. Fenton “has the right to engage as a citizen in expressive activity about matters of public interest, including matters related to the proposed construction of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero,” the lawsuit asserts. “When he burned pages of the Koran on September 11, 2010, as a protest against the center, Fenton was exercising that right.”

NJ Transit’s code of ethics requires employees to give notice to an ethics liaison officer before participating in political activities. An employee can then participate as long as state or federal law or agency rules don’t explicitly prohibit them and “the activity doesn’t conflict with the employee’s official duties.”


Airline probing emergency landing

MEMPHIS | An AirTran Airways flight carrying 65 people from New Orleans to Milwaukee had to make an emergency landing in Tennessee when smoke and an odor was reported onboard.

The Boeing 717 landed safely in Memphis on Saturday night. No one was injured. The airline said in a statement that Flight 619 was diverted to Memphis as a precaution.

AirTran spokeswoman Cynthia Tinsley-Douglas told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Sunday that the passengers were put on another plane and arrived in Milwaukee just after midnight.

The airline said it is looking into what happened.


Ancient skulls mailed to university

PROVO | The Utah state archaeologist has determined the age of three mystery skulls mailed to Brigham Young University.

KSL-TV reported the skulls were determined to be from about 1100 to 1300 A.D. That fits with the early suspicions of investigators that the skulls might be ancient artifacts.

The skulls will be turned over to Utah’s American Indian leaders. The skulls were delivered to BYU’s history department last month in a box labeled with a Montana return address. University police say they don’t know why the skulls were sent to BYU.


Tudors to fight over will in court

MONTPELIER | A 2½-year-old probate battle involving the heirs of children’s book author and illustrator Tasha Tudor goes to trial Monday, with her adult children fighting over the legitimacy of the will controlling her $2 million estate.

At issue: Whether Tudor was unduly influenced when she rewrote it to give nearly everything to her oldest son.

Tudor, who quit school after the eighth grade, won a worldwide following with her whimsical watercolors and drawings in “Pumpkin Moonshine,” “Corgiville Fair,” and “Little Women,” among nearly 100 children’s books she illustrated or wrote. She died in 2008 of complications from a series of strokes.

Her 2001 will requested that her cremated remains be buried with her beloved Corgis and the ashes of her pet rooster. It left her copyrights and most of her assets to sons Seth Tudor and Thomas Tudor and Seth’s son, Winslow Tudor, giving only $1,000 each to daughters Bethany Tudor and Efner Tudor Holmes. But an amended 2002 version cut out Thomas, save for an antique highboy, because of his “estrangement.”

Thomas Tudor, of Fairfax, Va., contends his brother wielded undue influence over their mother and there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the changes in the will. Seth Tudor’s lawyer, Richard Coutant, said there is no evidence his client had any role in the preparation of either version of the will.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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