- - Monday, November 8, 2010

GEORGIA

4 arrested in teen’s death at house party

DOUGLASVILLE | A teenager was stomped, kicked and punched to death at a weekend house party after police say he walked by a group who decided to pounce on the next person who passed by. Four have been charged with murder.

District Attorney David McDade said the four, who appeared in court Monday, were charged with murder in the death of Bobby Tillman, 18, early Sunday in Douglas County, west of Atlanta.

The party was intended to be a small gathering of about 10 friends of a girl who lives at the house, but it grew to a group of 60 to 80 after word spread by e-mails and other electronic messages, said Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller. When the girl’s parents saw how many people had come, they asked the partiers to leave.

That’s when a fight broke out between two females and two males, and one of the females hit a male, said Douglas County Maj. Tommy Wheeler said. He said the man said he wouldn’t retaliate against a girl, but he would hit the next man that walked by.

Mr. Tillman happened to be the unlucky person, and Maj. Wheeler said multiple attackers beat and stomped him. Mr. Tillman was still breathing when officers arrived, but didn’t survive, even after CPR was administered.

ILLINOIS

AMA chief: Medicare cuts will be catastrophic

CHICAGO | The president of the nation’s largest doctors’ group says upcoming cuts in Medicare physician payments will be catastrophic for seniors.

Dr. Cecil Wilson of the American Medical Association says Medicare payments will drop by more than 20 percent by January unless Congress takes quick action.

Dr. Wilson says many seniors will lose access to needed care because some doctors will stop accepting Medicare patients. He adds it’s a question of medical practices remaining financially viable.

Dr. Wilson spoke out against the cuts Monday at the AMA’s interim meeting in San Diego. The AMA is running full-page newspaper ads and wants a 13-month reprieve so a permanent solution can be sought.

It’s not known whether Congress will scrap the cuts, or give doctors the full reprieve they’re seeking.

MICHIGAN

No. 2 lawman accused of harassment fired

LANSING | An assistant state attorney general accused of harassing the gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan has been fired, his attorney said Monday.

Andrew Shirvell, 30, went on leave about a month ago after national criticism erupted over a blog he wrote characterizing student leader Chris Armstrong as a “racist” and a “liar” who promoted a “radical homosexual agenda.”

Mr. Shirvell has not decided if he will appeal the decision to the Michigan Civil Service Commission, said his attorney, Philip Thomas.

Mr. Shirvell was at a disciplinary hearing at the Michigan Attorney General’s Office on Monday.

OKLAHOMA

Court order blocks anti-Shariah amendment

OKLAHOMA CITY | A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday to block a new amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would prohibit state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange handed down the order after an Oklahoma man filed a lawsuit claiming the amendment stigmatized his religion and would invalidate his will, which he said is partially based on Islamic law, also known as Shariah law.

“My constitutional rights are being violated through the condemnation of my faith,” said Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. “Islam was the target of this amendment. This amendment does not have a secular purpose.”

The measure, State Question 755, was approved with 70 percent of the vote in the Nov. 2 general election. The judge’s order prevents the state Election Board from certifying the results of that vote, which it had planned to do Tuesday afternoon.

The order will remain in effect until a Nov. 22 hearing on a preliminary injunction.

Judge Miles-LaGrange is a 1994 appointee of President Clinton.

UTAH

Smart: I awoke to kidnapper’s knife

SALT LAKE CITY | Elizabeth Smart awoke when she felt a cold knife on her throat. Then she heard a man threatening to kill her and her family if she didn’t leave with him.

“He said he was taking me hostage, for ransom. I was shocked. I thought I was having a nightmare,” Miss Smart told jurors Monday, the first day of testimony in the trial of Brian David Mitchell, accused of kidnapping her from her bed in 2002 and holding her for nine months.

Miss Smart’s mother, Lois, testified earlier that she hired Mr. Mitchell, then known only as a homeless street preacher named “Immanuel,” to do handyman work at the family home after she and her children ran into him downtown and one of her sons encouraged her to give him money.

Mr. Mitchell’s attorneys say he was influenced by escalating mental illness and extreme religious beliefs that made him think he was doing what God wanted him to.

Miss Smart, who was 14 when she was kidnapped, described how Mr. Mitchell came into her bedroom. She had left a kitchen window open because her mother had burned potatoes for dinner.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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