- - Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MARYLAND

Cyclists’ rights passed by city

BALTIMORE | Baltimore wants bicyclists to know the city has their back.

The Baltimore City Council passed a Cyclists’ Bill of Rights on Monday night, a nonbinding resolution expressing support for improving conditions in the city for cycling.

The resolution calls for equal access to city streets, greater involvement in planning by bicyclists, greater awareness of bicyclists’ rights in accident cases, improved bike parking and mass transit access for bicycles.

MICHIGAN

Mr. Goodwrench to be fired by GM

DETROIT | General Motors is asking Mr. Goodwrench to pack up his toolbox.

The automaker said Tuesday the mechanic who served as the symbol of GM’s dealer service brand for 37 years will be scrapped as of Feb. 1 in favor of “certified service” brands for each of GM’s remaining four remaining nameplates.

GM dumped four brands as it went through bankruptcy protection last year and now sells only Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

The Detroit automaker has been focusing its marketing efforts for the past year or so on brands rather than the corporate name because customers know the brands better than they know General Motors.

Mr. Goodwrench started in 1974 to give a common identity to service for all of its dealers and brands.

MINNESOTA

Dismissal refused in aided suicides case

MINNEAPOLIS | A judge ruled Tuesday that the case against a former nurse who allegedly sought out depressed people in Internet chat rooms and encouraged them to kill themselves won’t be dismissed on free speech grounds.

William Melchert-Dinkel, 48, of Faribault, is charged with two counts of aiding suicide in the deaths of an English man and a Canadian woman.

His attorney had asked that the case be dismissed, saying Mr. Melchert-Dinkel’s conversations involved protected speech. Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville disagreed in a 21-page ruling, saying speech that aids the suicide of another is not protected by the First Amendment.

The judge also said Minnesota law makes it a crime to participate in speech that intentionally advises, encourages, or aids another in taking his or her own life. And, the judge wrote, the courts have ruled that speech that constitutes aiding and abetting criminal conduct is not protected.

Mr. Melchert-Dinkel was charged in April with two counts of aiding suicide in the 2005 hanging death of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Conventry, England, and the 2008 drowning of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario.

MISSISSIPPI

Man dies weeks after cleared of murder

JACKSON | A Mississippi man who spent more than 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit has died less than a month after his name was cleared in the case.

Bobby Ray Dixon died Sunday from cancer. He was 53. Jerry Dixon said he is glad his brother lived long enough to be cleared by DNA evidence in the 1979 rape and murder of a Hattiesburg woman.

In September, a circuit judge set aside the guilty pleas of Bobby Ray Dixon and another man in the slaying of Eva Gail Patterson after the Innocence Project New Orleans filed a petition on their behalf. The judge is expected to rule later on a posthumous petition for a third man, Larry Ruffin, who died in prison in 2002.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Teen convicted in machete murder

NASHUA | A teenager accused of killing a mother and wounding her daughter with a machete during a home invasion was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder and other charges.

Jurors deliberated about 90 minutes before returning their verdict against Steven Spader, 19, of Brookline.

Under New Hampshire law, the first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life without parole. Spader also was convicted of attempted murder and other felonies.

Spader was the first person to go on trial in the October 2009 attacks that left Kimberly Cates dead and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, gravely wounded.

NEW YORK

1 dead, 1 hurt in tank explosion

TONAWANDA | A 10,000-gallon tank undergoing maintenance exploded at a DuPont plant Tuesday, killing one worker and injuring another.

Workers were welding equipment connected to the empty tank outside the facility when the explosion occurred about 10:45 a.m., according to a statement from DuPont. Company officials do not think hazardous materials were released into the environment.

“The incident was limited to the equipment that was being worked on and the process involved has been shut down,” according to the statement.

The worker who died was employed by Mollenberg-Betz, a Buffalo mechanical contractor. His name was not released and the company declined to comment Tuesday. The injured worker’s name and condition also were unavailable.

The Tonawanda plant, about eight miles from Buffalo, employs about 700 workers and produces Corian countertops and sinks and Tedlar laminate film used in solar panels, according to DuPont’s website and Gary Guralny, president of the United Steelworkers Local No. 6992, which represents unionized workers at the plant.

PENNSYLVANIA

Bullying cited by suicidal teen

LIVERPOOL | A 14-year-old Pennsylvania boy who killed himself by running into the path of a tractor-trailer left behind a note that said he wanted to draw attention to the problem of bullying.

But officials said Tuesday that Midd-West High School staff neither witnessed nor received any reports of students teasing freshman Brandon Bitner.

State police said Brandon walked several miles from his family’s home in Mount Pleasant Mills before killing himself early Friday near Liverpool.

His mother, Tammy Simpson, said he complained about being bullied in middle school, but not in high school.

The Patriot-News in Harrisburg reported that his note said he was tired of being called names like “faggot” and “sissy.” Mrs. Simpson said her son never said whether he was gay but that she didn’t care.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ex-sheriff convicted in drugs, rackets case

COLUMBIA | A jury has convicted a former South Carolina sheriff of dozens of federal charges in a wide-ranging drug and racketeering case.

During his two-week trial, prosecutors played taped conversations they said showed E.J. Melvin conspired to extort money from drug dealers in exchange for protection from investigation.

The jury of four men and eight women deliberated 15 hours before finding him guilty Tuesday of at least 30 charges.

Melvin resigned from Lee County in May after he and 11 others were charged in the drug case.

U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie ordered Melvin’s bond revoked and U.S. marshals took him into custody. He will be held until sentencing, scheduled for January.

Melvin faces up to life in prison.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Woman pleads guilty in ‘75 Indian slaying

PIERRE | A woman has been sentenced to five years of probation and a suspended prison term for her role in the killing of an American Indian Movement member on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation 35 years ago.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said Thelma Rios pleaded guilty to being an accessory to kidnapping in the 1975 slaying of Annie Mae Aquash.

Prosecutors said Aquash was fatally shot because she was a suspected government informant.

Mr. Jackley said Rios was sentenced to five years in prison, but the judge suspended the sentence and ordered Rios to serve five years of probation.

VIRGINIA

Terror suspect pleads not guilty

A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he attempted to help people he thought were al Qaeda operatives bomb the Washington area Metro transit system.

Farooque Ahmed’s jury trial was scheduled for April 11. Mr. Ahmed, 34, was arrested last month after a federal sting. The people Mr. Ahmed thought were al Qaeda members were actually undercover law enforcement officers, authorities said.

Court documents show authorities seized a pistol, a shotgun and two rifles from Mr. Ahmed’s Ashburn, Va., home as well as a disk recording of a lecture by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a pamphlet labeled “What Does Islam Say About Terrorism?”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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