- - Monday, September 27, 2010

ARIZONA

Case of deputy’s shooting reopened

PHOENIX | Arizona officials on Monday reopened the investigation into a deputy’s explanation of how he was shot in the remote desert south of Phoenix amid speculation that it was a hoax timed to enflame the debate over illegal immigration.

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office announced its decision Monday after two nationally known forensic pathologists raised questions about a wound the deputy suffered.

Pinal County Deputy Louie Puroll told investigators he was following a group of smugglers carrying bales of marijuana April 30 when he was ambushed by men firing AK-47 rifles. In what Deputy Puroll described as a running gunbattle, he was grazed by a bullet in the back.

The pathologists, Dr. Michael Baden of New York and Dr. Werner Spitz of suburban Detroit, examined photos of the wound released by the sheriff's office. They told the Associated Press on Friday that they concluded the bullet was fired from inches away, not at least 25 yards as Deputy Puroll said.

CALIFORNIA

Gloria Stuart, ‘Titanic’ co-star, dies at 100

LOS ANGELES | Gloria Stuart, the Hollywood actress of the 1930s who gained an Oscar nomination 60 years later for her role as the spunky survivor in “Titanic,” has died. She was 100.

Her grandson, Benjamin Stuart Thompson, said Miss Stuart died in her sleep Sunday night at her Los Angeles home.

In her youth, Miss Stuart was a blond beauty who starred in B pictures as well as higher-profile films such as “The Invisible Man” and two Shirley Temple movies.

She resumed acting occasionally in later years and was selected to play the elderly Titanic survivor portrayed by Kate Winslet as a young woman.

The 1997 “Titanic” became the biggest modern blockbuster up to that point. Both Miss Winslet and Miss Stuart, then 87, were nominated for Oscars.

MICHIGAN

Chrysler workers fired for lunchtime drinking

DETROIT | Chrysler Group on Monday fired 13 workers at the same auto plant visited by President Obama this summer, after a local television station report showed some of them drinking on their lunch breaks.

Two other workers were suspended for a month without pay, the automaker said.

Acting on a tip, a Detroit Fox News affiliate’s cameras and reporter captured workers from the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant drinking beer and, in some cases, smoking what appeared to be hand-rolled cigarettes.

The Fox station in Detroit said in a broadcast last week that it began its investigation of the lunchtime activities of some workers at a park near the plant in Detroit within days of Mr. Obama’s July 30 visit.

The story caused much discussion on Detroit area radio stations, with some callers expressing outrage at the workers who returned to work after the lunch breaks and others criticizing the TV station for airing the report.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is made at the plant. Chrysler said redundant control systems within the Jefferson North plant ensured quality.

NEW JERSEY

Casino visitor sues, comes out a winner

ATLANTIC CITY | It was Debra Smerling’s birthday, but 80,000 others may have reason to celebrate after a New Jersey judge ruled that casinos owned by Harrah’s Entertainment sent them misleading advertisements offering “birthday cash.”

Because the ads did not disclose that the $15 vouchers couldn’t be redeemed until after 8 a.m. on the days in question, 80,000 people will get $100 each in damages — a potential $8 million hit to the casino giant’s bottom line.

On Aug. 9, 2003, Ms. Smerling went to Harrah’s Atlantic City clutching a voucher good for Aug. 10.

She tried to redeem the voucher at 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 10. But the casino refused, saying the offer wasn’t good until 8 a.m. So she sued.

Harrah’s plans to appeal.

NEW YORK

Ramone sign raised to thwart thieves

NEW YORK | A metal homage to the late punk legend Joey Ramone may be New York City’s most-stolen street sign, officials say.

The Department of Transportation recently had the “Joey Ramone Place” sign reinstalled in Lower Manhattan for the fourth time since 2003.

This time, it was raised 8 eight feet to curb temptation. The New York Post says that puts it about 20 feet above street level.

The group’s longtime drummer, Marky Ramone, said Joey Ramone would appreciate the most-stolen distinction. But he adds: “Now you have to be an NBA player to see it.”

The sign is at the corner of Bowery and East Second Street.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said Broadway, Wall Street and Love Lane signs also have attracted sign thieves.

OHIO

Police say dad killed 2 sons, himself

COLUMBUS | A pharmacist apparently killed his two young sons and himself in their suburban Columbus home, leaving a grisly scene for his wife when she returned to her family Sunday after a weekend away, police said.

Sarah Geller, also a pharmacist, called 911 after she found the bodies of her husband, 35-year-old Troy Geller, and their two sons, 8-year-old Solomon and 6-year-old Samson, in their home in Upper Arlington.

Authorities say she mentioned a shooting, but police aren’t releasing details about how the father or the two boys died. Police wouldn’t comment on whether the deaths were drug-related, and autopsies were planned.

The boys had just started second grade and kindergarten.

TEXAS

Deaf man’s rape conviction overturned

DALLAS | A judge on Monday overturned the 1993 conviction of a deaf man who was sent to prison for raping a 5-year-old girl despite an absence of physical evidence linking him to the attack.

The district attorney's office supported Stephen Brodie’s claim that he is innocent.

Mr. Brodie has been deaf since childhood, but police questioned him about the attack for hours without an interpreter. He eventually confessed, but later said his confession was made under duress.

When a judge ruled the confession was admissible at trial, Mr. Brodie and his attorney figured a guilty verdict, which was punishable by up to 99 years, was all but certain. So they cut a deal — pleading guilty to assaulting the girl in exchange for a five-year prison sentence. After serving that sentence, Mr. Brodie served two more prison stints totaling five more years for twice failing to register as a sex offender.

Michelle Moore, Mr. Brodie’s current attorney, says prosecutors failed to notify Mr. Brodie’s trial attorney that testing showed hair found at the crime scene excluded Mr. Brodie as the source.

WISCONSIN

Attorney: ‘Sexting’ prosecutor to resign

CHILTON | A Wisconsin prosecutor facing removal from office over accusations that he abused his position in seeking relationships with vulnerable women will resign instead, his attorney said Monday.

Attorney Robert Craanen said Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz will step down before Oct. 8, the date set for a hearing to hear testimony on his proposed removal from office.

Mr. Kratz, a Republican, had been the top prosecutor in the eastern Wisconsin county south of Green Bay since 1992. He had been facing demands for his resignation since the Associated Press reported earlier this month he sent 30 text messages to a domestic abuse victim trying to strike up an affair while he prosecuted her ex-boyfriend on a strangulation charge.

Lawmakers, the governor, Mr. Kratz’s peers and victims’ advocates were outraged when they learned about the texts. Mr. Kratz apologized for his behavior but initially refused to resign, saying the punishment would be too harsh.

Mr. Craanen said he discussed resignation with Mr. Kratz several days ago and again “very recently.”

“Ken decided that this was the best interest for everyone involved,” Mr. Craanen said. “He also mentioned the Calumet County … residents, they need to move on.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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