- - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ARKANSAS

Governor: Pardons not likely in Scout killings

LITTLE ROCK — The man with the power to grant pardons in Arkansas says he doesn’t plan to issue them in the “West Memphis Three” case unless evidence shows someone else was to blame for the murders of three Cub Scouts nearly two decades ago.

Gov. Mike Beebe also said Tuesday that he doesn’t consider pardons until all sentences are completed. The three men — Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley — have 10 years of what amounts to unsupervised probation after being released Friday. Mr. Beebe’s term will expire long before then.

The three were convicted in the 1993 murders of three 8-year-olds. Echols was sentenced to death. Baldwin and Misskelley got life in prison. They were freed after an unexpected plea deal that allowed them to maintain their claims of innocence.

CALIFORNIA

2 found dead in national park

PALM SPRINGS — Two people have been found dead after their car apparently became stranded in the Southern California desert, where temperatures have topped 100 degrees.

Authorities say a couple visiting Joshua Tree National Park reported finding a dead man Monday night on the edge of the Black Eagle Mine Road.

A few hours later, Riverside County sheriff’s deputies found the body of a woman about a mile from the man. Their car was found abandoned about five miles away on the same road.

The victims’ identities and causes of death haven’t been released. The park north of Palm Springs was expected to see highs of up to 113 this week.

FLORIDA

Hurricane Irene marks 1st big U.S. threat in years

MIAMI — Officials and residents from Florida to the Carolinas stocked up on supplies, dusted off evacuation plans and readied for the worst as Irene, the first hurricane to threaten the U.S. in three years, churned over tropical waters after cutting a destructive path through the Caribbean.

Federal officials warned the storm could flood streets and knock down power lines as far north as New England.

Hurricane Irene, which already has raked the Caribbean, could cause serious problems along the entire Eastern Seaboard, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said Tuesday. He urged people not to become complacent, even though the forecast is still uncertain and the storm may be days from hitting the U.S.

MISSISSIPPI

Administrator: $5 billion in oil spill claims paid

JACKSON — The fund set up to compensate victims of last year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has paid more than $5 billion in claims, the fund administrator said Tuesday.

Washington, D.C., lawyer Kenneth Feinberg also released a summary of payouts from the $20 billion fund, which was established in August 2010 to help people whose lives and businesses were hurt by the spill.

The report says the Gulf Coast Claims Facility had received 947,892 claims from all 50 states and 36 foreign countries. It said 359,441 claims were paid and 430,000 were denied. Some are pending. Others are still coming in.

NEW JERSEY

Parents, ACLU sue city over Facebook records

TRENTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey is suing the state’s biggest city for refusing to release records related to a $100 million gift pledged to its schools by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of a parents group it says was denied access to records requested under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

The request sought to review correspondence among Mr. Zuckerberg, Newark employees including Mayor Cory A. Booker, state officials and others involved in the deal.

The ACLU says the parents want to know more about how the highly publicized gift would be used.

The city denied the request, claiming the communications were exempt from the open-records law.

NEW YORK

Namesake ship to visit city for 9/11 anniversary

NEW YORK — A Navy ship built with steel from the World Trade Center will anchor near ground zero for ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced Tuesday the Navy has agreed to bring the USS New York to the state after which it was named. He said the Navy’s decision came after weeks of negotiations.

Mr. Schumer said in a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus it would be fitting for those who lost loved ones at the twin towers to be joined by the ship forged with steel from those towers when it anchors off lower Manhattan.

The USS New York is an amphibious transport ship built with 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the trade center. Its motto is “Never Forget.” It was commissioned in 2009.

OHIO

Jury hung on verdict in girl’s ‘67 killing

TOLEDO — Jurors deadlocked Tuesday on a lone murder charge against a man accused of snatching a teen on her way home from school in 1967 and holding her captive in his basement before killing her and dumping her body in Michigan.

The jury told a judge it could not reach a unanimous verdict needed to convict or acquit Robert Bowman after about 12 hours of deliberations over two days.

Mr. Bowman is charged in the killing that stumped investigators over four decades, even after his former wife told them she had found the girl alive and tied up in the basement.

Assistant Lucas County prosecutor Tim Braun said he could not discuss whether the office will seek another trial, citing a gag order in the case.

Mr. Bowman, now 75, sexually assaulted 14-year-old Eileen Adams, prosecutors said, before dumping her body in southern Michigan six weeks after she disappeared. She had been tied up with telephone and drapery cords and a nail had been driven into her head.

Eileen, a high school freshman, was either strangled or died from a blow to the head that cracked her skull, prosecutors said.

TENNESSEE

2 intruders found sleeping in caskets

BRISTOL — Police were called to a funeral home where workers found two intruders sleeping inside caskets.

The employees at Weaver’s Funeral Home in Bristol called police around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday after finding the men. The men fled through a window after police were alerted, the Bristol Herald Courier reported.

One man escaped, but police caught and arrested Barrett Lance Hartsock, who was charged with burglary and vandalism of more than $1,000.

Police said more than $9,000 in damage was done to the two caskets.

VERMONT

Inn denies discriminating against lesbians

MONTPELIER — The owners of an inn that refused to host a same-sex wedding reception say they have no policy to discriminate against gay couples.

In a court filing Tuesday, a lawyer for Wildflower Inn owners Jim and Mary O’Reilly said they were never told about the lesbian couple’s request to hold their wedding reception and that the inn’s meeting and events director wasn’t authorized to reject requests from same-sex couples.

The lesbian couple, Kate Baker and Ming Linsley, of New York, sued the inn last month, saying it violated anti-discrimination statutes by refusing to host the event because they are gay.

Their lawsuit, filed July 19 in Caledonia Superior Court by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Vermont chapter, said the inn initially expressed interest in hosting the $35,000 reception last fall but balked when it became clear there were two brides but no groom.

Ms. Baker and Ms. Linsley, who live in Brooklyn, said at least two other same-sex couples also were refused because of the “no-gay-reception policy” at the inn in Lyndonville, a scenic village of about 1,500 residents in the state’s Northeast Kingdom, a popular recreation destination between the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, the O’Reillys said they are devout Catholics who believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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