- - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ALABAMA

Attorney general says immigration law too harsh

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s attorney general has become the highest-ranking Republican official to suggest throwing out parts of his state’s tough new immigration law, as he recommended that lawmakers repeal some portions of the statute that have been put on hold by federal courts and clarify some others.

In a letter to legislative leaders, Attorney General Luther Strange said the proposed changes would make the law “easier to defend in court” and “remove burdens on law-abiding citizens.”

The private letter, acquired by the Associated Press, represents the first time the attorney general has expressed concerns since he started defending the law against a federal court challenge filed by about 30 organizations and individuals. Both opponents and supporters consider the law to be the toughest in the U.S. against illegal immigrants.

Mr. Strange recommended repealing a section that makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to fail to carry registration documents. A federal court has put that section on hold.

The attorney general also suggested repealing the requirement that public schools collect information on the immigration status of students. That section is also on hold.

WASHINGTON

Welfare repayments sought from couple in $1.2M home

SEATTLE — Prosecutors say a Seattle chiropractor and his wife drove a Jaguar and lived in a $1.2 million waterfront home while claiming welfare assistance.

The U.S. attorney’s office filed a civil lawsuit Friday accusing David Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova of filing false claims. Prosecutors are demanding that they pay back more than $135,000 in federal housing assistance since 2003 and are seeking tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

The government says that in gaining Section 8 housing assistance, Ms. Shimonova represented that she lived alone with her two children and that her household assets were less than $5,000. Mr. Silverstein received the monthly benefits of $1,272 as Ms. Shimonova’s purported landlord.

TEXAS

Mom denied food stamps shoots children, kills self

SAN ANTONIO — A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police that ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday.

The children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, remained in critical condition Tuesday. The shooting took place at a Texas Department of Health and Human Services building in Laredo, where police said about 25 people were inside at the time.

Authorities identified the mother as Rachelle Grimmer, 38, and children Ramie and Timothy. Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza said Grimmer had recently moved to the border city from Zanesville, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus.

Grimmer first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn’t submit enough information, Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said.

Ms. Goodman said it wasn’t clear what information the mother was missing.

CALIFORNIA

Bodybuilder in custody after couple beaten

COLTON — A husband and wife who suffered head injuries while being beaten by a naked, 300-pound bodybuilder were released from a hospital on Tuesday, authorities said.

Suspect Ruben Arzu remained in custody at the hospital after it took four officers, two stun gun blasts and four sets of handcuffs to restrain the 5-foot-10-inch man during a Saturday night rampage on a suburban block in Colton.

Mr. Arzu, 22, is awaiting booking on suspicion of attempted homicide and aggravated mayhem, Colton police Officer Todd Smith said. His condition was not available.

“The couple showed up at home from a party and he’s there in their front yard, naked,” said Officer Smith, adding that the victims did not know Mr. Arzu.

Police said Mr. Arzu attacked the husband and caused major head trauma after the 36-year-old man confronted him.

The 34-year-old woman ran inside the house and called 911. When she went back outside to check on her husband, Mr. Arzu picked her up and threw her around, causing facial injuries and multiple cuts to her head, Officer Smith said.

NEW YORK

Feds drop deportation effort in same-sex marriage case

NEW YORK — The U.S. government has dropped its deportation case against an Argentine lesbian who married a U.S. citizen.

Argentine Monica Alcota’s lawyers were notified Monday that immigration Judge Terry Bain signed an order Nov. 30 dismissing the case. Ms. Alcota’s attorneys argued Ms. Alcota deserved to stay in the country because of her marriage to U.S. citizen Cristina Ojeda, her deep ties to her community and the absence of any adverse factors.

OHIO

Serial killer’s ‘house of horrors’ is razed

CLEVELAND — The home where a serial killer dumped the remains of the 11 women he murdered was torn apart Tuesday by a demolition crew, a move that neighbors and victims’ relatives said would help bring closure and stop gawkers from seeking out what some have dubbed a “house of horrors.”

Heavy equipment began clawing at the former home of Anthony Sowell just before dawn, a day after family members of those who died were hand-delivered letters notifying them of the demolition. Video from WEWS-TV showed that the work commenced as several people stood across the street, chanting, “Tear it down” and “Hallelujah.”

Razing the house will help the families move forward, said Frances Webb-Speed, the sister of victim Janice Webb.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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