- - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ARIZONA

Border activist sentenced to death

TUCSON | A jury has sentenced a border activist to death in the 2009 murder of a girl and her father.

The Pima County attorney’s office said Tuesday that the Tucson jury returned the verdict against Shawna Forde, 43. She now becomes the third woman on Arizona’s death row.

Forde was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in the May 2009 home invasion in Arivaca, a desert community about 10 miles north of Mexico.

Raul Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, were killed in the robbery.

CALIFORNIA

Bus driver killed, 23 hurt in crash

PASADENA | A bus carrying members of a Korean church collided with another vehicle Monday and slid off a mountain highway, killing the driver and seriously injuring 10 others, authorities said.

The group, mostly of middle or high school age, are members of the Light of Love Mission Church congregation. They were returning to Pasadena from a weekend retreat in Twin Peaks when their driver lost control on a curve and crossed into oncoming traffic.

After striking a Nissan Murano, the bus sheared off a telephone pole and slid about 20 feet down an embankment, authorities said.

DELAWARE

Victim’s home found in disarray

NEW CASTLE | A neighbor of a former Pentagon official whose body was found in a landfill last year said the man’s home was in disarray a day before he was found.

The neighbor, Rob Dill, told the News Journal of Wilmington in an article Tuesday that he was keeping an eye on the home of John Wheeler III during the Christmas holidays while Mr. Wheeler and his wife were away.

Mr. Dill told the paper that there was no evidence of a break-in when he checked the home on Dec. 30, but he saw chairs on their sides and broken plates in the kitchen sink.

Wheeler’s body was found among trash being dumped at the landfill on Dec. 31.

FLORIDA

Gunman sought in 3rd cop slaying

ST. PETERSBURG | Police searched Tuesday for the gunman who killed a policeman — the city’s third officer to be gunned down in less than a month — sealing off dozens of blocks near the Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium.

Officer David Crawford, a 25-year veteran of the force, was shot about 10:30 p.m. Monday as he was investigating a report of a suspicious person.

In January, two officers were slain while serving a warrant.

“This has been very painful for us,” Police Chief Chuck Harmon said at an afternoon news conference.

KENTUCKY

Execution drug arrives, but can’t be used

LOUISVILLE | Kentucky has acquired a key drug used in lethal injections from a Georgia company, but can’t schedule any executions because of a judge’s order in a single case.

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin told the Associated Press on Tuesday that 18 grams of sodium thiopental arrived at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville last week.

NEW JERSEY

Document shows school consolidation

NEWARK | Education officials are considering a massive reorganization of the city’s schools that would make more space for charter schools.

The Star-Ledger of Newark, basing a report on a document the newspaper obtained, said several schools could be consolidated or phased out.

State Deputy Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks said the 39-page document is a planning document and not meant for public consumption.

The plan calls for some long-struggling schools to be closed and their students sent elsewhere.

Other schools with low enrollment could be consolidated.

The buildings freed up by the moves would be used to house new and existing charter schools. It was unclear whether they would pay rent.

Newark’s schools are getting an overhaul with the help of a $100 million grant from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

NEW YORK

Mayor signs wider ban on smoking

NEW YORK | New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has signed into law a ban on smoking at city parks, beaches, public plazas and boardwalks.

The ban goes into effect 90 days after Tuesday’s signing. That means that by this summer, those who break the law could face fines of $50 per violation, although the city has said it plans to rely on signs and social pressure instead of active enforcement.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the law will protect people from dangerous secondhand smoke. But some health specialists question whether the smoke poses a serious danger in open, outdoor spaces. Critics of the law say the city is trampling on civil liberties.

Mr. Bloomberg’s administration banned smoking in restaurants, bars and other public indoor spaces in 2002.

PENNSYLVANIA

Homeowner settles mortgage lawsuit

PHILADELPHIA | A Philadelphia man said he’s getting “a little taste of justice” after settling a lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co. over a mortgage dispute.

Music promoter Patrick Rodgers’ lawsuit had prompted the scheduled sheriff’s sale of a Wells Fargo branch.

But Mr. Rodgers said he will instead get a $1,000 default judgment plus court costs.

Mr. Rodgers said he fought back when Wells Fargo demanded that he quadruple his homeowner’s coverage. He paid $180,000 for the home in 2002. He said the bank, through his insurer, demanded replacement coverage for his six-bedroom Tudor in 2009. That appraisal topped $1 million.

Mr. Rodgers said many historic homes are worth only a fraction of the cost to rebuild them.

Wells Fargo said it never demanded $1 million worth of coverage. The settlement calls for $255,000 in coverage.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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