- - Sunday, May 22, 2011

COLORADO

Taliban-killing soldier to accept plea deal

DENVER — A mentally ill U.S. soldier accused of killing an Afghan detainee will plead guilty to premeditated murder in exchange for a substantially reduced prison term, his attorney said Sunday.

Pfc. David Lawrence of Lawrenceburg, Ind., is expected to enter the plea at a military court hearing at Fort Carson, Colo., on Wednesday, lawyer James Culp said, though he declined to say how long a prison term his client would receive. Pfc. Lawrence, 20, could have been imprisoned for life or executed.

Pfc. Lawrence is accused of fatally shooting a man suspected of being a Taliban guerrilla while he was asleep in a jail cell at a U.S. outpost in Afghanistan on Oct. 17. Pfc. Lawrence, assigned to Fort Carson’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was taking antidepressants at the time after seeking help from an Army combat stress center in Afghanistan.

KANSAS

Tornado kills man when mobile home flips

READING — A tornado swept through a small eastern Kansas town, killing one person and destroying at least 20 homes, as severe thunderstorms pelted the region with hail that some residents described as the size of baseballs, authorities said Sunday.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Sharon Watson identified the victim as Don Chesmore, 53, of Reading. He was in a mobile home that flipped over Saturday night. He was taken to a hospital in Emporia, where he was pronounced dead.

Five others were injured, but none of those injuries were considered life-threatening, Ms. Watson said. About 200 homes were damaged in and around the town of about 250 people, she said.

It was classified Sunday as an EF3, with winds ranging up to 165 mph, said National Weather Service meteorologist George Phillips.

NEW YORK

‘You Light Up My Life’ writer commits suicide

NEW YORK — Joseph Brooks, the Oscar-winning composer of the hit “You Light Up My Life” and who was awaiting trial on rape charges, was found dead in his New York apartment Sunday, having apparently killed himself, police said.

His body was discovered at his apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side about 12.30 p.m. by a friend with whom he had planned to have lunch, police said. Mr. Brooks, 73, had a plastic bag wrapped around his head. A helium tank with a hose attachment also was found at the scene, police said.

They said they found a suicide note but would not discuss its contents. An autopsy was planned.

Mr. Brooks was awaiting trial after pleading not guilty in 2009 to charges he raped and sexually abused at least 11 women. According to the Manhattan district attorney’s account, Mr. Brooks, a director and screenwriter as well as a composer, tricked aspiring actresses into coming to his apartment in the belief they were auditioning for a role.

“You Light Up My Life,” recorded by Debby Boone, was the biggest hit record of the 1970s. It topped Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart for 10 consecutive weeks.

OHIO

Poetic justice served in river-rafting case

PAINESVILLE — A northeast Ohio couple found themselves up to their ankles in trouble for rafting on a flood-swollen river without life preservers and lying about it afterward.

A judge sentenced them to stand in a tiny swimming pool while wearing life jackets and handing out water-safety brochures Saturday at a festival in Painesville, 30 miles northeast of Cleveland.

Grace Nash, 20, and Bruce Crawford, 22, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor misconduct during an emergency. Searchers spent hours looking for them last month after they were spotted on the Grand River. They made it to land, but lied to an official about being in the water.

They chose the pool punishment and community service over 60 days in jail.

UTAH

Escort services: Law makes acting sexy illegal

SALT LAKE CITY — Two escort services have filed a federal lawsuit to halt a Utah solicitation law, saying that it’s too broad and could lead to the arrest of escorts and strippers.

The law broadens Utah’s definition of solicitation to include any person who indicates through lewd acts, such as exposing or touching themselves, that they intend to offer sex for money.

Lawyer Andrew McCullough said Friday the law gives police too much discretion to determine whether a person is soliciting sex or simply acting sexy. He says that could lead to arrests for dancing suggestively or touching themselves.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank says the law was intended to help law enforcement working undercover in prostitution stings. He says it won’t be used against anyone not soliciting sex.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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