- - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ARIZONA

Phoenix police seize skull from Craigslist

PHOENIX — The owner thought it was a fake, but Phoenix police thought otherwise and confiscated a human skull a man had listed for sale on Craigslist.

Mike Hale told KNXV-TV that he bought it recently at a sale in north Phoenix.

Shortly after the story was on television, police showed up at Mr. Hale’s home, seized the skull and took it to the medical examiner’s office.

Mr. Hale said he bought it for $1 and listed it for sale for $300.

COLORADO

Fugitive siblings in court after cross-country spree

WALSENBURG — Three siblings accused in a cross-country crime spree that began in Florida and ended with a police chase in southern Colorado could soon learn whether they will stand trial.

Lee Grace Dougherty, 29, and her brothers, Dylan Stanley-Dougherty, 26, and Ryan Edward Dougherty, 21, were in court in Walsenburg on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

Such hearings in Colorado typically involve judges hearing from arresting officers to determine whether there is enough evidence to hold a trial. However, defendants can waive their right to have the evidence presented in court.

The siblings are accused of robbing a bank in Georgia and shooting at police officers in Florida and Colorado. They also are suspected in two car thefts in Utah.

The widely publicized cross-country manhunt for the Doughertys ended Aug. 10 near Walsenburg, about 150 miles south of Denver, following a chase on Interstate 25. The chase began when the trio was spotted near Colorado City.

MONTANA

Screams while fleeing bear possibly triggered mauling

BILLINGS — A fatal bear mauling in Yellowstone National Park possibly was triggered by the California victim and his wife screaming and yelling as they ran from an approaching grizzly mother with cubs, according to the results of an investigation into the attack.

New details in the July 6 mauling emerged Tuesday as authorities released 911 recordings and documents related to the attack on Brian Matayoshi, 57, and his wife, Marylyn.

“What possibly began as an attempt by the bear to assess the Matayoshis’ activities became a sustained pursuit of them as they fled running and yelling on the trail,” the investigation team report said.

The couple was not carrying bear spray, Mace-like canisters of pressurized pepper spray that park officials advise hikers to carry for self-defense.

After killing the husband, the bear picked up Mrs. Matayoshi by her backpack but then released her without causing any harm. Park authorities later decided to let the bear remain free because it had no prior run-ins with humans and was reacting as might be expected to a surprise encounter.

NEW JERSEY

Airport screener given confinement for theft

NEWARK — A federal judge in New Jersey sentenced a lead transportation security officer at Newark Liberty Airport to six months of home confinement for stealing money from passengers’ bags as they underwent security screenings.

Transportation Security Administration officer Al Raimi, 30, pleaded guilty in February, admitting that he and his supervisor regularly stole money from travelers. He was sentenced Tuesday.

Prosecutors say the 30-year-old Woodbridge man stole between $10,000 and $30,000 cash in nearly a year.

He was ordered to pay $24,150 restitution and a $3,000 fine.

Prosecutors say Raimi gave a cut of the cash to his supervisor, Michael Arato, who pleaded guilty and was given a 2 1/2 year prison sentence.

OKLAHOMA

Jury ponders case against warden’s wife

MANGUM — Jurors have resumed deliberating in the trial of a former Oklahoma prison warden’s wife accused of helping a convicted killer escape and willingly living with him until their arrest more than a decade later.

Bobbi Parker is charged with helping Randolph Franklin Dial escape from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in 1994. Jurors began deliberating Monday and resumed Tuesday.

Prosecutors contend that Mrs. Parker fell in love with Dial and helped him escape from the prison her husband ran. Defense attorneys say Dial kidnapped Mrs. Parker and threatened to harm her family if she tried to escape.

The two were found living on a Texas ranch in 2005.

Mrs. Parker faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Dial died in prison in 2007.

PENNSYLVANIA

Ex-housing official sues newspapers for libel

PHILADELPHIA | A former housing authority chief who was fired after allegations surfaced that he used public money to settle sexual harassment complaints has filed a libel suit against the city’s two largest daily newspapers, accusing them of “abusive muckraking attacks” designed to sell newspapers.

Former city housing Director Carl Greene’s lawsuit charges that the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News published 246 articles about him in a one-year period, amounting to an “onslaught” of negative coverage that damaged his reputation.

The coverage began with news last year that Mr. Greene’s mortgage was in arrears and continued through reports that the agency was using $900,000 in taxpayer money to secretly settle four sexual-harassment lawsuits filed against him.

“Because these abusive muckraking attacks on Mr. Greene have continued, and accelerated, to such a malicious and inflammatory level, Mr. Greene’s reputation as a housing authority administrator has forever been destroyed,” the suit says.

Mr. Greene, once deemed a public housing wunderkind, was fired from the $350,000-a-year job with the Philadelphia Housing Authority late last year.

TENNESSEE

Southern Baptists mull changing their name

NASHVILLE — The Southern Baptist Convention is considering changing its name.

SBC President Bryant Wright said Monday that he’s appointing a task force to study the idea. Mr. Wright says the name is too regional and creates challenges as the denomination tries to grow.

Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant group in the United States, but they have seen a decline in baptisms, church attendance and membership in recent years.

The denomination was formed in 1845 amid disputes with other American Baptists about slaveholding. Southern Baptists apologized to African-Americans in a 1995 resolution for the role that slavery played in the convention’s founding.

TEXAS

Court halts execution of former Army recruiter

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A former Army recruiter who for the third time this year was hours away from his scheduled execution for the rape-slaying of a woman in Fort Worth nearly 10 years ago was granted yet another reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Cleve Foster, 47, was set to die Tuesday evening in Huntsville.

The high court earlier this year twice stopped Foster’s scheduled lethal injection. The latest court ruling came about 21/2 hours before Foster could have been taken to the Texas death chamber.

Foster was meeting with one of his lawyers in a small holding cell a few feet from the death chamber when a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman delivered the news.

“He thanked God and pointed to his attorney, saying this woman helped save his life,” prison spokesman Jason Clark said.

VERMONT

Fire at nuclear plant office deemed to be suspicious

BRATTLEBORO — A spokesman for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant says the cause of an early-morning fire at its corporate office is considered suspicious.

The plant’s owners and the state of Vermont have been engaged in a bruising fight about whether it should be allowed to operate beyond March. The company has sued to keep it running.

Company spokesman Larry Smith said the fire was reported about 3 a.m. Tuesday at its building in Brattleboro. The three-story building houses the plant’s communication equipment and its public and government relations offices. The reactor itself is about 7 miles south, in the town of Vernon.

Mr. Smith said no one was injured, but the building now is unusable.

He said the fire triggered the sprinkler system, which automatically alerted the fire department.

From wire dispatches and staff reports