- - Sunday, September 25, 2011

ALABAMA

Judge moves toward declaring Natalee Holloway dead

BIRMINGHAM — A judge has ruled that the father of Natalee Holloway can proceed with legal steps to declare her dead six years after she disappeared in Aruba.

Probate Judge Alan King issued a decision Friday afternoon after Miss Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway, asked for legal closure to the case.

The next step is to run a legal ad for two weeks and then allow 12 weeks for anyone to come forward with information that she may be alive. If no one does, the judge can issue an order that she is presumed dead.

An attorney for Miss Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway, said she opposes having her daughter declared dead because she is hopeful of finding her one day.

CALIFORNIA

Patient death tied to nurses’ strike

OAKLAND — Authorities are investigating a patient’s death at an Oakland hospital after what’s being described as a “medical error” by a replacement nurse hired during a labor dispute.

Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson says the nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center gave the patient what she termed a “non-prescribed dosage of a medication.”

Ms. Watson did not release additional details, but said the department is investigating. No details about the patient or the nurse have been released, but the Oakland Tribune reports that the patient was a 66-year-old Oakland resident.

Thousands of nurses across California went on strike for one day Thursday, but many were locked out when they tried to return to work Friday. The patient, who died Saturday morning, had been receiving treatment at the hospital since July.

FLORIDA

Casey Anthony owes $217K for Caylee’s search

ORLANDO — A Florida judge has increased the reimbursement costs Casey Anthony must pay to investigators for searching for her missing 2-year-old daughter three years ago.

Judge Belvin Perry signed an order Friday adding another $119,000 to the bill she must pay four law-enforcement agencies in central Florida. The new amount brings the total to more than $217,000. That’s still short of the $500,000 prosecutors were seeking.

The additional amount comes from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office providing the judge with more details about their costs.

Miss Anthony was acquitted in July on charges of murdering her daughter, Caylee. But the 25-year-old was convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to authorities. She told officers a baby sitter had kidnapped the child. Authorities later learned the baby sitter never existed.

ILLINOIS

Watershed divide now backed by 17 states

CHICAGO — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says a coalition that favors physically separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds has grown to 17 states.

Mr. Schuette told the Associated Press that attorneys general from 11 states have joined the campaign, which he and counterparts from five other Great Lakes states began last month. They are pushing Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to decide quickly on a plan for cutting the man-made connection between the drainage basins near Chicago.

Michigan contends that it’s the only way to protect the Great Lakes from an invasion by Asian carp. Business interests in Chicago say it would be disastrous for their economy.

Mr. Schuette said the campaign attracted endorsements from Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

MISSOURI

Teacher-Facebook law repealed by lawmakers

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Friday to repeal part of a contentious new law that had prohibited teachers from chatting privately with students over Internet sites such as Facebook.

If the repeal is signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri’s law restricting online communications would instead be replaced with a new requirement for public school districts to develop their own policies on the use of electronic media between employees and students.

“It puts things back into the hands of the school districts,” said Todd Fuller, a spokesman for the Missouri State Teachers Association, which had challenged Missouri’s law in court.

A Cole County judge issued a preliminary injunction placing Missouri’s law on hold shortly before it was to take effect Aug. 28, declaring that “the breadth of the prohibition is staggering” and the law “would have a chilling effect” on free-speech rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Shortly after the judge’s order, Mr. Nixon added the online communications law to the agenda of a special session that began Sept. 6. Mr. Nixon’s written message to lawmakers specifically limited them to repealing the law, not replacing it with new wording, as they did.

NORTH CAROLINA

Police probe slaying of Fort Bragg soldier

FAYETTEVILLE — North Carolina police continue looking for clues in the off-post shooting death of a Fort Bragg soldier from Illinois.

Fayetteville police found Pfc. Chad Patrick Dellit lying between two cars near a hotel. He had been shot in the head. Fort Bragg said Friday that the 22-year-old Pfc. Dellit was from Fulton, Ill., and enlisted in September 2008.

Police spokesmen did not return calls Sunday to the Associated Press.

Officers were called to the same area about two hours earlier Wednesday after someone reported hearing gunshots. The caller reported seeing someone running behind a nearby toy store.

UTAH

Man survives in desert after breaking leg

SALT LAKE CITY — A North Carolina man crawled four days across the Utah desert after breaking his leg on a solo hike, inspired by a movie about a man who cut off his own arm to save himself after being trapped by a boulder in the same canyon.

Amos Wayne Richards, 64, of Concord, N.C., is now recovering at home. He said he was inspired to hike Little Blue John Canyon after he saw the Oscar-nominated movie “127 Hours” but fell 10 feet during his trek on Sept. 8.

Canyonlands National Park rangers found Mr. Richards four days later. Along with the leg injury, he dislocated his shoulder but was able to work it back into place. Without cellphone service and only two protein bars to eat, Mr. Richards began crawling back to his car across the rocky terrain. He filled his water bottles with rain as he painstakingly retraced his steps, eventually dragging himself almost five miles.

“I was actually following my GPS, crawling right on top of my feet print that I had hiked in on,” he told WBTV in Charlotte.

From wire dispatches and staff reports