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American Scene: Rescued woman knew she’d never see boyfriend again

- - Monday, December 10, 2012

CARSON CITY — A Nevada woman who survived six frigid days in the mountains said in an interview aired Monday that she had asked her boyfriend not to venture out for help after their Jeep became mired in mud on a back road.

Paula Lane said she told Roderick Clifton they should stay with the vehicle and ride out the storm together. Instead, he gave her a wave and walked away.

"I knew I was never going to see him again," Ms. Lane, 46, said on NBC's "Today" show.

Ms. Lane, 46, was still recovering from frostbite at a Carson City hospital. She was rescued Wednesday, and Mr. Clifton's body was recovered the same day.

IOWA

Autopsies confirm bodies are missing Iowa cousins

EVANSDALE — Police in Iowa say an autopsy has confirmed that two bodies found last week in a wildlife area are those of two young cousins who have been missing since the summer.

Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook, 10, had been missing since July 13 when they went for a bike ride and didn't return.

Hunters found their bodies last week in the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area, about 25 miles from where the girls were last seen.

NEW YORK

Orthodox counselor guilty in sexual abuse of a child

NEW YORK — A religious counselor in New York's ultraorthodox Jewish community was convicted Monday of sexually abusing a girl who came to him with questions about her faith.

Nechemya Weberman, 54, was convicted of 60 counts, including sustained sex abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and other counts. He faces 25 years in prison on the top charge and two to seven years on the lesser charges.

The accuser, now 18, told authorities he abused her repeatedly from the time she was 12 until she was 15.

CALIFORNIA

Architect gets 6 months in drug smuggling case

SAN DIEGO — An acclaimed architect was sentenced Monday to six months in prison for hiding nearly 13 pounds of cocaine in his minivan's battery before he tried to enter the U.S.

A federal judge ordered the unusually light punishment after Eugenio Velazquez, 51, claimed drug traffickers threatened to kill him if he refused to carry the cocaine.

Velazquez pleaded guilty in June to trying to bring 12.8 pounds of cocaine into the U.S. in a special lane for prescreened, trusted motorists.

Sex files on L.A. priests may be released to public

LOS ANGELES — Confidential files of dozens of priests accused of sex abuse must be turned over by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to a judge by the end of the month.

The order issued Monday doesn't mean the files will be made public immediately, however.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias will hold another hearing Jan. 7 to hear objections from individual priests and to decide a dispute over redactions made to the documents.

COLORADO

Theater shooting suspect asked for notebook back

CENTENNIAL — Attorneys for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes called the University of Colorado four days after the attack and asked the school to return a package that Mr. Holmes sent his psychiatrist, according to testimony Monday.

University of Colorado-Denver Police Chief Douglas Abraham said that the call alerted authorities to the presence of the unopened package in the campus mail room. He made the disclosure in a hearing.

Mr. Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 others during a shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in July.

Marijuana legalized with governor's proclamation

DENVER — Marijuana for recreational use became legal in Colorado on Monday, when the governor took the procedural step of declaring the voter-approved change part of the state constitution.

Colorado became the second state after Washington to allow pot use without a doctor's recommendation. Both states prohibit public use of the drug, and commercial sales in Colorado and Washington won't be permitted until after regulations are written next year.

TRAFFIC

Bike, large truck deaths soar across nation, bucking trend

Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949, federal safety officials said Monday.

Bicyclist deaths jumped 8.7 percent and deaths of occupants of large trucks increased 20 percent, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in an analysis of 2011 traffic deaths.

Overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent, to 32,367.

The increase in bicycle deaths probably reflects more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure, said Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies.

ILLINOIS

Daley nephew pleads not guilty in 2004 death

CHICAGO — The nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of a suburban Chicago man whose family suggested there was a police cover-up in the initial investigation into the fatal fight.

Richard Vanecko, 38, was arraigned during a brief court appearance Monday morning.

Last week, Mr. Vanecko was indicted by a Cook County special grand jury in the death of David Koschman of Mount Prospect. Koschman died days after he fell and struck his head during a fight with Mr. Vanecko outside a bar in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.