- - Monday, February 13, 2012

WASHINGTON

Body found of man who may have killed 3

SPOKANE — A body found just north of Spokane is that of a fugitive being sought in the killings of a woman and her two young sons.

Police found the body of Dustin W. Gilman, 22, on Monday morning in the Wandermere area north of Spokane. The medical examiner identified the body.

Authorities did not say how he died.

He was wanted in connection with Friday’s slayings of Tracy Ann Ader, 32, and her 8- and 10-year-old sons at their home, where he had been staying as a family friend. Mrs. Ader’s husband was in the hospital at the time with an unrelated illness.

The suspect spent nine months in prison in 2009 after he was convicted of two counts of second-degree trafficking in stolen property. The Aders had befriended him and he had moved in with the family, officials have said.

CALIFORNIA

Challenge is heard to affirmative action ban

SAN FRANCISCO — Backers of affirmative action asked a federal appeals court Monday to overturn California’s 15-year-old ban on considering race in public college admissions, citing a steep drop in black, Latino and Native American students at the state’s elite campuses.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal heard arguments in the latest legal challenge to Proposition 209, the landmark voter initiative that barred racial, ethnic and gender preferences in public education, employment and contracting.

The affirmative action ban has withstood numerous challenges since voters approved it in 1996, but advocates say their campaign to overturn it has been bolstered by recent court decisions, as well as support from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Dozens of minority students backing the plaintiffs filled the courtroom for the hour-long hearing, when the justices questioned whether they should tamper with a 1997 ruling in which the same appellate court upheld Proposition 209.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said affirmative action is needed to increase racial diversity at the University of California’s most prestigious campuses and professional schools.

FLORIDA

Lawsuit in FAMU death reveals details of hazing

ORLANDO — The parents of a Florida A&M band member who died after being hazed filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday against the owner and driver of the charter bus where the ritual took place, and revealed new details about what might have happened the night Robert Champion died.

The suit describes two types of hazing that occurred before Champion died. During the first, pledges of a band clique known as “Bus C” run from the front to the back of the bus while other band members slap, kick and hit them, the lawsuit said. A pledge who falls can be stomped and dragged to the front of the bus to run again.

In another ritual known as “the hot seat,” a pillow case was placed over the pledge’s nose and mouth while the pledge was forced to answer questions. If a pledge got a right answer, the pillow case was removed briefly; a pledge with a wrong answer was given another question without a chance to take a breath, the lawsuit said.

A fellow pledge who was hazed with Champion said band members on the bus treated Champion more brutally than others, according to the lawsuit.

An attorney for the Champion family said he doesn’t know exactly why the victim was on the bus. Champion was a drum major, a leader in the band, and had been a vocal opponent of hazing, attorney Chris Chestnut said.

Champion endured blunt trauma blows and he died from shock caused by severe bleeding, authorities said. Detectives are investigating the death as a homicide.

RHODE ISLAND

$336.4M lottery ticket sold at supermarket

CRANSTON — The winning ticket in Saturday’s $336.4 million Powerball jackpot was sold at a Stop & Shop supermarket in Newport, but no one has come forward yet to claim the prize, Rhode Island lottery officials said Monday.

“It’s great for the industry, it’s great for Powerball and it’s great for Rhode Island,” said Gerald S. Aubin, director of the state’s lottery.

The lump sum cash payout will be $210 million, which is the highest ever for Powerball, officials said. The jackpot was the third-largest in Powerball history and the largest ever won in Rhode Island, officials said.

The jackpot is the sixth-largest in U.S. history, lottery spokeswoman Melissa Juhnowski said. The top jackpot was a $390 million Mega Millions prize won in March 2007, she said.

The winning numbers are 1-10-37-52-57, Powerball 11. The winning ticket was among three tickets with random numbers purchased on a $9 wager, officials said.

VERMONT

Man pleads not guilty in theft of Frost items

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Vermont man pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge that he stole a number of original cards and letters written by poet Robert Frost that were in the drawer of a desk that was donated to the nonprofit agency where he worked and then sold them for more than $25,000 in cash and other goods.

Timothy Bernaby, 42, was arrested Friday after being spotted by law enforcement officers while in the White River Junction courthouse on an unrelated matter. He is free on $5,000 bail and declined comment as he left the courthouse Monday.

An expert on Frost from Dartmouth College in nearby Hanover, N.H., told police the documents, which include 13 Christmas poems by Frost and a letter to an employee of Dartmouth, estimated they would not be worth more than $2,600.

The documents remain in the possession of the person who purchased them allegedly from Mr. Bernaby, said Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand.

“Police are in contact with the person who has the documents,” Mr. Sand said. “The purchaser declined to produce them having spent a fair amount of money to acquire them and was reluctant to turn them over to the police until he was compensated for the purchase price.”

Mr. Sand said the original owner of the documents does want them back.

From wire dispatches and staff reports