- - Sunday, February 19, 2012

WASHINGTON

3 dead in avalanche near Cascade resort

STEVENS PASS — Three skiers were killed Sunday when an avalanche swept them about a quarter-mile down an out-of-bounds canyon at a popular resort, but a fourth skier caught up in the slide was saved by an avalanche-safety device, authorities said.

The four were among three groups of skiers - about a dozen people in all - making their way through a foot and a half of fresh snow on the back side of Stevens Pass when the avalanche began. Stevens Pass is in the Cascade Mountains, about 80 miles northeast of Seattle.

All were buried to some extent, but the three men who died were swept approximately 1,500 feet down a chute in the Tunnel Creek Canyon area, King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Katie Larson said. Most of the other skiers, all well-equipped, were able to free themselves and rushed to dig out the victims. They performed CPR on the three men to no avail, she said.

The fourth skier who was swept down the mountain, a woman, appeared to avoid a similar fate because of the avalanche safety device she was wearing, Sgt. Larson said.

ARIZONA

Fiesta Bowl chief to plead to felony

PHOENIX — The former top executive of the Fiesta Bowl has reached a plea deal with Arizona prosecutors to settle accusations related to a political donations scandal.

Arizona Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Amy Rezzonico confirmed Sunday that John Junker will appear in court Tuesday, although she said she was barred from providing details before the hearing.

The Maricopa County Superior Court has scheduled a hearing related to “the filing of direct complaints regarding the Fiesta Bowl investigation.”

A person with direct knowledge of the deal, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Junker will plead guilty to a felony charge. The Arizona Republic first reported the deal in Sunday’s editions, quoting defense attorney Stephen Dichter saying his client faced up to 2 1/2 years in prison but could also get probation.

Mr. Dichter said his client had also reached a deal with federal prosecutors.

The charges stem from accusations that Fiesta Bowl officials solicited campaign contributions from bowl employees for federal, state and local political candidates, arranged for the bowl to repay them, and then failed to disclose the donations in the nonprofit’s tax returns.

CALIFORNIA

Scouts must hand over possible sex-abuse files

SANTA BARBARA — A judge overseeing a lawsuit brought by the family of a California boy molested by his troop leader in 2007 has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to hand over confidential files detailing accusations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders across the nation.

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge said last month that the Irving, Texas-based organization must turn over the past 20 years’ worth of records by Friday, with victims’ names removed, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. The files will not be made public.

Known as “ineligible volunteer files,” the documents have been maintained since the 1920s and are intended to keep suspected molesters and others accused of misconduct out of Scouting.

Scouts officials have resisted releasing them and won’t discuss their contents, citing the privacy rights of victims and the fact that many files are based on unproven accusations. The officials deny that the files have been used to conceal sexual abuse.

UTAH

Smart marries early to avoid publicity

SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Smart married her fiance Saturday at a Mormon temple in Hawaii, several months ahead of scheduled plans for the nuptials after news of her engagement last month drew widespread media attention.

A family spokesman said the Utah woman who was kidnapped at knifepoint at age 14 and held captive for nine months married Matthew Gilmour on Oahu’s North Shore.

“Elizabeth’s desire was for what most women want - to celebrate her nuptials in a private wedding with family and close friends,” family spokesman Chris Thomas said in a statement. “She decided, about a week ago, the best way to avoid significant distraction was to change her wedding plans and to get married in an unscheduled ceremony outside of Utah.”

The 24-year-old Ms. Smart is a senior at Brigham Young University. She met Mr. Gilmour, of Aberdeen, Scotland, while doing Mormon missionary work in Paris.

“The bride and groom were beaming as they left the LDS Temple,” Mr. Thomas added, noting the couple planned to go on an extended honeymoon in an undisclosed location.

NEW MEXICO

Woman to go on trial in theft of $2 pumpkin

ALBUQUERQUE — A 23-year-old college student from New Mexico is scheduled to go to trial on charges that she stole a pumpkin worth $2.

KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M., reports that Lauren Medina will go before a jury and Moriarity Magistrate Judge Steve Jones on Tuesday. She is accused of taking the pumpkin in October 2011 from McCall’s Pumpkin Patch in Moriarty.

Her sister, Annette Atencio, said Ms. Medina spent $75 on food that day but forgot to pay for the pumpkin she picked up as she was leaving. Ms. Atencio said her sister offered to pay but was refused and then handcuffed. She said her sister could have pleaded guilty and be given probation, but refused.

MISSOURI

Efforts started to preserve, photograph old barns

KANSAS CITY | Rotting barns with peeling paint and missing boards lean precariously throughout the rural landscape.

For many, these architectural relics carry a certain romance, and interest is growing in numerous states in saving or at least documenting the rickety barns before they become victims of age, urban sprawl and high maintenance costs.

Barn surveys have been started in Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont and Washington.

The surveys collect photographs and basic information about the architecture, historical character, use and condition of the barns, giving preservationists a glimpse of rural America’s bucolic landscape and hints about how to preserve it.

OHIO

Wanted sex offender kills girlfriend, baby, himself

CLEVELAND — A wanted man kidnapped his estranged girlfriend at gunpoint along with her 1-year-old she was pushing in a stroller, Cleveland police said Sunday, and all three were found shot to death hours later.

Police said the couple had dated for about two months and that the woman, Latasha Jackson, 19, was trying to end the relationship.

Miss Jackson and daughter Chaniya Wynn were walking with Miss Jackson’s 14-year-old brother at about noon Saturday when they encountered Thomas Lorde. The brother said Mr. Lorde pulled out a gun and ordered him to walk away, according to police.

Their bodies were found early Sunday in a closed garage of an unoccupied building, said police Sgt. Sammy Morris, and it appeared that Lorde shot himself in the head.

Lorde was described as a violent sexual predator with outstanding felony warrants in New York in an Amber Alert for Miss Jackson and her daughter.

From wire dispatches and staff reports