Judge declares Natalee Holloway dead
BIRMINGHAM | An Alabama probate judge on Thursday signed an order declaring Natalee Holloway dead, more than six years after the teenager vanished on the Caribbean island of Aruba.
Judge Alan King announced his decision earlier Thursday at a hearing attended by the missing woman's divorced parents, David and Beth Holloway.
Mr. Holloway told the judge in September he believed his daughter had died and he wanted to stop payments on her medical insurance and use her $2,000 college fund to help her younger brother. Thursday's hearing was set before a suspect questioned in Miss Holloway's disappearance, Dutchman Joran van der Sloot, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Peru to the 2010 murder of a woman in Lima.
Miss Holloway disappeared on a high school graduation trip May 30, 2005. She was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot early that day. Her body was never found and the case garnered intense media scrutiny and international attention.
Judge King acted on a petition by Mr. Holloway to have the missing 18-year-old declared dead.
Her mother originally objected, but her lawyer, Charlie DeBardeleben, said she now had no objection. Miss Holloway's parents were divorced in 1993 and Mrs. Holloway sat in the back row of the courtroom, mostly staring at her hands in her lap during the afternoon hearing. She declined comment when she entered the courtroom.
Bridge company owner ordered to jail for contempt
DETROIT | A judge ordered the 84-year-old owner of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge to jail Thursday for failing to meet court orders on a construction project linking the span to adjacent interstates.
Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards said Manuel Moroun and top lieutenant Dan Stamper will stay in jail until they comply with a 2010 order to get the work going. It's unclear how long they'll stay behind bars.
"It is clear that the Detroit International Bridge Co. does not intend to comply with the court orders unless meaningful sanctions are imposed," Judge Edwards said.
Lawyers for Mr. Moroun and Mr. Stamper asked Judge Edwards to suspend his decision so they could appeal, but the judge declined.
Ken Mogill, lawyer for Mr. Stamper, said the judge was "absolutely wrong" since it is the company, not the men, that was earlier found in contempt.
"Neither Mr. Moroun nor Mr. Stamper had received a notice that they individually could be facing consequences," Mr. Mogill said. "It's not enough that a company has been found in contempt. The law is so clear."
The bridge company also must pay $7,500, the maximum under state law for civil contempt, and the state's legal fees.
Panel sticks to 'White Only' pool sign ruling
COLUMBUS | A state panel on Thursday upheld its decision that a Cincinnati landlord, who claimed a black girl's hair products clouded an apartment complex's swimming pool, discriminated against the child by posting a "White Only" sign poolside.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission voted 4-0 against reconsidering its finding from last fall. There was no discussion.
The group found on Sept. 29 that Jamie Hein, who is white, violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign at a pool at the duplex where the teenage girl was visiting her parents.
The parents filed a discrimination charge with the commission and moved out of the duplex in the racially diverse city to "avoid subjecting their family to further humiliating treatment," the commission said in a release announcing its finding.
An investigation revealed that Mr. Hein in May posted on the gated entrance to the pool an iron sign that stated "Public Swimming Pool, White Only," the commission statement said.
Several witnesses confirmed that the sign was posted, and the landlord indicated that she posted it because the girl used chemicals in her hair that would make the pool "cloudy," according to the commission.
Principal faces charges stemming from hypnosis
NORTH PORT | A Florida high school principal accused of using of hypnosis on students entered a written plea of not guilty to two misdemeanor charges on Thursday.
George Kenney, 52, was charged earlier this week with two counts of unlawful practice of hypnosis.
Officials say Mr. Kenney hypnotized two North Port High students before the two, independently of one another, committed suicide last year. Officials say Mr. Kenney had been warned by his boss to stop using such one-on-one hypnosis with students.
But Mr. Kenney's attorney, Mark Zimmerman, said that the principal's supervisor only expressed concern and never gave him a written directive to stop the hypnosis. Mr. Kenney, who is on administrative duty not at the school, plans to retire from the school district at the end of the school year, Mr. Zimmerman said.
Truss shrouding Confederate submarine lifted
NORTH CHARLESTON | The world has a clearer view of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley for the first time in nearly 150 years.
Crews at a North Charleston conservation lab on Thursday lifted a more than eight-ton truss that has shrouded the hand-cranked sub for the last dozen years.
The operation took about 15 minutes as the truss was slowly lifted and moved laterally over the tank.
The endeavor allows conservation of the sub to begin. Scientists hope that getting a close look at the entire hull will finally yield clues as to why the Hunley sank in 1864 with its crew of eight.
The Hunley sent the federal blockade ship Housatonic to the bottom, becoming the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship before sinking, too.
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