- - Tuesday, January 3, 2012

UTAH

Suspects arrested in 2 killings, a shooting

SALT LAKE CITY — Two suspects were arrested in Nevada on Tuesday in the killing of an elderly Utah couple and the shooting of a woman outside a Nevada casino, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Jim Phelps said.

The marshal told the Associated Press that Logan Welles McFarland, 24, and Angela Atwood were found Tuesday afternoon walking in a desolate area in Nevada near Interstate 80 about 35 miles west of the Utah border, not far from where they allegedly evaded police in a high-speed chase Saturday.

The marshal said the couple didn’t resist and were taken into custody as suspects in both the killings and the shooting of a woman during a botched carjacking in Nevada. Federal marshals, Elko County sheriff’s deputies and West Wendover police made the arrest about 12:30 p.m. a few miles south of Oasis, Nev., said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Stewart.

Earlier Tuesday, authorities issued an arrest warrant for Mr. McFarland in the burglary of the Utah couple’s Mount Pleasant home. He has since been charged.

Neither suspect has been charged in the killings, carjacking or shooting of the West Wendover woman, who is recovering at a Salt Lake City hospital.

CONNECTICUT

Fatal-fire embers removed from fireplace for Santa

NEW HAVEN — Smoldering embers blamed for a Christmas morning house fire that killed three girls and their grandparents had been taken out of a fireplace so the children would not worry about Santa Claus, two officials said Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.

Two officials briefed on the investigation told the Associated Press the ashes were removed out of concerns for burning Santa as he came down the chimney.

Authorities say embers in a bag of discarded ashes started the blaze in Stamford that killed 10-year-old Lilly and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger and their grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson.

The girls’ mother, Madonna Badger, escaped the fire along with a friend, Michael Borcina. Mr. Borcina and Ms. Badger were treated at a local hospital and released. Fire officials have said Mr. Borcina is believed to have placed the ashes in or outside an entryway, near the trash.

A funeral service will be held Thursday in New York City for the girls.

ARKANSAS

Body in forest identified as missing police woman

HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE — Police say the body of a woman found in an Arkansas wilderness over the weekend was that of a police dispatcher missing since before Christmas.

Dawna Natzke, 46, had been missing since attending a Dec. 21 Christmas party in Hot Springs Village, a community on the edge of the Ouachita National Forest. She was reported missing Dec. 23 after not showing up for work. Her boyfriend says he didn’t see her since going to bed the night of the party.

Miss Natzke’s sister, Vicky Hegyi, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that police visited the family to confirm the body recovery. Police issued a statement saying a cause or time of death hadn’t been determined. A suspect has not been identified.

Volunteer searchers found the body a few miles from Miss Natzke’s home.

CALIFORNIA

Honda sued in small-claims court over hybrid Civic mileage

TORRANCE — A Los Angeles woman who expected her hybrid Honda Civic to be a high-mileage machine wants the automaker to pay for not delivering the 50 mpg it promised. But rather than being one of thousands in a class-action lawsuit, she took her case Tuesday to small-claims court.

Experts said Heather Peters has a better chance of winning her case in a court with more relaxed standards and could get a payout many times higher than the few hundred dollars offered to class-action plaintiffs.

Ms. Peters, a state employee and former lawyer, argued before a judge in Torrance that Honda knew her 2006 car wouldn’t get the 50 mpg as advertised. As her 2006 vehicle’s battery deteriorated over time, it barely got 30 mpg and she would not have purchased the vehicle had she known that, she said.

Neil Schmidt, a technical expert for Honda, said the federal government had required Honda to post the highest mileage the car could get, but that the mileage varies depending on how the car is driven - for instance, if it gets stuck often in stop-and-go traffic or if the air conditioning is used.

Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan issued no immediate ruling in the case, but his staff said he would rule this week. Civil class-action cases almost always take years to resolve.

NEW YORK

Prosecutors drop charge in self-abortion case

NEW YORK — Prosecutors said Tuesday they are dropping a rare self-abortion case against a woman arrested after her fetus was found in the trash.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said it was declining to prosecute Yaribely Almonte but continuing to investigate. Prosecutors wouldn’t elaborate.

Ms. Almonte, 20, was arrested in November on the misdemeanor charge, which holds a woman accountable for forcibly causing a miscarriage when more than six months pregnant. Abortion is illegal after that point in New York, unless the procedure is necessary to save the woman’s life.

The charge is seldom brought and even more rarely results in conviction, state statistics show.

Authorities previously said they were exploring whether Ms. Almonte drank an herbal concoction billed as an abortion-causing tea. Herbal teas said to induce miscarriages have long been known and have remained somewhat common in Latin America in recent years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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