You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

American Scene: Attempt at ‘personhood’ amendment falls short

- - Tuesday, July 3, 2012

COLUMBUS — An anti-abortion group in Ohio fell short Tuesday in its attempt to gather enough signatures to change the state constitution to declare that life begins when a human egg is fertilized.

Backers of the proposed constitutional amendment in Ohio and elsewhere hope to spark a legal challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that gave women a legal right to abortion.

The group had only collected about 30,000 of the roughly 385,000 signatures required for November ballots, Patrick Johnston, the director of Personhood Ohio, said Tuesday.

Donations enable burial for baby found in freezer

TOLEDO — A newborn found dead in an apartment freezer in northwest Ohio is being honored at a public burial service made possible by donations.

The Blade newspaper in Toledo reported a man offered a burial plot that his family had in a memorial park after hearing about the homicide. Thomas Griesinger of Delta says he thought the newborn deserved a burial "in a dignified place."

A funeral home, a flower shop and the memorial park donated services for the Tuesday burial.

A coroner has said the boy was born alive and was strangled and dunked in water. A landlord found the body in April while cleaning out a rental property in Toledo.

The child's parents have been charged in his death. The newspaper says his maternal grandmother named the boy Alex.

FLORIDA

Doctor wanted Zimmerman see specialist after shooting

ORLANDO — A newly released medical report in the Trayvon Martin case says George Zimmerman had scalp wounds, black eyes and a broken nose from their altercation the night he fatally shot the Florida teenager.

The report was posted online Monday by Mr. Zimmerman's attorney as part of his effort to get the former neighborhood-watch volunteer released from jail while he awaits trial.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester is expected to decide Thursday whether to release Mr. Zimmerman on bond.

TEXAS

ICE agent stable after being shot

HARGILL — A federal immigration agent who was shot while taking part in a criminal investigation near a rural South Texas town early Tuesday was out of surgery and in stable condition, officials said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said ICE Homeland Security Investigations agent Kelton Harrison was in stable condition at a hospital after surgery. Mr. Harrison was shot while conducting surveillance as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, Ms. Pruneda said. He has been working with the agency in the area since 2010.

Mr. Harrison was shot by men at about 3:30 a.m. near Hargill, about 25 miles northeast of McAllen, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said. Colleagues rushed him to a hospital.

Investigators do not have any suspects or a vehicle description, but they are following some promising leads, said Sheriff Trevino, whose agency is assisting in the investigation.

CALIFORNIA

City councilman faces sex offense charges

SANTA ANA — A Southern California city councilman has been charged with sexually assaulting seven women when he was a high-ranking county executive in what prosecutors call an abuse of power and the public trust.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters Tuesday that 47-year-old former county public works administrative manager Carlos Bustamante faces a dozen felony charges ranging from false imprisonment to sex offenses. Mr. Bustamante is currently a Santa Ana councilman.

Mr. Rackauckas says Mr. Bustamante called female employees to his office and made unwanted sexual advances and sometimes masturbated in front of them. Mr. Bustamante was arrested Monday and released on $100,000 bond that night.

Ex-commerce secretary won't be charged in accidents

LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors declined Tuesday to file criminal charges against former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, saying he suffered a seizure that was responsible for a trio of traffic accidents.

Authorities have said Mr. Bryson's Lexus struck a car June 9 that was stopped for a train near Los Angeles. He spoke briefly with the three occupants then hit the car again as he departed, police said. Mr. Bryson then rammed another vehicle a few minutes later. He was found unconscious in his vehicle.

Mr. Bryson, 68, was cited by police for felony hit-and run, but tests reveal he didn't have any alcohol or drugs in his system. Low amounts of Ambien were found in his bloodstream, but investigators couldn't determine if the sleep aid was a factor in the collisions.

GEORGIA

CDC: Methadone deaths still high but may have peaked

ATLANTA — Overdose deaths from powerful painkillers have been surging at an alarming rate in the U.S., but the number blamed on methadone appears to have peaked.

Still, methadone accounts for nearly one-third of prescription painkiller deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

Methadone, known mainly for treating heroin addiction, is also prescribed for pain. Health officials say most of the overdose deaths are people who take it for pain, not heroin or drug addicts.

After a sharp rise, the number and rate of methadone-related overdose deaths have fallen since 2007, the CDC report shows.

NEW YORK

Concerns about eagles douses hamlet's fireworks

NARROWSBURG — Concerns over the welfare of bald eagles have led an upstate New York community to cancel its longtime July Fourth fireworks display.

The hamlet of Narrowsburg, on the Pennsylvania border in southeastern New York, bills itself as the state's "bald eagle capital." It hosts an annual EagleFest to celebrate the eagles that nest along the Delaware River.

Narrowsburg also hosts an annual July Fourth celebration, capped by fireworks sponsored by the local fire department.

The Times-Herald Record of Middletown reported that last year, some baby eagles left their nest, possibly startled by the pyrotechnics.

Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the fire department could be liable for thousands of dollars in fines if eagles are harmed.

As a result, Wednesday night's fireworks show was canceled.

KENTUCKY

19 children found in filthy, hot home

BOWLING GREEN — Authorities say a man and a woman in Kentucky left 19 children unattended for a week in a sweltering, filthy home.

The children ranged from 8 months to 14 years old and were found Monday night in a small three-bedroom home near Bowling Green.

Warren County Sheriff's Detective Tim Robinson says the home was littered with dog feces and there was no air conditioning on a day when it reached 101 degrees.

He says Irving Smith and Jackie Farah told a neighbor last week that they had a family emergency in Michigan and asked the neighbor to check on the children.

Deputies said the children behaved as if they were often left alone. The pair told investigators that they plan to return to the area to speak with authorities.

PENNSYLVANIA

Ex-FBI employee says she saw angels at Flight 93 site

PITTSBURGH — A former police officer who retired from the FBI because of post-traumatic stress disorder linked to her role in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks has written a book about seeing legions of angels guarding the Pennsylvania site where a hijacked airliner crashed.

Lillie Leonardi served as a liaison between law enforcement and the families of the passengers and crew members killed in the United Airlines Flight 93 crash. She arrived on the scene about three hours after the crash.

Although Miss Leonardi's book, "In the Shadow of a Badge: A Spiritual Memoir," centers on her vision of angels, she argues her life has been changed more by what she didn't see that day.

"The biggest thing for me is that that there were no bodies," she said.

Miss Leonardi, 56, remembers the burning pine and jet fuel stinging her nostrils. She said she also remembers a smoldering crater littered with debris too small to associate with the jetliner or 40 passengers and crew on board.

"I'm used to crime scenes but this one blew me out of the water. It just looked like the ground had swallowed up" the plane, she said.

"That's when I started seeing like shimmery lights ... and it was kind of misty and that's when I first saw, like, the angels there," she said. "And I didn't say anything to the guys because you can imagine if I would have said, 'I just saw angels on the crash site,' they'd have called the office and they'd have said, 'She lost her mind and tell her to go home.' "

From wire dispatches and staff reports