- - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TEXAS

EL CAMPO — Police reported a man accused of fatally shooting his 1-year-old son and critically injuring another boy in a South Texas motel is refusing to talk to investigators, stymying the search for a motive.

El Campo Police Chief Terry Stanphill said family members have described a strained relationship between 36-year-old Demond Bluntson and his girlfriend, 28-year-old Brandy Cerny. She was found dead Tuesday about 200 miles away from the boys.

Chief Stanphill said Mr. Bluntson won’t talk. He was charged with capital murder and aggravated assault Wednesday after his son, Davian, was found dead and Ms. Cerny’s 6-year-old son was found wounded in a Laredo motel room Tuesday. Ms. Cerny’s body was found in El Campo the same day.

NEW YORK

Library worker sentenced in theft of $160K in fines

WHITE PLAINS — A New York library worker who admitted stealing more than $160,000 in overdue book fines and other revenue has been sentenced to six months in jail.

The Westchester district attorney’s office said Yonkers resident Margo Reed will have to pay back the full amount and spend 4 1/2 years on probation.

Reed pleaded guilty in February to grand larceny and filing a false tax return.

Prosecutors said she stole the money between 2004 and 2010, when she worked in the business office of the Yonkers Public Library, just north of New York City. They said she collected the revenue from three library branches and then altered paperwork to show less had been collected and then pocketed the difference.

NORTH CAROLINA

Lawmakers include no money for eugenics victims in budget

RALEIGH — Victims of a decades-old forced sterilization program in North Carolina will have to wait on compensation because legislators did not include any money for them in a state budget deal.

North Carolina was the first state in the country to tackle the question of how much to give victims of the program, which lasted from 1929 to 1974 and sterilized more than 7,600 people. The program was aimed at creating a better society by weeding out people who were deemed “feeble-minded,” many of them poor women.

The state House had agreed to provide $50,000 to victims who were alive as of March 1, 2010, but the effort faltered in the Senate.

LOUISIANA

Judge: Teachers wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina

NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana judge has ruled that thousands of New Orleans school employees were wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina shut down the city and its schools in 2005.

Judge Ethel Simms Julien’s ruling on Wednesday awards more than $1 million to seven people who filed the class-action suit against the New Orleans school board and the state. It clears the way for more damages to be awarded to an estimated 7,000 others.

The decision is subject to appeal. It was unclear whether school officials will appeal.

The ruling comes almost seven years after levee breaches during the storm caused 80 percent of the city to flood and schools were closed for months.

NORTHEAST

Residents urged to take care as temperatures hit high 90s

Temperatures climbed toward the high 90s along the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday as a hot spell heralded the official start of summer, with people wilting at graduation ceremonies, students trying to learn in suffocating classrooms and authorities warning folks to check on elderly neighbors.

The hot spell arrived right on time - on the summer solstice and longest day of the year - in a region that’s home to some of the nation’s most densely populated cities. Temperatures hit the mid- to high 90s along the Eastern Seaboard, including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

Health officials warned residents to drink water, stay out of the sun and in air conditioning.

Several relatives of high school graduates were treated for heat exhaustion at an outdoor ceremony in North Bergen, N.J., and taken to a hospital.

MINNESOTA

Police find polar bear that escaped from flooded zoo

DULUTH — Residents evacuated their homes and animals escaped from pens at a zoo as floods fed by a steady torrential downpour struck northeastern Minnesota, inundating the city of Duluth, officials said Wednesday.

Police officers helped track down a polar bear that got out of its enclosure overnight at the low-lying Lake Superior Zoo where several animals drowned.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness declared a state of emergency after the deluge of up to 9 inches.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries, though an 8-year-old boy was swept about six blocks through a culvert in Duluth.

ALASKA

Baby whale separated from mother rescued in Bristol Bay

SEWARD — A beluga whale calf, believed to have been separated from his mother during a storm, has been rescued from Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

The calf, estimated at 2 to 3 days old when it was found Monday, was taken in by the Alaska SeaLife Center, after attempts by others to encourage the calf to the open ocean failed.

This is the first beluga the center has housed.

CALIFORNIA

Sanitation workers start cleaning LA’s Skid Row

LOS ANGELES — Sanitation workers in protective suits have started cleaning up the 10-block heart of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times reported health workers posted notices and contacted homeless people, asking them to move their belongings before the work started.

Conditions among the nation’s densest population of homeless people are so bad they violate the county’s health code.

The three-week cleanup that started Tuesday will get rid of rats’ nests, hypodermic needles, condoms, human excrement and other hazards. Weekly inspections will follow.

A federal court injunction last year placed limits on the removal of unattended items, but doesn’t prevent removal of items that pose health risks.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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