Nation Briefs: California addiction counselor charged with murder in DUI
TORRANCE, Calif. — A substance-abuse counselor was charged with murder and drunken-driving Tuesday after authorities said she struck a pedestrian and drove for more than two miles with the dying victim embedded in the windshield of her car.
Sherri Wilkins, 51, was also charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident, the district attorney’s office said.
Ms. Wilkins later told police she panicked after the accident and kept driving.
Ms. Wilkins is being held on $2.25 million bail. If convicted, she could face life in prison.
Most Crystal Cathedral cour claims rejected by judge
LOS ANGELES — The Rev. Robert Schuller has lost a court bid to obtain more than $5 million from the ministry he founded, a now-bankrupt religious empire that included worldwide “Hour of Power” broadcasts and Orange County’s landmark Crystal Cathedral.
Mr. Schuller was awarded only $615,625 for housing allowances, health insurance premiums and unpaid compensation from the ministry. His wife, Arvella, got nothing. His daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, and her husband, Tim Milner, sought $272,000 but together were awarded only $77,615, the Orange County Register reported.
Mr. Schuller’s daughter on Tuesday said she thought that the judge disregarded much of the evidence.
Courthouses receive bomb threats
MEMPHIS — Bomb threats to 29 courthouses across Tennessee forced many to be evacuated Tuesday morning, including the federal building in Memphis, but authorities said no explosives were found.
Tennessee became the fourth state to deal with similar bomb hoaxes. One targeted 28 courthouses in Oregon, and similar threats were reported in Nebraska and Washington this month.
Nine threats were reported in western Tennessee counties — including the Memphis federal building — six in middle Tennessee and 14 in eastern Tennessee, said Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security spokeswoman Dalya Qualls.
Cops: Suspect in girl’s death a family friend
BENTONVILLE — The neighbor charged in the killing of a 6-year-old Arkansas girl was a family friend, police said Tuesday.
Bentonville Police Chief Jon Simpson described Zachary Holly, 28, as “an acquaintance” and a family friend who is from the area. Mr. Holly is being held in the Benton County Jail on charges of capital murder, kidnapping and residential burglary.
Jersey Bridgeman, whose high-profile child-abuse case last year sent her father and stepmother to prison, was reported missing the morning of Nov. 20. Minutes after a search for her began, Jersey’s body was discovered in an abandoned house two doors from her home in Bentonville.
Justice to launch probe into Albuquerque police
ALBUQUERQUE — The U.S. Justice Department will investigate the Albuquerque Police Department after a string of officer-involved shootings and a number of high-profile abuse cases, Justice officials confirmed Tuesday.
The announcement, first reported by the Albuquerque Journal, comes months after the police department in New Mexico’s biggest city was the target of protests, lawsuits and demands for wide-scale agency overhaul from civil rights advocates amid 25 officer-involved shootings — 17 of them fatal — since 2010.
In addition, the Albuquerque Police Department has been plagued in recent months by a number of high-profile cases alleging excessive force by officers, including some cases caught on video.
Female military members sue to serve in combat
SAN FRANCISCO — Four female military service members have filed a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s ban on women serving in combat.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday and is the second such federal challenge filed by female service members this year.
The latest demands the lifting of the military’s so-called combat-exclusionary policy that applies to all women.
The lawsuit alleges the ban on a single gender violates constitutional equal-protection rights and unfairly blocks women from promotions and other advancements open to men in combat.
Further, the lawsuit alleges that women are already serving unofficially in combat units.
Two of the four women who filed the lawsuit have received Purple Heart medals for injuries sustained in Afghanistan. The women are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Man gets life term for killing wife, children
JOLIET — A suburban Chicago man was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for killing his wife and three school-age children as they sat buckled into the family’s SUV — allegedly so he could start a new life subsisting in the Canadian wilderness.
The sentencing of Christopher Vaughn, 37, came two months after jurors found him guilty of killing his wife, Kimberly, 34, and their children on June 14, 2007. Each child was shot once in the chest and head.
The judge sentenced Vaughn to four consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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