- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

CALIFORNIA
Man gets death penalty for Yosemite killings
SAN JOSE A former motel handyman was sentenced to death yesterday for murdering three Yosemite National Park tourists in 1999.
Cary Stayner, 41, was ordered to die by injection in state prison, a fate that could be decades away on the nation's most-congested death row.
Judge Thomas Hastings became emotional and abruptly left the bench before imposing the death sentence reached by a jury in October. Victims' family members and jurors who had returned to the courtroom also wept.
Stayner was convicted of murdering Carole Sund, 42; her daughter, Juli, 15; and their Argentine friend, Silvina Pelosso, 16, during a trip to Yosemite in February 1999.

NEBRASKA
'Schmidt' director returns to his hometown
OMAHA A bit of Hollywood came to Omaha as writer-director Alexander Payne returned to his hometown for the premiere of his latest movie, "About Schmidt."
About 900 people crammed into an auditorium Wednesday night to watch the dark comedy, which stars Jack Nicholson as a retired widower who goes on a road trip to stop his daughter from marrying the wrong man.
Laughter marked most scenes and applause greeted the closing credits, which included names of many local people.
The Nebraska-based production, which co-stars Kathy Bates, Hope Davis and Dermot Mulroney, opens today in New York and Los Angeles and in Omaha.

ALABAMA
Noted photographer found dead at home
TUSCALOOSA Internationally known photographer Flemming Tyler Wilson, 53, a Tuscaloosa native and longtime resident, was pronounced dead Dec. 5 by the Jefferson County coroner, although his family did not learn of his death until Tuesday night.
Mr. Wilson was found by police in his Birmingham home, having last been seen by a neighbor Nov. 27, according to the coroner's report.
Although the results of an autopsy are not yet in, the cause of death appeared to be natural, the report said.
The body remained at the coroner's office, pending the family's plans.
"Because he had moved and lost his address book, police had no numbers to go on, except that of a woman friend in Chicago," said his friend, Chip Cooper, the University of Alabama's director of photography.

ARIZONA
Stowaway kitty takes 2,500-mile journey
TUCSON Curiosity earned Jack the cat a cross-country trip from Tucson to New York trapped in the back of a neighbor's moving truck with no food, reports the Arizona Daily Star.
He survived the 10-day odyssey by drinking rainwater that leaked into the truck. The stowaway kitty was discovered when the neighbors were unloading the truck in Long Island.
"Ten days is the longest I know of a cat going without food," said Peter Kowalewski, a Long Island veterinarian who treated Jack.
"It's pretty surprising he survived."
Jack's owner, Jai Mollison, didn't start worrying about her indoor-outdoor cat until she hadn't seen him for a couple of days. He disappeared Nov. 12, which was about the time her neighbors on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, James and Linda Bauers, were packing a U-Haul for their move.
"He's very curious. He's always tried to get in our neighbors' houses because he sees all this as his territory," Miss Mollison said of her black cat.

COLORADO
Snake owner's tale filled with twists
COLORADO SPRINGS A Colorado Springs woman ordered to do 500 hours of community service for illegal possession of 25 deadly snakes said that officials still call her to rescue venomous reptiles.
Jennifer Ransom, 33, pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of owning green mambas, king cobras, a gaboon viper and several species of rattlesnakes.
"She did not have a license to own them and there was some concern that the cages were not secure," said Michael Seraphin of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. "None of them had bitten her. She probably handled them humanely."
Miss Ransom confined the most dangerous snakes to containers in two closed rooms of her home.
Miss Ransom, an experienced snake handler who has worked in zoos, said she had asked whether she needed a snake license and was told she didn't.

CONNECTICUT
Student union files complaint
NEW HAVEN A graduate student union complained Tuesday to federal labor regulators that faculty at Yale University are improperly interfering with their right to organize.
In the complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, the graduate students said they were threatened on three occasions in August, September and November.
On two occasions, students claimed that faculty threw them out of labs when they were talking about the union. A third professor is accused of threatening to throw students out of his lab if they went on strike.
The Graduate Employee and Students Organization has been trying to unionize at Yale for years.

DELAWARE
Runners honor Virgin of Guadalupe
WILMINGTON Domingo Bolanos wants his children, who were born in the United States, to know how important the Virgin Mary is to Mexican Catholics. So he put on a pair of running shoes and ran with two dozen other Mexican immigrants from Washington, D.C., to New York as part of a pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
"I'm trying to teach them my faith," said Mr. Bolanos, who crossed the border 16 years ago to work as an undocumented restaurant employee in the New York region. He later obtained his green card.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico's patron saint who watches over the poor.

GEORGIA
Panel: Public defenders need improvement
ATLANTA Georgia's county-run legal-defense system for the poor fails to defend their basic constitutional rights and should be replaced with a statewide program, a commission told the state's top court yesterday .
The panel, appointed by the state Supreme Court two years ago, called for a state-funded, state-managed public-defender system to replace an assortment of programs now run by counties and funded primarily through local tax dollars.
Policy-makers have warned for years that the state risks a federal lawsuit and costly corrective action unless it finds a better way to provide legal representation for the nearly 80 percent of criminal defendants too poor to hire a lawyer.

IOWA
Treatment programs irked by gambling plans
DES MOINES The Iowa Lottery's plan to install video pull-tab machines in Waterloo businesses is a slap in the face to gambling-treatment programs, according to officials with the Allen Gambling Treatment Center in Waterloo.
Officials of the treatment program say the installation of the pull-tab machines will affect their efforts to treat gambling addiction at a time when the state funds are dwindling.

MISSOURI
Test shows building has high mold levels
JEFFERSON CITY A 95-year-old state office building has high levels of mold, according to preliminary test results, and officials said the structure may have to be closed for cleaning.
One judge who has allergy problems has already moved her chambers to a different floor of the Missouri Supreme Court building, and some maintenance workers have also reported severe reactions, court clerk Tom Simon said.
"We don't know how serious it is," he said. " Some of the allergic reactions may be consistent with the mold, but there's nothing definite."

NORTH CAROLINA
Judge takes man off death row
CHARLOTTE Robert Lewis McClain, condemned to die by a Mecklenburg jury three years ago for murdering a co-worker after raping and shooting his former girlfriend, won't be executed.
Superior Court Judge Charles Lamm on Wednesday threw out McClain's death sentence after ruling that the 29-year-old convicted killer was mentally retarded.
Judge Lamm then sentenced McClain to life in prison. He could be eligible for parole after serving 30 years.

OREGON
Funeral home operator misused millions
MEDFORD A former funeral home operator who misappropriated more than $5.3 million in prepaid funeral trust funds has been sentenced to 1 years in prison.
David A. Kern, 38, of Ashland drained the largest amount of money from any funeral home trust fund in Oregon, prosecutors said.
Kern was indicted in 2000 on racketeering and theft charges. He has pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering under an agreement with the Oregon Department of Justice.

TEXAS
Father sentenced in '85 baby-shaking death
LEVELLAND A former police officer convicted of shaking to death his infant son was sentenced to the maximum 10 years in prison yesterday , 17 years after the child died.
The jury took just four minutes to decide the sentence for Robert Sharp. The same panel a day earlier returned an involuntary manslaughter conviction against him after rejecting a charge of murder, which could have meant a life sentence.
The baby, Matthew, died two weeks after he was rushed to the hospital in 1985. Sharp told authorities he was bouncing Matthew on his knees to try to quiet his crying and the boy was accidentally injured.
"I told Matthew to be quiet and at the same time I told him to be quiet, I shook him," Sharp testified Wednesday, fighting back tears. Then "for about a minute I bounced him pretty rough. When he became quiet, I thought he was going to sleep."

WEST VIRGINIA
Tight rules await new strip clubs
CHARLESTON The Cross Lanes club that was the catalyst for Kanawha County's first adult-entertainment ordinance might survive the new rules, but the future of other X-rated establishments seems less bright.
Among the new restrictions on where strip clubs, adult bookstores and video stores can open their doors would also be restrictions on flashy neon or animated signs announcing nude dancers and adult wares.

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