- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

OREGON

Plane hits elkduring takeoff

WARRENTON A small plane hit an elk during takeoff early yesterday and erupted in flames. None of the four persons aboard was injured.

Three civilians and one military official were on board the Lear jet, which was under contract to the Canadian government, said Astoria Regional Airport manager Ron Larsen.

The elk was killed.

The airport had planned to install a fence next summer to keep out wandering herds of elk, Mr. Larsen said.


FLORIDA

Inmate wins stayto allow DNA tests

STARKE With the clock ticking toward his scheduled execution, convicted killer Amos King received a last-minute stay from Gov. Jeb Bush so DNA tests could be conducted on evidence from the 1977 slaying.

The stay came about 90 minutes before King's scheduled 6 p.m. execution on Monday by lethal injection.

King, 48, was convicted of raping and murdering Natalie Brady, 68, and setting the place ablaze after slipping away from a work-release prison. He was caught, in bloody clothing, trying to get back in.


ALABAMA

Judge finds prison overcrowded, dangerous

MONTGOMERY A federal judge ruled Monday that Alabama's prison for women was overcrowded, understaffed and unsafe and gave the state four weeks to come up with a plan to solve the problem.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson called the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women a "ticking time bomb."

Judge Thompson's ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights on behalf of 15 inmates at Tutwiler. The prison, near Wetumpka, was built in the 1940s to hold a maximum of 364 inmates. It now houses 1,017.


ALASKA

Republican Murkowski sworn in as governor

JUNEAU Republican Frank H. Murkowski was sworn in as Alaska's new governor, taking over from Democrat Tony Knowles.

Mr. Murkowski stepped down after 22 years as a U.S. senator to take the governor's job. He will appoint a successor to serve the remaining two years of his term.


CALIFORNIA

'Lusty' ladies picket club

SAN FRANCISCO Workers at the nation's only unionized peep show walked the picket line this week, arguing that a contract offer by management at the Lusty Lady was too skimpy.

Wearing pink T-shirts that read, "Bad girls like good contracts," dancers banged on pots Monday and chanted, "Two, four, six, eight, pay me more to gyrate."

The dancers complain that the club's latest contract offer cuts hourly wages and eliminates their sick leave. Sick pay was a victory for the union when workers approved their first contract with management in 1997, a year after unionizing.


GEORGIA

Man sentenced for beating woman

MACON A man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for severely beating his girlfriend's grandmother, pouring fire ants onto her and stealing $300 and her car.

Pearsall Leroy Gerald, 19, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and other charges.

Gerald told police he attacked the 62-year-old woman on June 12 because he hated her and because he needed money to pay off a debt to a drug dealer, prosecutor Elizabeth Bobbitt said. The victim was beaten with a 4-foot-long stick and kicked repeatedly in the face.


HAWAII

Nurses walk off job amid labor disputes

HONOLULU Nurses at the state's largest hospital went on strike this week, joining colleagues from two other hospitals here on the picket line in a dispute over wages and other issues.

Nurses at the Queen's Medical Center rejected its management's latest offer "by an overwhelming margin," the Hawaii Nurses Association said.

Their vote Monday came after nurses at Kuakini Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center started walking picket lines at 7 a.m. after their talks failed.

The union represents nearly 1,400 nurses at the three hospitals. The nurses association said no new talks had been scheduled.


ILLINOIS

State seeks snowplow pros

SPRINGFIELD As snow begins to fall, Illinois is scrambling to find people to clean it off the highways.

The state's Department of Transportation says 480 snowplow operators, more than a fifth of the force, are joining the thousands of state employees taking advantage of a pension buyout enacted earlier this year to save Illinois money.


INDIANA

University officials get report on porn movie

BLOOMINGTON Police have completed an investigation of a pornographic movie shot on Indiana University's campus and turned over their report to school officials.

Sgt. Tim Lewis, spokesman for the IU Police Department, would not discuss the findings of the investigation Monday.

University officials had no immediate comment, said university spokeswoman Jane Jankowski.


KANSAS

Sisters rescue puppy flung from pickup

HUTCHINSON Roadside trash usually consists of paper or plastic flung from a passing vehicle. So two women driving through Hutchinson were understandably startled when the small item pitched from a fast-moving pickup had four legs, fur and a sweet disposition.

The puppy that Juliet Raya and her sister rescued last week remained in the care of the Hutchinson Humane Society on Monday, having recovered from an injured leg.

Still at large was the driver who flung the small, pointy-eared mutt out the window of a maroon Ford F-150 pickup truck, police said.


KENTUCKY

State gets go-ahead to close nursing home

LOUISVILLE A federal bankruptcy judge gave state regulators permission to shut down a debt-ridden nursing home owned by Gov. Paul E. Patton's one-time mistress.

Judge David Stosberg said there had been "gross mismanagement" at Birchtree Healthcare and cleared the way Monday for license revocation. Birchtree's license expires Dec. 31.

The home's owner, Tina Conner, is suing Mr. Patton, a Democrat, for sexual harassment. She said the governor started a regulatory crackdown after she ended their two-year affair. Mr. Patton has acknowledged the affair but denied doing anything to assist or damage her business.


MINNESOTA

Teens arraigned in blind man's death

WALKER Two 16-year-old boys charged with killing a blind man might have been drunk when they reportedly beat him with an ax handle, authorities said.

Darrell "Louie" Bisson, 48, was walking his dog when he was attacked Friday night and left to die on the sidewalk near his home in the northern Minnesota town of Cass Lake.

The 16-year-old boys were arraigned Monday in Cass County District Court on two counts each of second-degree murder.

Authorities said the weapons used in the attack were an ax handle and an athletic shoe one of the boys was wearing when he reportedly stomped on Mr. Bisson's face, leaving the pattern of the sole. Mr. Bisson carried the ax handle to help him walk and for protection, authorities said.


MISSOURI

Sheriff fails to take firearms test

ST. LOUIS An investigation of firearms test scores for last year showed that Sheriff James Murphy and 64 of his 185 deputies failed to take tests at the St. Louis Police Department's firing range, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Mr. Murphy has required that every deputy qualify on his or her firearm each year at the range.


NEBRASKA

Accident gives man rude awakening

HASTINGS Tony Hobson found out it is probably not good news when your doorbell wakes you up.

When the Hastings College women's basketball coach answered the door early Sunday, he found a young man trying to explain how he just hit Mr. Hobson's pickup the one sitting 20 yards off the street, in his driveway.

The teenagers' car had been driven off the road and across an open lot, Adams County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ackles said. The vehicle then slid sideways, hit the edge of Mr. Hobson's driveway, rolled and then struck the pickup. The impact knocked the truck about 10 feet.

The teenager was treated at a hospital and then taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence.


NEVADA

Council seeks end to code of ethics

LAS VEGAS The Las Vegas City Council wants to abolish its code of ethics except for provisions dealing with lobbying and political activities of public officials.

City officials say the code has become a tool for political opportunists.

Las Vegas is the only city in Nevada with its own code of ethics and a panel that hears complaints and issues rulings.


NEW MEXICO

Professor to retire after 'stupid joke'

ALBUQUERQUE A University of New Mexico history professor who was heavily criticized for telling a class on the day of the terrorist attacks, "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote," is retiring this month, complaining of constant harassment.

Richard Berthold, a 55-year-old tenured professor, was forced to apologize for the remark, which he called "an incredibly stupid joke." The university also barred him from teaching freshmen.

"Constant harassment by persons in authority at the university is now driving me into retirement," he said in a statement Monday. He has taught at the university for 30 years.

Provost Brian Foster said Mr. Berthold is not being forced out.


NEW YORK

Judge dismisses lawsuit over West Nile spraying

NEW YORK A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit charging New York City with illegally spraying pesticides to prevent the spread of the West Nile virus.

U.S. District Court Judge John S. Martin threw out the lawsuit, filed in 2000 by a coalition of environmental groups, saying the plaintiffs were unable to prove the city's use of pesticides was illegal, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The environmental groups asked the court in 2000 to prohibit further spraying. Their attorney, Karl S. Coplan, said the city was violating the Clean Water Act by spraying the pesticide over water.


OHIO

Churches form disaster-relief network

CINCINNATI Churches are forming a statewide recovery network that would aid victims of floods, tornadoes and other disasters.

The Ohio Council of Churches' goal is to improve communication among church members and emergency agencies so victims can receive aid more quickly.

Officials said the council represents 17 denominations encompassing more than 6,000 congregations.


PENNSYLVANIA

Students charged with attacking debater

PHILADELPHIA Five University of Pennsylvania students were charged with beating, kicking and pouring motor oil onto a Princeton student visiting for a debate tournament.

The five surrendered Monday and were charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and making terrorist threats, police said. They were released pending a hearing tomorrow.

About 15 Princeton students were visiting the university for the tournament Nov. 15 and 16. They were sleeping in a lounge area in a dormitory when several Pennsylvania students approached, flicked the lights and ordered the visitors to leave.

Princeton student John Brantl, 19, said he told them to leave and they did, but one returned at about 4 a.m. with four friends. He said they began kicking and beating him, poured the motor oil onto his face and head, threatened to ignite the motor oil and left only after he promised never to visit the university again.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Man pleads guilty in DUI death

SPARTANBURG A man with a history of drunken-driving convictions pleaded guilty to a lesser crime yesterday to avoid a murder trial set to begin this week.

Jerry James Carruth, 55, had been convicted of drunken driving a half-dozen times in the past 11 years. However, the paraplegic often avoided jail time by saying he never would be able to drive again.

Brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair yesterday, Carruth admitted to driving under the influence during a crash that resulted in death. The April wreck killed Tony Howard, a 42-year-old father of three, when his pickup truck was hit head-on by Carruth's Buick.

Carruth, who is partially paralyzed from a spinal injury suffered in a 1984 car wreck, was taken into custody after the plea was entered. He faces up to 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine at sentencing.


UTAH

Trapper catches rare gray wolf

SALT LAKE CITY A trapper captured a rare gray wolf and saw the tracks of a second animal in the mountains of Utah, where wolves have been absent for 70 years.

Federal officials from Wyoming arrived in Utah on Monday and took custody of the wolf to return it to its pack in northeastern Yellowstone National Park, 200 miles north of where it was caught, said Alan Clark, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources manager.

The trapper caught the wolf Saturday in the mountains in northern Utah, the same area where ranchers and wildlife officials reported seeing and hearing wolves last summer.

The wolf has been successfully re-established in the wilds of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana and is protected in the contiguous 48 states by the Endangered Species Act.


WEST VIRGINIA

Discredited chemist dies of cancer

CHARLESTON Fred Zain, a former West Virginia State Police chemist whose discredited work resulted in the payments of millions of dollars to wrongfully convicted defendants, has died. He was 52.

Mr. Zain died Monday at his home in Ormond Beach, Fla., his attorney, Tom Smith of Charleston, said yesterday. Mr. Zain was suffering from colon cancer, which had spread to his liver.

Mr. Zain was to be retried in July on fraud charges stemming from testimony he provided during criminal trials while he was the head of the State Police chemistry lab from 1986 to 1989. The trial was delayed indefinitely after his cancer was detected.


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