- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2002

Mother pleads guilty in child abuse case

DALLAS A mother accused of locking her 8-year-old daughter in a dark, filthy closet for months and starving the girl pleaded guilty yesterday to causing serious bodily injury to a child.

The charges against Barbara Atkinson, 30, carried five years to life in prison. The sentencing phase began in the afternoon. Prosecutors said the girl weighed 25 pounds the size of a 2-year-old and was nearly dead when she was found last summer.

Man is arrested for knife on plane

COLUMBUS, Ohio A judge set a $500,000 bond yesterday for a man arrested by airport police after he called a talk radio show and said he had boarded a plane with a knife concealed in his belt.

Robert Hedrick, 37, slouched against a wall during his hearing, his hands handcuffed in front of him. He is charged with carrying a weapon aboard an aircraft, a felony.

"This is not a time to be seeking publicity, Mr. Hedrick," Municipal Court Judge W. Dwayne Maynard said.

Jury selection begins in deadly dog mauling

LOS ANGELES A judge told prospective jurors to set aside their feelings about dogs as jury selection began yesterday in the trial of a couple whose animals fatally mauled a woman in their San Francisco apartment building.

Superior Court Judge James Warren began questioning the 280 potential jurors about whether any had hardships that would prevent them from serving. About 130 people were excused. He asked remaining prospects if they knew of the publicity, and hands shot up.

At one point, a prospective juror said she believed "someone has to account for the death. The dog can't testify." Judge Warren told her no crime had been proved.

Teens fend off bull mastiff

PANAMA CITY, Fla. A teen-age brother and sister, armed with a pogo stick and golf club, beat a snarling 125-pound bull mastiff that was attacking their friend.

Josh Schulte, 14, suffered a broken arm and torn arm muscle when the dog, named Zeus, jumped out of a ditch last weekend and attacked him as he walked to a friend's home. Zeus jumped on the boy's back and clamped down on his arm.

"Then he let go, and I started running," Josh told the Panama City News Herald.

Brian Wasmer, 15, and his 13-year-old sister, Jessica, sprang into action when Josh ran into their yard, Zeus in pursuit. Zeus' owner said he would have the dog destroyed.

Tyson, executives deny immigrant smuggling

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. Tyson Foods Inc. and six former managers pleaded not guilty yesterday to federal charges of conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants to work at the company's poultry plants.

A federal magistrate told them to get ready for a February 2003 trial.

Tyson attorney Mark Hobson said a trial would not support prosecutors' contentions of a company conspiracy, but instead would show immigrant smuggling by government undercover agents.

"The case stems from a three-year undercover sting operation," the Arkansas-based company said in a statement.

Judge bars contact among officials

GROTON, N.H. The talk of the town in Groton is a judge's order barring the town's three managers from speaking to one another.

Prosecutors requested the ban at a bail hearing Tuesday for two selectmen who are accused of illegally trying to get extra money for the town from the federal government after a big snowstorm last winter.

Judge Jean Burling barred defendants Stephen Pilcher and Deb Johnson from contacting each other or the town's third selectman, Frank Harris, because prosecutors wanted to prevent witness-tampering or collusion.

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