- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2002

Prosecutors won't bring dog skull to court

LOS ANGELES Prosecutors in a San Francisco dog-mauling trial said yesterday they will not bring the skull of one of the animals into court after the judge suggested it would be "ghoulish."

The jury was sent out of the courtroom while the issue was argued. But before Judge James Warren could make a ruling, prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom decided "on further consideration, we will not be introducing the skull of Bane."

Marjorie Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel, are on trial in the death of Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old college lacrosse coach who was killed by the couple's dogs, Bane and Hera, in the hallway of their apartment building just over a year ago.

Berkeley undoes ban on male sex class

BERKELEY, Calif. A male sexuality class at the University of California that was suspended after reports of lurid extracurricular activities will resume on a probationary basis.

The class was shut down in February after the campus newspaper reported there was an orgy at a class party in the fall and some students went to a strip club for their final project.

The reinstatement came after an investigation found that many of the notorious activities reported weren't directly related to the course, university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said.

The course is offered under a program known as "democratic education" that the school does not fund, but which can be worth up to two credits.

FDA approves test for blood supplies

The government approved sophisticated genetic-fingerprinting tests yesterday, which blood banks will use to further reduce the risk of dangerous viruses slipping into transfusions.

The vast majority of transfusions already are infection-free. But blood banks have been performing this nucleic-acid testing, called NAT, as part of a nationwide experiment since 1999 to see if the more sophisticated method can make the blood supply even safer.

Yesterday's approval by the Food and Drug Administration validates NAT testing as adding an extra layer of safety. NAT can detect tiny amounts of the HIV or liver-destroying hepatitis C before the blood donor's body has even recognized the infection.

FBI director announces new appointment

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday announced the appointment of veteran FBI supervisor Kevin P. Donovan as assistant director in charge of the New York field office, the nation's largest. He replaces Barry Mawn, who will retire next month.

As head of the New York office, Mr. Donovan will oversee approximately 1,100 special agents and 800 professional support employees in a region composed of New York City, Long Island, and the counties of Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, and Sullivan.

Connecticut OKs cigarette-tax increase

HARTFORD, Conn. The state legislature early yesterday approved adding 61 cents to Connecticut's cigarette tax, a move that would make it the third-highest cigarette tax in the nation.

Gov. John G. Rowland, Republican, proposed the increase to help close a two-year budget gap estimated at $1 billion.

The increase would raise the state tax on a pack of cigarettes from 50 cents to $1.11 starting April 3. Only New York and Washington would have higher cigarette taxes.

Court upholds youth-crime measure

SAN FRANCISCO California's highest court yesterday upheld a voter-approved measure that was designed to crack down on juvenile crime by, among other things, letting prosecutors decide whether to try children as adults.

In a 6-1 ruling, the state Supreme Court said that Proposition 21 is constitutional even though it strips judges of the authority to decide whether a youth goes to juvenile or adult court. Voters approved the proposition 2-1 in 2000 amid concerns the justice system was too lenient.

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