- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003


Court stays execution for DNA testing

ATLANTA — Georgia’s Supreme Court granted a last-minute stay of execution Wednesday to a convicted killer who had pleaded for more time to have new evidence tested for DNA.

Eddie Albert Crawford, 56, had been scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson for the 1983 kidnapping, rape and murder of his 2-year-old niece.

Georgia’s highest court did not specify why it granted the indefinite stay. Defense lawyers had urged authorities to postpone the execution to give them more time for proper tests of a pair of blood-spattered pants and other evidence that they contend was wrongly excluded at trial.


Defense seeks probation in beating case

AUSTIN — A defense attorney asked for probation yesterday for a preacher and his brother convicted of beating a boy with a tree branch for goofing off at a summer Bible study program.

Seeking the lightest sentence possible from the jury, attorney Carlos Garcia argued that 23-year-old twins Joshua and Caleb Thompson deserve a second chance. Prosecutors have not said what sentence they will seek. Likely punishments range up to life in prison.

The Thompsons were found guilty Wednesday of felony injury and aggravated assault in the beating of Louie Guerrero, 11, in the summer.


Prosecutors to seek death in Rudolph case

BIRMINGHAM — Prosecutors said yesterday that they would seek the death penalty against serial bombing suspect Eric Rudolph for a blast that killed a police officer at an abortion clinic.

In papers filed yesterday, prosecutors set out aggravating factors that the government believes make the death penalty appropriate, such as intent to kill and planning the attack.

“This is an important step toward seeking justice in this case,” U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said.

Rudolph attorney Richard Jaffe said he was not surprised by the decision. “Of course, seeking it and getting it are two different matters,” Mr. Jaffe said.


Environmentalists sue over logging plan

ANCHORAGE — Environmentalists said Wednesday that they have sued the U.S. Forest Service over a plan they say threatens to open valuable sections of the largest national forest to clear-cut logging.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Juneau, said the Forest Service’s 6-year-old management plan for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest was based on flawed information that exaggerated the demand for timber from there. The lawsuit also challenges six Tongass timber sales pending as a result of the 1997 plan.

The lawsuit seeks to have the Tongass management plan and the six sale plans rewritten, said Tom Waldo, an attorney with Earthjustice, which is representing the six plaintiff groups.


Researchers find ‘intoxicating’ gene

SAN FRANCISCO — Researchers found a gene responsible for alcoholism in worms after plying thousands of the tiny creatures with booze, a discovery that could boost the fight against the addiction.

The experiment was conducted by University of California at San Francisco researchers and was to be published today in the science journal Cell. Because it is believed that alcohol affects all animals similarly, humans, like worms, also may possess a single gene responsible for alcoholism.

“Our end goal is to find a way to cure alcoholism and drug abuse,” Dr. Steven McIntire said. “We hope to develop effective therapeutics to improve the ability of people to stop drinking.”


Car crashes through governor’s gate

TALLAHASSEE — Two men were arrested after stealing a car and crashing it through the gates of the governor’s mansion, authorities said. Investigators said it did not appear that they were targeting Gov. Jeb Bush or his family.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred Wednesday night.

The governor was not at the mansion at the time, authorities said. His wife, Columba, was there but was not endangered.

The car had been stolen from a restaurant parking lot nearby. The men smashed it through the gate, then crashed it through another gate onto a street behind the mansion. Steven Franklin Baker, 24, and Floyd Jesse Boggs, 19, were arrested on car-theft charges.


Notre Dame seeks to close thoroughfare

SOUTH BEND — The University of Notre Dame wants to close Juniper Road, which bisects its campus. It needs approval from the St. Joseph County Council, but Notre Dame would pay for most of the work, expected to cost at least $10 million.

University architect Douglas Marsh said the closure is part of a master plan to maintain a pedestrian campus and encourage undergraduates to live there.


Union delivers gifts to needy children

CONCORD — National Guard trucks carrying gifts for more than 3,200 needy children left Concord as part of the State Employees Association’s Operation Santa Claus.

The union arranges for sponsors to buy the gifts and distributes them to 12 regional Health and Human Services offices.


Milestone reached in WTC rebuilding

NEW YORK — Workers ceremonially raised a beam in an office tower described as the future gateway to the World Trade Center site yesterday, another milestone in New York’s rebuilding effort after the September 11 attacks.

As the steel beam was raised with an American flag to the 11th floor of 7 World Trade Center, officials said the ambitious, dispute-ridden reconstruction project was on schedule. “Our goal with 7 World Trade Center was to provide a spectacular gateway to the trade center site and to serve as a symbol, as it does, of the renewal of Lower Manhattan,” complex leaseholder Larry Silverstein said at a news briefing.

He said the 52-story glass-and-steel building will house the first office workers since the 2001 attacks on opening at the beginning of 2006.


Schools find guns; increase security

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools will increase random metal-detector searches at middle schools and hire more security guards.

The move is a response to an increase in the number of guns confiscated from students. School officials have taken 12 guns from students since August, including one in an elementary school, already matching the total for the 2002-03 school year.


Concealed-weapons bill passed

COLUMBUS — Ohio lawmakers approved legislation that would let residents carry concealed weapons, but Gov. Bob Taft said yesterday that he would veto it.

The bill, passed by wide margins in the House and Senate on Wednesday, would allow Ohio residents to carry concealed weapons after passing a background check and completing safety training.

Mr. Taft, a Republican, promised a veto after unsuccessfully pushing to give reporters access to all names of permit holders by county. The bill passed by the legislature would allow reporters access to limited public records only on a name-by-name basis.


Virtual high school nears completion

BEND — School district officials are hashing out the curriculum of Oregon’s first online high school. Once launched, Bend-La Pine Online will join similar virtual schools in 18 states.

School board members said they want a few questions answered before giving students the option to begin taking all their credits at a virtual high school.


Town to be bright with holiday lights

CLAYSBURG — The holidays again promise to be merry and, most important, bright in this tiny community.

Businesses and residents had donated $500 to buy the village’s first-ever Christmas lights. But because the community — population 1,500 — never had Christmas lights before, organizers didn’t realize until earlier this month that they needed $4,000 more to hook up the display.

Communities That Care, which collected the donations, had been reluctant to pass the hat again. But several local businesses came through with money or workers who volunteered to install the lights.

Penelec, the local power company, also helped by offering free use of its vehicles and equipment for the installation.


Refuge fights to save abused elephant

NASHVILLE — What happens to aging circus elephants? Sadly, some wind up like Delhi, a 57-year-old native of India who may not live to see Christmas.

“We’re fighting to save her,” said Carol Buckley, director of the Elephant Sanctuary, a refuge near Nashville for old and sick elephants.

Delhi has irreversible foot rot and chemical burns from having formaldehyde poured on her wounds. She was seized last month from an Illinois business that rents animals to circuses. Federal authorities have charged the company with neglect. Still, Delhi appears in good spirits, hobbling in the sunshine, playing with toys, and trumpeting at the sanctuary’s dogs, Miss Buckley said.

“She is very playful and gentle, but her physical condition doesn’t look good at all. We’re giving her antibiotics and painkillers but recovery is unrealistic because of the advanced condition of the disease. … It’s obvious she very much wants to live, and that helps.”

Foot rot is the leading cause of death among captive elephants, Miss Buckley said. It is caused by walking on concrete.


Contest hopes to turn eyesore into artwork

MOUNT VERNON — It’s a typical post-flood eyesore even when there has been little damage: heap after bedraggled heap of heavy, dirty sandbags littering the downtown area.

Enter the Mount Vernon Arts Commission with a sandbag sculpture contest that runs through the weekend.

The idea was given form after a commission member gazed outside after a recent meeting and commented, “We can do something with these,” Chairman Karen Moldstad said. “After, it was, ‘Did we really decide to do this?’”

Reactions to the idea of making art from the damp, brown lumps, some weighing 30 pounds, have been “really cute,” she said.


Police chief to keep bartender job

BLANCHARDVILLE — This town’s police chief gets to keep moonlighting as a bartender, his bosses have decided.

Members of the village’s Public Safety Committee decided Tuesday not to change regulations to prevent police Chief Kevin Larson from pouring alcoholic refreshments at Marcine’s Bar and Grill.

“It isn’t illegal to sell or drink alcohol as long as you’re of age,” committee Chairman Marty Chandler said. “I haven’t seen anything to suggest that this shouldn’t be allowed.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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