- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

MISSISSIPPI
Federal trial opens in civil-rights-era case
JACKSON A federal judge urged potential jurors yesterday to search themselves for prejudice if chosen for the trial in a 1966 slaying that was reported to be part of a wider plot to lure and kill Martin Luther King.
"We want jurors who can fairly and impartially decide this case," U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour Jr. said as he opened the latest trial aimed at resolving Mississippi's unfinished business from the civil rights era.
Ernest Avants, a 72-year-old stroke survivor who listened from a wheelchair during the first day of the proceedings, is the last of three suspects in the case who is alive.
Mr. Avants and two others reputed to be Klansmen were accused in the June 10, 1966, slaying of Ben Chester White, a black farmorker. TEXAS

Soldier fatally shot during training exercise
FORT HOOD The Army is investigating the fatal shooting of a Fort Hood soldier during a training exercise at a rifle range.
Sgt. Benjamin Franklin Moore II, 25 of Hamilton, Ohio, was shot in the back during M-16 night fire training Friday night, Fort Hood spokesman Maj. Vic Harris said.
Initial reports show that the soldiers were shooting at body silhouettes when Sgt. Moore was accidentally shot by another soldier, Maj. Harris said.
Sgt. Moore was airlifted to Fort Hood's Darnell Army Community Hospital, where he died shortly after arrival, Maj. Harris said.

ALASKA
Big Lake fire lawsuit reaches court
PALMER The Big Lake wildfire of 1996 destroyed more than 400 houses and other buildings, and caused an estimated $15 million in damage. After years of appeals and delays, a lawsuit saying the state could have prevented the disaster will be contested in a Palmer courtroom, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
In a sweeping jury-selection process, state court clerks have sent jury questionnaires to 260 Mat-Su-area residents, randomly selected through their Permanent Fund dividend applications. Court officials plan at least two days of jury selection before Superior Court Judge John Reese, usually based in Anchorage.
The court is throwing out a wide net because the case is well-known and elicits strong opinions in Mat-Su.

ARIZONA
Crisis nursery founder dies at 83
TUCSON M. Kathleen Clark, a nun and nurse who founded the nation's largest crisis nursery for abused and neglected children, died last week in Los Angeles. She was 83.
She used $17 and a year's leave of absence to found Casa de los Ninos in 1973, Executive Director Jeanne Landdeck-Sisco said.
Since then, Casa de los Ninos has given care and services to 33,000 Tucson children and is the nation's largest shelter for abused and neglected children, she said.
Miss Clark was named one of the United States' unsung heroes by Newsweek magazine in 1988.
Ten years later, she received the National Jefferson Award, for public service benefiting local communities.

CALIFORNIA
Slaying suspect pleads guilty
FREMONT One of four defendants in the October slaying of a transgender teen pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter yesterday and agreed to testify against his friends.
Jaron Chase Nabors, 19, will get 11 years in prison in the slaying of Eddie "Gwen" Araujo under the agreement reached with prosecutors. He had faced a murder charge. His plea came during a preliminary hearing into whether Nabors and the other three should stand trial.
Jose Antonio Merel, 23; Michael William Magidson, 22; and Jason Michael Cazares, 22, still are charged with murder in the beating and strangulation of Mr. Araujo at Mr. Merel's house in suburban Newark.
About two weeks after the slaying, police say, Nabors led them to the body in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills about 150 miles east of Newark.

COLORADO
Life sentences given for death-row inmates
DENVER Two men on Colorado's death row were spared yesterday when the state's highest court ruled that their death sentences, imposed by three-judge panels, were unconstitutional.
The Colorado Supreme Court ordered George Woldt and Francisco Martinez Jr. to be resentenced to life in prison without parole.
The decision follows a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June that held that juries, not judges, must determine whether the death penalty is appropriate. The court ruled in an Arizona case.
Colorado lawmakers have since changed the law to require juries to handle sentencing in capital cases.

FLORIDA
Alligator attacks elderly woman
ENGLEWOOD An alligator tore off part of a 70-year-old woman's arm as she trimmed brush on the edge of a pond.
A deputy shot and killed the 8-foot gator, and wildlife officials cut it open and retrieved the arm, but Tampa General Hospital would not say whether the surgery to reattach the limb succeeded.
Helena Couto was in fair condition yesterday.
The alligator latched onto her arm just below the elbow Sunday and tried to drag her into the pond behind her home, said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
She was saved by two neighbors, a man and a woman who heard her scream, officials said.

GEORGIA
DNA tests tie man to slayings
FAYETTEVILLE An investigator used DNA technology on 25-year-old evidence to link a man to four killings committed in the Atlanta area in 1977 and 1978.
Carl Millard Patton Jr., 53, a roofer from Locust Grove, was arrested and charged Sunday with murdering 31-year-old Liddie Evans, who was shot in the head, stuffed in a weighted sleeping bag and thrown into a river.
Mr. Patton will probably be charged in the three other slayings within days, and at least one other arrest may be made, sheriff's Maj. Bruce Jordan said yesterday.
Mr. Jordan reopened the investigation in October. "I just stumbled across this," he said. "It was something I wanted to go back and look at."

ILLINOIS
Doctor urges colleagues to join strike
LeROY A small-town doctor is urging colleagues across Illinois to participate in a one-day strike to protest high malpractice-insurance premiums.
Dr. Thomas Pliura organized a doctors rally at the state Capitol for tomorrow. He wants legislators to consider reforms, including a cap on pain and suffering awards in malpractice cases.
Striking doctors will tell patients in advance and arrange backup care.

IOWA
Researcher explores alligator farming
CASTANA A harsh fact of hog farming is that not all piglets in a litter survive, leaving the farmer with the trouble of burying the animals or the expense of having them hauled away.
Someday soon, however, that farmer may be able to dispose of the animals by feeding them to new dwellers on his farm: alligators.
Kris Kohl, an Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer, envisions the reptiles as a less-costly method of disposal and a source for high-quality meat and hides, a second income for hog farmers.
He's testing his idea with two 4-foot alligators at a research farm near this western Iowa town.

KENTUCKY
Worker dies after plant explosion
LOUISVILLE A man who received severe burns in an explosion at an insulation manufacturing plant has died, the first fatality in the blast that injured 44 plant workers.
Jimmy Lemmings, 42, died Sunday of multiple organ failure at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., said Clinton Colmenares, spokesman for the hospital.
Mr. Lemmings was among the people critically injured, some with burns over 70 percent to 90 percent of their bodies, after the blast Thursday morning at CTA Acoustics in Corbin, in southern Kentucky. As of yesterday morning, 10 persons remained in critical condition.
Officials with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are studying the cause of the blast.

MASSACHUSETTS
Archdiocese reinstates third suspended priest
BOSTON The Archdiocese of Boston reinstated a third suspended priest after not substantiating an accusation that he had sexually abused a minor more than 30 years ago.
The archdiocese said the Rev. Ronald Bourgault would resume his work March 1 at St. Zepherin Parish.
The archdiocese had suspended 27 priests.

NEVADA
Federal agency assumes ownership of brothel
RENO The Bureau of Land Management assumed ownership of the infamous Mustang Ranch brothel and is seeking ideas on what to do with the prime riverfront property.
A bureau spokesman said the federal agency took title to the 340-acre ranch after guilty verdicts against the brothel's parent companies and manager on federal fraud and racketeering charges.

NEW JERSEY
Group seeks delay of universities' merger
NEW BRUNSWICK A Rutgers University advisory group of more than 200 students, faculty members, administrators and alumni wants to delay the proposed merger of New Jersey's three research universities into one statewide system.
The Rutgers University Senate said Gov. James E. McGreevey, a Democrat, should wait until the state commits the money.

NEW YORK
Rap contest canceled after melee
NEW YORK A melee involving hip-hop fans in New York's Times Square yesterday caused MTV to cancel its weeklong "MC Battles" rap contest, MTV and police officials said.
Thousands of people had lined up overnight and in the early morning outside MTV's studios in Times Square to enter the contest organized by the station and the Def Jam record company, but overcrowding led to pushing and shoving on the streets.
Two police officers were injured, and four persons were arrested for disorderly conduct, a police statement said.
"We apologize to anyone who traveled far or waited for a long time for the contest, but we'll provide information soon about future plans," said Dave Sirulnick, executive vice president of news and production for MTV, a unit of Viacom Inc.

OHIO
Police field complaint about snowwoman
KENT Crystal Lynn went for realism when she built her snow woman celery for the eyes, a carrot for the nose and two blobs of snow for the breasts.
The last turned out to be a no-no, as someone complained to Kent police about what he called an indecent snow figure.
And a police officer showed up at her apartment door minutes after she had completed her work.
She didn't want to knock down the snowwoman. And the figure was too busty to be covered by a shirt. So she opted to drape a tablecloth around her shoulders.
She told the Akron Beacon Journal that she called the police after the officer left. When she realized the officer was just passing on a caller's complaint, she took matters into her own hands, stripping the tablecloth off the snowwoman so that she could be exposed in all her glory.

OKLAHOMA
Governor takes in post-election money
OKLAHOMA CITY Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, took in more than $748,000 in post-election campaign contributions to pay off $375,000 in campaign debt.
Almost 700 individuals and groups donated to Mr. Henry after his victory, the Daily Oklahoman reported. Contributors included casino managers, an indicted Tulsa businessman and more than 100 lawyers.
Post-election contributions are legal in Oklahoma.

OREGON
State police offices end 24-hour patrols
MEDFORD Oregon's budget crisis is causing state police offices to abandon 24-hour patrols.
Starting this week, patrols will be reduced to 22 hours a day in Josephine and Jackson counties. State police Lt. Dan Durbin said some offices will cut back to 16 hours a day and that some highways won't be patrolled at all.
The state police force has been reduced by 75 percent since 1980.

PENNSYLVANIA
Snowball fight leads to shooting
PHILADELPHIA A man whose daughter was hit with a snowball by a group of girls returned to the scene and opened fire with a gun, critically wounding a 10-year-old, police said.
Joseph Best, 32, was arrested yesterday and jailed on charges including attempted murder.
Mr. Best's daughter was hit with a snowball as she and her friends walked past a group of girls having a "friendly snowball fight" Sunday, police Capt. Charles Bloom said.
A scuffle then broke out among the dozen or so girls, who ranged in age from 10 to 15. The groups soon parted ways, but Mr. Best returned with an older daughter and another brawl erupted, this time between adult relatives of both groups, Capt. Bloom said. Police broke up that fight, but said Mr. Best came back again hours later.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Fourth-graders help keep mansion open
COLUMBIA Fourth-graders at a private school in Greenville donated $416.66 and Republican Gov. Mark Sanford's in-laws gave $5,000 to a fund to keep the governor's mansion running.
The Greenville News reported that donors paid or promised more than $100,000 after Mr. Sanford raised the prospect two weeks ago of closing the mansion to the public until July because of a $150,000 shortfall.

SOUTH DAKOTA
Towns working for better reception
SIOUX FALLS Officials in Bridgewater, Marion and Parker are working to improve cellular-phone coverage in their communities, where static and lost calls are routine, the Argus Leader reports.
Turner County commissioners approved a resolution last week to ask the state whether they could buy a 120-foot-tall former state radio tower just southeast of the courthouse in Parker.
Bridgewater's mayor is exploring the idea of building a cellular tower on his own land to improve coverage in the area.
The lack of a reliable signal has caused problems for law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel.
Parker Fire Chief Bob Masters recalled a propane-gas leak at Ferrell Gas two years ago. Because the signal is weak, he had to call the dispatch center via radio to notify Ferrell's emergency contact in Nebraska.

WISCONSIN
Doggie-doo cleanup becomes a business
GREEN BAY Adam Komoroski doesn't mind picking up what dogs leave behind. In fact, he's turned it into a profession.
Mr. Komoroski recently opened Dirty Deeds Pooper Scooper Service to clean up after canines for a price.
Some customers can't pick up pet waste because of a disability or lack of time, he said, and others just don't want to.
He said he picked up information by attending a program held in St. Louis last month by the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, or APAWS.
Mr. Komoroski said the event had time set aside for a contest where the fastest to clean up a yard was the winner. Mr. Komoroski won his early round, where cut-up potatoes were used, but lost in the finals, where the real thing was the target.


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