- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

TEXASConvicted killer gets reprieveHUNTSVILLE — A federal appeals court yesterday halted the execution of a twice-convicted killer who had been scheduled to die later in the day after his lawyers argued he is mentally retarded.The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put off the scheduled evening execution of Robert Charles Ladd, 46, to allow his lawyers to file an appeal in lower court raising the IQ issue.Ladd, who killed a woman with a hammer and then set her on fire, has called that “a dead issue.”The Supreme Court ruled last year that mentally retarded people may not be executed, and lawyers for Ladd said they had found juvenile records indicating he once was described as mentally retarded.NEVADAKiller of police officer gets life sentence RENO — Jurors who convicted Larry Peck of murder in the killing of a police officer have spared him the death penalty, ordering instead that he be sentenced to life in prison.Peck, 52, was found guilty last week of first-degree murder for the shooting death of Officer John Bohach, who was shot in August 2001 outside Peck’s home during a five-hour siege. Peck had holed up after fleeing from police who pulled him over after a night of drinking.Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, but jurors took just three hours Tuesday to choose a sentence of two consecutive life terms with no possibility of parole. Formal sentencing was set for May 30.ALASKAMan proselytizing gets shot in armANCHORAGE — A 19-year-old man who tried to tell two strangers about Jesus was punched in the face and shot in an arm overnight Monday, police said.James Cunning said he went for a walk about midnight to reflect on a revival he had attended earlier in the evening. Around 12:45 a.m., he ran into two men and he introduced himself.Mr. Cunning told the two strangers: “Jesus loves you and he has a plan for all ya’ll.”The two men seemed interested at first, Mr. Cunning told the Anchorage Daily News. Then, out of nowhere, one of them punched Mr. Cunning in the face and knocked him to the ground, Mr. Cunning said.The other man pulled a gun. “Where’s your God now?” the man asked, according to Mr. Cunning, and then shot him in an arm.ARIZONASuspect indicted in prostitutes’ deathsPHOENIX — A man was indicted on five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of prostitutes whose bodies were found in a blighted downtown neighborhood over a nine-month period.Court records say Cory D. Morris, 24, has told police that he lured women to his motor home with drugs and strangled five of them during sex.Mr. Morris was charged last week in the killings of Jade Velasquez, 34, Sherri Noah, 37, and Julie Ann Castillo, 39. The grand jury indictment handed up Tuesday formally charges him in those deaths. It also charges him with murder in the killings of Barbara Codman, 46, and Shanteria Davis, 32.Mr. Morris was arrested April 12 after his uncle contacted authorities saying he found a woman’s body in the motor home where his nephew had been staying. The suspect is being held without bond in the Maricopa County Jail.CALIFORNIACarrey, ex-wife settle child-support disputeLOS ANGELES — Jim Carrey has resolved a dispute over child support with his ex-wife, who said in court papers that their 15-year-old daughter could no longer get by on $10,000 a month, a spokesman for the actor said Tuesday.Mr. Carrey’s spokesman confirmed that the 41-year-old “Dumb and Dumber” star had reached an agreement with former wife Melissa Carrey, but declined to reveal the terms of that deal.In court papers filed in Los Angeles earlier this month, Melissa Carrey said that $10,000 a month “is not sufficient” to meet the needs of her daughter Jane, who wants to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.Jane is the couple’s only child. They divorced in 1995.COLORADOCity withdraws benefits for same-sex partnersCOLORADO SPRINGS — The City Council has voted to withdraw health benefits for same-sex partners of city employees, fulfilling promises some council members made during this month’s election campaign.Tuesday’s 8-1 vote came despite protests from dozens of residents.The benefits, approved in December on a 5-4 vote, are currently provided to six persons, costing the city about $6,000 this year.Campaigning before the April 1 election, Mayor Lionel Rivera promised to end the benefits, as did six of the seven council members who won office. FLORIDAElian’s cousin gets marriedMIAMI — Marisleysis Gonzalez, the Miami cousin of Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian who lost a tearful battle to keep the child in the United States, has married, the Miami Herald reported yesterday.The paper said Miss Gonzalez, 24, the owner of a hair salon, married 19-year-old Richard Oscar Moreno in Miami on March 9.With dramatic pleas that were hailed by many Cuban-Americans but derided by others in the United States, Miss Gonzalez became the most celebrated of the “Miami relatives” who fought to gain custody of Elian in 2000 and keep him from returning to communist Cuba to live with his father.HAWAIIHotel sues companies over mold infestationHONOLULU — Hilton Hawaiian Village sued 18 companies and individuals over mold infestation that has closed the $95 million Kalia Tower.Hilton blames mistakes made by architects, engineers, construction companies and inspection firms for excessive humidity in the tower.The 453-room building in Waikiki’s biggest hotel was closed last July to undergo an estimated $55 million cleanup.IDAHOAntiwar group holds symposiumMOSCOW — An organization founded in 1929 to end armed conflict among nations turned its attention this year to propaganda between Islam and the West.Criticism of the media prevailed Tuesday during the William Edgar Borah Outlawry of War Foundation’s annual symposium at the University of Idaho.Playwright Rob Caisley, symposium co-chairman, said the sessions aimed to teach students to be critical of what they see and hear from official sources during times of conflict. “The goal of the symposium is to enlighten people and create good, solid, truthful information,” he said.Mr. Borah, the “Lion of Idaho,” served in the Senate from 1907 until he died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1940. The veteran Republican, an antiwar crusader for much of his career, played a key role through five presidential administrations.IOWAEx-student sentenced in plot to bomb promIOWA CITY — A former high school student accused of conspiring to bomb his prom on last year’s anniversary of the Columbine High School killings was given a five-year suspended sentence.District Judge Cynthia H. Danielson on Tuesday also ordered Christopher Todd, 19, to stay away from West Burlington public schools, to perform community service and to undergo counseling.Todd pleaded guilty in February to possession of an offensive weapon. As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped charges of witness tampering and possession of an explosive device.Todd was arrested April 19, 2002, one day before the dance, when police searching his bedroom and car found a jar of gunpowder, a pipe with a crimped end and a journal that described plans for a bombing.Police began investigating after faculty members reported rumors about a plot to bomb the prom.KENTUCKYMcCoys give up on park statuePIKEVILLE — Descendants of Randolph McCoy have given up hope of erecting a park statue honoring the patriarch of the family involved in a bloody feud with the Hatfields in the late 1800s.”There were some people bitterly opposed to the idea,” said Ron McCoy of Durham, N.C., his great-great-great-grandson. He said the life-size bronze statue will instead be placed in a cemetery on the outskirts of town.Pikeville resident James Smith said many people feel that placing the statue in the park would be romanticizing criminal behavior.Ron McCoy said he believes the statue, which is being sculpted by Kentucky artist Sam McKinney, would have been a focal point during Pikeville’s Hillbilly Days Festival.MASSACHUSETTSResidents getting million-dollar billsDRACUT — Residents of this New England community have been getting million-dollar bills. And they are not happy about it.Doris Bellerose said she almost had a nervous breakdown when her latest water bill came to $3.9 million. Her previous bill was for $81.50, after her senior discount.Other Dracut residents have been getting inflated bills, including one of the town’s own billing clerks who was charged $3.3 million.Water district commissioner Bob Corey blamed the error on a computer glitch caused by Dracut’s recent switch from a biannual to a quarterly billing system. He said the district has begun mailing new bills to recipients of inflated bills.MISSISSIPPIInmate boom puts prisons near capacityJACKSON — Inmates have been slotted into nearly every nook and cranny of Mississippi’s prisons, but more keep coming, putting the state’s prison population dangerously close to capacity, state and federal surveys show.The consequences, some say, could include injuries to prisoners, tax increases and large fines if prisons exceed their listed capacities.The Mississippi Department of Corrections says it has the situation under control and there’s no immediate danger of exceeding capacity. Mississippi was about 1,000 inmates shy this month of its total prison capacity of 21,171.The state’s prison population is still growing, according to a survey released this month by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. With 728 inmates for every 100,000 residents in the state.NEBRASKABlind man sues over mailboxesOMAHA — A blind man is suing the city of Fremont over the placement of mailboxes on front lawns.John Krumel, 77, says the mailboxes obstruct the sidewalk. He says he has twice suffered broken ribs from walking into the boxes.The U.S. Postal Service succeeded last year in being removed from the lawsuit. NEW HAMPSHIREMistrial declared in case against priestLACONIA — A judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the case of a Roman Catholic priest accused of raping a teenage boy in 1985 in New Hampshire.Jurors deliberated for 13½ hours but told the judge yesterday they were unable to reach a verdict in the case of the Rev. George Robichaud.Father Robichaud, 59, has admitted making inappropriate sexual contact with the former altar boy — now a 33-year-old state trooper — but denies the charges of rape and attempted rape.The Diocese of Manchester placed Father Robichaud, a former pastor, on leave a year ago, after he was accused. He also faces sexual assault charges involving a different altar boy in 1982.NEW MEXICO$99 pass offered for state parksSANTA FE — New Mexico is offering a $99 pass for unlimited camping and admission to 29 state parks this summer.Gov. Bill Richardson became the first customer, saying at a news conference: “This is a great deal.”Residents and nonresidents can buy the pass, valid until Sept. 1, at such parks as Elephant Butte Lake and Navajo Lake.NEW YORKAudit shows agency hid hundreds of millionsNEW YORK — The nation’s largest transit agency hid hundreds of millions of dollars through deceptive accounting while it argued for higher bus and subway fares, state and city comptrollers said yesterday.State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority operated with two sets of financial plans: one public, one internal.His city counterpart and other critics called for the MTA to re-evaluate the 50-cent fare increase approved in March. It is supposed to take effect May 4.MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow called the Democratic comptroller’s report “a political document filled with lies, half-truths and innuendos,” and said the fare increase would not be reconsidered.The MTA, which reported a $7.2 billion operating budget last year, repeatedly said it faced massive deficits as it argued for fare increases. Besides raising bus and subway fares from $1.50 to $2, the agency is increasing bridge and tunnel tolls by 50 cents and raising fares on commuter rail lines an average of 25 percent.OHIOPlane’s radio silent shortly before crashTOLEDO — One of two company planes that crashed on the same day earlier this month experienced about two minutes of radio silence shortly before it crashed, an investigation report said.The silence prompted a flight controller to ask the pilot to respond, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report. The answer was the last communication received from the plane before it crashed near a Toledo airport runway, killing three men on board. The NTSB report released Tuesday does not include what the pilot said or whether the radio silence was explained.Robert Hancock, who wrote the NTSB report, said yesterday that the board’s investigation is ongoing.The plane in Toledo and another Dassault Aviation Falcon 20 operated by Grand Aire crashed about five hours apart on April 8. The second plane ran out of fuel, and the pilots ditched in the Mississippi River. Both crew members were rescued.RHODE ISLANDGovernor begins government reviewPROVIDENCE — Gov. Donald L. Carcieri started a review of state agencies and departments designed to save money and improve state services.A team of more than 50 state employees has been assigned to analyze how the government works.The project will take up to nine months and rely primarily on employees for recommendations, not outside consultants.UTAHChildren prescribed stimulant medicationSALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 5 percent of Utah children between the ages of 5 and 14 last year were prescribed a stimulant medication such as Ritalin, state health officials said.The rate of medication is in line with other states, they said.The drugs are used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or AHD.The study found boys were prescribed the medication almost three times as frequently as girls.WASHINGTONTeen arrested for Sikh temple break-inSPOKANE — A 14-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of spray-painting a swastika and racist slogans on the walls of a Sikh temple and taking money and religious artifacts.The teen, who lives near the Spokane Valley temple, was booked Tuesday into juvenile detention for investigation of second-degree burglary and may face a hate-crime charge, police spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan said.There was no estimate of damage from the weekend vandalism, the second time in a month the temple has been burglarized.WISCONSINOfficials want to double deer-eradication zoneMADISON — State wildlife experts asked for permission yesterday to double the size of an area where they want all deer killed to eliminate a fatal brain disease affecting the animals.The “eradication zone” aimed at chronic-wasting disease would cover more than 874 square miles of mixed farm and forest around Mount Horeb, said Bill Vander Zouwen, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife expert.The agency set up a 411-square-mile eradication zone in the area last year. Wildlife officials estimated that zone contained some 30,000 deer.The state’s Natural Resources Board heard testimony yesterday on the request to double the eradication zone. It did not immediately make a decision.

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