- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2003

Judge to review feeding-tube case

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A man who has fought a long legal battle to remove the feeding tube from his brain-damaged wife won another round in court yesterday when a judge said he would review the constitutionality of a special law passed to thwart the husband’s efforts.

Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird said Michael Schiavo had successfully defended Terri Schiavo’s right not to be kept alive artificially. Any delays in removing the feeding tube and letting her die violate her constitutional right to privacy, the judge said.

Mr. Schiavo had his wife’s feeding tube removed last month after years of legal battles with her parents, but Gov. Jeb Bush had the tube reinserted six days later under a hastily passed state law. Mr. Schiavo then sued Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush’s attorneys appealed, triggering an automatic stay, but the judge overrode the stay yesterday and gave Mr. Bush’s attorneys until Monday to submit a brief defending the constitutionality of the new law.

AIDS damages brain despite use of drugs

Researchers have found hints that the AIDS virus can cause subtle damage to the brain, even if patients are using drugs that suppress the microbe below detectable levels.

Using tests that included magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, were able to detect evidence of brain damage in some HIV-positive patients who otherwise appeared healthy and fully alert.

The problem of HIV-dementia — once a common symptom afflicting 1 in 5 AIDS patients — was thought to be largely solved with the use of antiviral drugs that drove down the amount of virus in a patient’s blood.

Dr. Michael Weiner, a senior investigator in the National Institutes of Health-funded study, stressed, however, that the level of damage detected is so low that it can only be spotted with the sophisticated equipment and tests used by his lab.

Detective admits he didn’t pursue tip

MODESTO, Calif. — A police detective acknowledged yesterday that he didn’t follow up on a tip from a woman who claimed to have seen someone resembling Laci Peterson in a park on the day her husband says she disappeared.

Under cross-examination by attorneys for Scott Peterson, Detective Philip Owen said he didn’t pursue the tip because he didn’t think it was “going in the right direction.”

Peterson’s attorneys have suggested during the preliminary hearing, in its ninth day yesterday, that detectives zeroed in on Laci Peterson’s husband as a suspect and ignored other leads.

Detective Owen said he didn’t feel the woman’s tip was credible because it conflicted with other information detectives had received.

Deficit growing despite economy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s budget deficit will likely top $10 billion next year, up $2 billion from previous projections, despite revenue from an improving economy, an advisory agency said yesterday.

The shortfall might grow an additional $4 billion if Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger fulfills a campaign pledge to roll back a tripling of the car tax.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which advises state lawmakers on fiscal issues, tax receipts are projected to increase by as much as $2.2 billion for the next seven months, but will be more than offset by spending on public health programs, prison inmates and other services.

Murderer executed by lethal injection

A death-row inmate said to be mentally retarded was executed by lethal injection by the state of North Carolina yesterday at a prison in Raleigh, according to prison authorities.

John Dennis Daniels, 46, had been condemned to death in 1990 for the murder of Isabelle Daniels Crawford.

According to psychiatrists who provided assessments for Daniels’ defense, he had the mental age of a child of 11 to 12 years.

Daniels was the 881st person to be executed since the death penalty was re-approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

From staff reports and wire dispatches.

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