- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2003

MISSOURI

Convicted killer admits to more murders

HARRISONVILLE — A man convicted of killing three women in Kansas pleaded guilty yesterday to five more murders in Missouri, where some of the victims’ bodies were found stuffed into barrels in a rented storage locker.

John E. Robinson Sr., 59, avoided trial and a death sentence in Missouri by admitting that he killed the two women and a teenage girl whose bodies were found in the storage locker and two other women whose bodies were never found.

Last fall, Robinson was sentenced to death in Kansas for two murders there and given a life sentence for a third.

MINNESOTA

Man claims police assault in drug raid

MINNEAPOLIS — A man accused Minneapolis police of sodomizing him with the handle of a plunger during a drug raid, and two officers were suspended while the FBI investigated.

Speaking publicly for the first time since Monday’s raid, Stephen Porter told reporters Wednesday that two officers left him in the living room while moving everyone else to the kitchen as officers executed a search warrant. Mr. Porter, 25, said the pair performed a full body-cavity search but found nothing. He said that then he was sodomized with a plunger handle.

Police Chief Robert Olson said marijuana was found during the raid. Mr. Porter was booked and then contacted jail authorities to say he had been assaulted, Mr. Olson said.

ALASKA

Judge strikes down teen abortion law

ANCHORAGE — A Superior Court judge struck down a state law requiring unmarried girls younger than 17 to get a parent’s or a judge’s permission to have an abortion.

Judge Sen Tan’s ruling called the law unconstitutional, saying all Alaskans have an equal right to make personal decisions.

COLORADO

Police officer cleared in fatal shooting

DENVER — A police officer who fatally shot an emotionally disturbed teenager will not face criminal charges because the officer believed the boy was a threat to his family and police, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Evidence in the July 5 shooting was not sufficient to convict, and Officer James Turney reasonably believed he was in imminent danger, District Attorney Bill Ritter said.

Officer Turney was among the officers who responded to a 911 call saying the boy was trying to stab someone. Paul Childs, 15, was holding a knife in the house doorway when he was shot. Officer Turney said the boy had refused to drop the knife.

Paul required medication for seizures and behavior problems, and also had impaired vision.

Last year, Officer Turney was one of two officers who shot a partially deaf 18-year-old after he pulled out a pocket knife.

CONNECTICUT

Gems swallowed by suspect

MILFORD — A robbery suspect was digesting the consequences of his actions after a jewelry-store heist went awry. A man swallowed several diamonds as he fled from a Zales Jewelers store with $40,000 in jewels, police said.

After jumping off a three-story building in an effort to elude police, he was taken to a hospital, where X-rays revealed a bellyful of gems. The man broke his pelvis but was expected to recover.

FLORIDA

Obese man stuck in mobile home

NEW PORT RICHEY — A reportedly 400-pound man who became trapped in his mobile home when the floor gave way was rescued Wednesday by emergency responders.

“He was pretty much sitting in between the floor joists and couldn’t get up,” James Higgins, a Pasco County Fire Rescue battalion chief, told the St. Petersburg Times.

The manager of the mobile-home park said the man, 61, told him he had been stuck for two days. The manager called 911 when he found the man.

IDAHO

Calendar raises funds for homeless shelter

MOSCOW — Some prominent local hunks are doing a little posing to raise a little bread for the local homeless shelter.

“How many 78-year-old guys get to pose for a calendar?” asked Bob Curtis, the radio voice for University of Idaho Vandal sports. “I think it’s a great cause.”

Along with Mr. Curtis, the local newspaper publisher and a state representative appear in a calendar that will be sold to raise money for the Sojourner Alliance, which recently was notified that it lost an $80,000 federaloperating grant.

KANSAS

Boy, 9, killed in school bus crash

SHIELDS — A tractor-trailer carrying sand collided with a school bus in western Kansas Wednesday, killing a 9-year-old boy and seriously injuring three other students, police said.

Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Ron Knoefel said Joey Speerm died. Three other students — an eighth-grade girl, a fifth-grade boy and a fourth-grade girl — were airlifted to Wichita with serious to critical injuries, he said.

A fifth student and both drivers suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening and were hospitalized, he said.

KENTUCKY

Prosecutor apologizes for remark in court

PIKEVILLE — A federal prosecutor has apologized after angering eastern Kentucky residents by describing some potential jurors in the mountain region as “illiterate cave dwellers.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor offered the apology in a letter to the Appalachian News-Express of Pikeville to be published in today’s editions.

“The comment was not meant to be a regional slur,” Mr. Taylor said. “To the extent that it was misinterpreted to be one, I apologize.”

Mr. Taylor had made the remark in his effort to persuade a judge not to move the high-profile election-fraud trial of former state Sen. John Doug Hays and several of his supporters back to Pikeville from London, about 90 miles west.

Pretrial publicity has been so rampant in the region, Mr. Taylor said in a court document, that many potential jurors in the Pikeville area would have to be disqualified because they have formed opinions. “All that would remain to try the case would be illiterate cave dwellers.”

U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell said Mr. Hays and co-defendant Ross Harris, a Pike County coal operator have made lots of friends and enemies in the Pikeville area and would be more likely to receive a fair trial in London.

LOUISIANA

Stomach bug hits cruise ship

NEW ORLEANS — A stomach virus outbreak sickened 120 passengers and crew members aboard a Carnival Cruise Line excursion to Mexico that ended here yesterday.

Passengers began showing up in the cruise ship Holiday’s infirmary two days into a five-day cruise to Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel, with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. By Wednesday, 79 of 1,670 passengers and 41 of 660 crew members had become ill, said cruise line spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz.

Dave Forney, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vessel sanitation program, said that 5 percent of the passengers and 2 percent of the crew were ill.

MISSISSIPPI

Governor supports buyout of paper mill

NATCHEZ — The state will support the efforts of former employees to buy International Paper’s Natchez mill, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said. The plant closed in July, leaving about 640 people out of work.

Mr. Musgrove agreed to ask the state Legislature to issue a $20 million loan to help fund the venture, provided certain conditions are met, including local matching funds.

MONTANA

Bus service reduces drunken driving

MISSOULA — A bus service supported by a $2 rise in student fees is now offering free rides between the University of Montana campus and the town’s bar district.

University officials said 3,600 students rode the bus during a test period last spring, and no drunken-driving arrests occurred during the service’s peak time. That success prompted the purchase of a used transit bus for $44,000.

NEBRASKA

Neighbors sue over purple house

OMAHA — In a neighborhood where most homes are plain brick or brown, Andy and Amy McAuliffe’s purple palace stands out — so much so that the neighbors are taking them to court.

The Hillsborough Homeowners Association is suing the McAuliffes, contending they violated the northwest Omaha neighborhood’s covenants when they changed the house’s color from gray to purple.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the McAuliffes to repaint their house to look like the others in the neighborhood.

“We’re not trying to be the arbitrators of good taste here, but that house sticks out like a sore thumb. In this case, it’s egregious,” said Larry Beasley, who handles covenant complaints for the association.

Speaking on behalf of the McAuliffes, attorney John Grant said the couple have no plans of painting their house again until it needs a new coat.

NEW YORK

Water-main break floods streets

NEW YORK — A water-main break flooded the streets of Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights section yesterday and forced the closing of the lower level of the George Washington Bridge.

The break happened around midday near the entrance to the bridge, which connects the city to New Jersey.

Several feet of water cascaded down Amsterdam Avenue, flooding businesses and apartments.

OHIO

Court limits credit in juvenile sentences

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that juvenile offenders’ time in rehabilitation or treatment centers doesn’t always count toward their sentences.

The justices ruled that credit can be granted only for treatment while awaiting a decision or execution of a court order related to the delinquency case.

PENNSYLVANIA

Guards, inmates face smuggling charges

WILKES-BARRE — Three guards and two inmates at the jail where a serial-killing suspect made a daring escape last week were charged yesterday in a drug-smuggling probe.

The five were arraigned yesterday at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. The guards were charged with bribery, marijuana possession and contraband violations, and the inmates were charged with marijuana possession. One inmate was also charged with attempted escape from a hospital gurney.

The guards are accused of taking payments of $50 to $200 from a state police informant to deliver marijuana to inmates last month, the police affidavit said.

Hugo Selenski, who is charged with killing two suspected drug dealers whose bodies were among five found on his property in June, and his cellmate escaped the seventh-floor maximum security unit Friday by breaking out a window and climbing down about 60 feet of knotted sheets.

Selenski turned himself in Monday.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Man dies avoiding approaching train

CLEMSON — Christopher Nabors, 27, died after jumping from a bridge to avoid an approaching train.

Mr. Nabors was taking a shortcut across Lake Hartwell, police said. Witnesses said Mr. Nabors surfaced after the 50-foot leap, trying to swim, but went back under.

TEXAS

Birth defects center to open in Dallas

DALLAS — A new research center at a university hospital will be the nation’s first dedicated solely to preventing and seeking cures for birth defects.

The center, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, was created with $1 million from the March of Dimes and $2 million in private donations.

It will be led by Dr. Deepak Srivastava, a Dallas pediatric cardiologist, and Carole Mendelson, a professor of biochemistry, obstetrics and gynecology, March of Dimes and school officials said Tuesday.

Dr. Srivastava’s research on birth defects as well as a long-standing relationship between the March of Dimes and the university weighed heavily in the decision to put the center in Dallas, said Jennifer Howse, March of Dimes president.

The university’s medical campus is an ideal location for the center because of its related research in children’s cancer, developmental biology and reproductive biology, university President Kern Wildenthal said at a reception for dignitaries and contributors.

UTAH

Man sentenced for Olympics explosion

SALT LAKE CITY — A former power company worker who admitted setting off a bomb that knocked out a substation during last year’s Winter Olympics was sentenced o four years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson also ordered Vince R. Rogers to pay $25,000 restitution to the utility.

The sentence was based on an August plea deal in exchange for Rogers’ cooperation with prosecutors. The maximum sentence for destruction of an energy facility is 20 years.

On Feb. 24, 2002, the last day of the games, Rogers set off a homemade bomb at the substation, causing as much as $217,000 damage. The blast caused widespread power outages, sparked a fire at a nearby oil refinery.

Rogers told authorities he was mad at the utility in part because of a dispute over nearby fields where he pastured cattle. Utah Power had ordered Rogers to remove the cattle days before the explosion.

WASHINGTON

Lesbian doctor appeals ‘divorce’ ruling

SPOKANE — An appeals court is being urged to throw out a lower court ruling that would force a doctor to split assets 50-50 with her lesbian former partner, just as a divorcing couple must.

Though Washington state doesn’t recognize same-sex “marriage,” Yakima County Superior Court Judge Heather Van Nuys had ruled in November that the 10-year relationship between physician Julia Robertson and nurse Linda Gormley was “sufficiently marriage-like to provide equitable relief” when the couple broke up in 1998.

Judge Van Nuys said the relationship between Dr. Robertson and Miss Gormley had been an “intimate domestic partnership” that allowed both women the same community property rights given to a husband and wife in a divorce.

Dr. Robertson, who made significantly more money than her lover, appealed the ruling.

Dr. Robertson’s attorney, Bryan Myre, argued before the appeals panel that the doctor and Miss Gormley never signed an agreement to divide their assets equally.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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