- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2003

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Man grows record-setting pumpkin

HENNIKER — It’s the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown. At 1,458 pounds, Bruce Whittier believes he has grown a world-record pumpkin.

About 50 friends and neighbors turned out for the weigh-in Tuesday, with 20 of the onlookers helping lift the pumpkin onto the scale. “It’s not official, but I think it could get into the Guinness book,” said Mr. Whittier, a 54-year-old log buyer for a Henniker sawmill.

Mr. Whittier planted the seed on April 26, grew it indoors and transferred the pumpkin into the garden on May 17. The current Guinness world record for largest pumpkin is one weighing 1,131 pounds and grown from Atlantic Giant seed stock by Gerry Checkon of Altoona, Pa.

PENNSYLVANIA

Couple to perform ‘the Wedding’

PHILADELPHIA — Appearing at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival for one show only, artists Megan Bridge and Peter Price will present a cutting-edge collaborative performance examining the concepts of community, tradition and identity in the postmodern era.

In other words, they are getting married. Blurring the boundaries between life and art, the couple will take the stage and tie the knot before invited family and friends, fellow artists and paying ticket holders tomorrow in what they are calling a “collaborative multimedia performance ritual.”

The idea that took shape after the June 2002 engagement of composer-videographer Mr. Price, 36, and dancer-choreographer Miss Bridge, 24, became what is now being billed simply as “the Wedding.”

ALABAMA

Firetruck catches fire, burns down station

IDER — A firetruck that had just returned from the scene of a blaze caught fire itself at its station, destroying the building and the vehicle.

The engine of the truck had been turned off, but a gasoline leak or other malfunction caused a fire under the hood, firefighter Brad Hannah said.

Ider, a town of 670 in the rural northeast corner of the state, has two other firetrucks. Assistant Fire Chief Ronnie Cloud said yesterday. Those trucks were out on calls during the fire.

ARIZONA

Cave dweller banned from forest

FLAGSTAFF — A man was evicted from a cave in which he had lived for 11 years after pleading guilty to using a national forest for residential purposes.

Thomas J. Crawford had a bed, books and clothes arranged on hangers, along with pots and cutlery for cooking in his cave in the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona.

He was arrested Friday after a Flagstaff resident reported a suspicious camp.

Mr. Crawford pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday and was sentenced to one year of probation and banned from the forest.

CONNECTICUT

Man sues cop who shot him

HARTFORD — Elvin Gonzalez, who was wounded while fleeing police in January, is suing the officer who shot him.

A month after the shooting, Officer Robert Murtha was arrested on assault charges. A police video of the incident, which showed him firing into the vehicle as it drove off, contradicted his story.

Mr. Gonzalez, 22, claims he can’t use his left arm.

GEORGIA

Inmate sues prison over spiders

DAVISBORO — An inmate is suing the prison where she is serving a 10-year sentence for burglary and aggravated assault because she says the facility is infested with spiders.

Marcia Wall’s lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta says she and other inmates at the Washington State Prison here have been bitten repeatedly by spiders and that medical officials have denied them proper treatment.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Scheree Lipscomb would not comment on the lawsuit, but said the 1,000-bed prison is fumigated once a month by a pest control company.

Wall and other inmates want prison officials to seal faulty window screens, clean up webs around the prison grounds and take their medical claims seriously.

ILLINOIS

Ex-owner of gun apologizes in slayings

CHICAGO — A homeless man who was the original owner of a handgun used in a workplace shooting that left seven persons dead apologized for his connection to the killings.

Milton Beuck, 58, apologized during a Tuesday court appearance where he pleaded guilty to failing to keep records of a 1994 transfer of the semiautomatic pistol to a Chicago police officer.

Beuck was sentenced to a year of court supervision.

Salvador Tapia used the weapon to shoot and kill six former co-workers at Windy City Core Supply on Aug. 27. He then died in a gunbattle with police.

KANSAS

Official seeks closure of tribe’s casino

KANSAS CITY — The state attorney general said Tuesday he asked the National Indian Gaming Commission to close a downtown casino opened by an American Indian tribe more than a week ago.

The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma did not complete the process to gain approval from the gaming commission, said Attorney General Phill Kline. He also said the tribe violated federal law by modifying a historical landmark.

Mr. Kline wants the tribe to provide evidence of building modifications and allow his investigators to inspect the facility. If it does not comply by Sept. 18, he plans to file a civil lawsuit.

The attorney also threatened to sue the federal government if the Indian Gaming Commission does not investigate whether the tribe followed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act when it opened the casino. Mr. Kline gave the commission until Oct. 10 to meet his request.

MASSACHUSETTS

AAA, victim’s family reach settlement

BOSTON — The AAA reached a settlement yesterday with the family of a woman who was murdered in 1999 after accepting a ride from a stranger. The terms were not disclosed.

The settlement with the auto club was reached on the third day of trial in a lawsuit brought by the family of Melissa Gosule, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher.

Miss Gosule’s car broke down on Cape Cod in 1999, and her stepfather contacted AAA. A tow-truck driver for AAA arrived and told Miss Gosule he was busy and would not be able to take her or her car back to Boston for three or four hours. Rather than wait, she accepted a ride from a stranger, who raped her and fatally stabbed her.

Miss Gosule’s family had sought unspecified damages, claiming she died because AAA did not provide the kind of emergency service it promises its members.

MINNESOTA

Diocese discloses number of complaints

WINONA — Forty-eight complaints of sexual abuse of minors have been filed against 13 priests during the past 50 years, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona disclosed in its first public report on the subject.

The diocese’s insurance companies have paid $3.7 million in abuse settlements during the past 15 years. Of that amount, $3.5 million was paid before 1993 in a case against “one accused perpetrator.”

MISSOURI

Teen hit in head with skateboard dies

ST. LOUIS — A teenager who challenged a schoolmate to hit him in the head with a skateboard died yesterday, and the other boy was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Michael Aubuchon, 15, died after being removed from life support four days after his skull was fractured.

The name of the 14-year-old boy accused of delivering the blow was not released.

Michael was attending a carnival Saturday at a church when he hit himself on the forehead at least twice with his skateboard, then bragged that he could take hard blows to the head, investigators said. Michael handed his skateboard to another boy and encouraged the teen to hit him.

MONTANA

Prison misplaces inmate’s parole request

HELENA — Montana State Prison officials misplaced a dying inmate’s request for medical parole, a yearlong oversight that left Roy Link behind bars where his medical costs have mounted.

Although the prison’s medical director said Link should be considered for early release because of his failing health, that recommendation never made it to the desk of Warden Mike Mahoney or the state Board of Pardons and Parole for review, said Cheryl Bolton, Mr. Mahoney’s administrative officer.

Prison officials have since changed the way they handle inmates’ requests for early release because of medical condition, hoping to prevent such applications from getting lost or forgotten.

A new application for Link, serving a 25-year sentence for helping his sister murder their stepfather in 1996, has been prepared and is expected to be before the warden this week.

NEBRASKA

Confidence vote on chancellor canceled

LINCOLN — The University of Nebraska at Lincoln Faculty Assembly canceled a vote of no confidence on Chancellor Harvey Perlman.

The vote had been requested by one of eight tenured faculty to be laid off because of budget cuts.

In an earlier vote, 89.3 percent of the faculty supported Mr. Perlman.

NEW YORK

New York Times names standards editor

NEW YORK — The New York Times editor who led the internal investigation into the Jason Blair plagiarism scandal has been appointed the paper’s first standards editor.

Allan M. Siegal, who retains his title of assistant managing editor, will oversee the creation of new guidelines for the use of anonymous sources, bylines and datelines, the newspaper said yesterday.

The position was the recommendation of a committee led by Mr. Siegal that examined policies at the Times in the wake of the scandal.

NORTH CAROLINA

Navy landing field to be in rural county

RALEIGH — The Navy said yesterday it has chosen to place a practice landing field for FA-18 Super Hornet fighting jets in a rural county where farmers and others oppose it.

It announced the “outlying landing field,” or OLF, plan for Washington County in eastern North Carolina when it published in the Federal Register its decision to locate two squadrons of the jets in the area. The Navy will place 120 of the $45 million jets at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, and 24 at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

RHODE ISLAND

Track officials indicted in bribery scheme

PROVIDENCE — Top officials of a dog track schemed to bribe a law firm headed by a former state House speaker in a bid for permission to install more gambling machines, a federal indictment claims.

A 22-count federal indictment handed up Tuesday named Daniel Bucci, chief executive officer of the Lincoln Park track, and Nigel Potter, CEO of Wembley PLC, Lincoln Park’s British parent company. The companies issued a statement yesterday saying the two men are taking leaves of absence.

Prosecutors said the scheme involved proposed payments of $4.5 million over six years to a Pawtucket law firm where state Rep. John Harwood, a Democrat who represents Pawtucket, is a partner. Prosecutors say the scheme was concocted in 2000 and 2001, when Mr. Harwood, who was not charged, was House speaker.

The indictment claims the defendants wanted Mr. Harwood and other public officials to influence the state Lottery Commission to approve additional video lottery terminals at the park.

TEXAS

Ex-prosecutor found dead in apparent suicide

SOUR LAKE — A former federal prosecutor who successfully defended the government in a lawsuit filed by surviving Branch Davidians was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

A police officer found the body of former U.S. Attorney J. Michael Bradford on Tuesday after checking on an abandoned car in a wooded area near Sour Lake, about 20 miles from Beaumont.

In 2000, Mr. Bradford defeated the $675 million wrongful-death lawsuit brought by surviving Branch Davidians and family members after the fiery end to the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco in 1993.

UTAH

Mentally ill man pleads guilty in mother’s death

SALT LAKE CITY — A plea bargain struck with mentally ill man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter yesterday means he could spend the rest of his life in custody.

Leonard Preston Gall, 27, told the judge he has been diagnosed with manic depression and schizophrenia. Gall admitted he killed his mother in 2001 with a hatchet.

Gall has been taking a variety of medication since his arrest. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in March on the manslaughter charge, and up to 15 years on a theft charge.

In addition, 3rd District Court Judge Judith Atherton found Gall not guilty by reason of insanity to a charge of aggravated burglary for breaking into his mother’s home before the slaying. The insanity finding means Gall will be under court supervision for life and could be returned to a mental hospital after his release from prison.

WEST VIRGINIA

Car dealer to seek GOP gubernatorial nod

CHARLESTON — Republican Dan Moore, an automobile dealer and former banker, announced he will run for governor in 2004.

He joins four others who plan to seek the Republican nomination. Former Sen. Lloyd Jackson and Secretary of State Joe Manchin III are the front-runners among five Democratic candidates.

Gov. Bob Wise, a Democrat, announced last month he wouldn’t seek re-election.

WISCONSIN

Disc jockey goes for marathon record

WAUKESHA — Carroll College student Rey Monis stayed awake for more than five days — and it wasn’t even finals week.

The senior disc jockey at the college’s radio station was broadcasting nonstop for 104.5 hours. He hopes to get into the Guinness Book of Records, which lists the current DJ marathon mark at 103.5 hours, set in October 2001 in Stockholm.

Known to listeners as “Doctor Worm,” the 21-year-old business major from Lombard, Ill., began his marathon at 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Mr. Monis said he stayed awake by enjoying the music, dancing, eating occasionally and drinking water and Gatorade. He also felt re-energized by passing supporters.

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