- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2003


Brain damage found in stricken governor

CHICAGO — Doctors saw some evidence of brain damage in Indiana Gov. Frank L. O’Bannon, a hospital spokeswoman said yesterday, a day after Mr. O’Bannon suffered a massive stroke.

With the 73-year-old governor in a drug-induced coma and on a ventilator, doctors said that the next day or two would be critical.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Kelly Sullivan said that doctors saw reflex movement that indicated brain damage. “It’s too soon to tell exactly the extent of the damage,” she said.

Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan assumed Mr. O’Bannon’s duties as acting governor. “I would just ask all Hoosiers to join hands and say a prayer,” he said.


Governor unveils commandments

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley opened an exhibit at the Capitol yesterday that included a small plaque of the Ten Commandments, keeping a promise to supporters of a massive granite monument removed by court order from the state judicial building.

The plaque was given to Mr. Riley by supporters of the 2-ton Ten Commandments monument.

“Just as the Ten Commandments are exhibited in similar displays in the U.S. Supreme Court and in our nation’s Capitol building, I feel it is important to display them in our Capitol, as well,” the Republican said in a statement.

Mr. Riley and Attorney General Bill Pryor added the other historical documents, including the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, to make the panel display more legally defensible than the granite monument that sat alone in the judicial building’s rotunda, the governor’s spokesman said.


Father chases off armed intruders

WASILLA — Two young men apparently looking for marijuana broke into a Wasilla-area home this weekend and held three children at gunpoint before being chased off by the children’s father, Alaska state troopers said.

The family was shaken up but unharmed during the house invasion, police said. The home contained no marijuana plants, but the father, Johnnie Wallace, said the landlord told him a previous tenant was kicked out for growing dope.

The children held at gunpoint included a 14-year-old girl, her 5-year-old brother and their 1-year-old sister.

Mr. Wallace told the Anchorage Daily News that he and his wife were sleeping when two men broke in about 11 a.m.

One suspect pointed a handgun while the other suspect ran to the basement, where he rummaged around apparently looking for a secret room, police said. About that time, Mr. Wallace heard his son crying. He chased the men off.


Mother convicted of killing infant

RIVERSIDE — A woman whose baby overdosed on methamphetamine contained in the mother’s breast milk was convicted of murder Monday.

During the three-week trial of Amy Leanne Prien, 31, witnesses testified about her uncontrollable appetite for methamphetamine, a highly addictive and illegal stimulant. Witnesses also said Prien’s home was a den for drug users and dealers.

Her 3-month-old son, Jacob Wesley Smith, was found dead in the home Jan. 19, 2002.

Defense attorney Stephen Yagman said he would appeal, adding there was no evidence that the baby ingested the drug through the breast milk.

Prien, who has three other children, was found guilty of second-degree murder and four counts of child endangerment. She also was convicted of four counts of misdemeanor drug possession.


Promise Keepers president resigning

DENVER — Bill McCartney announced yesterday that he is resigning as president of Promise Keepers, the evangelical Christian men’s organization he founded 13 years ago.

Mr. McCartney, a former University of Colorado football coach, said he would step down Oct. 1 to care for his ailing wife and to spend more time with his family.

The announcement came during the organization’s quarterly board meeting. Mr. McCartney had been on a leave of absence to care for his wife, Lyndi, who has a severe respiratory illness.

“The ministry of Promise Keepers is not finished; it is needed now more than ever,” he said in a statement.


$50 million jackpot goes unclaimed

MIAMI — It’s too late. It was a lottery ticket worth $50 million and somebody had it in their pocket and didn’t claim it and now it’s too late.

Florida lottery officials say the person who bought a quick pick ticket at a Miami-area food market for the March 12 draw let the 180-day deadline pass yesterday.

“Somebody didn’t get their $50 million,” lottery spokeswoman Sheila Griffin said. “There is no second chance.”

It was the largest of 19 unclaimed jackpots in the 15-year history of the Florida Lottery. Winners have missed out on nearly $123 million.

“Our thought is that it was someone who was on vacation who went home and never checked their numbers,” Miss Griffin said.

The $50 million returns to the lottery, which uses it for special promotions that ultimately boost sales, Miss Griffin said.

The winning numbers were 22-23-35-45-50-53.


Escaping inmate falls through ceiling

DECATUR — An inmate found himself before a judge sooner than he expected when he fell through the courthouse ceiling into the judge’s chambers while trying to escape, police said.

Ben N. Rogozensky, 31, was one of about a dozen inmates awaiting hearings Monday when he was taken to the empty jury room to speak with his attorney.

The inmate asked to go into the adjacent restroom and from there climbed into the ceiling crawl space, DeKalb County sheriff’s spokeswoman Mikki Jones said.

State Court Judge J. Antonio DelCampo was in the courtroom when the barefoot Rogozensky fell through the ceiling and landed near the judge’s desk in his chambers.

A technician who was fixing the judge’s computer called for security officers, who grabbed Rogozensky in the hallway.

Rogozensky was arrested Sept. 2 and charged with obstruction of officers and giving false information.


Honor medal veteran dies at 81

HONOLULU — Yukio “Yuki” Okutsu, a World War II veteran whose Distinguished Service Cross award later was upgraded to a Medal of Honor, died Aug. 24. He was 81.

Born and raised in Koloa, Kauai, Mr. Okutsu was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, said his son, Wayne Okutsu. He spent 18 months in combat in Italy, where he used grenades and his submachine gun to neutralize three German machine-gun positions on Mount Belvedere on April 7, 1945.

Mr. Okutsu was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and returned to Kauai in December 1945. He donated the medal to the Kauai Museum.

In 2000, Mr. Okutsu’s Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to a Medal of Honor after Congress ordered the Army to review its records to see whether anti-Japanese sentiment during the war prevented the soldiers from getting full recognition.


Settlement reached in sex-abuse cases

BOSTON — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has agreed to pay $85 million to settle hundreds of lawsuits filed by people who say they were sexually abused by priests, lawyers representing the plaintiffs said yesterday.

The deal, reached after secret weekend talks involving Archbishop Sean O’Malley, would be the largest known sexual-abuse settlement in the history of the Catholic Church in America.

“The deal has been signed, the deal has been sealed,” said Marcia Brier, a spokeswoman for the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which represents about 260 of the roughly 540 plaintiffs who brought clergy sexual-abuse claims against the church.

Under the proposed settlement, each victim will receive between $80,000 and $300,000, depending on the degree of abuse endured, she said.

Miss Brier said in order to finalize the deal, attorneys would first present it to Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney, the judge who has been overseeing the clergy sex-abuse lawsuits.


Teenager hurt in skateboard assault

MARYLAND HEIGHTS — A 14-year-old boy was charged with assault after he took another teenager’s challenge to hit him on the head with a skateboard, leaving the boy in critical condition with a serious brain injury, police said.

Police said an unidentified 15-year-old boy hit himself on the forehead with his own skateboard at a carnival Saturday and bragged it didn’t hurt. He then challenged five peers to hit him as well, saying he could withstand the blow.

The boy who took him up on the offer was charged with second-degree assault and was being held in a juvenile detention facility.

The older boy suffered a cracked skull and serious brain injury, police said.


Ribbon-cutting held for toilet

HASTINGS — The Chamber of Commerce has held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an unusual structure — a toilet.

Harriet McFeely came dangerously close to losing her business — Country Meadows banquet facility — because it lacked two restrooms, as required by Hastings restaurant and zoning codes.

She said she didn’t think to check with the city about its zoning and restaurant rules. After years of battles, she raised enough money to add a new restroom to her catering business.

The Hastings Chamber of Commerce decided to celebrate the accomplishment by holding a ribbon-cutting in front of the restroom Monday.

“We’re having fun,” Chamber President Tom Hastings said. “She was able to work out an agreement with the city … which shows that things work out as long as you work together.”


Ceiling collapses, injuring worker

BUFFALO — A ceiling on the top floor of a building being renovated in downtown Buffalo collapsed yesterday, injuring a construction worker. He was trapped in the rubble for more than an hour.

A demolition crew was using an excavator to break down a wall on the top floor when part of the ceiling fell in, authorities said.

“I heard a hell of a noise. Immediately guys were screaming ‘Go get the police, go get somebody.’ So I ran down and got help,” said Mike Daruszka of Ellicott Maintenance, who was outside the building at the time.

Four workers got out safely. The trapped man was conscious and talking, Rural Metro Ambulance spokesman Mike Hughes said. He was later lowered from the building on firefighting equipment.

The six-story former hotel had been closed for 10 years and was being renovated as apartments, authorities said. Several blocks in downtown Buffalo were closed after the collapse.


Judge stays execution over use of drug

LUMBERTON — A county judge yesterday stayed the upcoming execution of a man accused of two killings, ruling that the courts should consider a defense contention that state executioners use an illegal drug.

Henry Lee Hunt was scheduled to die at 2 a.m. Friday. But Robeson County Judge Gary Locklear put the execution on indefinite hold, saying the state should review the use of potassium chloride, which stops the heart from beating.

Hunt’s defense attorneys argued that the state’s use of the drug violates a statute outlining what drugs are to be used in an execution. They said state law allows just two drugs — a lethal barbiturate and one that causes paralysis.

Judge Locklear denied a separate request for stay in which the defense claimed Hunt is innocent. The argument was based on an 1989 affidavit from a dead co-defendant who admitted to the 1984 killings and denied Hunt had a part in them.


City to sell house where Lincoln stayed

GETTYSBURG — The city has agreed to sell the home where Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before delivering the Gettysburg Address.

Gettysburg plans to sell the home to the National Park Service for $550,000.

“We’re looking at a substantial bill to rehabilitate it and no funding,” Gettysburg Borough Council President Ted Streeter said.

If the park service agrees to the deal, as appears likely, the Wills House will be renovated and converted to a museum focusing on Lincoln and the famous speech. The project is expected to cost $6.5 million.

The three-story brick house was built as a home and office by David Wills, a lawyer who provided shelter to the president before his Nov. 19, 1863, address.


High school bans cheerleaders’ skirts

ELMA — Hoping to ward off the distraction of bare adolescent thighs, Elma High School has banned its cheerleaders’ short skirts from hallways and classrooms.

The move has members of the cheerleading and drill teams, and their parents — some of whom wore similar skirts years ago — steaming.

“Elma has dropped back to the Dark Ages,” Kathy Shaw, whose daughter is on the drill team. “They are making our kids feel like they’re not nice girls when they are.”

For years, the brief blue-and-white skirts have been exempt from the dress code at this small town west of Olympia on days when the teams were scheduled to play. Now they will be allowed only at games and other performances — not in the hallways.

“What the high school decided is that the dress code would apply to everyone equally,” Elma School Superintendent Tami Hickle said. Officials from the high school itself would not comment.

From wire reports

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