- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2003

CALIFORNIA

Mistrial declared in police corruption case

OAKLAND — After four weary months of deliberations, the jury in one of Oakland’s biggest police corruption trials found three former officers not guilty of eight counts yesterday and said they were hopelessly deadlocked on the remaining 27 charges.

The judge declared a mistrial on the unresolved charges, bringing an end to a trial that started more than a year ago.



The former officers, who called themselves the “Riders” and worked the night shift in one of Oakland’s roughest areas, were charged with beating suspects, wrongfully accusing them of crimes, planting drugs and covering it all up by falsifying police reports.

TENNESSEE

Court says Vanderbilt can drop ‘Confederate’ from building

NASHVILLE — A judge ruled yesterday that Vanderbilt University can change the name of Confederate Memorial Hall to something it considers less inflammatory.

After Vanderbilt announced plans last fall to drop “Confederate” from the building’s name, the private university was sued by the Tennessee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whose $50,000 donation helped fund construction 70 years ago.

Irving Kilcrease ruled the university had fulfilled its contract obligations to the Confederate heritage group by mounting a plaque on the side of the building explaining the history of the donation.

ALASKA

Pilot grounded after alcohol detected

ANCHORAGE — The captain of a China Airlines passenger jet was barred from an Anchorage-to-New York flight after a breath test showed his blood-alcohol level was twice the limit for pilots, officials said Monday.

An airport screener smelled alcohol and found an open container of alcohol on the pilot. He was stopped before boarding an Airbus 340 jet last Thursday, said John Madden, a Transportation Safety Administration official.

A test administered by airport police showed a BAL of .087 percent, a spokeswoman for Ted Stevens Anchorage International said. The Federal Aviation Administration limit for pilots is .04 percent.

China Airlines suspended the pilot, whose name has not been made public, and the rest of the crew flew the plane out of Anchorage, the FAA said.

ARIZONA

Man convicted in death of Sikh

MESA — A man was convicted of murder yesterday in the slaying of a turbaned, bearded Sikh who prosecutors said was gunned down four days after the September 11 attacks because he was mistaken for an Arab.

The jury, which began deliberations late Monday, rejected Frank Silva Roque’s insanity defense. Roque, 44, could get the death penalty.

He was also found guilty of attempted murder, drive-by shooting and endangerment for two more racially motivated attacks.

Roque fatally shot Indian immigrant Balbir Singh Sodhi in front of the gas station he owned on Sept. 15, 2001. After killing Mr. Sodhi, Roque shot at another gas station, where the clerk was a man of Lebanese descent, and shot at the home of an Afghan family. No one else was hurt.

IDAHO

School turns trees into teaching tool

LEWISTON — The remote Elk City School in northern Idaho owns a 16-acre forest nearby that educates students about the flora and fauna living among the trees.

Now they are going to learn how forests are revived.

The school board has decided to harvest dead and dying trees and plant new ones. Like other areas of the Nez Perce National Forest, the school’s plot has been devastated by mountain pine bark beetles.

ILLINOIS

Cereal at young age raises diabetes risk

CHICAGO — Babies with a family history of diabetes who were introduced to cereals before or after the recommended age of 4 to 6 months had a higher risk of developing a precursor to the disease, researchers said yesterday.

Two teams of researchers — one from the University of Colorado at Denver and the other from the Diabetes Research Institute in Munich, Germany — produced similar findings in multiyear studies of at-risk children that were both published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

They found that infants at risk of diabetes who were fed fiber or rice cereals before they reached the recommended age of 4 months were four to five times more likely to develop an autoimmune response that destroys islet cells in the pancreas than babies introduced to cereal between 4 and 6 months old. The destruction of islet cells, which make insulin and other hormones, is thought to lead to Type I diabetes.

The Colorado study also indicated that infants not fed cereal until age seven months or later were also at higher risk for developing the disease precursor, study author Jill Norris wrote.

MINNESOTA

Cancer identified as leading death cause

MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time, cancer and not heart disease was the leading cause of death in Minnesota in 2000, according to data from death certificates.

The shift went almost unnoticed until state officials started analyzing data for a major cancer strategy conference this week.

MONTANA

Couple marry at gun show

GREAT FALLS — JoAnna Webber and Herb Dawson dated for seven years, but that didn’t stop them from having a shotgun wedding.

Miss Webber got fired up when Mr. Dawson sold her a holster at a gun show in Butte, so the couple got hitched Saturday at the Great Falls Gun and Antique Show.

The two travel to gun shows throughout the state, where Mr. Dawson sells weapons and Miss Webber sells jewelry.

Mr. Dawson, who is a historical architect for Yellowstone National Park, tells his shoppers they can buy a gun and apologize to their spouses later — maybe with some jewelry.

NEBRASKA

Library officials decry Patriot Act provision

OMAHA — Library officials in three of Nebraska’s largest cities want a provision in the federal USA Patriot Act eliminated.

Grand Island, Omaha and Lincoln library directors say part of the law overrules a state privacy protection law.

Carol Conner of Lincoln City Libraries says she isn’t reassured by the government’s statement that the power to view library records hasn’t been used.

NEVADA

Scholarship students take remedial classes

LAS VEGAS — One-third of Nevada’s fall 2002 Millennium Scholarship recipients had to take remedial classes in English and math once they began their college studies, officials said.

Millennium Scholarship qualifiers, who are awarded $10,000 in state aid, are considered the Nevada’s top scholars with overall high school grade-point averages of 3.0 or above on a 4-point scale.

NEW YORK

Man in sex stuntat cathedral dies

NEW YORK — A man who was to appear in court yesterday on charges of having sexual intercourse with his girlfriend inside St. Patricks Cathedral as part of a radio show stunt has died at his home in Virginia, his attorney said.

Brian Florence, 38, died Thursday of a heart attack in Alexandria, said the couples lawyer, Maranda Fritz. She said the funeral was Monday, and his co-defendant and girlfriend, Loretta Lynn Harper, 36, is “still in a state of shock.”

A third man involved in the case, radio producer Paul Mercurio, 43, pleaded guilty earlier in the day to disorderly conduct.

A police officer arrested the couple in a vestibule a few feet from worshippers shortly after hearing of the stunt live on the “Opie and Anthony Show” in August 2002. The antics resulted in WNEW-FM firing disc jockeys Greg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia.

NORTH CAROLINA

Homosexuality used in defense argument

RALEIGH — Lawyers for a convicted murderer urged Gov. Mike Easley yesterday to spare his life, saying prosecutors tried to inflame jurors with his homosexuality.

Edward Hartman, 38, is scheduled to be executed Friday.

“It is never acceptable and never OK when a prosecutor in a case tries to inject prejudice and discriminates,” defense attorney Edwin L. West III said.

Hartman admitted to the 1993 killing of Herman Smith Jr., a 77-year-old who took Hartman into his home.

Mr. Easley typically rules on clemency requests the day before the scheduled execution, and rarely comments before then.

OHIO

Rape victim jailed for not testifying

CINCINNATI — A woman was released from jail yesterday after spending five days locked up for repeatedly failing to show up in court to testify against a man accused of raping her.

The woman’s lawyer persuaded Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker to shorten the 10-day sentence and release her yesterday.

Charges were dismissed against Michael Lindsey, 25, after the woman’s second failure to appear to testify at trial. He was accused of raping the 33-year-old suburban Cincinnati woman July 8 in the woods near her home.

In citing the woman for contempt of court last week, Judge Dinkelacker said, “If victims don’t participate in the system, we don’t have justice.” The woman, who had missed a hearing as well as the two trial dates, told the judge that neighbors threatened her and her children, calling her a snitch.

PENNSYLVANIA

Thriller film director to make donation

PHILADELPHIA — Director M. Night Shyamalan has agreed to donate $1.5 million to help the South Philadelphia neighborhood that served as a backdrop to his hit thriller film “The Sixth Sense.” Mayor John Street says Philadelphia plans to add nearly the same amount.

The money will help rehabilitate 31 abandoned houses and vacant lots in a downtown section where parts of the 1999 film were shot.

TEXAS

Band leader explains Nazi flag show

DALLAS — A high school band director has apologized for a halftime performance that included Adolf Hitler’s anthem “Deutschland Uber Alles” and a student running across the field with a Nazi flag.

Charles Grissom, Paris High School’s band director, said his intention was to have a historical performance featuring the flags and music of the nations that fought during World War II.

The show, titled “Visions of World War II,” nearly caused a melee at Friday night’s football game at Dallas’ Hillcrest High School.

“We were booed,” Mr. Grissom said Monday. “We had things thrown at us. We were cursed.”

Mr. Grissom said he never intended to offend anyone, and he apologized repeatedly.

“We had an error in judgment,” Mr. Grissom told The Dallas Morning News in an interview published yesterday.

RHODE ISLAND

Potato Head statue returns home

NEWPORT — Mr. Potato Head was a little mashed and chipped, but otherwise in top shape when he returned home after being whisked away from his cushy estate.

Police said someone found the spud statue in a field. It was returned to owner James Leach over the weekend.

The 6-foot tall, 150-pound statue was stolen Friday from the driveway of a private estate. Mr. Leach called police when an alarm went off.

In 2000, the Rhode Island Tourism Division introduced the Mr. Potato Head figures to promote the state as a family tourist destination. After the advertising campaign, several of the statues were auctioned, with proceeds benefiting charity. Mr. Leach purchased the potato as a gift for his son.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Hunley crew won’t be in statehouse

CHARLESTON — The eight crewmen of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley will not lie in state at the South Carolina Statehouse, a lawmaker said.

Reports that the crew would be brought to the statehouse drew criticism from business and civil rights leaders who said it would be disrespectful to have Confederates honored in the building.

The burial is to be held April 17 at a cemetery in Charleston. Before the burial, the crew will lie in state for two days on board the USS Yorktown at a museum in Mount Pleasant.

The Hunley became the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship when it took down the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston on Feb. 17, 1864. The Hunley itself sank before returning to shore.

The submarine was raised and the sailors’ remains were recovered three years ago.

VERMONT

Truck rolls over, spills load of milk

PITTSFORD — Don’t try telling trucker Stewart Devino there’s no use crying over spilled milk.

Mr. Devino’s tractor-trailer hauling 58,000 pounds of milk — or 7,250 gallons — went off the highway over the weekend, spilling its load on the road.

Vermont State Police said Mr. Devino, 57, was driving a 2000 Mack tractor-trailer truck south on Route 7 when he saw a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the road ahead of him. Police said Mr. Devino hit his brakes and intentionally drove off the right side of the road into a field to avoid striking the rear of the other vehicle.

The tractor-trailer then rolled over onto its right side a few feet off the road. Much of the milk poured out of the tank, and flooded the field and a dirt driveway about 50 feet away.

WISCONSIN

Award thrown out in crane collapse

MADISON — A state appeals court yesterday threw out a $94 million punitive damage award to the families of three ironworkers killed when a crane collapsed during the construction of Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

The judges voted 2-1 that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America did not intentionally cause the three deaths, nor was its conduct certain to cause injury.

The court left intact a $27 million award for compensatory damages for the 1999 collapse.

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