- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Man accused in killings gets life

PORT ALLEN — A man accused of killing seven women was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without parole in the first of a series of scheduled trials.

Derrick Todd Lee, 35, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Geralyn Barr DeSoto. He received the mandatory sentence after Judge Robin Free heard testimony from her relatives.

Police say Lee is linked by DNA evidence to the deaths of seven women in Louisiana from April 1998 to March 2003. He has been charged in two other killings — both death-penalty cases.


Mine shafts challenge firefighters

FRENCH GULCH — Crews battling a growing wildfire that tore through this old mining town in Northern California faced extra challenges yesterday as the flames headed into rugged terrain filled with open mine shafts and rattlesnakes.

The blaze broke out Saturday afternoon and had grown to 9,010 acres yesterday after sweeping through French Gulch, in the mountains about 19 miles west of Redding. It destroyed 22 homes and two commercial buildings in the town during the weekend.

Fire officials predicted that the fire would not be fully contained until Friday.


Spacecraft spots new Saturn moons

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spied two previously unknown moons around satellite-rich Saturn, the space agency said yesterday.

Saturn’s tally of known moons now stands at 33.

The images were taken by Cassini on June 1 from 10 million miles out as it approached the ringed planet. The spacecraft entered orbit around Saturn on June 30.

The two faint moons are about two miles and 2 miles across, and 120,000 miles and 131,000 miles, respectively, from Saturn’s center. They are considerably smaller than the moons with 12-mile diameters previously discovered in Saturn’s orbit.


Recycling plant accused of pollution

DUBLIN — The Altamaha River is being polluted by a recycling plant, environmental volunteers say. James Holland, a member of the Altamaha Riverkeeper, sued SP Newsprint for sending plastic trash into the river.

The paper company insists it is working to reduce accidental release of plastic bags and says it is complying with state pollution standards.


Comic-book store wins top prize

SIOUX CITY — Like a persistent superhero, a comic-book store here has avenged two close defeats to claim the industry’s top prize.

Acme Comics & Collectibles recently captured the 2004 Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, given to the industry’s best bookstore of the year.

Owners Kevin and Fran McGarry, who had been runners-up for the honor for the past two years, are marveling at the accomplishment, awarded at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego late last month.

Their small independent store carries comic books and graphic novels from 79 publishers, including industry giants Marvel and DC Comics as well as small independents.

The McGarrys said they erred in the two previous competitions by failing to highlight their vast selection in their video entries to the contest. They didn’t make the same mistake in this year’s video, in which they ticked off more than 50 publishers in a matter of minutes.


West Nile dangerous for immune-suppressed

CHICAGO — Organ transplant recipients are at particular risk of developing serious complications from West Nile virus because they take pills to suppress their immune systems, a study said yesterday.

Immune-suppression drugs are routinely prescribed for the 25,000 Americans a year who receive a transplanted organ, making them more vulnerable to the mosquito-borne infection, according to the study, published in the Archives of Neurology.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver monitored 11 transplant patients who contracted West Nile virus in the summer of 2003 and found that 10 of them developed meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain and a membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Two died, and three others developed long-term health problems.


Diocese to start support group

WICHITA — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita says it will establish an ecumenical support group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

The diocesan review board has met with the Link-Up, a national advocacy organization for victims of clergy sexual abuse. No timetable has been set for starting the group.


Twins moved into separate rooms

NEW YORK — Formerly conjoined 2-year-old twins Carl and Clarence Aguirre now have even more space between them — they are in separate rooms.

Clarence was moved as a precaution against infections, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center announced yesterday.

The 2-year-old Filipino twins, connected at their heads, underwent a massive separation surgery Aug. 4. The move to different rooms is intended to make it easier to care for the increasingly active boys, as well as to keep any infection from transmitting from one child to the other.

On Sunday, David Staffenberg, one of the two lead surgeons on the boys’ medical team, said the brothers were recovering at “lightning” speed.


Backward newspaper honors left-handers

BROKEN BOW — Custer County Chief publisher Deb McCaslin acknowledged that her newspaper, at least for a week, was leftist — but not in the way most critics might presume.

The weekly Chief was printed backward last week so the front page opened to the left instead of the right as do most periodicals.

She said the newspaper matched the edition to International Left-Handers Day.

In addition to a story on products for left-handers on the shelves of stores in Broken Bow, the newspaper listed famous people who were southpaws.

She said many people called to say they enjoyed the edition.


Electricity will run to top of mount

MOUNT WASHINGTON — Electricity and fiber-optic communications are coming to the top of Mount Washington, the Northeast’s highest peak and the site of some of the world’s worst weather.

Engineers will run the transmission line near the Mount Washington Cog Railway. The line will replace kerosene generators for the weather observatory and a National Park Service building at the summit.


Descendants reunite to mark expedition

FORT CLATSOP — Inside tiny Fort Clatsop, they were together again. The Lewises were there. So were the Clarks, the Floyds, and the Charbonneaus, the Gass family, the Whiteheads and more.

Or at least their DNA was, some diluted across generations, some of it rock-solid.

Descendants of the members of the Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discovery gathered during the weekend on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the western terminus of the voyage where the party of 33 spent the miserable 1805-06 winter.

The reunion coincided with the three-year-long bicentennial commemoration of the journey. Participants came from as nearby small towns and from as far as China and Nigeria.

Of the 740 persons at the weekend reunion, 167 were descendants of Sgt. Patrick Gass or of his close relatives.

“He lived to be 99, and I would have loved to have met him,” said Sandra Shakel, a great-great-granddaughter who lives in Placitas, N.M.


Schools to start testing for drugs

HOUSTON — Schools across Texas are adding random drug testing and increased locker inspections this year, officials say. At least three school districts in the Houston area will begin random drug testing this year.

One company that provides testing for Texas schools has signed up nearly 30 districts across the state.

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