Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Teen sues over prom dress

LEXINGTON — A 19-year-old is suing her eastern Kentucky school district for barring her from the Russell High School prom in May for wearing a homemade red dress styled as a large Confederate flag that it deemed potentially offensive.

Jacqueline Duty’s federal lawsuit says the Russell Independent Board of Education violated her First Amendment right to free speech and right to celebrate her heritage. She also is suing for defamation, false imprisonment and assault.

At a press conference on Monday, Miss Duty acknowledged that some might find the Confederate flag offensive, but said, “Everyone has their own opinion. But that’s not mine. I’m proud of where I came from and my background.”


Rescuers search for missing fishermen

NEW BEDFORD — The Coast Guard searched yesterday in high winds and freezing weather for five fishermen who were missing after their boat capsized and sank about 45 miles southeast of Nantucket.

The New Bedford-based Northern Edge, with six crew members, sent an emergency signal Monday afternoon. Shortly after, it sent a mayday saying the boat had overturned and was sinking.

Another fishing boat found crew member Pedro Furtado in a life raft Monday night. There was no sign of his crew mates, Coast Guard spokesman Andrew Shinn said.

Associated Press

Jacqueline Duty’s homemade prom dress fashioned after a Confederate battle flag got her barred from her senior prom.

Associated Press

A Coast Guardsman searched southeast of Nantucket, Mass., yesterday for possible survivors from a fishing boat that sank Monday.


Blake tape denies marriage difficulties

LOS ANGELES — In an unusual move, Robert Blake’s attorney had the former “Baretta” star testify on his own behalf yesterday during opening statements at his murder trial by airing a videotape of an old Barbara Walters interview.

The interview, which occurred while Mr. Blake was in jail, showed an emaciated, grim figure in an orange jail jumpsuit, his eyes rimmed in red as Mrs. Walters quizzed him about his relationship with his slain wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, and their baby, Rosie.

In the tape shown by defense lawyer M. Gerald Schwartzbach, Mrs. Walters asked whether Mr. Blake was having troubles in his marriage and had been planning to divorce Mrs. Bakley. Mr. Blake said he was trying to work things out with her.

“It’s about Rosie. From the second I touched Rosie, it’s all about her. The greatest gift in the world and I’m going to try to mess it up?”


Ex-banker: I saw image of Jesus

DENVER — Retired bank president Daniel Yohannes will never forget the time, 3:33 p.m. That’s when he looked up from his prayers and saw what appeared to be the face of Jesus.

“I wanted to make sure what I saw,” said Mr. Yohannes, who says he clearly saw the image Nov. 16 in a church banner hanging in St. Mary’s Anglican Catholic Church in Denver. “Then I immediately went to get Father Truitt.”

The Rev. Dewitt Truitt said he saw the image of a bearded figure, too. Actually, Father Truitt said he sees several renderings of a face, some overlapping, although he’s cautious about whose face it might be. Nevertheless, Father Truitt is enthusiastic enough that he’s placed the banner in new, museum-quality casing, according to the Rocky Mountain News.


Candy canes reach soldiers in Iraq

ALBANY — Bobs Candies, which bills itself as the world’s largest candy-cane maker, gets regular feedback from customers who relish the sweet taste of its candies at Christmas and the rest of the year.

But company officials were surprised when they received a letter from a combat soldier who said America’s traditional holiday candy is also a big hit with U.S. soldiers and the children of Iraq.

Mary Helen Dykes, secretary-treasurer of the privately held company, said she didn’t know how the soldiers got their first batch of Bobs candy canes, but after receiving the letter, the company sent 3,000 more to the soldiers in Iraq.


Minister dies after attack

WHITELAND — A 72-year-old minister died yesterday, two days after being attacked and choked in front of the altar by a man who called him “the devil,” police said.

The Rev. Bill McElroy of Missionary Baptist Church had been hospitalized since the attack, which took place as church members were arriving for Sunday services.

David J. Cooper, 40, was jailed on suspicion of attempted murder and other offenses. Police said the charges would be upgraded to murder. The two men had known each other for about 20 years, with the minister presiding at Mr. Cooper’s 1985 wedding, church members said.


Couple pay town’s electric bills

ANTHON — Home and business owners in this northwest Iowa town of 650 persons were a little shocked at the Christmas gift they got from retired farmer Richard Hamann and his wife, Donna.

The Hamanns doled out $25,000 to pay the town’s electricity bills — all due on Dec. 25.

Mr. Hamann, 75, sees the gift as returning a good deed. “The Lord has been very good to us, and so have the people of this community, so I always thought we ought to be doing something in return if we could,” he said Monday.

Residents said they were surprised and grateful. Beulah Sands, 64, a clerk at a local convenience store, said the Hamanns’ gift saved her more than $50.


Actor to be inducted into local hall of fame

GREENWOOD — Actor Morgan Freeman will be inducted into the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Fame at the annual February meeting.

Mr. Freeman is a Memphis native, but spent some of his early years in Greenwood. Gov. Haley Barbour is scheduled to deliver the meeting’s keynote address.


Probation upheld for drunken driver

LINCOLN — A Nebraska appeals court upheld with “great trepidation” yesterday a probation sentence given to a man with 11 drunken-driving convictions.

The Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Melvin Rice of Sioux City, Iowa, who was sentenced to three years of probation last year after a plea bargain reduced a 12th DUI charge against him to driving while his license was revoked.

District Judge Maurice Redmond waived a jail sentence of six months and instead fined Rice, 67, $1,000, revoked his license for 15 years, and ordered him to not drink, perform 200 hours of community service and complete alcohol treatment.

Prosecutor Edward H. Matney appealed, saying the sentence was too lenient.


Agency to accept towns’ marriages

NEW PALTZ — The Social Security Administration reversed course Monday and said it will accept marriage licenses issued from communities in New York and Oregon that briefly performed homosexual “marriages” earlier this year.

Effective immediately, the agency will accept legally issued marriage documents from Multnomah County, Ore., and New Paltz, N.Y., as evidence of identification on applications for new Social Security cards or to prove marriage for benefits purposes.

The agency had rejected all marriage certificates issued in the brief time that officials in those two communities illegally issued licenses to same-sex couples.


Reporter won’t appeal in contempt case

PROVIDENCE — A TV reporter sentenced to six months of home confinement for refusing to say who leaked him an FBI surveillance video will not appeal his conviction, his station said yesterday.

WJAR said 55-year-old Jim Taricani based his decision on concern for his health and a desire to put the matter behind him. He had a heart transplant in 1996 and takes medication daily.

Taricani was sentenced this month after being convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to say who gave him the tape of a city official taking a bribe.


Medic in Iraq posts online diary

KNOXVILLE — A medic with the 278th Regimental Combat Team is posting an online diary from Iraq.

Second Lt. Lance Frizzell of Murfreesboro says he hopes his blog, posted at, will ease the minds of unit members’ families and friends back home. About 3,000 members of the Tennessee Army National Guard are in the unit.


Car smashes into busy store

PUYALLUP —? A car smashed backward into a busy variety store, winding up about 150 feet inside and injuring seven persons, one seriously.

The 67-year-old driver put the 1980s-vintage Lincoln Town Car into reverse and rammed into the suburban Seattle store Monday, witnesses said. The driver and his wife were not hurt.

Deputies were looking into the driver’s statement that the vehicle had a mechanical problem, said sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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