- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

NEBRASKA

Escapee captured after gunfight

OMAHA — A prison inmate who escaped by brandishing a fake gun made of toilet paper, tape and black ink was captured four days later after a gunfight with police on a busy Omaha street.

No one was injured in the shootout Saturday, police said. Michael McGuire, 54, had been on the loose since overpowering two guards Tuesday in the state prison at Tecumseh. He was serving time on robbery, kidnapping and rape convictions.

Authorities were led to McGuire by a tip from a man who said the escaped inmate had held him in his apartment for three days, police Capt. Michael Butera said.

WYOMING

State awash in budget surplus

CHEYENNE — Political leaders in Wyoming have a dilemma their colleagues in many other states can only dream of: what to do with a projected $1.2 billion surplus.

Suggestions for lawmakers, who convene their budget session today, range from extra funds for schools and prisons to saving more money for a rainy day.

“It’s a phenomenal opportunity to do things that the state has only dreamed of for decades,” Gov. Dave Freudenthal said.

The unanticipated windfall — mainly the result of increased revenues from higher oil and natural gas prices — represents three-quarters of the state’s current General Fund spending.

CALIFORNIA

Jurors seek to halt execution

SAN DIEGO — Three jurors who convicted the man facing California’s first execution in two years stood outside a courthouse and urged that the execution be postponed.

The jurors held a press conference Saturday with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has helped attorneys and others in a ramped-up bid for clemency for Kevin Cooper.

Cooper, 46, used a hatchet, a knife and an ice pick to kill a couple, their 10-year-old daughter and the girl’s 11-year-old friend in 1983 after he escaped from a nearby prison. The couple’s 8-year-old son survived a slit throat.

The jurors said they want a stay of the execution, which is scheduled for tomorrow, so that tests could be conducted on hair and blood evidence they say had been unavailable at the time.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month denied clemency to Cooper, saying the case has been evaluated fully.

GEORGIA

Airport closes after bomb scare

BRUNSWICK — A small airport shut down for about four hours Saturday after a frustrated passenger said he had a bomb in his luggage. The luggage was destroyed and passenger was charged with a felony.

Robert T. Watson of St. Simons Island arrived at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport without enough time to have his baggage inspected. When he was delayed, he made the remark about the bomb, then left the scene, authorities said.

“It was just someone showing up late, not complying with security guidelines and making a foolish remark,” FBI Special Agent Tony Alig told the Georgia Times-Union of Jacksonville, Fla.

Mr. Watson was charged with making terroristic threats.

ILLINOIS

Airport expansion to cost $14.8 billion

CHICAGO — The plan to expand O’Hare International Airport will cost about $14.8 billion, twice the amount city officials had cited when they announced the project in 2001.

The new estimate was in a detailed plan submitted last week to the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency will use the documents to decide whether the project should get federal funding.

The expansion would create and reconfigure runways to cut flight delays and increase the airport’s flight capacity, city officials have said.

IOWA

Police gather spilled cash

DAVENPORT — Police spent almost an hour retrieving about $87,000 in cash bills that had spilled out the back of an armored car into a snowy field swept by high winds.

“It was a field of green,” said police Sgt. Mike Colclasure, who wore a stocking cap to protect himself in the frigid conditions.

A bag containing the money spilled across U.S. 61 after it somehow fell out the rear door of the armored car last week. The driver told police that he looked in the rearview mirrors and saw fluttering money, police spokesman Lt. Don Gano said.

MAINE

Speed blamed in governor’s crash

AUGUSTA — A highway crash that left Maine’s governor with a broken rib occurred because his driver had been going too fast for icy road conditions, a police report said Friday.

A sport utility vehicle driven by a state police officer on Gov. John Baldacci’s security detail on Wednesday had an estimated speed of 55 mph to 65 mph when it clipped a car it was trying to pass on an icy interstate, the report said. The SUV plunged into a ditch.

Mr. Baldacci, a Democrat, and his driver, Detective James Trask, were treated at a Portland medical center and released.

Maine Public Safety Department spokesman Stephen McCausland said the department would review the police report before taking any action.

MASSACHUSETTS

Woman named top Boston cop

BOSTON — Kathleen O’Toole was named Boston’s police commissioner yesterday, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino made the announcement at an afternoon news conference at City Hall.

“I know Kathy has the ability to really deal with the issues in our city,” he said. “I have great enthusiasm for this appointment.”

She takes over from acting Commissioner James Hussey, who was criticized for watching the Super Bowl at home while fans lighted fires and flipped cars during post-game celebrations.

MICHIGAN

Snowmobile wreck kills race spectator

SAULT STE. MARIE — A snowmobile in a race during the weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula veered off track and hit three spectators, killing one, police said.

The snowmobile in the International 500 Snowmobile Race had just come out of a turn on the mile-long track when the driver lost control, police said. Alynn Burke, 24, was pronounced dead at War Memorial Hospital.

NEVADA

Norton pushes forest-thinning plan

RENO — Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton visited tribal lands near Reno on Saturday to press the case for President Bush’s request for $760 million to reduce wildfire risk by thinning national forests and rangelands.

She said the money would improve forest and rangeland management and create healthier landscapes.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Governor dismissed from jury

CONCORD — A judge dismissed Gov. Craig Benson from the jury in a sexual-assault case Friday after a reporter told the governor that a defense attorney was trying to remove him from the panel.

“This stinks,” Mr. Benson, a Republican, told reporters at the State House afterward. “I wanted to finish.”

Mr. Benson, a high-tech chief executive officer turned freshman governor, had been deliberating the case at Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood since Thursday.

NEW MEXICO

Tribe bans professor

TAOS PUEBLO — A college professor has been banned from a New Mexico Indian community after writing an essay about a sacred tribal dance that was published in a newspaper.

The banishment means that Tito Naranjo, 66, could be arrested if he enters Taos Pueblo, which has about 1,200 tribal members.

Many tribes prohibit sacred dances from being recorded in stories or photographs because they believe doing so detracts from the ritual’s spiritual significance.

Mr. Naranjo, a professor of Native American studies at the University of New Mexico at Taos who lives in nearby Mora, said he had been inspired by the “deer dance” and had submitted a short essay to a newspaper writing contest. The essay, published Dec. 21, won first place in the adult category and earned Mr. Naranjo $100.

NEW YORK

2 men crash down elevator shaft

NEW YORK — Two men crashed through an elevator door during a brawl last week and fell three stories down an empty shaft, police said.

Both men suffered leg fractures and head, neck and back injuries. They were hospitalized in critical condition.

Police easily removed a 20-year-old man from the shaft because he was on top of the elevator, said police Sgt. Edward Allen. It took rescuers about 20 minutes to remove the second victim, a 34-year-old, because he had been wedged between the exterior wall of the elevator car and the building’s foundation wall.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Bubble-maker gets city’s OK

BEAUFORT — The city of Beaufort had burst Janet Mark’s bubble, but the downtown shopkeeper is bubbly again.

Miss Mark, owner of Carolina Stamper, was told to shut down the bubble-making machine on her storefront sign.

Miss Mark had been making tiny bubbles for five years — with only one complaint from someone whose car got pelted with the floating suds.

“I got the bubble machine because I thought it added some quaintness to Beaufort and it made people happy,” Miss Mark said.

The city recently began cracking down on violations to a 1998 ordinance. Miss Mark was told to unplug her bubble machine or face a $1,000-a-day fine.

But after three bubble-free days, City Manager John McDonough had a change of heart and said the ordinance that city officials accused Miss Mark of violating was not clear on bubble machines.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Indian activist convicted in murder

RAPID CITY — A federal jury last week convicted a former American Indian Movement member of murdering a woman who had been suspected of being a government informant.

Arlo Looking Cloud, 50, faces a mandatory life sentence for the 1975 shooting death of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, a 30-year-old fellow member of the Indian militant group. Her frozen body was found in 1976 on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

TEXAS

Man, 83, jailed in slaying

PLAINVIEW — An 83-year-old man pleaded guilty last week to the 1978 slaying of a mother of eight, and was sentenced to prison.

The 25-year term for Margarito “Mike” Hernandez — who will become eligible for parole in 12 years, when he is 96 — was part of a plea agreement approved by most of the victim’s children, a court official said.

Relatives of Georgia Ruiz, 46, had rejected a proposed deal for a 20-year sentence, hoping to ensure that Hernandez would die behind bars.

Hernandez was arrested in July as he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and immigration officials discovered that he was wanted in the fatal shooting.

VERMONT

Couple ties knot via videophone

COLCHESTER — Joanne Packer wore black and held a bouquet of flowers at the Vermont National Guard headquarters, while her husband-to-be wore desert camouflage as he sat at a table in Afghanistan.

They were connected by videophone, and there was a long pause after chaplain Charles Purinton asked Lt. Col. Leon Ensalada whether he was willing to commit to the vows of marriage. A technician whispered that Mr. Purinton should ask again.

“I will,” Col. Ensalada said to relieved laughter in the Vermont room. “I will, I will, I will.”

After Mr. Purinton asked Miss Packer, 51, whether she was willing to make the same vows, she answered, “I will, I will, I will.”

Col. Ensalada, 55, a physician, arrived in Afghanistan in November. The couple had talked about getting married after he returned, but decided they couldn’t wait.

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