- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Judge chosen for Peterson trial

SAN FRANCISCO - A retired 72-year-old judge who has handled 22 death-penalty trials including one involving the slaying of former Black Panther Huey Newton was selected yesterday to preside over Scott Peterson’s murder trial.

Alfred A. Delucchi, who retired in 1998 after serving in Alameda County for 15 years, was picked by California’s chief justice a week after another judge was removed at prosecutors’ request.

Mr. Peterson could be executed if convicted of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son.


18 sentenced in military-school protests

COLUMBUS - Eighteen persons who participated in a November protest demanding the closure of an Army school for foreign soldiers at Fort Benning were sentenced Monday to up to six months in federal prison for trespassing.

The 18 defendants pleaded either guilty or pleaded not guilty but acknowledged the facts presented by prosecutors.

Almost 170 people have been sentenced for trespassing on Fort Benning in the 14 years that protesters have targeted the school, formerly known as the School of the Americas, saying it has trained foreign soldiers who violated human rights in Latin America.


State park opened to deer hunters

PELHAM - Alabama broke with its past and opened a suburban state park to bow hunters yesterday to begin thinning a deer herd that wildlife officials said is sick and starving because of overpopulation.

The hunt by 70 archers at Oak Mountain State Park Alabama’s largest with about 10,000 acres near Birmingham was the first held in a state-run park. A few protesters demonstrated outside the park, but no problems were reported.

Barnett Lawley, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said he hoped as many as 150 animals would be killed by tonight, when the two-day hunt ends.


Nurses charged in juvenile jail death

MIAMI - Two nurses at a juvenile jail were charged with murder yesterday, accused of failing to treat a 17-year-old inmate who died of a burst appendix after three days in pain.

A Miami-Dade County grand jury said the women skipped exams or falsified medical records on Omar Paisley, who spent his last days “in agony lying on a concrete bed.” After a nine-month investigation, the panel called for wholesale changes to “prevent another unnecessary death.”

The nurses, Gaile Tucker Loperfido and Dianne Marie Demeritte, were expected to surrender today. They face up to nine years in prison on charges of third-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Paisley, who was jailed for cutting another youth with a soda can, filled out a sick form June 7, saying, “My stomach hurts really bad. I don’t know what to do. I cand (sic) sleep.”


Man pleads guilty in school fight death

PONTIAC - A man convicted of assault for a 1994 fight that left a high school classmate in a coma pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a charge brought last year after the classmate died.

Desmon Venn, 27, admitted throwing the punch that ultimately led to the death of Zuhair Steven Pattah. Venn faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 10.

The two were students on May 2, 1994, when a fight at West Bloomfield High School ended with a punch thrown and Mr. Pattah falling to the floor and hitting his head. A brain injury left Mr. Pattah in a coma for nearly nine years. Mr. Pattah died on Jan. 8, 2003, without regaining consciousness. Prosecutors then filed the involuntary manslaughter charge.

Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski said there is no double jeopardy because Mr. Pattah’s death generated a new crime, which also rules out any statute-of-limitations argument.


State police fault pay raise distribution

ANDERSON - Some members of the Indiana State Police say their Jan. 1 raises weren’t distributed fairly.

Troopers received 5 percent raises while each succeeding rank received a higher percentage. For the last raise in 1999, raises lessened with succeeding ranks.

This time, officials say, the raises compensated for the disparity of upper-ranking officer salaries as compared with other states.


Jail official removed after priest slaying

BOSTON - The corrections official who ordered the transfer of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan to another prison, where he was slain last summer, has been removed from his position.

Michael Grant lost his job Monday as head of the Concord prison.

A Department of Correction spokeswoman, Abbe Nelligan, denied there was any relationship between Mr. Grant’s removal and Geoghan’s death, saying the change was part of acting commissioner Kathleen M. Dennehy’s effort to assemble her own management team.

Geoghan, a frail 68-year-old convicted of child molestation, was killed by fellow inmate Joseph L Druce, a convicted murderer, on Aug. 23.


Official gets tattoo for United Way goal

LINCOLN - Marjo Daum kept her end of the deal she now has the United Way emblem permanently on her left shoulder.

The chief financial officer for United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County believes so strongly in its mission of helping nonprofit charities that during each fall fund-raising campaign she promises to do something wacky if they meet their goal.

One year, she vowed to dye her hair purple if the campaign made its goal. The money came in and Miss Daum came to work looking like a grape snow cone. The next year, the incentive was rainbow-colored hair. Same result. Miss Daum looked like a rock concert groupie.

Miss Daum, 54, first made the tattoo challenge in 1999 and 2000, but the economy went south and fund-raisers never quite hit the mark. Last fall, however, the campaign hit its $5 million goal.


Screeners confiscate nearly 4,500 weapons

LAS VEGAS - Federal screeners have confiscated nearly 4,500 deadly or dangerous weapons over an 18-month period at McCarran International Airport security checkpoints. Items seized included explosives, guns and box cutters.

Screeners also took more than 136,000 other items prohibited on flights, including baseball bats, brass knuckles, arrows and ice picks.


Forest Service to remove cattle

ALBUQUERQUE - The U.S. government says it will remove a herd of up to 450 cattle illegally grazing on federal land, setting up a showdown with the ranching couple who own the livestock.

In December, Diamond Bar Ranch owners Kit and Sherry Laney were found in contempt for grazing cattle in the Gila National Forest in violation of earlier court orders. Most of the 146,000-acre ranch, which dates to 1883, is on the Gila land.

Steve Libby, U.S. Forest Service range management officer for the Gila National Forest, said Monday that authorities will begin to impound the herd on Feb. 7.


Men fleeing police get stuck in mud

SALISBURY - Two men fleeing police were captured after they ran across a muddy lake bed, lost their shoes and got mired in the muck.

Kevin Chawlk, 17, and Richard Neri, 20, got about a quarter of a mile across the lake in near freezing temperatures early Saturday before they got stuck. It took rescuers three hours to free the men. One was wearing just a T-shirt and shorts.

Police began chasing the men in their car after they were clocked at 67 mph in a 45 mph zone, authorities said. The car eventually crashed into a tree and the men jumped out and ran into the woods.

Mr. Neri was charged with driving with a revoked license and fleeing to elude arrest. He was jailed on $15,000 bail after being treated at a hospital. Mr. Chawlk was not charged.


Company to pay for overbilling blacks

FAIRFIELD - Cincinnati Life Insurance Co. agreed Monday to pay about $1 million to settle accusations that a company it bought charged blacks more for burial insurance.

Families sued Cincinnati Life in 2002, claiming Inter-Ocean Insurance Co. charged blacks an average of 16.5 percent more than whites between 1947 and 1968. Cincinnati Life acquired Inter-Ocean in 1973.

Under the settlement announced by state insurance officials, about 8,000 black customers or their descendants will collect at least $100 each to cover the amounts they were overcharged, plus interest.

The agreement also includes a $100,000 administrative fine and $116,751 to cover the cost of Ohio’s investigation.


Judge bars cameras at Nichols’ trial

OKLAHOMA CITY - No TV or still cameras will be allowed in or near the courtroom when Terry Nichols is tried on 161 counts of murder in the Oklahoma City bombing, a judge ruled yesterday.

Nichols does not want cameras in the courtroom, and state law prohibits the televising of court proceedings when the defendant objects, Judge Steven Taylor ruled.

Nichols, 48, is set to go on trial March 1 for his role in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

A federal jury in Denver convicted Nichols in 1997 of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal law enforcement agents during the bombing, and he was sentenced to life in prison.


Tribe appeals smoke shop ruling

PROVIDENCE - An American Indian tribe Monday appealed a federal court decision that said Rhode Island rightly shut down its tax-free tobacco store after a violent raid.

The appeal by the Narragansett Indians tells the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston state officials wrongly executed a search warrant on sovereign tribal lands, said Jack Killoy, an attorney for the tribe.

In his December ruling, U.S. District Judge William Smith said the tribe was subject to state taxes on tobacco and officials had the right to execute the warrant.

In July, state police seized the smoke shop’s merchandise and shut it down. Police confiscated 160,000 cigarettes in the raid.


Lottery to start Ping-Pong draw game

NASHVILLE - State lottery officials announced the state’s first Ping-Pong ball drawing game will be Cash 3.

The game will begin in March and tickets will cost between 50 cents and $1. Winning numbers will be drawn daily during a live TV broadcast. Scratch-off games began in Tennessee Jan. 20 and brought in $38 million in the first week.


Cheerleading accident halts practice

PRAIRIE VIEW - Prairie View A&M; University suspended cheerleading practice while the school investigates how a cheerleader fell and broke her neck doing stunts.

The parents of Bethany Norwood, 22, question whether the squad was properly supervised. Miss Norwood damaged her spinal column, broke her neck in six places and may be paralyzed from the neck down.


Waiting list for housing closed

SALT LAKE CITY - Salt Lake City has closed its waiting list for a federal program that offers housing assistance for low-income residents.

The federal government hasn’t increased the allotment of vouchers for several housing authorities in Utah for several years. Some 22,000 people in Utah are on waiting lists for the federal assistance.


Day care center gets giant bear

SEATTLE - So a day care center is getting a new teddy bear. Big deal, right?

When the teddy bear is 12 feet high and weighs 3 tons, it is a big deal, and moving it is no small matter, either.

Workers began barricading the affected streets at 4:30 a.m. Sunday for the move of the bear, which was installed outside the downtown FAO Schwarz in 1995 and was sold as part of the toy store chain’s bankruptcy proceedings.

An hour and a half later, the bear was unbolted and loaded onto a flatbed truck for a ferry ride across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island, where it was placed on a concrete platform.

The most eager and anxious spectator was Doug Hartley, 47, a teacher at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle, who bid $11,800 for the bear on EBay and paid another $8,000 for the move to First Years, his family’s day care center.


Postcard delivered despite odd address

ELKINS - Nothing stops the U.S. Postal Service from making its appointed rounds, not even a postcard addressed simply as “On Top of a Big Hill.”

The postcard was mailed by a bookstore in Bridgeport to Helen English of Elkins, notifying her that a book she had ordered had arrived. It was addressed, “Mrs. English, On Top of a Big Hill, Elkins, W.Va. 26241.”

Mrs. English had mentioned to the bookstore clerk that she lived on a hill. She said the bookstore apparently did not have her address, so the clerk improvised.

“That little mail carrier, who else would do such things in the dead of winter?” Mrs. English said. “They deserve a pat on the back, especially in this weather. It wouldn’t happen anywhere else.”

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