- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Firefighters contain mountain fire

BIG BEAR LAKE — Chilly temperatures and mountaintop snow helped firefighters contain a controlled burn that turned into a 350-acre forest fire.

The blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains, which forced the evacuation of two ski resorts, stopped spreading Friday and was not threatening any homes. About 250 firefighters remained on the lines Saturday night, and officials expected them to have extinguished the flames by yesterday evening.

About 10 of the scorched acres were outside the boundaries of the planned fire by the U.S. Forest Service. The service next week will review its handling of the blaze, set Wednesday to destroy dry brush and dead trees.

WASHINGTON

Boys admit to burning cross

ARLINGTON, Wash. — Two 16-year-old boys turned themselves in to authorities Saturday for burning a cross at the home of a black minister, according to a newspaper report.

A relative of the boys brought them to the police station about 1:30 p.m., hours before a candlelight vigil and march organized by the community, City Administrator Kristin Banfield told the Herald of Everett.

“They were identified through our investigation and they decided to turn themselves in,” Miss Banfield said. “I’m hoping their conscience got the best of them.”

The Rev. Jason Martin, the pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in nearby Marysville, woke up early Wednesday to find firefighters dousing a 3-by-5 cross on his front lawn.

ALABAMA

Teen accused in death of mom’s boyfriend

MOBILE — Twelve years after his mother fatally stabbed her abusive husband, her 18-year-old son fatally shot her abusive boyfriend as he tried to break into their Crichton apartment, police and witnesses said.

Samuel Parker, 38, was killed late Friday night after trying to break into the residence of Terry Giles and her son, Joseph, police and witnesses said.

Mrs. Giles said Mr. Parker had been intent on killing her son because he thought the teenage boy had set his house on fire several weeks ago, the Mobile Register reported.

“If he’d have gotten inside the house, he was going to stab my son, and he was going to make me leave with him … ain’t no doubt about that,” Mrs. Giles said about Mr. Parker.

CONNECTICUT

Interstate lanes reopen after crash

BRIDGEPORT — Northbound lanes on a stretch of one of the nation’s busiest highways were reopened yesterday, well ahead of schedule and three days after a fire that partially melted an overpass, Gov. John G. Rowland said.

The scheduled reopening of the more heavily damaged southbound lanes, meanwhile, was pushed up to Thursday.

During a tour of the repair site on Interstate 95, Mr. Rowland told morning commuters that they could have confidence in the emergency repair work.

“It’s going to be safe,” Mr. Rowland said.

The overpass was damaged Thursday when a tanker truck carrying 12,000 gallons of home heating oil struck a barrier and erupted into flames. Steel beams supporting the southbound lanes softened and sagged several feet, and the span holding the northbound lanes also was damaged.

HAWAII

Lawmakers seek claim to resources

HONOLULU — Hawaii could become the first state to stake a legal claim to hundreds of potentially valuable animal and plant products discovered on state lands, under a bill being considered by the state Legislature.

Hawaii is a good place to establish a system to protect government property rights to its plants and animals, supporters of the bill say. Of more than 22,000 known species on the islands, 8,850 are found only in Hawaii, said Naomi Arcand of the Hawaii Audubon Society.

“Rather than selling the exclusive rights to our natural resources, we should focus initially on the method to achieve sustainable, equitable use,” Miss Arcand said.

State Rep. Glenn Wakai, the primary architect of the bill, said an estimated 5,000 bioprospecting projects are under way in Hawaii’s rain forests, volcanic fields, teeming reefs and deep ocean chasms between the islands. He proposed a statewide inventory of them.

KENTUCKY

Arson suspected at two churches

PAINTSVILLE — Weekend fires that damaged two eastern Kentucky churches were being investigated as suspected arson, authorities said yesterday.

One fire was reported late Saturday at Sugar Grove Baptist Church, which was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, police said.

About an hour later, a fire was reported 20 miles away at New Bethel Freewill Baptist Church.

“The heat was so intense it melted the microphones off the stands,” said the Rev. Joe Scott, a minister at New Bethel.

State and federal officials were investigating the fires, State Police dispatcher Brian White said in a news release.

LOUISIANA

Edwards judge blocks release of records

BATON ROUGE — A federal judge has blocked the release of depositions about his medical condition for an appeal by former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who says the judge was impaired by medication during the trial that sent Edwards to prison.

In an appeal of Edwards’ federal extortion conviction, his attorneys have argued that U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola could have been impaired by painkillers he was taking for a back injury suffered in a traffic accident.

Edwards’ attorneys had sought to obtain depositions by the judge and his psychiatrist that were part of a lawsuit Judge Polozola filed over the accident. Court records have shown Judge Polozola was getting a prescription for the narcotic OxyContin during a period in 1999 when he was making pretrial decisions for Edwards’ case.

MASSACHUSETTS

Man interrupts Mass over video

CANTON — A homosexual man interrupted a church Mass yesterday when he told congregants that he objected to a video opposing same-sex “marriage” that had been shown moments earlier.

Chuck Colbert created a brief disturbance when he stood up after the eight-minute video, identified himself as a Catholic and said he objected to the video, said the Rev. Michael Doyle of St. John the Evangelist church.

“We called police to maintain order,” Father Doyle said. “We had no interest in pressing charges against anyone.” Canton police said they went to the church but made no arrests.

The video was shown during the 9 a.m. Mass, and Father Doyle decided not to show it during the 11:30 a.m. service.

MICHIGAN

Police monitored war protesters

GRAND RAPIDS — Undercover city officers were sent to monitor antiwar meetings and rallies when opposition to the war in Iraq began to mount last year, the police chief confirms.

War opponents say the surveillance infringed on their civil rights.

The officers were assigned to the demonstrations because authorities had received information that activists planned illegal measures such as blocking downtown traffic, Police Chief Harry Dolan told the Grand Rapids Press.

He said police had reason for heightened concern because 12 persons had been arrested at a January 2003 demonstration protesting an appearance by President Bush. Those arrests were made for refusing police orders to disperse.

NEVADA

Gates competes in bridge tournament

RENO — Bridge players had an opportunity to outsmart Bill Gates on Saturday.

Mr. Gates, founder of Microsoft Corp. and America’s richest man, made his way to the Reno Hilton to compete in the American Contract Bridge League’s Spring North American Bridge Championships, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. He and his teammates played 56 hands of bridge from 1 p.m. through midnight.

Mr. Gates, 48, is among the 600 entrants competing in the tournament’s Jacoby Open Swiss Teams event. The 10-day tournament, which concludes today, included an estimated 8,000 participants.

NEW MEXICO

Jet wreckage found; pilot dead

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES — Searchers found the wreckage Saturday of a Soviet-era MiG-17 fighter plane that crashed, killing the pilot, while en route to an air show two days earlier.

The body of George Cambron, 50, of Louisville, Ky., was found in the wreckage about 10 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences, state police Lt. Pat Werick said.

The plane crashed in a remote area, and no one else was hurt, Lt. Werick said.

The privately owned plane had taken off Thursday from Roswell on its way to a Phoenix-area air show, he said.

Mr. Cambron had spoken with air traffic controllers shortly before the crash, notifying them of some in-flight problems, including fuel issues, Lt. Werick said. The pilot had a parachute, but the MiG-17 had no ejection seat, Lt. Werick said.

NEW YORK

Mobster ignored 1963 draft notice

NEW YORK — If he had selected the military over the Mafia, John Gotti might have served as a grunt instead of a godfather, wearing Army fatigues instead of Armani suits.

But years before emerging as the “Dapper Don,” a 23-year-old Gotti ignored a 1963 induction notice from his local draft board, newly released FBI documents show.

The details about Gotti’s draft dodging are revealed in nearly 700 pages of FBI documents released to the Associated Press via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents offered glimpses into the once-mighty Gambino family, including the brutal response to an attempted hit on Gotti. They also show how quickly Gotti jumped from street thug to public enemy No. 1 in the FBI’s estimation.

Gotti was tracked down on the draft board rap after his 1965 arrest for stealing a car. According to a Jan. 7, 1966, FBI memo, he was interviewed after a November 1965 courtroom appearance.

OHIO

Woman explains faking child’s illness

MARYSVILLE — A woman imprisoned for faking her daughter’s leukemia to gain thousands of dollars in donations said she concocted the scheme to keep her husband from leaving.

Teresa Milbrandt told the Columbus Dispatch that she regrets what she did, which included shaving her daughter Hannah’s head and giving her sleeping pills to make it look like she was undergoing chemotherapy.

She also made Hannah wear a protective mask and put her in counseling to prepare for death.

“Last week, I said to someone, ‘I wonder if I could pay the doctor and have him give me a lethal injection,’” she told the newspaper in an interview at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

PENNSYLVANIA

Gorilla couple haven’t clicked

PHILADELPHIA — Five years have passed without the pitter-patter of baby gorilla feet, and zookeepers have decided that Demba and Chaka just aren’t working out.

Introduced to each other five years ago at the Philadelphia Zoo amid high reproductive hopes, it is not even clear that the gorillas ever mated. That is a big change for Chaka, who had been dubbed “best stud muffin” after fathering eight little ones at Cincinnati’s zoo.

“Things have not gone that way,” said Andy Baker, the Philadelphia Zoo’s senior vice president for animal programs.

In May, Chaka, a 380-pound silverback, will travel to Columbia, S.C., to the Riverbanks Zoo’s “Gorilla Base Camp.”

Philadelphia’s two other male gorillas, Mike and Kimya, will go with him. Demba gets to keep their Philadelphia home.

TEXAS

Crime lab woes found across state

HOUSTON — The problems that shut down crime laboratories in Houston and McAllen have surfaced in Department of Public Safety crime labs statewide, according to internal audits obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

The findings about the agency charged with overseeing the accreditation of all municipal DNA labs could throw thousands of criminal cases into doubt, the paper reports.

A state lawmaker complained that the Texas DPS “misled” the Legislature, and a criminal defense lawyer speaking for a statewide organization demanded a multimillion-dollar review of convictions.

WISCONSIN

Woman sentenced in sex conspiracy

WAUPACA — A 74-year-old woman has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for conspiring to commit sexual assault of a child after she groomed a girl to have sex with a prison inmate.

She also was sentenced to 10 years of extended supervision and ordered to register as a sex offender.

Waupaca County Circuit Judge Phillip Kirk said the crime involved the woman’s granddaughter, now 12. He said the woman, from Clintonville, was “so rancid, you should be as reviled in death as you are in life.”

He added that she would have received the maximum sentence of 60 years in prison if she were younger.

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