- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2004

NEBRASKA

Goodall helps farmers, migrating cranes live together

WOOD RIVER — Renowned naturalist Jane Goodall hopes to help farmers and migrating cranes live together in harmony.

Miss Goodall led a discussion Saturday about the cranes and the tourists they draw, the shrinking Platte River, and the danger that shrinkage poses for animals as well as farmers.

Farmers at the meeting said low profit margins worsened by drought are foremost in their minds. Several people, including Miss Goodall, suggested that encouraging tourism could help farmers afford not to farm some land, offering space to view the birds.

WISCONSIN

Acting mayor accused of campaign-finance violations

MILWAUKEE — Prosecutors yesterday filed a civil complaint against the acting mayor, accusing him of campaign-finance violations, eight days before voters will decide between him and another candidate for mayor.

Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt was accused of four civil counts of filing a false campaign-finance report and one civil count of failing to deposit personal campaign contributions in a campaign account.

Milwaukee County District Attorney Michael McCann focused his investigation on Mr. Pratt’s campaign-finance reports, which didn’t match up with bank statements for his campaign account. The figures reportedly were off by $116,000 as of the end of 2003.

CALIFORNIA

Navy jet crashes off San Diego

SAN DIEGO — A Navy jet crashed off the coast of San Diego yesterday, but the two pilots aboard ejected safely and were rescued by a nearby fishing boat.

KGTV-TV, San Diego, said the two crewmen aboard the F-14 Tomcat were in good condition and were taken back to San Diego Bay.

The cause of the crash was not known. The weather in the San Diego area was clear and dry at the time.

ILLINOIS

Police probe arrest of official’s daughters

CHICAGO — Chicago police are investigating the weekend arrest of the daughters of Minnesota’s attorney general that left one of the women slightly injured.

Mike Hatch’s daughters Anne, 21, and Elizabeth, 22, were arrested on misdemeanor charges of battery, resisting arrest and criminal damage to a vehicle Saturday morning outside a nightclub where they were partying, police said.

At about 3 a.m. Saturday, the girls were making “a disturbance” outside the club, police said. Someone flagged down a passing police car.

The women rebuffed a police command to move along, and as officers tried to arrest Anne Hatch, she attacked one of them, knocking off his glasses and scratching him under the left eye, police said.

Elizabeth Hatch struggled with another officer, police said. Once in the back of a squad car, Anne Hatch kicked out a rear window, police said.

INDIANA

Firefighters rescue trapped horse

EVANSVILLE — Evansville firefighters used an improvised harness and heavy equipment to rescue a horse that had become trapped in a soil washout.

The horse fell into the 6-foot-deep sinkhole Wednesday afternoon while a group of riders was returning to a stable, said district fire Chief Dan Grimm. The rider fell clear and was not injured, but the horse became trapped.

One of the firefighters was an experienced horseman and quickly sized up the situation, Chief Grimm said. The firefighters rigged a harness from fire hose and rope and attached it to a front-end loader from a nearby orchard to lift the horse free.

The animal was not hurt, Chief Grimm said.

KENTUCKY

Arsonists responsible for fires, officials say

PIKEVILLE — Arsonists were blamed for a rash of weekend fires that destroyed one church, reduced an apartment building to ashes and blackened forests across eastern Kentucky.

One person was arrested in the destruction of the building Sunday in downtown Hazard that housed the apartments, an office-supply store and a bar. No arrests had been made yesterday in connection with any of the other blazes.

Two church fires Saturday night may have been set after burglaries, said Don Parker, a state-police arson investigator in Pikeville. Sugar Grove Baptist Church in Sitka was destroyed, and New Bethel Freewill Baptist was moderately damaged, Mr. Parker said.

No injuries were reported.

MASSACHUSETTS

Vermont goat farmer faces cruelty charges

BOSTON — A Vermont man could be charged with animal cruelty if state authorities find that he failed to care properly for 130 goats he moved into his house during the bitter New England winter, police said yesterday.

Chris Weathersbee said he took the goats, mostly nursing mothers and their young, from his 300-strong herd into his farmhouse to shelter them from the cold last month. But authorities say there could be a case for animal cruelty.

Police and members of the Central Vermont Humane Society seized 44 goats deemed too sick to remain in Mr. Weathersbee’s care. Some were inside the house, and others were in a nearby barn.

During the February raid, Vermont State Police Officer Walter Goodell said, he also saw the frozen bodies of several goats on the farmhouse’s front lawn. Mr. Weathersbee, 63, of Corinth in central Vermont, said he refused to get rid of his goats for fear that they would be slaughtered, which his observance of certain Buddhist principles does not allow.

MISSISSIPPI

FBI eyes land bought by school district

BRANDON — A Mississippi school district’s purchase of property at nearly double the asking price for nearby acreage is under scrutiny by the FBI and local prosecutors.

The 81 acres in Brandon, a town of about 17,000 people near Jackson, cost the Rankin County School Board $29,500 an acre. Another potential site a few miles away would have cost about $15,000 an acre, said District Attorney David Clark, whose office is working closely with federal agents.

Mr. Clark and others also question why the school board settled on property that has required the removal of soil unsuitable for construction as well as the importing of thousands of yards of new dirt, when the cheaper property apparently is on higher ground. Correcting the soil problems may cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, officials told the Associated Press.

But lawyers Will Hyche and John Toney, county residents who earlier have questioned the board’s management of tax money, said they think that they were misled during a December school board meeting when Assistant Superintendent Hugh Carr said the district’s engineer, Buster Parker, had studied the cheaper property and found it unsuitable.

MONTANA

New license plate backs abortion rights

HELENA — Intermountain Planned Parenthood recently received approval for a “Pro-Family, Pro-Choice” license plate, which will be one of about 47 specialty plates in the state.

Since January, Montana also has had a license plate that says “Choose Life.” Pro-life groups have championed dozens of such plates countrywide, only to be sued by pro-choice advocates who say they have no plate of their own.

Stacy James, the chief executive officer of Intermountain Planned Parenthood, said her group hopes to sell “as many plates as people are interested in buying,” according to LifeNews.com. Planned Parenthood must sell 400 of its new plates during the first year of availability or face being pulled from the system.

NEW MEXICO

Casino pulls ad aimed at those in debt

ALBUQUERQUE — One of New Mexico’s biggest American Indian-run casinos has pulled a TV ad that promoted gambling as a financial solution for people short on cash or deeply in debt.

The Isleta Casino Resort commercial ran earlier this month and featured a young woman who suggested that the answer to unpaid bills piling up from holiday-season shopping sprees could be found at the casino, which operates just south of Albuquerque.

The casino declined to comment on why it pulled the ad, but the spot drew condemnations from many, who deemed it morally reprehensible.

NEW YORK

DNA evidence convicts man in ‘75 case

SYRACUSE — A man was convicted yesterday in the 1975 rape and murder of a college student after prosecutors linked him to DNA evidence from a discarded drinking straw.

Donald Sigsbee, 68, a retired cabinetmaker from Madison, N.Y., faces life in prison when he is sentenced April 19.

Regina Marie Reynolds, a 19-year-old student at Morrisville State College, disappeared while hitchhiking Nov. 6, 1975. Her body was found in a ravine 13 days later, stabbed in the heart.

Sigsbee was a principal suspect after police found his business cards near the teenager’s body, but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him. Police, however, preserved a semen sample taken from Miss Reynolds’ body and continued to track Sigsbee.

He was arrested in March 2003 after police matched the semen to the DNA in a saliva sample recovered from a straw Sigsbee dumped in the trash at a fast-food restaurant.

OHIO

Cost of sniper case about $3 million

COLUMBUS — U.S. authorities spent an estimated $3 million on a manhunt for the Ohio sniper that ended when a tenacious tipster phoned police 16 times to report that he had seen the shooter.

The manpower costs alone for the four-month investigation into the Ohio freeway shootings came to $2.2 million, the Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday.

The daily said the FBI also spent about $1 million for a high-tech sensor system that was brought in to help track the 24 shootings on a section of the Interstate 270 ring road around Columbus.

The chief suspect, Charles McCoy, was traced to Las Vegas in mid-March, just days after he went on the run.

OKLAHOMA

Co-op worker testifies at Nichols’ trial

McALESTER — A farmers co-op worker testified yesterday at Terry Nichols’ murder trial that he sold a ton of fertilizer like that used to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building to a man using Nichols’ reported alias.

The testimony from Jerry Showalter came as the second week of Nichols’ trial resumed with prosecutors continuing attempts to link him to the purchase of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

Mr. Showalter, who works at the farmers co-op in Kansas, testified that he sold a ton of the substance to Mike Havens on Sept. 30, 1994. Prosecutors say Mike Havens was an alias used by Nichols.

Prosecutors say Nichols also stole blasting caps and detonation cord from a rock quarry about 25 miles from Herington, Kan., where Nichols lived at the time. Authorities say the items were similar to those used to bomb the federal building.

Nichols is charged with 161 state first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. He is serving a life sentence for involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy convictions for the deaths of eight federal law-enforcement officers in the bombing. The state charges are for the other 160 victims and one victim’s fetus.

TEXAS

Mother employs insanity defense

TYLER — The trial of a Texas mother charged with stoning her two sons to death and injuring a third opened yesterday with the prosecution presenting gruesome details.

In opening statements at the trial in the East Texas town of Tyler, the prosecutor described how Deanna Laney, 39, smashed the head of her infant son with a rock.

The prosecutor said she then led her two older boys outside and did the same to them, killing them both, CNN reported.

Miss Laney’s attorney said she believed that God had told her that the world was going to end and that she had to get her house in order, which included killing her children. Miss Laney has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

WISCONSIN

Search continues for missing student

MADISON — Dozens of family and friends of University of Wisconsin sophomore Audrey Ruth Seiler held a vigil for the student missing since Saturday.

Police K-9 units searched buildings on the university’s Madison campus and combed downtown during the weekend but turned up no trace of Miss Seiler, 20, who had moved to an off-campus apartment in the fall.

Miss Seiler, a former star high-school basketball and volleyball player and honor student, was last seen leaving her building near campus early Saturday morning, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The Minnesota native was reported missing after she failed to show up at a friend’s home for a movie.

The 5-foot-8-inch, 120-pound woman has long brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing an oversize burgundy Abercrombie & Fitch hooded sweatshirt, navy-blue sweat pants and white flip-flops or tennis shoes.

WASHINGTON

Plainclothes guard finds cover blown

VANCOUVER — Brett Schott has discovered that being honored as a hero for helping rescue a police officer can have a downside.

Publicity over the medal and $3,500 that Mr. Schott received from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission of Pittsburgh has blown his cover as a plainclothes security guard at least once.

Last week, after appearing on a talk show hosted by John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted,” Mr. Schott said a shopper recognized him and slapped him on the back as he was trying to shadow a shoplifter.

Mr. Schott has been honored for his actions more than a year ago at a Wal-Mart parking lot in Ukiah, Calif., where he helped rescue a wounded police officer under attack.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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