- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 4, 2004


Suspect linked to murders

ZACHARY — Police are investigating a link between a serial murder suspect and three additional killings. Investigators say DNA already connects Derrick Todd Lee to seven South Louisiana slayings.

Zachary police recently resubmitted DNA from the scene of Connie Warner’s 1992 murder. They’re comparing the samples to Mr. Lee’s DNA profile.

Investigators also sent DNA from a 1988 rape to the lab. They say the 80-year-old victim’s description of her attacker bears a strong resemblance to Lee.

The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Department may take a fresh look at Mr. Lee as a suspect in the 2000 murder of Lillian Robinson. A spokesman said Mr. Lee was initially ruled out because investigators believed he was in jail at the time of the murder.

A New Orleans television station, WVUE, contacted prison authorities and discovered that Mr. Lee was free when Miss Robinson, who was his acquaintance, was killed.


Sea lion released into the Pacific

SAUSALITO — A sea lion found last month more than 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean was released back into the ocean Wednesday, after a bullet in its head was removed.

California Highway Patrol officers rescued the 321-pound male sea lion as it flopped along a road in central California near Los Banos on Feb. 9.

Surgery to remove the bullet was performed at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, according to center spokeswoman Cynthia Schramm. She said the wound in the back of the animal’s skull was no more than three days old at the time of the rescue.

Authorities don’t know how the animal was wounded, or how it managed to get so far inland. It may have been disoriented because of the wound and could have swum up the San Joaquin River from the ocean, officials have said.

The sea lion was released at the Point Reyes National Seashore.


Serious problems found in prisons

PHOENIX — A prison warden was demoted and nine other supervisors reassigned after an investigation into a 15-day hostage standoff in a watchtower found gaps in security compounded by “years worth of bad decisions” at all levels of Arizona’s prison system.

“The findings of this committee, to say the least, are disturbing,” Herb Guenther, co-chairman of the panel investigating the hostage situation, said yesterday. “This is a monster that is awry right now. It will be a monumental task to turn this agency around.”

The panel, appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, found that the hostage situation was the result of “a series of small but critical gaps in security.”


Music reviewer has words with paper

LOS ANGELES — This might not end ‘til the plus-sized lady sings.

A Los Angeles Times music critic who wrote that a Richard Strauss opera was “pro-life” — meaning a celebration of life — was stunned to pick up the paper and find his review changed by a literal-minded copy editor to read “anti-abortion.”

Music critic Mark Swed said the copy editor was adhering to a strict Times policy banning the phrase “pro-life” as offensive to people who support abortion, and didn’t seem to realize that the epic Strauss opera “Die Frau Ohne Schatten” had nothing to do with that politically charged issue.


Cities allowed to take private land

HARTFORD — The state Supreme Court ruled that Connecticut towns and cities can use eminent domain powers to take land for private business ventures.

The ruling concerned a long-standing dispute involving homeowners’ fight against the city’s plans to take land for a development project for a hotel, health club, conference center and new housing in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood.


One-handed golfer hits three holes in one

VENICE — A Florida golfer has defied the odds, racking up three holes in one in six months while swinging one-handed.

Bill Hilsheimer’s latest ace came last week, on the 157-yard, par 3 13th hole at the Bird Bay Executive Golf Course.

Mr. Hilsheimer, 68, lost most of his right hand as a child, when he was run over by a train in Columbus, Ohio. He took up golf at 16 and swings only with his left arm.


State Senate passes broad smoking ban

ATLANTA — Georgia’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a measure yesterday that would ban smoking in most public buildings.

Only private homes, small businesses, some hotel rooms and bars that serve little or no food would be exempt from the measure, which passed by a vote of 45-7 and now goes to the House, where if faces an uncertain future. Democratic leaders, as well as some Republicans, say the ban goes too far in stripping personal and business rights.


Lawmaker’s brother wounded in shooting

LEXINGTON — The brother of state Rep. Ben Chandler was recovering from a bullet wound at a Kentucky hospital after he was shot by an unidentified gunman.

Matthew Chandler was stopped with car trouble on a street in Lexington when a man stuck a gun through an open window Tuesday and shot him in the side, police said.

Mr. Chandler underwent surgery, but the bullet missed any vital organs, his mother said in a telephone interview.

He was listed in fair condition at the University of Kentucky’s Albert B. Chandler Medical Center, which is named for his grandfather, a former governor.


New charge aims to keep killer in prison

DETROIT — Michigan’s attorney general plans to prosecute a confessed serial killer for a 1979 slaying to try to prevent the man’s scheduled release from a Texas prison in two years.

Attorney General Mike Cox said yesterday he would file a first-degree murder charge against Coral E. Watts, 50, for the 1979 stabbing of a Detroit woman — a death for which Watts was long a suspect but one not among those to which he confessed.

The government is barred from using Watts’ admissions in 13 other killings under a plea bargain for the burglary sentence he has been serving since 1982.


Cold water thrown on robbery attempt

OMAHA — A thief who hoped to rob an automated teller machine at the Omaha Civic Center got a soggy surprise instead.

Police said the would-be robber apparently tried to use a forklift to break open the machine and hit a sprinkler line in the ceiling on Wednesday.

Firefighters and police officers responded to a fire alarm about 4:30 a.m. to find water filling the entry floor and streaming into the basement.


Mother to be reunited with kidnapped girl

MOUNT HOLLY — A judge approved a plan yesterday to grant custody to the mother of a 6-year-old girl believed to have been snatched from her crib as a newborn.

“I’m going to have her pronto — very, very soon,” said Luz Cuevas, the mother of Delimar Vera.

Her attorney, Andrew Micklin, said the custody transfer will be a gradual process before the girl lives permanently with her mother.

Authorities in Philadelphia Monday announced they were charging the only mother Delimar has ever known — Carolyn Correa — with kidnapping, arson and 13 other crimes.

Police said Miss Correa took the 10-day-old baby from her crib in December 1997 and then set fire to the home to cover her tracks. The infant was thought to have been consumed in the flames.


Smuggler accused of funding al Qaeda

BUFFALO — A convicted cigarette smuggler contributed $14,000 to a group of Lackawanna men who attended an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2001, prosecutors said yesterday.

The government said the money from Aref Ahmed, 27, helped pay the way for five of the so-called Lackawanna Six, each of whom pleaded guilty late last year to providing material support to a known terrorist organization.


Retardation appeal delays execution

HUNTSVILLE — A condemned inmate was spared yesterday evening less than an hour before he could have been taken to the Texas death chamber for killing a man who was shot 10 times in the head.

Attorneys for Yokamon Hearn, 25, contend he may be mentally retarded and want time to pursue the claim. The U.S. Supreme Court has barred the execution of the mentally retarded.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to the delay but also set an accelerated briefing schedule to ensure the appeals would not be prolonged, said Dallas County prosecutor Lori Ordiway.

According to testimony at his trial, Hearn bragged to friends about how he “domed” Frank Meziere, meaning he shot him in the head.


School fines students for being late

LEHI — Mom always said being late to class would cost you, but officials at Lehi High School have decided just how much.

The school’s students can be fined $5 if they are found outside of class after the final bell rings. The fine was implemented this week. Students who are late are given the choice of the fine or attendance school, a mandatory study hall that takes place at 6:30 a.m.

If the student doesn’t pay the fine or go to attendance school, he or she will be unable to register for classes the next semester.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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