- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2004

PENNSYLVANIA

Nurse pleads guilty to 6 murders

ALLENTOWN — The nurse who admitted killing up to 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania pleaded guilty yesterday to six murders and three attempted murders.

Charles Cullen appeared in a Lehigh County courtroom to enter the plea, which was announced last month. With his latest admission, Cullen has pleaded guilty to giving fatal medication overdoses to 23 persons and nonlethal overdoses to five others during his 16-year career.

The Lehigh County charges involved five persons who died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Fountain Hill, where Cullen worked from 2000 to 2002, and one at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township, where Cullen worked from 1998 to 2000.

TEXAS

Woman killed in flash flooding

SAN ANTONIO — Torrential thunderstorms caused flash floods that drowned one woman who was swept from a bridge, and more flooding was expected as rain continued falling yesterday. A second person remains missing.

Firefighters discovered the woman’s body late Tuesday. Witnesses told police that they saw the woman trying to walk across the bridge over a creek, even though a Public Works Department employee warned her against doing so.

Another woman has been missing since Sunday night. Laurie Pineda, 24, was swept away as she tried to drive through a low-water crossing on the Blanco River. A passenger was rescued from her car. The stream had risen 11 feet in two hours.

ARIZONA

Governor recovering from ovarian surgery

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano underwent surgery to have an ovarian cyst and her right ovary removed, her office announced yesterday.

Miss Napolitano, 46, had the operation on Tuesday night at a Phoenix-area hospital after feeling uncomfortable during a trip to Flagstaff earlier in the day, said spokeswoman Jeanine L’Ecuyer.

Routine tests will be performed, but “the cyst appears benign,” the governor’s office said. It said the governor, who had battled breast cancer four years ago, is expected to be out of the hospital today and to be back at work within a few days.

Miss Napolitano, a Democrat, was elected governor in 2002 after serving four years as state attorney general. She served as U.S. attorney for Arizona during the Clinton administration. Earlier this year, she was mentioned as a running mate for presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.

CONNECTICUT

Man arrested in ‘leaf rage’

STAMFORD — When city employees refused to haul away his raked leaves, Michael Peters blew up. His meltdown got him arrested for what police describe as “leaf rage.”

Mr. Peters, 67, of North Stamford, was charged Monday with breach of peace, a misdemeanor, after accosting municipal workers who told him that they collected leaves only on the street and not those on a right of way, where his were stacked.

“He grabbed my jacket and said, ‘You’re not going anywhere,’ ” operations supervisor Robert Gerbert said of Mr. Peters. “The guy was spitting and swearing — it was the most disgusting scene I’ve ever seen.”

Mr. Peters said he lost his cool, frustrated by more than three decades of being ignored by the town at leaf time.

Crews probably would have come back to Mr. Peters’ home — maybe even later that day — had he asked politely, said worker Jim Crabb: “We’re not big, mean ogres.”

GEORGIA

Police say girls served poisoned cake

MARIETTA — Two 13-year-old middle-school girls were being held on charges that they served poisoned cake to at least a dozen students who became ill and had to go to the hospital for treatment.

The cake offered to students and teachers at East Cobb Middle School on Tuesday contained bleach and glue, said police spokeswoman Dana Pierce.

Both girls were booked on 12 counts of aggravated assault with the intent to commit murder. One of the girls also faced additional counts of terroristic acts and interference with government property.

ILLINOIS

Veto override lets homeowners use guns

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to give legal protection to homeowners who violate handgun bans to shoot burglars, overriding Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s veto of legislation that became a symbol in the tug of war over gun control.

The legislation says people who shoot intruders on their property cannot be convicted of violating local gun bans, but it does not prevent charges if prosecutors think the shooting itself was a crime.

Backers saw the measure as a statement of support for people who defend themselves in their own homes, while opponents said it was an attempt to undercut local gun laws.

The measure was inspired by the case of a Wilmette restaurant owner who shot a burglar who had broken into his home twice. County prosecutors declined to press charges for the shooting, but Wilmette officials charged the restaurateur with violating the city’s handgun ban.

KANSAS

University requires meningitis vaccination

TOPEKA — Starting next year, more than 4,800 students living in group housing at the University of Kansas must be vaccinated against meningitis or sign a waiver, university officials announced.

The policy will apply to students living in dormitories, smaller scholarship halls or an apartment complex operated by the university.

KENTUCKY

Station to apologize for hoax report

LEXINGTON — A radio-station owner will publicly apologize for falsely telling listeners the city had banned smoking in cars, and the city dropped plans to file a complaint with federal regulators.

Cumulus Broadcasting, owner of WXZZ-FM, will appear before the Urban County Council today to apologize and offer a written assurance that the report, which prompted a torrent of angry calls, was a hoax. It also will give $1,000 to charity.

The bogus report that smoking in cars was banned aired Nov. 10, and three morning-show hosts were suspended the next day. The three — identified only by on-air names Twitch, Mary Jane and Kyle — were back on the air yesterday.

City officials said Tuesday that they would not file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, as they had threatened. But the city plans to send letters of complaint to the station and Cumulus’ corporate offices.

MASSACHUSETTS

Ultrasound breaks up stroke patients’ clots

BOSTON — The same type of sound waves that pulsate from sonar fish-finders and ultrasound fetal monitors can dramatically boost the power of anti-clotting medicine and help it dissolve brain blockages in stroke patients, a study suggests.

This technique one day may offer a safe accessory for helping up to 100,000 U.S. patients a year, or 15 percent of the nation’s stroke victims, doctors said.

The study appeared today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was conducted by the University of Texas Medical School at Houston with partners in Canada and Spain.

MICHIGAN

Jury convicts confessed serial killer

PONTIAC — A confessed serial killer was convicted of murder yesterday in a case brought by prosecutors desperately trying to keep him from getting out of prison in less than two years.

Coral Eugene Watts, 51, was convicted of fatally stabbing Helen Dutcher, 36, in a Detroit suburb in 1979. He faces a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Watts showed little reaction as the verdict was read. Victims and family members hugged and flashed smiles in the courtroom after Watts was led away in shackles.

Watts was scheduled to be released from a Texas prison in April 2006.

He received immunity for 12 killings — 11 in Texas and one in Michigan — as part of a 1982 deal with Texas prosecutors that led to a 60-year sentence for aggravated assault. But mandatory release laws and an appeals court ruling lopped more than 35 years off his sentence.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Town fights to use Christ in prayers

GREAT FALLS — The Town Council voted 6-1 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn lower court rulings that prevent it from using Jesus Christ’s name in prayers at meetings.

Both a U.S. District judge and a federal appeals court agreed council members cannot refer to a specific deity in prayers at meetings. The original lawsuit was filed in 2001 by Darla Wynne, a Wiccan high priestess.

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