Tidal expert testifies in Peterson trial
REDWOOD CITY — An expert witness on tides and currents testified yesterday that Laci Peterson and her unborn child may have been dumped into San Francisco Bay near the spot where her husband claims to have gone fishing the day she disappeared.
Ralph Cheng, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said that based on winds and tidal information, the body of the Petersons’ unborn son, Connor — whether still inside his mother or not — was put into the bay between Brooks Island and the Berkeley Marina.
Mr. Cheng cautioned that that was the “highest probability” location, and defense attorneys attacked the findings as conjecture. He also acknowledged that he could not reproduce the trajectory for Mrs. Peterson’s body, but could for Connor, because he was lighter.
Volcano spews more steam, ash
SEATTLE — Mount St. Helens spewed more steam and ash yesterday as government scientists remained on alert for a larger eruption at the volcano, which awoke last week after 18 years of slumber.
Mount St. Helens, which killed 57 persons in a violent 1980 eruption, continued to increase its activity after a week of tremors and a minor eruption Friday.
The U.S. Geological Survey kept its warning level at a Level 3-Volcano Alert and kept off-limits a visitor center at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Scientists have said they do not expect an explosion that would cause any deaths, but they are concerned about the impact of the ash.
Visits to Grand Canyon on rise, agency says
FLAGSTAFF — Annual visitation to the Grand Canyon is expected to top 6 million by 2010, the National Park Service said.
To deal with the extra visitors, local officials want to create a lobbying force to push for increased resources and transportation improvements, such as enhanced rail or bus service to the park. Annual visitation to the Grand Canyon during the past decade has never topped 5 million.
Hospitals accused of taking ‘live’ organs
DENVER — A coroner said yesterday that two hospitals allowed vital organs to be removed from a man before they had proven he was brain dead, and he declared the death a homicide.
The cause of William Rardin’s death was “removal of his internal organs by an organ-recovery team,” Montrose County Coroner Mark Young said. He said he did not believe the case should be a criminal matter, but it “should lead to a clarification of what the accepted standard is.”
Mr. Young said Montrose Memorial Hospital in Montrose and St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction did not follow “accepted medical standards” or meet state guidelines in determining that William Rardin, 31, was brain dead before removing his heart, liver, pancreas and two kidneys.
Officials with St. Mary’s and the organization that coordinates organ donation in Colorado and Wyoming insisted the surgeons followed rules and did nothing wrong.
Football team loses despite divine help
NORWALK — Norwalk High School needed a little divine help before its football team took to the field.
School athletic officials had sought the permission of Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht of Beth Israel Synagogue of Westport-Norwalk for a Friday night game next door to the synagogue, where the rabbi leads Sabbath services.
The high school’s Friday night schedule is part of an agreement the Norwalk High School Bears reached with the neighborhood when the team moved to its stadium behind the high school. The agreement, which was negotiated in 2000, called on the team to avoid Friday night games and obtain approval from Mr. Hecht if a match was unavoidable on Friday night, the start of the Jewish Sabbath.
“The main thing is that people should get along together,” Mr. Hecht.
New Canaan beat Norwalk 35-7.
Bodies found in wreckage of plane
PENSACOLA — Bodies were found yesterday in Mississippi amid the wreckage of a plane belonging to a Florida Panhandle family missing since Sept. 14, when the couple and their two children fled Hurricane Ivan.
The tail number confirmed that the plane was registered to Kevin Bomback of Molino, said Marie Haberstroh, spokeswoman for the Civil Air Patrol’s Mississippi Wing. She said a CAP pilot spotted the wreckage from the air about 2 miles south of the Magee, Miss., airport.
“It’s in a very thick wooded area,” said Lea Stokes, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “It’s just a metal heap.”
Convict indicted in another poisoning
ATLANTA — A woman convicted of fatally poisoning her husband with antifreeze was indicted yesterday on charges that she killed a boyfriend the same way.
Prosecutor Jack Mallard said he would consider seeking the death penalty against Lynn Turner for the 2001 death of Forsyth County firefighter Randy Thompson, though he had not made a final decision.
Turner is serving a life term for her conviction in the 1995 murder of her husband, Cobb County police Officer Glenn Turner.
The trial hinged in large part on her suspected involvement in the antifreeze poisoning death of Mr. Thompson, 32. Though she hadn’t been charged at the time in Mr. Thompson’s death, prosecutors won a judge’s approval to draw on similarities between the two deaths.
Journalists honored for life’s work
WHITESBURG — Known for tell-it-like-is journalism, Tom and Pat Gish have published the Mountain Eagle in this town for 47 years, despite backlashes that included the firebombing of their newspaper offices.
For their efforts, the two small-town journalists have been honored with an award bearing their name from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.
“Their careers could make a great book or even a motion picture,” said Al Cross, director of the newly founded journalism institute with headquarters at the University of Kentucky. “They have taken on corrupt politicians, lousy schools and rapacious coal companies, and suffered for it.”
Mr. Cross said yesterday that the Gishes are the first recipients of the Tom and Pat Gish Award, which will be awarded annually to rural journalists who exhibit courage and tenacity in reporting the news.
DNA ‘silent witness’ in case, jurors told
BATON ROUGE — DNA is “the silent witness” that irrefutably links serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee to the rape and murder of a 22-year-old woman, a prosecutor said yesterday in the opening of Lee’s second murder trial.
Dana Cummings opened the case with a detailed description of the scene in May 2002 when Charlotte Murray Pace was found dead in her home, her body riddled with 81 stabs and punctures.
Authorities say DNA linked Lee to the killings of Miss Pace and six other women in southern Louisiana between April 1998 and March 2003.
“The silent witness, that DNA, is there, and it can identify someone so particularly, so reliably, so exactly that it cannot be refuted,” the prosecutor told jurors.
Lee, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the case. Conviction would mean a possible death sentence. Lee already faces life in prison for another killing.
DNA test results clear shooting suspect
DETROIT — Charges were dropped yesterday against a man accused of shooting into a crowd of people watching a downtown fireworks display because DNA test results did not match him with the evidence.
Daron T. Caldwell had been charged with second-degree murder and six counts of assault with intent to murder in the June 23 shootings. One victim died Aug. 2 of complications from his wound.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Mary Waterstone dismissed the charges against Mr. Caldwell at the request of county Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
High school senior running for mayor
ST. MARY’S POINT — Erin Feehan-Nelson, running for mayor of this St. Croix River town, has a campaign slogan that’s hard to dispute: “Uncorrupted by years of experience.”
The reason? She’s 17.
The high school senior wants to be the youngest person ever elected mayor in Minnesota. Miss Feehan-Nelson decided to run as a write-in candidate after learning that only one other candidate had filed for the office.
Even so, state law says candidates must be eligible voters and at least 21 years old when they take office.
Kevin Corbid, director of elections for Washington County, said officials will count the write-in votes Nov. 2 and forward the results to the St. Mary’s Point City Council, which serves as the city’s canvassing board.
“The canvassing board will need to determine eligibility,” Mr. Corbid said. “If someone is not eligible to hold office, the person with the next highest number of votes would be certified.”
Muslims fight to keep mosque
SPRINGFIELD — Local Muslims are fighting to keep their mosque as the federal government probes a link between the Islamic Center of Springfield and a benefactor accused of financing terrorism around the world.
On paper, the center is owned by the Saudi-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which federal authorities have accused of diverting donations to support terrorist activities. Supporters of the center say the Saudi charity was a one-time donor whose name ended up on the property title.
Classrooms filled with younger teachers
NEWARK — Hiring surges in state schools have filled classrooms with younger teachers, whose lower salaries have saved school districts money.
The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark reported that the $55,437 average salary for state teachers last year was only 7 percent higher than in the 1999-2000 school year. The number of teachers 25 or younger has risen nearly 50 percent since 1999.
Artist finishinghighway sculpture
REGENT — Artist Gary Greff is putting the final touches on another larger-than-life metal sculpture along the Enchanted Highway. His latest creation is called “Fisherman’s Dream.” It features seven giant metal fish and a larger steel fisherman trying to catch them.
His other metal sculptures along the 32-mile stretch of highway include giant grasshoppers, pheasants and geese.
Artists document Bethlehem Steel plant
BETHLEHEM — Artists descended on Bethlehem to document the mills, furnaces and other structures that powered once-mighty Bethlehem Steel. Plans call for the mammoth plant on the Lehigh River to be redeveloped, but it’s not clear which landmark structures will be saved.
About 70 artists from across the country set up around the electrical shop, iron foundry, truck docks and blast furnaces for “The South Bethlehem Paint Out.”
Confederate flag removed from park
COLUMBIA — The South Carolina conference of the NAACP succeeded in getting a Confederate flag removed from a popular Augusta park as the group prepared to hold its state convention in Georgia this week.
The state NAACP has held annual conferences in North Carolina and Georgia since launching economic sanctions in 2000 aimed at removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.
Although legislators removed the banner from the Capitol dome and House and Senate chambers, they put a similar flag on the grounds of a monument to Confederate soldiers.
Confederate flag supporters say they may sue to have the banner put back up at Riverwalk Augusta, next to the convention site.
Augusta Mayor Bob Young said he removed the flag from one of the most popular tourist spots in the city after talking with Charles Smith, president of the Augusta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and others.
Exchange student barred from U.S.
BRATTLEBORO — A high school student from Switzerland was barred from flying to the United States for a foreign exchange program after his name appeared on a government watch list.
The 17-year-old boy, identified by school officials only by his first name, Fuad, was left behind when 20 other students from Switzerland flew Thursday to New England to take part in the exchange.
The office of Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, unsuccessfully sought to intervene with the State Department. Mr. Leahy’s spokesman, David Carle, said the department would not disclose which list the boy’s name was on or why.
The boy was born in Ethiopia and is Muslim. He moved to Switzerland with his family in 1994.
Mr. Leahy is working on legislation to require the Department of Homeland Security to create a procedure for individuals who think they have been put on the post-September 11 watch list incorrectly.