- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

LOUISIANA

Jazz family patriarch dies at 96

NEW ORLEANS — Ellis L. Marsalis Sr., the patriarch of a family of world-famous jazz musicians, including grandson Wynton Marsalis, has died. He was 96.

Mr. Marsalis’ son, Ellis Jr., is a prominent New Orleans pianist and music professor, who mentored crooner Harry Connick Jr. as well as four musician sons: Wynton, the trumpeter; saxophonist Branford; trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason.

The senior Mr. Marsalis, who died Sunday, was involved in the civil rights movement through ownership of a motel in suburban New Orleans, where guests included Martin Luther King, New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and musician Ray Charles.

He is survived by his son, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

NEW YORK

Five persons injured by underground fire

NEW YORK — An underground fire sent five manhole covers flying into the air, spewed smoke into the streets and shattered windows during the Manhattan commuter rush on Tuesday evening, authorities said.

Five persons, including a police officer and a firefighter, suffered minor injuries, the fire department said.

The cause of the fire near the teeming Port Authority bus terminal was not known. Pressure and gas from the fire caused the manhole covers to blow off, a power company spokeswoman said.

Some people in the area said they initially were worried that the booming sounds were because of a terrorist attack.

ARKANSAS

Baptist church again in pulpit controversy

SPRINGDALE — A Baptist church accused of using its tax-exempt pulpit to endorse President Bush gave its backing to a ban of same-sex “marriage” in a nationally televised service Sunday.

Evangelical leaders, led by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, used Springdale’s First Baptist Church to summon support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.”

About 3,000 churchgoers in Springdale, and an estimated 1 million television viewers nationwide, heard Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, promise that the amendment battle would be won.

“If Christian people are awake and involved, we can change this country,” Mr. Dobson said.

The speakers also supported the Rev. Ronnie Floyd, the church’s pastor, whose July 4 sermon provoked a complaint to the Federal Election Commission from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The group said Mr. Floyd’s talk amounted to a Bush endorsement.

Internal Revenue Service rules on tax exemption forbid pulpit endorsements.

CONNECTICUT

Suspect pays price for mooning judge

MILFORD — A man who mooned a judge will be spending an extra year in his prison jumpsuit.

Three months after dropping his pants in front of Superior Court Judge Patrick Carroll, Richard Brown was back in court Monday for a plea deal on a robbery.

Brown’s June 23 pants dropping cost him a year in prison. He got six months for contempt of court and the prosecutor added six months to the sentence offered in the plea deal.

According to terms of the plea agreement, Brown will be sentenced in December to 10 years in prison for holding up the Krauszer’s market in West Haven on Dec. 11, 2003.

IDAHO

Court denies custody to gay father

BOISE — The Idaho Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that sexual orientation should not be the basis for custody decisions, but denied a homosexual father’s bid for custody.

Homosexual-rights advocates hailed the decision as a guide for future custody cases, but expressed disappointment that it did not help Theron McGriff gain custody of his two daughters.

The court said sexual orientation should be considered in custody cases only if the orientation is shown to cause harm to the child.

But in its 4-1 ruling, the Supreme Court said there was still sufficient evidence to support a county magistrate’s 2002 conclusion that Mr. McGriff’s ex-wife, Shawn Weingartner, was best suited for sole custody of the children.

ILLINOIS

2 persons injured in porch collapse

CHICAGO — A three-story porch collapsed Tuesday on Chicago’s southwest side as three persons were trying to steal a stove that was on it, authorities said.

Two men wounded in the collapse and a woman were in police custody Tuesday night, but no charges had been filed, police said. The men were hospitalized, one in critical and the other in serious condition.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the collapse.

Thirteen persons died when a third-floor wooden porch collapsed on Chicago’s north side last year during a summertime party.

Since then, city inspectors have cracked down on porch code violations, and building ordinances have been tightened.

INDIANA

Man dies, suffered 1,000 insect stings

FORT WAYNE — A retired zoo director died after he was stung about 1,000 times by European yellow jackets when he fell onto their nest from a ladder while cleaning windows at his home.

Earl Wells, 75, had been in a coma at Lutheran Hospital since the Sept. 12 incident near Huntertown, about 10 miles north of Fort Wayne. He died Tuesday.

Mr. Wells was the director of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo from its opening in 1965 until his retirement in 1994 and had served as a consultant in the design of other zoos nationwide.

MASSACHUSETTS

Harvard teachers cite bias in tenured jobs

BOSTON — The percentage of women hired for tenured positions at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has declined each year since 2000, prompting a group of professors to complain that the Ivy League school’s leadership isn’t doing enough.

The proportion of women receiving tenured job offers went from a height of 36 percent during the 2000-2001 academic year to 26 percent in 2001-2002 and 19 percent in 2002-2003. Last year, just four of 32 tenured spots were offered to women. The numbers all apply to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The drop has prompted 26 professors to sign a letter to President Lawrence H. Summers, who has presided over every year of the decline. Mr. Summers has agreed to meet next month with the professors.

“There’s no question that hiring as many extraordinary women members of the faculty as we can has to be a crucial priority for the university,” Mr. Summers, who took over as president in 2001, told the Boston Globe in editions yesterday.

NEBRASKA

Parents to tackle alcohol poisoning

BEATRICE — The parents of a teenager who died from alcohol poisoning at Colorado State University said yesterday that they are forming a foundation to battle the problem.

Rick and Patty Spady said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that their daughter, 19-year-old Samantha Spady, had been partying with friends after a football game, but the family did not yet have all the information on her Sept. 6 death.

Authorities said she died of alcohol poisoning after consuming 30 to 40 beers and vodka drinks in 11 hours. Her body was found in a fraternity house at Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo.

OKLAHOMA

Rape suspect tested for links to slayings

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma authorities yesterday awaited results of DNA testing to determine whether a suspect in a rape case is linked to 10 slayings in seven states.

Carl Wayne Lawson, 32, of Lincoln, Neb., was charged Tuesday in the beating and rape of a woman kidnapped from an Oklahoma City truck stop Sept. 13. He remains in a Nebraska jail awaiting extradition to Oklahoma.

During the attack, Mr. Lawson said, “The first three-four I killed — it bothered me, but I kinda like it now,” according to a court affidavit. The victim identified Mr. Lawson in a photo lineup.

A DNA swab was taken from Mr. Lawson to determine whether he might be linked to any of the slayings of 10 women, said Debra Forshee, a spokesman for the Oklahoma County district attorney.

OREGON

Man pleads guilty to killing 2 girls

PORTLAND — Ward Weaver, a toolmaker with a history of violence against women, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing and killing two Oregon City girls in 2002.

Weaver, 41, was sentenced to two consecutive life terms without parole for the murder of two of his daughter’s friends and avoided the death penalty. The plea deal was supported by the girls’ families.

In January 2002, 12-year-old Ashley Pond disappeared on her way to school in the morning. Then, in March, her 13-year-old friend Miranda Gaddis also vanished. Both were friends and classmates of Weaver’s daughter and lived in an apartment complex adjacent to Weaver’s rented house.

While he was in custody, police tore apart his rental home and property and found the two bodies.

RHODE ISLAND

Local leaders back biotechnology center

PROVIDENCE — Business leaders are raising money for a campaign in support of a proposed $50 million biotechnology and life-sciences center at the University of Rhode Island.

They think the center would make the state more competitive in attracting companies that specialize in biotechnology. Voters will be asked in November to approve borrowing for the project.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Officials raise price of houses

SIOUX FALLS — Rising lumber and metal costs have prompted state housing officials to increase the price of a Governor’s House for those who qualify for the low-income housing program.

Beginning Oct. 18, residents will pay $30,800, up from $28,000, for the 960-square-foot homes, built by inmates at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield.

WEST VIRGINIA

Jackpot winner’s home burglarized; 1 dead

WINFIELD — Three men burglarized the home of Jack Whittaker, winner of the biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, as an acquaintance of Mr. Whittaker’s lay dead inside, police said Tuesday.

Mr. Whittaker was not home at the time, and Chief Deputy John Dailey said the death of Jesse Joe Tribble, 18, was not related to the burglary and was not a homicide.

The break-in occurred Thursday night or Friday morning. One of those arrested reported Mr. Tribble’s death Friday, Deputy Dailey said. Mr. Tribble was a friend of Mr. Whittaker’s granddaughter, and all three suspects were acquainted with Mr. Tribble.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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