- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2005


Crematory operator gets 12 years

LaFAYETTE — Former crematory operator Ray Brent Marsh was sentenced to 12 years in prison yesterday after relatives of some of the 334 persons whose bodies he left to decay on his property confronted him on the stand.

“How did you eat and sleep knowing the bodies were in the back yard?” asked Letha Shropshire of LaFayette, whose mother’s body was supposed to have been cremated.

After nearly two dozen relatives spoke for more than six hours, Marsh apologized, saying, “I will not cry when I go into my jail cell. … I will accept my punishment.”

Instead of cremating the bodies, Marsh dumped them behind his house or crammed them into burial vaults and gave the relatives cement dust.


Bill would pay racial crime victims

JACKSON — In each of the past eight years, Mississippi state Sen. Johnnie Walls has proposed a measure to compensate the families of those killed in racially motivated crimes in the civil rights era. Every year, it has failed.

His bill would create a fund to provide compensation — up to $100,000 — to be shared by the survivors of victims of racially motivated crimes between 1945 and 1970.

Mr. Walls said the timing might be right this year, because the Justice Department announced in June that it was reopening the investigation into the 1955 Emmett Till case and state prosecutors recently charged a reputed Klansman in three 1964 slayings. Emmett, a black teenager, was killed after he made a pass at a white woman.


Legislators urged: No e-mail amid debates

LITTLE ROCK — Some House members say their colleagues should refrain from reading e-mail during legislative debate and focus on the discussion.

House Speaker Bill Stovall says he wants legislators to be able to use laptops in chambers to check on pertinent bills. But he’s concerned about legislators being distracted from floor debate by e-mails from constituents, journalists and others.


Chairman steps down over 9/11 essay

DENVER — A University of Colorado professor who provoked a furor when he compared victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks to Nazis resigned as a department chairman yesterday but will retain his teaching job, the university said.

In an essay written after the September 11 attacks, Ward Churchill said the World Trade Center victims were “little Eichmanns” and spoke of the “gallant sacrifices” of the “combat teams” that struck America.

Mr. Churchill gave up his post as chairman of Colorado’s Ethnic Studies Department, telling university officials in a letter that “the present political climate has rendered me a liability in terms of representing either my department, the college or the university.”

His salary will drop to $94,242 from $114,032, university spokeswoman Pauline Hale told the Denver Post.


Execution delayed by new evidence

HARTFORD — State officials canceled plans yesterday to execute a serial killer after new evidence emerged that his attorney said raises questions about his mental competency.

Michael Ross had been scheduled tomorrow to become the first person in 45 years to be executed in New England. Ross, who has confessed to eight murders in Connecticut and New York in the early 1980s, has said he wants to die to end the pain for the families of his victims.

But T.R. Paulding, the lawyer hired by Ross, 45, to expedite his execution, says the new evidence raises questions about his competency to “volunteer” to be executed.

Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano also filed a motion with the state Supreme Court to halt the execution, saying “he took a U-turn.” It is unknown when the issues surrounding Ross’ competency will be resolved.


Smelly school loses students

FORT WALTON BEACH — The children at Ocean City Elementary say school stinks. And they’re right.

More than 70 have transferred from Ocean City Elementary because an aging and outmoded sewage-treatment plant next door is emitting a foul odor.

“The smell affects us physically as well as the operation of our school,” said Principal Debbie Boutwell. She said the school’s budget is affected because out of 77 children who received zoning waivers not to attend the school, 70 cited the smell as the reason.

“We get roughly $3,800 per student, so that’s a lot of money that we aren’t able to use for staffing,” Miss Boutwell said.


Residents to visit the ‘other’ Tampa

TAMPA — All Jim Clemmer and Jim Allen have in common are their first names and that they both call Tampa home.

Mr. Clemmer lives in Tampa, Kan., while Mr. Allen lives in a suburb of Tampa, Fla. Next month, the two men will trade places and discover the “other” Tampa. The visits were arranged as part of a contest sponsored by a Tampa, Fla., radio station.

Neither man really knows what to expect on his visit. For his part, Mr. Allen said the idea of spending a weekend in a “small, rural Kansas town” was “intriguing.”

Mr. Allen won the radio contest by picking the winning slogan for Tampa, Fla. — “Paradise Under Construction.” Mr. Clemmer was chosen to go to Florida because he is mayor of Tampa, Kan.


Tiny community gets telephone service

MINK — A fish fry was scheduled yesterday in this hamlet of 15 households to celebrate big news: phone service.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco plans to call 83-year-old Mink resident Alma Louise Bolton from Baton Rouge to mark the occasion, which finally connects one of the nation’s last rural areas without access to regular phone service.


State rests case against ex-priest

CAMBRIDGE — Prosecutors wrapped up their case against defrocked priest Paul Shanley yesterday after a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist testified that it is not uncommon for adults who suffer trauma as children to repress memories of the experience.

Mr. Shanley’s accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter, says he remembered in early 2002 that he had been repeatedly raped and molested by the former priest from 1983 to 1989.

The condition is “not common, but it’s not at all rare,” said prosecution witness Dr. James Chu.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Shanley’s attorney, Frank Mondano, Dr. Chu acknowledged debate within the psychiatric field about the validity of repressed memories, including the possibility that such “memories” can be created by suggestion. Mr. Mondano is expected to call only one witness, a well-known psychologist who has challenged the reliability of recovered memory.


Police officer injured by glass in Big Mac

NEW YORK — A New York police officer had to be treated for mouth injuries after biting into a Big Mac containing glass shards reportedly placed there by a teenage McDonald’s employee.

Police said Albert Garcia, 18, was charged with first-degree assault and reckless endangerment after the incident on Saturday at a drive-through outlet of the burger chain in the Bronx.

The uniformed, on-duty officer, who was driving a marked police car when he placed his order, suffered cuts to his mouth and throat from chewing and swallowing the shards.

Press reports said Mr. Garcia was arrested Sunday after an undercover officer, sent to investigate the incident, observed him spitting in a burger being prepared for another policeman.


Police link gun to nine shootings

COLUMBUS — Investigators have linked nine shootings at parked cars, homes and businesses to the same gun in a city with fresh memories of a string of separate shootings that terrorized drivers and killed a woman.

Last week, police said ballistics tests connected eight shootings since Nov. 20 in residential and commercial areas in Columbus. Investigators have since linked a ninth shooting to the same 9 mm gun, Sgt. Brent Mull said yesterday.

No one has been injured, and police have made no arrests.

Although the shootings are only misdemeanors, investigators are giving the case extra attention because of 24 shootings, mostly at cars along a section of a highway on the other side of Columbus, over 10 months in 2003 and 2004, Sgt. Mull said.

Charles A. McCoy Jr., 29, was captured in March in Las Vegas and charged in 12 shootings.


Man holds knife to chest in Senate

SALEM — A man ran into the nearly empty Oregon Senate chamber yesterday and sat at the podium for nearly an hour, holding a 12-inch butcher knife to his chest, before police arrested him.

Boyd A. Owens, 54, gave up without a struggle. No one was harmed.

Mr. Owens approached the podium yelling obscenities and wildly shouting and gesticulating. During the standoff, he talked to himself and smoked a cigarette, authorities said.

His motives were not clear. State Police Maj. Dan Durbin said Mr. Owens demanded to speak with the governor and talked about “housing problems.”

Mr. Owens was charged with criminal mischief and with menacing and disorderly conduct. He was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation. State records show he has past convictions for drunken driving, assault, drug possession and theft.

Lawmakers had not yet convened when the standoff began, and only a few people were in the chamber. Authorities ordered them out.

State troopers are often stationed at the doors to the Capitol, but no security clearance is required to enter the building and there are no metal detectors.


Villanova pulls plaque for dead teacher

PHILADELPHIA — Stung by criticism from students, alumni and others, Villanova University has removed a plaque honoring a history professor who killed herself and her baby while in the throes of postpartum depression.

The university will instead organize a mental-health symposium in memory of Mine Ener, who taught at the suburban Philadelphia university’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies.

“We understand the strong sentiments expressed by members of our extended community,” the Roman Catholic institution said yesterday.

About 50 people, including Mrs. Ener’s husband, attended the Jan. 20 dedication of a small library study area in Mrs. Ener’s memory.


Singer won’t answer charges in club fire

PROVIDENCE — The lead singer for the 1980s rock band Great White has refused to answer charges in eight civil suits filed against him in federal court by victims of the deadly nightclub fire that was sparked by the band’s pyrotechnics.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Jack Russell’s attorneys said that he “faces a real possibility of criminal prosecution” for the 2003 fire that killed 100 persons, and that therefore, he is asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

Mike Healey, spokesman for Attorney General Patrick Lynch, told the Providence Journal for yesterday’s editions that “there is no open grand jury investigation going on” in connection with the fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick.

A grand jury indicted the club’s two owners and the band’s former tour manager on involuntary manslaughter charges. Mr. Healey said the attorney general’s office has no plans to prosecute anyone else for the fire.


Boy, 14, killed in road-rage shooting

DALLAS — A 14-year-old boy was killed and his stepfather was injured in a suspected road-rage shooting near downtown Dallas.

Police were searching yesterday for the person who fatally shot Ruben Juarez and wounded his stepfather, Gilbert Garza, 25, in a shopping center parking lot on Sunday afternoon.

Witnesses told police that the two vehicles were traveling in opposite directions when they nearly collided. Mr. Garza, who was treated at a hospital and released, told Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW that he honked at the car, and the other driver honked back.

Dallas police Sgt. Gary Kirkpatrick said the shooter exited the car, pulled out a rifle and fired a single bullet that went through the driver’s side window of Mr. Garza’s sport utility vehicle. The bullet hit Mr. Garza, and then struck Ruben.


Vacated convictions set child killers free

SEATTLE — Yvonne Roberts used to take comfort in knowing that the killer of her 3-year-old son was behind bars. That was before two recent state Supreme Court decisions let him out — four decades early.

And that man, David Crane, isn’t alone. In all, at least two dozen child killers could end up free after the court found that they were improperly convicted.

The court’s rulings concerned Washington’s law on felony murder, defined as a homicide that occurs — even by accident — during or “in furtherance of” another felony, such as robbery. For decades, prosecutors charged defendants with second-degree felony murder if an assault led to someone’s death.

In 2003, the court decided that the law did not allow for felony murder charges in assault cases. In a 5-4 ruling, justices reasoned that in such cases, the assault and homicide are the same act. About 280 prisoners might be entitled to have their convictions vacated.

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