- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2005


Gibson to release low-gore ‘Passion’

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood mogul Mel Gibson will release a new, low-violence version of his 2004 surprise megahit “The Passion of the Christ” next month, Daily Variety reported.

The star, considered one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures since the success of the film, is trimming five to six minutes of violent scenes ahead of the film’s March 11 reappearance on U.S. screens.

The original film raked in $370.2 million in its North American run, which began on Ash Wednesday one year ago, but Mr. Gibson noted that many people had avoided the film because of its grisly portrayal of Jesus Christ being tortured.

“There has been quite a demand by the religious community to bring [the film] back for Easter,” Bruce Davey, Mr. Gibson’s partner at Icon Productions, told Variety.


Monk admits killing nun at school

MIAMI — A novice monk pleaded guilty yesterday to stabbing and beating a nun to death and got 30 years in prison in a deal with prosecutors, who offered him leniency because of evidence that he was molested by two priests.

Mykhaylo Kofel, 22, admitted killing Michelle Lewis, 39, whose nude body was found stabbed more than 90 times in 2001 in her residence at Holy Cross Academy in Miami-Dade County. Kofel had studied at the school for five years.

Kofel pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He originally was charged with first-degree murder, which could have brought a sentence of life in prison or death.

Kofel, who is Ukrainian, said two priests at the school sexually abused him while he was training with a Byzantine Catholic monastic order. Neither priest has been charged, but prosecutor Gail Levine said she believed Kofel, and that led to the plea bargain. The priests say Kofel is lying.


Three sisters killed in plane crash

ANCHORAGE — A small plane crashed during blinding snow and sank into a large, ice-covered lake, killing three young sisters who were traveling home with their parents, state troopers said.

Jeremy Davis, 38, and his wife, Michelle Davis, 31, managed to climb out of the plane. But daughters Samantha, 9, Jesse, 7, and Katie, 6, could not escape before it slipped through the thin ice on Lake Clark into deep water a mile offshore on Wednesday, police said.

After the crash, the parents hiked two miles in their wet clothing before reaching a vacant lodge. Along the way, the father fell through the ice three times and was blind from hypothermia, a friend, Joel Natwick, told the Anchorage Daily News. The parents were treated for the condition.

The Davises also have twin 4-year-old boys and a 2-year-old boy who were not on the flight, Mr. Natwick said.


Girl abused, locked in room, police say

TUCSON — A man and his girlfriend were arrested for locking his 14-year-old daughter in a bedroom for more than a year, police said Wednesday.

The couple reportedly allowed the girl out of the room only for bathroom breaks and meager meals starting in November 2003, said Sgt. Kerry Fuller, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman.

Detectives also found that the father had sexually abused the girl for several years, Sgt. Fuller said. The Associated Press is not naming the adults to protect the teen’s identity.

The girl, described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, 97 pounds and “significantly malnourished,” escaped from the home last week and called authorities, Sgt. Fuller said.


Quake shakes several states

CARAWAY — A small earthquake centered in northeastern Arkansas yesterday rattled windows and nerves across several states but caused no major damage. Shakes were felt as far away as Memphis, Tenn., and in Mississippi casinos.

A preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake that hit at 8:05 a.m. four miles east of Caraway had a magnitude of 4.2. A quake of magnitude 4 can cause moderate damage.

The quake was centered in a rural area just south of Milligan Ridge in Mississippi County and occurred at a depth of 10 miles. The region is in the New Madrid seismic zone, which covers portions of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.


Company sued over HIV disclosure

DENVER — A Wyoming couple can sue an insurance company for not informing them that a blood test taken for their application for coverage came back HIV-positive, a federal appeals court ruled.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. Inc. had a duty to disclose the results under Wyoming law. However, the court found that a jury must decide whether the company was negligent or caused the couple harm.

The ruling overturned a decision by a federal judge in Wyoming, who had thrown out the couple’s lawsuit.

Renna and Gary Pehle had been unaware they had HIV until Mrs. Pehle began showing symptoms of AIDS in 2001, two years after they applied for insurance from Farm Bureau and were denied, according to the ruling.


New date set for killer’s execution

NEW LONDON — A Connecticut judge yesterday set a new date for the execution of serial killer Michael Ross, who last month came within 90 minutes of being put to death when his execution was halted by legal wrangling over his mental competency.

Judge Patrick Clifford scheduled an execution date of May 11 for Ross, who would become the first person put to death in New England in 45 years.

Judge Clifford also appointed a special counsel, Thomas Groark, to investigate whether Ross was competent when he waived appeals of his death sentence.

Ross has admitted to killing eight women in the 1980s.


Two airlines lower interisland fares

HONOLULU — Hawaiian and Aloha Airlines, both of which are in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, lowered their interisland airfares.

Hawaiian is cutting its Web rates by 22 percent and began offering $69 one-way tickets as part of a three-tier fare structure. Aloha quickly matched the reductions.


Lights monitor lunchroom noise

ATHOL — Green light. Red Light. Lights out.

In an effort to quiet the lunchroom chatter at Athol Elementary, a stoplight has been mounted that monitors decibel levels and signals teachers to turn the lights out when students get too noisy.

The stoplight is mounted on the lunchroom wall and goes from green to yellow, flashes, and then turns red.


Trump defers to Daley, includes spire

CHICAGO — Donald Trump didn’t want a spire adorning his planned 92-story downtown tower, but Mayor Richard Daley did. Mr. Daley won.

The latest design for the developer’s $750 million Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago includes a 235-foot spire, which Mr. Trump had tried to delete on the drawing board.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday that he was ready to spend $3 million on the spire, which would make the building 1,360 feet tall.


World War I vet dies at 106

SHREVEPORT — George Dewey Perkins, one of the nation’s oldest veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps, has died at age 106.

He would have been 107 next month.

Mr. Perkins died Wednesday of natural causes at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, said his adopted granddaughter, Rose Mary Mason-Robinson, a patient advocate at the hospital.


Fishermen rescued after boat sinks

GLOUCESTER — A fishing boat sank and the Coast Guard rescued all three men on board, including the brother of one of the fishermen lost in the 1991 sinking portrayed in the book and film “The Perfect Storm.”

The 45-foot boat, the Hollywood, sent a mayday call before sinking Wednesday about 45 miles east of Gloucester. A Coast Guard jet picked up the signal and its crew spotted the men, who had climbed aboard a life raft, the Coast Guard said.

A Coast Guard helicopter arrived to lift the three men from the 39-degree water. Two of the men had been wearing survival suits, and all three declined medical attention.

The crew members were identified as skipper Richard Shatford, Lewis Mitchell and Brian Clancy, all from Gloucester.

Mr. Shatford’s brother, Bobby, was one of six fishermen who died in the sinking of the Andrea Gail, also based in Gloucester.


Man convicted in day-care attack

DETROIT — A man yesterday was found guilty of first-degree murder in the beating death of his 3-year-old daughter during an attack on her day-care center.

The jury also convicted Bernard Kelly, 37, of shooting the day-care operator and her niece, who were critically wounded.

Prosecutors said Kelly came to the in-home day-care center run by Annette Rice on Sept. 28, inquiring about services, and attacked Miss Rice and her niece, Sherita Griggs, before beating his daughter, Stefanie Belue, to death. They said he killed the girl because he did not want to pay child support.


Couple faces charges over locking up girl

ST. PAUL — A couple was charged with locking the woman’s 11-year-old daughter in a chain-link dog kennel for days at a time as discipline, letting her out only for school and chores.

Eric Bare, 41, and Deborah Lee Cameron, 34, were released from jail Wednesday night after posting bail, but they cannot have contact with the girl, who is in protective custody.

They were charged with two counts of unreasonable restraint of a child, a misdemeanor.

The girl, now 13, told police about the purported punishment when they responded to reports of screaming from the home in January. A police complaint said she was confined for three days in August 2003 and for seven days in October 2003, when she was 11.


Bill names highways for civil rights victims

JACKSON — Stretches of Mississippi highways in three counties would be renamed for victims of the nation’s most infamous civil rights killings under a bill approved yesterday by the state Senate.

A stretch of Mississippi State Route 19 near Philadelphia, thought to be the site of the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, would be renamed for the three civil rights workers ambushed and killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. A reputed former Klansman, Edgar Ray Killen, was recently indicted on state charges in the case.

The bill also renames a portion of U.S. Route 49 East in Leflore and Tallahatchie counties the Emmett Till Memorial Highway, in honor of the 14-year-old black youth who was beaten to death by white men in 1955, purportedly for whistling at a white woman. That case also has been reopened by prosecutors.


Visitors flock to Vegas in record numbers

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas hosted 37.4 million visitors in 2004, breaking the previous record of 35.8 million in 2000, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said.

This year, the city is projected to see 38.2 million visitors. The city’s occupancy levels also averaged 88.6 percent in 2004, up from 85 percent in 2003.


Turnpike workers approve contract

CLEVELAND — Ohio Turnpike workers approved a three-year contract after nearly going on strike for the first time in the toll road’s 50-year history.

The 704 toll takers and 293 maintenance workers approved the turnpike commission’s final offer. The contract includes a 3.5 percent wage increase for all employees in the first year.


Cosby denies fondling accusations

PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby, under investigation for sexual misconduct, denied accusations by a second woman that he drugged and fondled her. The second accusation dates to 30 years, and a prosecutor suggested Wednesday that such an old claim likely wouldn’t be relevant in the current case.

The 67-year-old comedian’s attorney blasted the Philadelphia Daily News for printing the accusations by Tamara Green, who was described by the newspaper Tuesday as a model-turned-lawyer who worked for Mr. Cosby in California at the time of the reported encounter.

The report was published as prosecutors mulled whether to file charges against Mr. Cosby in the complaint by a former Temple University employee.


Woman denies sherry enema charge

HOUSTON — A Texas woman indicted last month for giving her husband a lethal sherry enema said he was an enema addict who did it to himself, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Tammy Jean Warner said husband Michael Warner had an alcohol problem and enjoyed giving himself wine or sherry enemas because his body would absorb the spirits more quickly that way.

“That’s the way he went out, and I’m sure that’s the way he wanted to go out because he loved his enemas,” she told the Houston Chronicle.

Mrs. Warner, 42, is accused of giving her husband a sherry enema even though she knew alcohol was bad for his health. She faces a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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