- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Fourth trial in slaying begins

LAKE CHARLES — A Louisiana inmate who already has been found guilty three times in the 1961 killing of a teller after a bank robbery went on trial for a fourth time yesterday.

Defense attorney George Kendall admitted that Wilbert Rideau, now 62, stabbed Julia Ferguson, but called it the “compulsive” act of a teenager and said Mr. Rideau should be found guilty of manslaughter — freeing him because of time served.

Prosecutor Rick Bryant portrayed the crime as a coldly performed murder and robbery, pointing out that Mr. Rideau drove the employee miles from the bank and that Miss Ferguson begged for her life.

All three convictions were overturned, with the latest falling in 2000 because blacks were excluded from the grand jury.


Movie palace to reopen after renovation

KNOXVILLE — Knoxville’s grand old movie palace, the Tennessee Theatre — designated the state’s official theater in 1999 and a registered national landmark — is reopening Saturday after a nearly $25 million restoration.

One of the last great movie theaters from the 1920s, the Gay Street venue has received a top-to-bottom overhaul since construction crews and craftsmen began working in June 2003.

Its romantic Spanish-Moorish opulence has been revived. Rich reds and golds gleam under crystal chandeliers and across the sweeping, aqua-domed and balconied auditorium of 1,631 scarlet seats.

James A. Dick, 85, saved the theater from demolition when he bought it in 1981.


War baby boom hits Army base

COLORADO SPRINGS — Nine months after thousands of soldiers returned home to Fort Carson from Iraq, Evans Army Community Hospital is swamped with mothers-to-be.

The hospital had 102 births in December and arranged for an additional 49 Army babies to be delivered at civilian hospitals in nearby Colorado Springs. This month, Evans expects 108 babies, up from 69 last January.


Rell’s cancer fight aids health care bills

HARTFORD — Legislation on breast cancer screenings is receiving a boost from Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s battle with the disease. Two newly filed bills would expand the type of screenings insurance companies would be required to cover.

Mrs. Rell, a longtime advocate for breast cancer awareness, underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery last month. Her doctors say her prognosis is excellent.


Preacher accused in church scam

ROME — A preacher went on trial yesterday on charges that he swindled 1,600 churches and hundreds out of $8.7 million nationwide.

A federal indictment says Abraham Kennard, 45, operated in 41 states under his corporation, Network International Investment, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The indictment said he promised churches and their members that they would receive a forgivable loan or grant of $500,000 for every $3,000 in membership fees they paid to his corporation.

Investigators said Mr. Kennard’s attorney then placed the money in Mr. Kennard’s trust account. The indictment said that of the $8.7 million, $3.4 million went to Mr. Kennard, his girlfriend, family members and shell corporations.

The trial began with jury selection.


Weight loss precedes dementia in elderly

CHICAGO — Weight loss in elderly men appears to be a harbinger of dementia and contributes to their increasing frailty, researchers said yesterday.

Although preventing weight loss was unlikely to prevent mental decline, maintaining weight could help stave off the physical dependence on other people, falls and poor wound healing that can accompany old age, the report published in the Archives of Neurology journal said.

In a three-decade study of 1,890 Japanese-American men aged 77 or older called the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, researchers identified 112 men who developed dementia.

A high proportion of the impaired subjects had lost at least 11 pounds, or 10 percent of their body weight, in the two to four years prior to the onset of dementia symptoms.

There was a similar association between weight loss and Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, wrote study author Robert Stewart of the Institute of Psychiatry in London.


ACLU objects to DNA dragnet

BOSTON — Civil liberties advocates yesterday urged law-enforcement officials trying to solve a three-year-old slaying to stop asking for DNA samples from male residents of a Cape Cod community.

Police in Truro, Mass., are seeking genetic thumbprints from nearly 800 men who live in the quiet seaside hamlet in hopes of solving the murder of Christa Worthington, a fashion writer. Her body was discovered Jan. 6, 2002, at her Truro home with her 2-year-old toddler, Ava, at her side.

In a bid to jump-start the investigation, police have begun asking Truro’s male residents to voluntarily produce DNA samples — collected by swabbing inside the mouth — to help find a match for the semen that was found on the victim’s body.

The New York Times reported yesterday that police are approaching men in public with the request and have announced that they will closely watch those who refuse. Authorities also say they may expand the drive to neighboring communities, the Times said.

“This is a particularly insidious form of coercion because it attaches a penalty to the assertion of one’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.


Judge orders release of Parks’ records

DETROIT — A federal judge yesterday ordered attorneys for civil rights icon Rosa Parks to release records about her mental state that may determine whether she approved of lawsuits over a hip-hop song that uses her name.

U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh ruled that some information about the 91-year-old’s health — especially her dementia — should not be shielded by a protective order. The order has kept the bulk of her medical records private.

The Detroit Free Press had argued that making the information public would help determine whether a 1999 lawsuit against record company BMG and the hip-hop duo OutKast owas filed in good faith.


FBI says it caught ‘Fishing Hat Bandit’

MINNEAPOLIS — The FBI said yesterday it caught the “Fishing Hat Bandit,” a bank robber who committed nearly two dozen holdups in the Twin Cities over the past year and a half.

John Douglas Whitrock, 56, of Burnsville was arrested Friday after a robbery at a credit union in Edina.

“Based on the investigation to date, evidence has been developed that allegedly ties Mr. Whitrock to multiple bank and credit union robberies in the metropolitan area,” said FBI spokesman Paul McCabe. “We are confident that the suspect known as the ‘Fishing Hat Bandit’ is no longer a threat to the banking community.”

The Fishing Hat Bandit often wore floppy hats during his holdups.


State cancels monthlong bison hunt

HELENA — Montana yesterday canceled what would have been the state’s first bison hunt in more than a decade.

The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission’s 4-1 vote came after new Gov. Brian Schweitzer expressed strong misgivings about the hunt and the potential bad publicity for the state.

The monthlong hunt had been set to begin Saturday.

The hunting of bison that wander from Yellowstone National Park each winter was canceled in 1991 after a barrage of protests and bad publicity. But the 2003 Legislative Assembly authorized bison hunting to resume.

More than 8,200 people applied for 10 hunting licenses that were to be issued through a drawing.


Clinton, UNICEF set up tsunami relief fund

NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced yesterday the creation of a special fund to provide uncontaminated water to victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster.

“Our inquiries determined that in the weeks and months ahead, more resources will be needed to provide clean water and adequate sanitation both for survival and prevention of diseases,” Mr. Clinton told reporters.

“Like most people after the tsunami, I wanted to do something to help,” Mr. Clinton said, adding that he and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, already had made a personal contribution to the water and sanitation fund.


Mountain-lion reports soar in 2004

MINOT — A record 63 mountain-lion sightings were reported last year in the state, wildlife officials said. Only seven of the sightings were confirmed though tracks, photographs and one carcass, biologist Jacquie Ermer said.

Until last year, fewer than 100 sightings had been reported in the state since the early 1960s, officials said.


Fire damages abortion clinic

SEATTLE — Fire heavily damaged a women’s clinic where abortions are performed in Olympia, and federal investigators were called in to investigate, authorities said.

The fire early Sunday damaged the roof of the Eastside Women’s Health Clinic and caused heat, water and smoke damage in offices, Olympia Fire Capt. Kate McDonald said. No one was injured.

The cause of the fire was unknown.



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