- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2005

CONNECTICUT

Judge delays serial killer’s execution

HARTFORD A federal judge yesterday postponed the execution of a convicted serial killer who had tried to end his appeals and tomorrow was to become the first person put to death in New England in nearly 45 years.

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny delayed the execution at least until he can hold a full hearing on the mental competence of Michael Ross. He did not immediately set a date for the hearing. Prosecutors said they would appeal.

Ross, 45, is on death row for the murders of four young women in Connecticut in the early 1980s. His 1984 arrest ended a nationwide three-year spree of attacks. He raped most of his victims and killed eight, six in Connecticut.

FLORIDA

Woman in Elian suit cites tear gas

MIAMI The first witness in a $3 million-plus lawsuit testified that she clutched her chest and thought she was dying when a federal agent doused her with tear gas during the April 22, 2000, raid to send Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba.

Maria Riera is one of 13 persons who said they were injured or traumatized when federal agents seized the 6-year-old boy from his Miami relatives’ home.

“I was stopped by a gentleman on my left approaching me with a shotgun,” said Mrs. Riera, who lived across the street from the home targeted in the raid.

She said a black-garbed and masked agent ordered her to “stand back” or he would shoot, adding profanity. She said she complied, but a second agent approached with a gas gun and left her in a cloud of tear gas.

ALASKA

Snow leopards test cameras

ANCHORAGE — The two fluffy snow leopards that live at the Alaska Zoo spent a recent night testing cameras for a team of international researchers.

But Kaz, the curious 97-pound male, licked, pawed, gnawed and otherwise mauled the three expensive cameras in his enclosure, yanking the cord from one $500 model triggered by an infrared beam, and biting the toggle on another so that it stopped working.

“Out in the wild, they won’t have these problems because [wild leopards] have better things to do,” zoo curator Pat Lampi told the Anchorage Daily News.

The camera experiment at the zoo is part of a study to find better ways to count and keep track of one of the world’s most-exotic and least-known endangered species, the snow leopards of Central Asia.

ARKANSAS

Lawmakers enjoy lobbyists’ food

LITTLE ROCK — Most legislators here for their session receive $110 a day from the state for food and lodging, but many eat at lobbyists’ expense.

About 50 legislators ate lunch recently, courtesy of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association. They were treated to beef brisket, chicken breasts, chocolate cake and strawberry cake. The National Conference of State Legislatures says only Wisconsin places an outright ban on all food from lobbyists.

COLORADO

El Paso County is defense leader

COLORADO SPRINGS — This Colorado city has become the center of military spending in the state, officials say. Four years ago, 44 percent of the defense spending in Colorado went to El Paso County. Now it has jumped to 61 percent for a total of $1.5 billion in the past fiscal year.

The county is home to five major military posts, including the Air Force Academy. The increased spending has helped the area bounce back from the technology sector collapse of recent years.

IOWA

Suburbs outgrow Des Moines

DES MOINES — The combined population of 14 surrounding suburbs has outgrown Des Moines’ population, the Des Moines Sunday Register reported.

Unofficial estimates from city officials count 206,651 residents in the suburbs, while Des Moines has 201,655 residents, the newspaper said.

MAINE

Man faked illness to avoid meal tab

MACHIAS — A 54-year-old man who routinely complained of fake chest pains to avoid paying the tab for restaurant meals may have gotten his just deserts.

A judge sentenced Elias I. Elias on Friday to 90 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to theft of services.

The sentence followed the recommendation of District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, who said the Aug. 5 incident at the Townhouse Restaurant marked the 13th time that Elias tried to skip out on the check by pretending he had trouble breathing and was having a heart attack.

Elias’ court-appointed attorney, Jeffrey Davidson, told the judge that the homeless and unemployed man just wanted to eat a restaurant meal “like anybody else.”

MICHIGAN

Teacher gets life for hatchet slaying

PONTIAC — An elementary school teacher who hacked her husband to death with a hatchet was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Before she was sentenced, Nancy Seaman read a statement in which she called the jury’s guilty verdict “a miscarriage of justice” and a “tragic mistake.” She said she would appeal.

Prosecutors said Seaman argued with her husband, Robert, on Mother’s Day, went to Home Depot to buy a hatchet, returned to their home and killed him with the hatchet. Police found Mr. Seaman’s body in his wife’s sport utility vehicle a few days later.

Seaman claimed that she bought the hatchet for yard work and that the couple got into an argument the next morning during which her husband of 31 years menaced her with a steak knife.

NEBRASKA

Republican picked as lieutenant governor

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s new lieutenant governor is a small-city mayor who switched over to the Republican Party just two years ago.

Gov. Dave Heineman, who took office last week after former Gov. Mike Johanns was confirmed as secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture , announced yesterday he had selected Hastings Mayor Rick Sheehy as his lieutenant governor.

Mr. Sheehy, 45, resigned from the mayoral job yesterday morning before taking the oath for his new office. Mr. Heineman said Mr. Sheehy’s Democratic past didn’t affect his nomination.

Mr. Heineman will serve the remainder of Mr. Johanns’ term through January 2007. He can seek election to a four-year term in November 2006.

NEW MEXICO

16 South Koreans arrested on train

ALBUQUERQUE — Fifteen illegal immigrants from South Korea and the man accused of smuggling them into the United States were arrested on a New York-bound Amtrak train, federal officials said yesterday.

The men and the suspected smuggler, Pyung-seop Lee, 27, were arrested Thursday at the train station in Albuquerque, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. Mr. Lee also is thought to be in the country illegally, officials said.

They were discovered after investigators with the Drug Enforcement Administration noticed their reservations on the train’s manifest, according to the criminal complaint against Mr. Lee, who is charged with transporting or attempting to transport the group within the United States.

Two of the men told investigators that they flew from Korea on Dec. 21 to Canada, then were driven to Los Angeles. After about a month stashed in a house there, they said, Mr. Lee instructed the group to meet at an Amtrak station, where they boarded the train.

NEW JERSEY

New lottery game for environment eyed

TRENTON — The New Jersey Lottery could generate a different kind of green, if plans for an environmentally beneficial game get off the ground.

Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell promised to discuss with the state treasurer the idea for a lottery game to benefit the environment, but cautioned that approval of such a game is not a sure thing.

Green Action Alliance Chairman Ed Knorr came up with the idea for the “Best Dam Lottery Game,” whose proceeds would be dedicated to public and private well testing for senior citizens and low-income households in the state.

The state lottery generated $765 million in 2003.

OREGON

Museum displays early telephones

EUGENE — Too young to remember those clunky cell phones of the 1980s? Look no more.

The Telephone Pioneer Museum has got the number of phone lovers and others who are just plain curious.

The quirky museum in Eugene has phones galore on display — pink Princess phones, old-fashioned desk phones, and even a 1980s cell phone that is about the weight of a brick. The museum also houses replicas of Alexander Graham Bell’s harmonic telegraph transmitter.

RHODE ISLAND

Flu patients stretching hospitals

PROVIDENCE — Hospitals say they are straining to find room for the sick in the middle of flu season as a nursing shortage continues.

Roger Williams Medical Center is housing patients in areas normally used for cancer treatment, marshaling administrators to help with nonclinical tasks and calling in staff to work extra shifts. Officials at Rhode Island Hospital said they are housing the overflow of patients in a former cancer ward in the vacant George Clinic.

WASHINGTON

Weed wins cover-photo contest

WENATCHEE — They look like simple yellow flowers amid golden hills, but the blooms on the front of the new North Central Washington telephone book are just weeds.

Even the former U.S. Forest Service employee whose photo won the annual contest sponsored by Hagadone Directories Inc. knew that it showed Dalmatian toadflax, listed as a noxious weed by Washington, Oregon, Idaho and other states.

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