- The Washington Times - Friday, June 3, 2005


Runaway bride enters plea, gets probation

LAWRENCEVILLE — With her fiance at her side, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks pleaded no contest yesterday to faking her own abduction and was sentenced to probation, community service and a fine.

“I’m truly sorry for my actions, and I just want to thank Gwinnett County and the city of Duluth,” a weeping Miss Wilbanks said in court.

Judge Ronnie Batchelor sentenced her to two years’ probation and 120 hours of community service as part of a plea bargain. He also ordered her to continue mental health treatment and pay the sheriff’s office $2,550.

That fine is in addition to the $13,250 that she previously had agreed to pay the city of Duluth to help cover the overtime costs incurred in searching for her.

Miss Wilbanks disappeared from her Duluth home on April 26, four days before her planned wedding.


Police rescue hostage; gunman killed

SHELBYVILLE — Police stormed a convenience store yesterday, freeing a customer held hostage for 20 hours, and the suspect was killed in an exchange of gunfire, authorities said.

Negotiators had made arrangements for 29-year-old hostage Tammi L. Smith to come to the door of the Bigfoot store under the pretense of being handed a new telephone, with officers hoping to grab her, state police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten said.

Shortly before that was to happen, the gunman, Dennis McAninch, 34, broke off communication for 10 to 15 seconds, then shots were heard from inside the store, Sgt. Bursten said. SWAT team members then entered the store.

The standoff began Wednesday morning after officers pursued a car on Interstate 74 carrying two men who were suspected of a burglary about 30 miles away.


Clinton library will hit goal early

LITTLE ROCK — The William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum is expected to meet its annual attendance goal in just more than six months.

Visitor No. 300,000 was expected to walk through the 150,000-square-foot glass-and-steel museum complex’s revolving door this week, just more than six months after the library opened on Nov. 18.

About 1,500 visitors flow through the $165 million complex daily.


Boy, 7, blamed in baby’s death

TAMPA — A 7-year-old boy beat a baby to death because the younger child was crying, Tampa, Fla., police say.

Police said the boy admitted to the beating death. The child has not been charged, although the case has been forwarded to the state’s attorney’s office for review, the Tampa Tribune reported yesterday.

The boy reportedly told his father and the baby’s mother, with whom he was staying, that the baby was bleeding. The 7-month-old child was found in blankets, downstairs from where the adults had put the baby to bed, authorities said. The unconscious baby was taken to a hospital early May 22, but died the next day.


Rising costs cancel tourist train

SANDPOINT — Rising fuel and insurance costs have forced a halt to a tourist train that ran between Sandpoint in northern Idaho and Livingston, Mont.

Marcia Pilgeram, president of Montana Rockies Rail Tour, said the company’s revenue couldn’t offset high fixed costs of running the Montana Daylight tour train. The rail cars were leased to several other lines, Miss Pilgeram said.


Council limits black coral harvest

HONOLULU — A federal council declined to impose a five-year ban on harvesting the gemstone known as black coral in Hawaiian waters, opting instead to restrict the practice to older populations of the coral.

The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council on Wednesday rejected a recommendation from its Scientific and Statistical Committee to temporarily ban the harvest because of signs that younger populations of the sea life were declining.

Black coral is a living organism that attaches itself to rocks in deep ocean water and grows like a plant. People harvest the animal’s skeleton after it dies for use in jewelry and sculptures.

The Hawaii sales of black coral are estimated to be worth about $30 million a year.


Schools settle choking-death lawsuit

CHICAGO — The parents of a sixth-grader who choked to death on marshmallows while playing a classroom game settled their lawsuit against the suburban school district yesterday for $2 million.

The settlement came in the second week of a trial over the 1999 death of 12-year-old Catherine “Casey” Fish. Her parents had been seeking unspecified damages.

“This case was never about money,” said the family’s attorney, Francis Patrick Murphy. “This case has been about getting the message across to America that dangerous games should not be played in school, with or without supervision.”

Casey’s parents had argued that Glenview School District and teacher Kevin Dorken were responsible for the girl’s death because Mr. Dorken, who had been supervising the game, was out of the room while the children were stuffing marshmallows into their mouths to see who could hold the most and still say the words “chubby bunny.”


Mormon crickets invade neighborhood

RENO — Mormon crickets have begun their spring assault in the Reno area, marching into a new subdivision in Spanish Springs, north of Sparks.

It is the sixth straight year of infestation. Last year, the bugs infested about 12 million acres of Nevada, and researchers predict this summer’s infestation will equal or exceed it.


Rare nickel sells for $4.15 million

CONCORD — Not many people can retire on a nickel — unless it’s a rare 1913 Liberty Head such as the one that sold yesterday for $4.15 million.

It is the second-highest price ever reported paid for a rare coin. In 2002, a 1933 gold piece sold for $7.59 million.

Legend Numismatics, a coin dealership in Lincroft, N.J., bought the Liberty Head from collector Ed Lee of Merrimack, N.H. It is one of only five such nickels known to exist.

The nickel will be on display through tomorrow at a coin show in Long Beach, Calif. “We are going to display it and enjoy … it,” said Laura Sperber, co-president of Legend Numismatics.

Mr. Lee bought the coin from California sports agent Dwight Manley two years ago for nearly $3 million. At the time, he joked that he would be able to retire on the nickel.

Liberty Head nickels were minted from 1883 to 1912.


Court clears way for water project

BISMARCK — North Dakota’s Supreme Court has refused to block a contentious water-diversion project aimed at stopping a swollen lake from swamping homes and farmland.

The Canadian province of Manitoba and two local opposition groups had sued to block the project, saying diverted water from Devils Lake could introduce new types of pollution into Canadian waters.

In a ruling made public yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the lawsuit, finding that the state health department followed North Dakota law and did not act unreasonably in issuing a permit for the project.

The ruling clears the way for the project to begin operating next month.


Mother, daughter die in suicide pact

EAGLE POINT — A mother and daughter locked themselves inside the older woman’s home and died in a murder-suicide that the two apparently had planned together, authorities said.

The bodies of Jeanette Marie Kimball, 50, and Marie Catherine Combee, 29, were found Wednesday by Mrs. Kimball’s husband after he came home from a fishing trip, police said.

The women left a typewritten note that showed that the deaths were planned, said David Strand, police chief in this Oregon town of about 5,400. He would not disclose the contents of the note.

“Mom and daughter were very close and evidently they wanted to leave this world together,” Chief Strand said.


Quake rattles state; no damage reported

DYERSBURG — A minor earthquake struck northwestern Tennessee early yesterday, jarring some residents awake but causing no reported damage.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 4.0 and was centered 10 miles north-northwest of Dyersburg, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The area where the quake hit is in the New Madrid fault zone, a seismically active area that runs along the Mississippi River.

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