- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

KANSAS

Professor convicted of killing ex-wife

LAWRENCE — A Kansas State University professor, who prosecutors said researched murder techniques on the Internet, was convicted yesterday of killing his former wife.

The jury found English professor Thomas E. Murray, 48, guilty on the third day of deliberations. The school fired Murray after his conviction.

Murray’s ex-wife, Carmin D. Ross, a former Kansas State administrator, was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death in her farmhouse in November 2003.

Miss Ross, 40, and Murray shared custody of their daughter, who was 4 at the time, after their divorce and were in mediation for custody issues. At the time Miss Ross was killed, she was planning to remarry and move to California. Prosecutors argued that Murray killed his ex-wife because he was furious about losing custody.

MAINE

Illness ends man’s skiing streak

PORTLAND — An 82-year-old Maine skier who obsessively hit the slopes every day of the season for more than 24 years has called it quits.

Paul Schipper started in 1980 and ended this season after 3,903 days. He stopped because of a bout with the flu.

“I’m just as happy,” said Mr. Schipper, who lives a half-mile from Sugarloaf/USA, about 120 miles north of Portland. “It was getting to be a drag.”

Mr. Schipper’s exploits are legendary at Sugarloaf/USA, where the idea of skiing every day was hatched while he and some friends were relaxing in the ski lodge. A year later, Mr. Schipper was the only one to achieve the goal, having skied all 174 days in the 1980-81 season.

ALABAMA

Chapel has replica of Sistine frescoes

BIRMINGHAM — You don’t have to leave Alabama to experience what it’s like to be in the Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo covered the ceiling with frescoes.

A small copy of the famous work covers an interior wall of Wilson Chapel United Methodist Church near Birmingham. The replica reveals both Old and New Testament scenes in vivid colors on a light blue background painted to resemble the sky.

Physician Roberto R. Canas, 88, said he was so inspired by Michelangelo’s work that he wanted to reproduce some of it.

But while Michelangelo painted his masterpiece over four years on an elevated wooden platform, Dr. Canas painted on the floor of his Birmingham basement — on strips of canvas, for seven months.

CALIFORNIA

Gas station throne is fit for a king

WEST COVINA — As Paul Moghadan puts it, a good bathroom is good for the bottom line.

A chandelier, silver columns and a marble counter adorn the bathroom at his Chevron gas station in West Covina, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. The walls are decorated in rich earth tones and blue stone tiles, giving the 10-foot-wide room a slight Tuscan ambiance — or maybe a touch of Vegas.

“I wanted to give the restroom the greatest look I could. I wanted to show how much I respect my customers,” Mr. Moghadan, 55, said. “I started with Chevron in 1966, and they trained us back then that the No. 1 priority was the station bathroom.”

In the past dozen years, Mr. Moghadan said, he receives an average of 20 compliments a day about the bathroom.

MICHIGAN

Governor starts faith-based initiative

LANSING — Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm has created an office of community and faith-based initiatives, saying she wants state government to work with religious groups to help the needy.

The Democrat announced the office Monday at a state-sponsored symposium on faith-based programs, with the goal of enlisting religious organizations to recruit mentors for foster children, provide lower-cost prescription drugs and fight substance abuse.

The American Civil Liberties Union says Mrs. Granholm’s initiative could promote religion and violate the federal and state constitutions.

MINNESOTA

Exercise can help cure depression

MINNEAPOLIS — Life changed for Reed Steele five years ago when a series of injuries kept him from competing for his college cross-country and track teams.

Unable to run, he got depressed. He turned to drugs and alcohol, hoping they could provide the escape that running had. Before long, his depression deepened until he was hospitalized and suicidal.

Today the 25-year-old feels better, thanks to a combination of antidepressants, therapy — and exercise, a mix of swimming, cycling and moderate running.

Though there is no definitive research showing that exercise by itself can cure depression, many mental health specialists agree that it has positive mental benefits and can be a useful tool in overall therapy.

NEW JERSEY

Van carrying prisoners hijacked

EATONTOWN — A van taking prisoners to a roadside work detail was hijacked yesterday, leading to a chase on the Garden State Parkway that ended when the van rolled over on the roadside.

The inmates and driver had been ordered out of the van and were not injured. The carjacking suspect was arrested.

The chase started about 10:30 a.m. at an intersection off a parkway interchange in Eatontown in east-central New Jersey, when a man pointed a gun in the face of a corrections officer, said Matt Shuman, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Corrections. The van was transporting five minimum-security prisoners from Northern State Prison in Newark, he said.

The inmates — who were to spend the day picking up trash along highways — were in the custody of Eatontown police, who were arranging to transport them back to Newark.

NEW YORK

Firefighters boycott St. Patrick’s parade

NEW YORK — Hundreds of New York City firefighters refused to take part in the St. Patrick’s Day parade yesterday in protest of a ban on wearing green hats during the annual march up Fifth Avenue.

Firefighters in the Green Beret Platoon halted their 30-year-old tradition of participating in the parade and elected instead to watch the massive event from the sidelines.

They were objecting to a memo from the chief of the Fire Department of New York that said firefighters could march only in standard uniforms and caps.

The directive was intended to instill greater discipline in the rank and file after a recent series of scandals, including a drunken brawl in a Staten Island firehouse two years ago and a sex scandal at a Bronx station in the summer.

“We’re here to express our disappointment,” said Edward Boles, a beret platoon member, as he stood in a sea of green hats on a sidewalk and watched the parade go past.

TEXAS

Divorce finalized for Yates couple

HOUSTON — The husband of Andrea Yates, who drowned the couple’s five children in a bathtub, finalized their divorce yesterday in an agreement that gives her $7,000 in cash, a nursing chair and rights to be buried near the children.

Under the decree, Mrs. Yates also will receive part of Russell Yates’ retirement benefits from his employment at NASA. The Clear Lake house where the family lived has been sold.

Mrs. Yates, 40, was sentenced to life in prison for three of the 2001 drowning deaths, but the capital-murder convictions were overturned in January.

UTAH

Polygamous policeman could lose his badge

ST. GEORGE — A polygamous police chief who patrols his own small Arizona town and one across the border in Utah might lose his status as a peace officer in both states.

Administrative Law Judge Richard Wyss has recommended that Utah revoke certification for Colorado City, Ariz., Police Chief Sam Roundy.

The Utah Division of Peace Officer Standards and Training, meeting next week, is expected to approve that recommendation, said Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith. Chief Roundy and his officers also patrol nearby Hildale, Utah.

Both small communities are dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Utah and Arizona prohibit polygamy in their state constitutions.

Colorado City’s seven-member police force is cross-certified to work in both states.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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