- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

WEST VIRGINIA

Governor signs ‘Laci’s bill’

CHARLESTON — Gov. Joe Manchin III yesterday signed a bill that will treat unborn children in West Virginia as separate victims in most violent crimes.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act was dubbed “Laci’s bill” after Laci Peterson, the pregnant California woman who was slain by her husband. The measure would make it a separate crime to commit acts of violence against an embryo or a fetus.

Members of West Virginians for Life, the bill’s main champions, were on hand for the signing by the Democratic governor, according to TV station WTAP in Parkersburg.

GEORGIA

Explosion injures two workers

BALL GROUND — A worker was badly burned yesterday morning in an explosion at the Gold Kist poultry plant in Cherokee County.

“A piece of machinery that’s used in by products production had exploded,” said Tim Cavender, a spokesman for the Cherokee County fire department.

One employee suffered second-degree burns and a fracture to the upper right arm and was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Mr. Cavender said. Another worker sustained minor injuries. The identities of the injured workers were not released.

COLORADO

Suspected arson kills one retiree

ASPEN — A fire at an apartment complex for retirees killed one person early yesterday and forced other residents clad in bathrobes and pajamas to flee outside in freezing weather, authorities said.

Investigators suspected arson but had not identified any suspects or motives and did not know what was used to start the fires, police Sgt. Steve Smith said.

Fires started in the victim’s apartment, in an office in the same building and in the basement of a second building in the complex, Sgt. Smith told the Associated Press.

CONNECTICUT

Painted-over Antarctica goes on U.S. display

NEW HAVEN — As art restorers in London inspected a 230-year-old painting by master landscape artist William Hodges, they noticed the canvas was thicker in some areas than others.

Using an X-ray machine, they peered behind the lush greens of New Zealand and discovered the oldest known painting of Antarctica.

The X-ray revealed two icebergs, painted during Captain James Cook’s historic expedition below the Antarctic Circle. Until the National Maritime Museum in London made the discovery last year, historians thought that only sketches of the frozen continent had been produced.

“In the history of art, there’s nothing comparable,” said Angus Trumble, curator at the Yale Center for British Art, where the Hodges painting and the accompanying X-ray are on temporary display for their only U.S. appearance.

The discovery ignited a discussion over why Hodges endured frigid temperatures, fog and wind to make the first painting of the frozen continent, only to paint over it months later.

FLORIDA

Girl’s death probed in E. coli outbreak

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s top health official confirmed yesterday that a girl’s sudden death is being investigated as linked to an outbreak of E. coli bacteria thought to have been contracted at a fair.

State Health Secretary John Agwunobi said 14 persons who have become ill since attending the Strawberry Festival in Plant City or the Central Florida Fair in Orlando in early March have either tested positive for E. coli or a kidney disease that sometimes results from E. coli infection.

Nine of the victims remain hospitalized, but Mr. Agwunobi declined to say what their conditions were. The majority of those sickened are from Orange County, which includes Orlando. The girl who died was in Pasco County, in the northern Tampa Bay area.

INDIANA

Chihuahua terrorizes postal workers

HOBART — Dogs have long terrorized U.S. Postal Service workers, but the size of one here is raising eyebrows.

Mail carriers said they recently were unable to deliver mail to homes along a section of Guyer Street in this northwestern Indiana city because of a 4.5-pound Chihuahua named Bobo.

“The little Chihuahua was 10-foot tall when he was on the street,” said Florence Page of the Hobart Humane Society, which picked up the dog twice for running loose. “It’s kind of comical, you know, but after a while it’s not anymore.”

KENTUCKY

Gun scare shuts part of airport

HEBRON — Part of Cincinnati’s main airport was temporarily shut down Sunday after a passenger passed through a security checkpoint with what appeared to be a gun in a carry-on bag, authorities said.

Baggage screeners noticed an X-ray image that resembled a gun after the passenger had picked up the bag and left the checkpoint, said Christopher White, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman in Atlanta.

Part of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport was closed for about two hours as officials searched for the passenger and the weapon. Neither was found, Mr. White said.

LOUISIANA

Jury gets case in race-bias suit

NEW ORLEANS — A jury began deliberating yesterday in a lawsuit accusing New Orleans’ first black district attorney of racial discrimination for dismissing dozens of white employees upon taking office.

In closing arguments, attorneys for District Attorney Eddie Jordan said he had a right to hire and fire whomever he wanted, and was motivated not by racism but by a desire to make his office more reflective of the mostly black city.

Eight days after taking office in January 2003, Mr. Jordan fired 53 of 77 white workers who were not lawyers — investigators, clerks, child-support enforcement workers and the like — and replaced them with blacks.

Months later, 44 of the whites sued him, and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission later made a preliminary finding that Mr. Jordan had been racially biased.

NEW JERSEY

Sitter who miscarried accused in kidnapping

SOMERVILLE — A baby sitter who prosecutors said took off with a 5-month-old in her care made her first court appearance yesterday, shaking her head no as she was accused of trying to keep the boy from his parents.

Ana Marie Martinez, 52, was arrested Sunday morning, almost 24 hours after she disappeared with the infant from his Bridgewater home. She was charged with kidnapping and held in lieu of $30,000 cash bail.

Miss Martinez, a citizen of El Salvador, had been a regular baby sitter for the boy’s parents, Doris Leon, 26, and Miguel Mejia, 25, prosecutors said, and reportedly befriended the then-expectant couple soon after miscarrying a child of her own in October.

She concealed the miscarriage from her boyfriend and used photos she had taken during her baby-sitting visits to pass off the couple’s son as her own, prosecutor Wayne Forrest said.

Her boyfriend, Mario Tejeda-Hernandez, realized Sunday he had been deceived and called the boy’s parents, Mr. Forrest said.

NEW MEXICO

Man dragged behind vehicle

GALLUP — A man who was bound by the ankles, tied to a vehicle and dragged more than a mile was in critical condition yesterday, police said.

Officers received a report early Sunday of an injured man in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. They arrived to find Fausto Arellano, 32, and a rope. Drag marks led back to Mr. Arellano’s home, said Erin Pablo, a Gallup Police Department detective.

Mr. Arellano, a single father of two, was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital. No arrests have been made and a motive has not been established, police said.

NEW YORK

Curse forcibly inked on teen’s forehead

NORWICH — A man and a teenager have been charged with forcibly tattooing an obscenity on the forehead of a 17-year-old boy, police said yesterday.

Officer Craig Berry declined to describe the tattoo, except to say it was a phrase.

Kenneth D. Peer, 23, and an unnamed 17-year-old boy were charged with assault and unlawful imprisonment. The two were in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail. A court hearing was scheduled for tomorrow.

Officer Berry said the attackers used a homemade tattooing instrument, and that it was likely the victim would require plastic surgery or a laser process to remove the ink.

OREGON

Driver survives fall from bridge

PORTLAND — A woman was left amazed, but only slightly injured, after her sport utility vehicle fell 60 feet off a bridge and sank another 55 feet to the bottom of a river.

“You’re in a car going off a bridge — you think you’re done,” Melissa Borgaard told the Oregonian newspaper for yesterday’s editions.

She said she had been speaking on a hands-free cell phone while driving across a rain-slicked bridge in downtown Portland on Saturday when she lost control of her vehicle. It smashed through the guardrail and plunged into the water.

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