Man found guiltyof killing his children
NORWALK — A jury yesterday convicted a man of killing five of his children by lighting a charcoal grill inside his home and closing all the doors and windows.
Adair Javier Garcia, 33, could get the death penalty. The penalty phase of his trial will begin Monday.
The five children, ages 3 to 10, were asphyxiated in their sleep in 2002 as carbon monoxide built up inside the family’s Pico Rivera home. Garcia and his daughter, who was 9 at the time, survived.
Prosecutors said Garcia sought revenge against his wife, who had recently left him.
Worker awarded $300,000in excessive-force suit
PROVIDENCE — A jury has awarded more than $300,000 to an Indian smoke shop employee whose ankle was broken during a police raid on the store.
A federal jury said Monday that Trooper Ken Jones used excessive force against Adam Jennings during a police attempt to shut down the store in 2003 for selling cigarettes without collecting state tax.
The Narragansett Indians maintained they could sell tax-free tobacco on tribal land. The state disagreed and raided the store. A federal judge ruled months later that the tribe’s smoke shop is not exempt from taxes. The tribe has appealed.
Boy, 7, takes truck to playtime
ENTERPRISE — A 7-year-old who apparently wanted to play with friends couldn’t wait.
He drove off in his father’s truck, eventually running it into a ditch before police officers managed to coax him out of the vehicle. They coaxed him out by telling the child that they would take him to play with his friends and then took him to the police station.
The boy was driving the big, dual-wheel truck erratically along Highway 27 when other drivers called police last week, saying they couldn’t see anyone behind the wheel.
The boy apparently got the keys while his father was sleeping, and he had been trying to drive to an Enterprise day care center, police said.
Arson suspect hanged himself, police say
ASPEN — The man who was suspected of setting multiple fires at his apartment complex and was found dead in his unit had hanged himself, authorities said yesterday.
Robert Seawell, 69, was found hanging in his apartment after the flames were extinguished Monday, police Detective Jim Crowley said.
Seawell had faced eviction this week from the complex, which caters to retirees. Detective Crowley said the eviction was thought to be a key motive for the arson, but he said there were other factors he would not disclose.
Residents in pajamas and bathrobes fled outside in freezing weather. No injuries were reported.
Officer suspended for stopping doctor
FORT LAUDERDALE — A police officer who stopped a doctor for speeding on his way to deliver a baby and then took him to the maternity ward in handcuffs has agreed to an unpaid suspension for lack of judgment.
Dr. Anthony Chidiac was driving his motorcycle 10 miles above the 25-mph speed limit last March, when he was stopped by 15-year veteran Officer William Lilliston.
According to records released Monday from an internal police investigation, when the doctor explained that he was going to a delivery, the officer reportedly asked whether he was delivering a pizza and later said, “If you’re a doctor, I’m Mickey Mouse or Joe Blow.”
Officer Lilliston called the hospital to confirm Dr. Chidiac’s story and drove him to the hospital as the baby’s head was showing. Dr. Chidiac delivered the baby 15 minutes after the handcuffs were removed.
The officer agreed last month to serve a 16-day unpaid suspension under a negotiated settlement, said his union’s president, Jack Lokeinsky. The case is scheduled to go before a Citizen Review Board on April 11.
Airmen arrested in theft of vests
VALDOSTA — Three Moody Air Force Base airmen have been arrested in an suspected scheme to take bulletproof vests from the base and sell them to drug dealers for $100 each.
Airman 1st Class Brian Aubray Skelton, 22, an active-duty serviceman, was arrested on a charge of theft by receiving stolen property and remained in Lowndes County Jail yesterday. Airman Todd Louis Boutte, 22, and Airman 1st Class Jared Wayne Roberts, 21, were in military custody, said Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk.
Eighteen of the tan vests, which typically are sold for up to $600 each, have been recovered, but others still might be on the street, Sheriff Paulk said.
The investigation began last week when police arrested a suspected gang member and found him wearing a bulletproof vest, which eventually was traced to the Air Force base outside Valdosta.
Judge reports for jury duty
VILLE PLATTE — Judge Thomas Fuselier didn’t have far to go to report for jury duty — he just walked across the hall.
Judge Fuselier was summoned for jury duty in the trial of a Morrow couple accused of killing and then dismembering a Texas couple.
The only other judge in the 13th Judicial District is the one presiding over the trial — Judge Larry Vidrine.
Judge Fuselier spent all of Monday afternoon in Judge Vidrine’s courtroom, waiting to be called for questioning, but he wasn’t selected.
Eleven of the 12 jurors for the trial were seated, and the jury selection was scheduled to resume yesterday.
Rules relaxed for hair braiders
JACKSON — Mississippi lawmakers approved a compromise bill yesterday that lifts rigid licensing requirements for people who braid, twist or add extensions to hair without chemicals.
Mississippi law currently says a braider must hold either a cosmetology license, requiring 1,500 hours of education, or a wig specialist license, requiring 300 hours of training.
The compromise bill sent to Gov. Haley Barbour requires hair braiders to pay an annual $25 fee to register with the state and take a self-test. They also will receive a brochure on sanitation.
Couple charged in son’s ‘94 death
CAMDEN — In a case that had baffled police for more than a decade, a woman and her husband were charged yesterday in the slaying of her 4-year-old son, whose remains were found in a duffel bag in 1994 in Philadelphia.
Prosecutors said Jerell Willis was fatally beaten by his mother, Alicia Willis Robinson, 32, and her husband, Lawrence Robinson, 35. The couple then dumped the body in a vacant lot near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
The dead child’s identity had been a mystery for years, until a man returned to the Camden area recently and asked about his nephew. The uncle became suspicious and searched the Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where he found a picture of a bust resembling the boy.
Town may display fiberglass bison
FARGO — You remember the Chicago cows? The Cincinnati pigs? The giant frogs in Toledo, Ohio?
Some think maybe it’s time for Fargo to get into the act with a public art display of huge fiberglass bison.
Martha Olsen, executive director of the Lake Agassiz Arts Council, is talking with local businesses and artists to try to gauge community support.
She said the sale or sponsorship of the bison sculptures would benefit the local arts community.
Judge says police breached reform pact
CINCINNATI — A federal judge has reprimanded the Cincinnati Police Department for blocking a reform process designed to improve poor police-community relations that erupted in race riots four years ago.
Police commanders were threatened with fines and jail time if they disrupt monitoring of the 1,000-officer department, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott wrote in the Monday ruling.
Three days of rioting in April 2001 were the result of a police shooting of an unarmed black man who was fleeing officers, one of several cases of Cincinnati officers shooting black suspects.
The officer was cleared of wrongdoing, but the incident raised concerns about race relations in the southern Ohio city of 330,000 and spurred police-reform efforts sought by community groups. The U.S. Justice Department also pledged oversight of the police department and promised changes in police procedures.
But Police Chief Thomas Streicher was accused of criticizing a court-appointed monitor and of blocking access to ride-alongs with his officers. Recent police efforts to patch things up with the monitors were insufficient, Judge Dlott ruled.
Ex-Scout official faces porn charges
DALLAS — A former high-ranking Boy Scouts of America official has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, who as program director coordinated scouting programs with schools and churches, was accused of receiving images over the Internet in February of children engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The charges were filed by federal prosecutors March 21.
Law-enforcement officials indicated that the pictures did not show boys who were with the Boy Scouts organization, said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, based in the Dallas suburb of Irving.
CDC halts study of atomic fallout
SALT LAKE CITY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has halted funding for a study on the connection between radioactive fallout and thyroid disease among people living downwind of aboveground atomic bomb tests in Nevada during the 1950s and early 1960s.
The study, which had cost $8 million, has re-examined about 1,300 former students who lived in southwestern Utah and eastern Nevada, plus a control group of Arizona residents.
“CDC does not have the financial resources available to continue the project,” agency spokesman John Florence told the Deseret Morning News. “It’s a funding issue.”
Previous studies have produced conflicting conclusions on how the more than 900 atomic-weapons tests affected people living downwind in Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The latest study was aimed at re-examining the residents for possible long-term effects.