- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Sun won’t set on city for months

BARROW — Say goodbye to darkness — at least for a while.

When the sun rose yesterday over the continent’s northernmost community, it began a nearly three-month stay. The last sunset of the season occurred at 1:50 a.m. yesterday, and the sun rose again at 2:56 a.m.

“Then it will stay above the horizon until August 2, when the first sunset will take place,” said Gina Sturm of the National Weather Service office in Barrow.

Barrow is about 330 miles above the Arctic Circle. In winter, the sun sets in mid-November and the region is dark until late January.


20 banks held up in two weeks

PHOENIX — At least 20 banks in the Phoenix area have been held up in a little more than two weeks. Authorities call it the state’s worst string of bank robberies in years.

As many as a dozen of the robberies might be related, based on similarities in how they were carried out, the FBI and local police said.


Judge won’t let sister stop execution

HARTFORD — A Superior Court judge yesterday rebuffed an attempt by a sister of serial killer Michael Ross to intervene in the case and stop her brother’s execution, which would be the first in New England since 1960 .

Ross is scheduled to die by injection just after 2 a.m. Friday.

Rockville Superior Court Judge Jonathan Kaplan ruled yesterday that Donna Dunham has no standing to act on her brother’s behalf.

Ross, 45, was sentenced to death for murdering four young women in eastern Connecticut in the early 1980s and has confessed to four other murders in Connecticut and New York.

Last year, he decided to end his appeals and accept his death sentence.

Judge Kaplan’s decision, which calls the sister’s complaint “wholly frivolous,” came a day after the state Supreme Court upheld a ruling that Ross is mentally competent.


Runaway bride enters treatment program

ATLANTA — Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks has checked herself into an inpatient medical treatment program to deal with “physical and mental issues” that drove her to skip town just days before her wedding, a spokesman for her family’s church said yesterday.

The news about the treatment came as more details about Miss Wilbanks’ previous brushes with the law emerged. She was charged with shoplifting on three occasions in the 1990s, including one instance in which she reportedly swiped $1,740 in merchandise from a mall, court records show. That felony charge was dropped after Miss Wilbanks, then 24, completed community service and paid restitution, court records show.

Sammy Smith, a spokesman for Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, said Miss Wilbanks entered the treatment program Monday. He said the location of the treatment center will not be disclosed, and he would not provide any other details on the type of treatment she is receiving or how long she is expected to remain in the facility.

Prosecutors still are considering whether to press charges against Miss Wilbanks for making false statements to authorities. District Attorney Danny Porter said her decision to seek treatment will not protect her from charges.


Test a success in VX destruction

NEWPORT — Army contractors successfully destroyed two batches of a deadly nerve agent last week in the first test of a project to eliminate a chemical-weapons stockpile in western Indiana, military officials said Monday.

Laboratory results showed that 180 gallons of VX nerve agent funneled Friday into two chemical reactors were neutralized safely, said Jeff Brubaker, the Army’s site manager at the Newport Chemical Depot.

The nerve agent, a liquid with the consistency of mineral oil, can kill a healthy adult with a single droplet. The results mean the project to destroy more than 250,000 gallons of VX can proceed at the site about 30 miles north of Terre Haute. The neutralization process is expected to take more than two years.


Would-be robber gets stuck in chimney

WEBSTER CITY — A 20-year-old man learned the hard way that Santa is a tough act to follow.

Javier Torrez, 20, was charged with trespassing after he got stuck in a chimney while trying to break into a house, police said.

Authorities received a call early Sunday from a neighbor who heard someone calling for help near a vacant home, police said.

When officers arrived, they kicked in the front door of the home and followed the sound of Mr. Torrez’s voice until they found him in the chimney in the basement of the home. Firefighters were called to help free the would-be robber.

Police said Mr. Torrez had climbed onto the roof and slid down the chimney before getting stuck. The investigation was continuing, and additional charges were being considered.


University rebuffed from out of state

HELENA — The University of Montana has received a terse letter from an Atlanta-based philanthropic group in response to a solicitation for a $3 million auditorium: Until Montanans start appreciating out-of-state landowners, don’t expect a donation.

The Atlanta-based James M. Cox Jr. Foundation replied: “As you may know, many Montana residents are making it known that they are not happy with nonresident landowners in their state. In addition, stream and river access issues are also being raised. Until these issues are resolved and our presence in the state is more appreciated, we have decided not to make any further contributions in Montana.”

For years, Montanans have complained that rich people looking for new lifestyles move to the state and then have the nerve to question Montanans’ values on matters such as hunting and fishing.


Federal agents seize 1,000 fake badges

NEW YORK — A man has been charged with possessing an illegal cache of about 1,000 counterfeit law-enforcement badges, authorities said yesterday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Sergio Khorosh on Monday at his Bronx home after he accepted delivery of about 100 fake U.S. Marshals Service shields. The delivery was being monitored by the agents, who first had intercepted the badges last month in a shipment from Taiwan to San Francisco.

During a search of Mr. Khorosh’s home, agents discovered about 1,000 more badges, some resembling those of the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Police Department, court papers show. Also found were six firearms, including semiautomatic pistols.


Pastor resigns in politics fight

WAYNESVILLE — A Baptist preacher accused of running out nine congregants who disagreed with his Republican politics resigned yesterday, two days after calling the issue “a great misunderstanding.”

Speaking from the pulpit during a meeting at East Waynesville Baptist Church, the Rev. Chan Chandler told church members that it would “cause more hurt for me and my family” if he stayed.

“I am resigning with gratitude in my heart for all of you, particularly those of you who love me and my family,” Mr. Chandler said, adding that the dispute was rooted in his opposition to abortion.

Some congregants of the 100-member church in western North Carolina have said Mr. Chandler endorsed President Bush from the pulpit during last year’s presidential campaign and told anyone who planned to vote for Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry to “repent or resign.”


Jurors absent in case of nightclub fire

PROVIDENCE — The judge in the Station nightclub fire case has agreed to hear arguments about whether defense attorneys can question grand jurors about absences during testimony — a possible step to asking that indictments be dismissed.

Attorneys for the West Warwick club’s owners, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, have said most of the jurors who indicted their clients in December 2003 missed at least some testimony, and at least one never received a tape or transcript of the testimony that was missed.

The Derderians and Daniel Biechele, the former Great White tour manager blamed for the pyrotechnics that caused the February 2003 fire, were charged with 200 counts each of involuntary manslaughter. All three have pleaded not guilty.

One hundred persons were killed and about 200 people were injured in what was one of the deadliest nightclub fires in the nation’s history.

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