- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Former inmate gets $3 million

PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was twice wrongfully convicted of murder, officials said.

It’s the second settlement that Ray Krone has received this year. In April, Maricopa County agreed to pay him $1.4 million.

“I’m just glad for it to be over,” said Mr. Krone, who spent more than a decade behind bars, including two years on death row. “I hope I won’t ever need lawyers again.”

The Phoenix City Council approved the settlement last week, city spokeswoman Toni Maccarone said. Neither the city nor county admitted wrongdoing by settling, according to lawyers in the case.

In 2002, DNA testing proved Mr. Krone wasn’t the killer. Instead, DNA from the crime scene was linked to a man in prison for another crime. A trial for the new suspect is pending.


Huckabee to head public policy center

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Huckabee will become the director of a new public policy center at his alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University, when he leaves office in 2007, the school has announced.

The center will be known as the Michael D. Huckabee School of Education, university President Andrew Westmoreland said Tuesday at a gala honoring the governor.

Mr. Huckabee, a Republican, has said he is considering a run for the presidency in 2008. Part-time work at the university could free him up to pursue a national campaign.


Two split reward in Wendy’s finger case

SAN JOSE — The two persons who helped crack the famous finger-in-the-chili case that cost Wendy’s International $1 million a day will split a $100,000 reward.

Half will go to Mike Casey of Las Vegas, who told police that the finger belonged to an employee of his company, Lamb Asphalt Maintenance. The other half will go to a person who wants to remain anonymous, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Last week, Mr. Casey said he doubted Wendy’s seriousness about the $100,000 reward.

Wendy’s said it finally released payment based on police assurance that the information led to the arrest and guilty pleas of Anna Ayala, 39, and her husband, Jaime Plascencia, 43.

They pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to conspiring to plant the fingertip last March in a bowl of chili in San Jose, Calif., and attempting to extort a settlement from Wendy’s. Ayala put the fingertip in the food that Plascencia got from a co-worker injured in an accident.


Injured veteran paid after 50 years

WESTON — A highly decorated fighter pilot who lost sight in one eye in a plane crash during World War II finally has received the disability payments he has sought for 50 years.

Frank Fong, 86, will receive a lump sum of $67,000 next month for injuries suffered in a 1944 crash over Germany, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday.

Last week, the Veteran Appeals Board granted the disability payments for blindness in Mr. Fong’s left eye for the period from July 1950 to August 1997. The VA denied a claim Mr. Fong filed in 1950 because a VA doctor did not diagnose the scar on his retina and the flight-surgeon records of the accident weren’t in his military file.

In 1998, the VA acknowledged that the crash caused the scarring and blindness and granted him monthly payments, but only authorized payments retroactive one year to 1997.


Man executed for ex-wife’s murder

MICHIGAN CITY — The state of Indiana yesterday executed a man who bludgeoned his ex-wife to death while on temporary furlough from prison, where he was serving a sentence for nearly killing her.

Officials at the Indiana State Prison said Alan Matheney, 54, was pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m. after an injection of lethal chemicals.

“I love my family and my children. I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused them. I thank my friends who stood by me … I’m sure my grandchildren will grow up happy and healthy in the care of their wonderful parents,” Matheney said in a final statement read by his attorney, Steven Schutte.

For his last meal, he had chicken wings, a fried chicken dinner, large wedges of potatoes, corn on the cob, biscuits and a chocolate shake.

Given an eight-hour furlough from an Indianapolis prison in 1989, Matheney drove to the northern Indiana home of his ex-wife, Lisa Bianco, broke in, chased her down in the street and beat her with the butt of a stolen shotgun until the weapon broke into pieces.


Louisville-Dulles flights will stop

LOUISVILLE — Louisville International Airport is losing its only nonstop flights to Washington Dulles International Airport. Independence Air officials say the airline will end three daily flights out of Louisville at the end of October.

The airline has been hard hit by high fuel costs and lost $98.5 million from April to June. Officials warned last month that the airline might have to file for bankruptcy.


Ruling lets gays receive benefits

LANSING — Public universities and governments can provide health insurance to the partners of homosexual employees without violating the Michigan Constitution, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling sets aside a legal opinion issued this year by Republican Attorney General Mike Coxthat the city of Kalamazoo could not provide benefits to homosexual partners.

Mr. Cox cited the constitutional amendment approved by voters last November that made the union between a man and a woman the only agreement recognized as a marriage “or similar union for any purpose.”

Twenty-one homosexual couples who work for Kalamazoo, universities and the state filed a lawsuit challenging Mr. Cox’s interpretation.

In Tuesday’s ruling, Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk said the purpose of the amendment was to ban homosexual “marriage” and civil unions — not to keep public employers from offering benefits to homosexual employees.


Pataki drops freedom museum

NEW YORK — Gov. George E. Pataki dropped a proposed freedom museum from the World Trade Center redevelopment plan yesterday, saying the project had aroused “too much opposition, too much controversy.”

The decision followed months of acrimony over the International Freedom Center, with furious September 11 families and politicians saying the museum would overshadow and take space from a separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events.

“We must move forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring memorial to pay tribute to our lost loved ones and tell their stories to the world,” Mr. Pataki said.

In addition to the terrorist attacks, the Freedom Center would have dealt with such topics as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the civil rights movement, the Declaration of Independence and the South African Constitution.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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