- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006


Prosecutors want trial at site of shootings

ATLANTA — A man accused of killing four persons should be tried in the same downtown courthouse where the shooting spree started because no suitable alternative has been found, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors wrote in court papers Monday that Brian Nichols’ defense failed to come up with another site for the Oct. 3 trial to which both sides can agree.

Mr. Nichols’ defense has argued the trial should not be held in the Fulton County Courthouse complex because its hallways, parking lots and one of its courtrooms are considered crime scenes.

A hearing on the issue was scheduled for today.


Pastor arrested during sermon

CHICAGO — A Lutheran pastor who has been the focus of a church dispute between rival factions was arrested on a trespassing charge in the middle of his sermon.

The Rev. Jimmy McCants, 54, was not handcuffed when police led him out of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Sunday. He was booked on a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing and released in lieu of $1,000 bail.

The church’s board of directors told police they had fired Mr. McCants on Christmas Eve, and a woman affiliated with the church signed a complaint against him for trespassing on church property, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.


Bar attack suspect shot himself

BOSTON — The man suspected in two slayings and a rampage at a homosexual bar fatally shot himself in the head during a gunfight with Arkansas police, authorities said yesterday.

Jacob Robida, 18, of New Bedford, turned the gun on himself Saturday after he fatally shot a West Virginia woman who was in his car, Bristol District Attorney Paul Walsh Jr. said.

Police originally said that they shot Robida on Saturday after he fired at them at the end of a high-speed chase in rural Arkansas. Robida killed Gassville, Ark., Officer Jim Sell and led police on a 20-mile chase before being stopped in nearby Norfork.

Police had searched for Robida since Thursday, when he reportedly used a hatchet and handgun to wound three men at Puzzles Lounge, a homosexual bar in New Bedford.

Mr. Walsh said Robida’s autopsy proved that he was killed by the same gun used in the bar attack.


Boy guilty in deaths on Donaldson ranch

ALAMOGORDO — Jurors convicted a 16-year-old boy yesterday of killing his family and hiding their bodies in a manure pile on broadcast journalist Sam Donaldson’s ranch in southern New Mexico.

Cody Posey was found guilty of murder in the deaths of his stepmother and stepsister and voluntary manslaughter in the death of his father, who worked as Mr. Donaldson’s ranch foreman.

Posey hung his head and wept as the verdicts were read. Defense attorney Gary Mitchell argued that the boy was abused by his parents.

The boy was arrested a few days after Mr. Donaldson found the bodies of the parents, Paul and Tryone Posey, and 13-year-old stepsister, Mary Lee Schmid, on the Chavez Canyon Ranch in July 2004.

Posey could get life in prison. State District Judge Waylon Counts said a sentencing hearing would be scheduled within 30 days.


Museum director to run 9/11 gallery

NEW YORK — A director at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was named yesterday to head the museum that will commemorate the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Alice M. Greenwald will oversee the creation of the World Trade Center Memorial Museum, an underground gallery of exhibits planned next to the memorial that marks the footprints of the destroyed Twin Towers. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next month; the museum and memorial are slated to open in 2009.

Miss Greenwald also will help develop programs for the museum and will oversee September 11-related programming in a visitors’ center.

She has been associate director for museum programs at the Holocaust museum in Washington since 2001.


Doctor indicted in wife’s poisoning

CLEVELAND — A missing doctor was indicted yesterday in his wife’s murder, nearly a year after she was poisoned with cyanide and collapsed behind the wheel of her car, the prosecutor’s office said.

Dr. Yazeed Essa disappeared three weeks after Rosemarie Essa’s Feb. 24 death and has been declared a fugitive.

Dr. Essa, 37, was indicted on one count of aggravated murder with prior calculation and design. He could receive 20 years to life in prison if convicted.

Mrs. Essa, 38, a former nurse, took a capsule containing a high level of cyanide, thinking it was a calcium pill, the coroner said. Afterward, she crashed her Volvo into an oncoming car and was found slumped over inside the vehicle.


Band manager pleads guilty in nightclub fire

PROVIDENCE — The former tour manager for the heavy-metal rock group Great White pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter yesterday for setting off the pyrotechnics that caused one of the deadliest nightclub fires in U.S. history.

Under a plea bargain, Daniel Biechele, 29, will serve no more than 10 years in prison. The Feb. 20, 2003, blaze killed 100 persons and injured more than 200. Sentencing was scheduled for May 8.

The brothers who owned the nightclub, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, also were indicted in 2003 on charges of involuntary manslaughter. They were accused of installing the foam and have pleaded not guilty.


Jurors deadlocked on smuggling deaths

HOUSTON — Jurors said they were deadlocked yesterday on charges against three persons accused in the nation’s deadliest immigrant smuggling attempt, but the judge urged them to continue deliberating.

The jury was expected to return today to begin a fourth day of deliberations.

The charges stem from the deaths of 19 illegals in a locked, airtight trailer bound for Houston. Prosecutors say Victor Sanchez Rodriguez, 58; his wife, Emma Sapata Rodriguez, 59; and Rosa Sarrata Gonzalez, 51, were part of a ring that trucked more than 70 illegals from South Texas to Houston in May 2003.


Judge apologizesfor Super Bowl cheer

TACOMA — The judge who led her courtroom in a Super Bowl cheer before a manslaughter sentencing hearing has issued an apology to the victim’s family, prosecutors and others in the court.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly G. Grant had said she was just trying to ease tensions Friday when she asked everyone to say, “Go Seahawks,” before the hearing.

On Monday, after drawing heavy criticism, Judge Grant said she never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings and issued the apology.

“I have consistently tried to treat everyone in my court with dignity, fairness and respect. … My sincere regrets to all,” she said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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