- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Abducted girl’s mom jailed on drug charges

CLEARWATER — The mother of the 11-year-old girl whose abduction was captured by a security camera two years ago pleaded no contest yesterday to drug and prostitution charges and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Susan Schorpen has said she acknowledged problems with drug addiction and depression since the slaying of her daughter, Carlie Brucia, in February 2004.

Schorpen, 36, was sentenced to 90 days in jail for the felony drug charge and 25 days on the misdemeanor count of facilitating prostitution — which means the officer suspected her of prostitution although she did not offer sex for money.

Joseph Smith, convicted of raping and killing Carlie after grabbing her behind a car wash in Sarasota, was sentenced to death last week.


Army: Chemicals do not pose threat

WAIANAE — Chemical weapons that were dumped in waters off Oahu during and after World War II do not pose a threat to residents’ health, the Army said.

Two confirmed dump sites and a third possible site are five to 10 miles offshore in deep water, and contain mustard, cyanogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide and lewisite weapons.

Tad Davis, the Army’s deputy assistant secretary for the environment, said the military has no plans to retrieve them, saying that safety studies show the chemicals are best left alone.


Gastric bypass found to ease hypertension

CHICAGO — Weight-loss surgery has the added benefit of dropping high blood pressure levels as it slims morbidly obese patients, researchers said yesterday.

Patients who had not been taking drugs to treat their hypertension prior to surgery saw a significant easing of their blood pressure afterward, and some of those on anti-hypertension drugs were able to stop taking them, according to a study published in the Archives of Surgery.

Roughly two-thirds of morbidly obese people have high blood pressure, which is considered a prime risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, the report said. Obese people who take weight off can also lower the associated risks of ailments such as diabetes, some cancers and joint stress.

The study tracked 347 severely obese patients who had gastric bypass surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from 1992 to 2001. Half had high blood pressure, with about 100 taking drugs to treat it.


Two bodies found in destroyed house

NEW ORLEANS — Two more bodies have been found in the city’s hurricane-devastated Lower 9th Ward, a coroner said yesterday.

About 1,100 deaths have now been blamed on Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, said Melissa Walker, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Hospitals. Katrina’s death toll in Mississippi is 231.

The latest bodies were found Sunday in a collapsed house while rubble was being cleared, said Dr. Louis Cataldie, state medical examiner.

Dr. Cataldie said he was not sure who found the remains, but he did not think it was relatives of the victims.


Plane crashes in resort, killing 4

BRANSON — A twin-engine plane crashed in the resort city of Branson yesterday, killing all four persons aboard, officials said.

The plane went down along the city’s main entertainment strip after taking off from Point Lookout, Mo., for a flight to Lubbock, Texas, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said.

The pilot reported difficultly and tried to return to the airport, Mr. Molinaro said. The plane crashed near the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.


Students seek sedition pardons

HELENA — Petitions to pardon about eight dozen Montanans convicted of sedition during World War I are nearly complete and will be submitted to the governor’s office in the coming weeks.

University of Montana law students combed old court records to clear the men and women, most of whom were sent to the state prison for criticizing the U.S. government on the war effort.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, could sign or reject the petitions himself, or they could be sent to the state Board of Pardons and Parole.


Couple loses custody of caged children

NORWALK — A couple accused of abusing their 11 adopted special-needs children by making them sleep in cages lost permanent custody yesterday.

Huron County Juvenile Judge Timothy Cardwell awarded custody to the county, which placed the children in foster care last fall after a social worker discovered the enclosures.

The judge ruled earlier that Michael and Sharen Gravelle had abused the children, and he said evidence showed there was a good chance they would repeat the behavior.

The couple have pleaded not guilty to several charges, including child endangerment, in a separate criminal case. They deny abusing the children, ages 1 to 15, and say the beds were necessary to protect the youngsters, who suffered from psychological and behavioral problems.


Cops use phone call to catch suspects

ENID — Two men were jailed on arson complaints after one of them hit the wrong button on a cell phone, giving 911 dispatchers an account of a plot to set a vehicle on fire.

Dispatchers and a shift supervisor listened for nearly four hours as the two men drove across town. Authorities aren’t able to trace cell phone calls and instead had to listen for clues to the men’s location.

“It’s all on tape; we’ve got the whole thing,” Enid police Capt. Jim Nivison said. “They made some pretty dumb statements. One of the males said. ‘It’s going to burn, will they be able to get fingerprints?’ and ‘I’ve got the lighter, dude. Let’s go.’”

Authorities said the suspects set the car on fire and its owner put out the blaze after hearing a commotion. Police said they were able to locate the car based on the conversations overheard from the cell phone call.

Johnny Ray Miller, 48, was arrested on charges of third-degree arson and transporting an incendiary device. Robert A. Patterson, 24, was arrested on complaints of third-degree arson and manufacturing an incendiary device. Both also were jailed on conspiracy charges.


Judge delays Yates trial until June

HOUSTON — A judge yesterday postponed Andrea Yates’ murder retrial until June because of a scheduling conflict, setting a new trial date that comes just days after the fifth anniversary of her children’s drowning deaths.

Jury selection had been set to begin yesterday, but her attorneys told the judge that two defense experts wouldn’t be able to testify in time. Attorneys George Parnham and Wendell Odom said the psychiatrists were extremely important to their defense and that trying Yates without them would “deny her a fair trial.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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