- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

ALABAMA

Court won’t dismiss video game suit

BIRMINGHAM — Rejecting an appeal by video-game makers and sellers, the Alabama Supreme Court has kept alive a $600 million lawsuit blaming “Grand Theft Auto” for the slayings of the three-person night shift at a rural police department.

An attorney for the victims’ families said the decision sets the stage for what could be the nation’s first trial over killings blamed on video games, perhaps as early as January.

The lawsuit was filed by relatives of two police officers and a radio dispatcher slain in 2003.

Without comment, the justices Friday turned aside the industry’s argument that the lawsuit should be thrown out because the companies have a First Amendment right to sell the games.

A representative of game manufacturer Take Two Interactive Software Inc. did not return a message seeking comment.

CALIFORNIA

Judge dismisses wild pig lawsuit

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop the killing of thousands of wild pigs on Santa Cruz Island as part of an effort to protect endangered island foxes.

U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian said in a ruling Tuesday he disagreed with a claim that the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy rushed to eradicate the animals before developing an environmental plan.

The organizations, which co-own the island, say the pigs are causing erosion, uprooting native plants and helping spread invasive species.

GEORGIA

Trial is delayed in courthouse slayings

ATLANTA — A judge yesterday delayed the start of a murder trial for a man accused of killing four persons in a rampage that started inside the same courthouse where he is expected to stand trial.

Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller cited the complexity of the case in ruling that jury selection would start Jan. 11 instead of Oct. 3. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Brian Nichols, 34, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the March 11, 2005, shootings. A judge and court reporter were killed inside the courthouse, a sheriff’s deputy was killed outside and a federal agent was killed a few miles away.

ILLINOIS

Police: Man killed parents, sister, self

MATTESON — Police who went to a couple’s home to tell them their son had committed suicide in a Florida motel room found the man’s parents and sister shot to death inside, authorities said yesterday.

Police said evidence indicates that Laron C. Bowens killed his family in this Chicago suburb before flying to Miami last week. He shot himself Monday morning in a motel in Ocala, Fla., about 300 miles north, Ocala police Maj. Rodney Smith said.

Police found the bodies of Ronald Bowens, 42; Tamara Bowens, 40; and their daughter, Tyesa Bowens, 18, on Tuesday afternoon.

A possible motive remains unclear.

KANSAS

Cattle dying of lead poisoning

SALINA — One rusty can of paint could put rancher Don Koster out of business.

Some of his 250 head of cattle got lead poisoning from eating the paint, and 27 have died. The other cattle are being tested, and those with high lead concentrations will not be slaughtered for meat.

Mr. Koster, who bought his land less than a year ago, said he didn’t know the paint can was in his pasture until the animals started dying.

MASSACHUSETTS

Tests show water not contaminated

BLACKSTONE — Tests found no evidence of chemical contamination in the town’s drinking-water supply after three teenagers purportedly broke into a water-storage facility, authorities said yesterday.

Blackstone’s nearly 9,000 residents and dozens of homes in neighboring Smithfield, R.I., had been under a water ban after the break-in Monday. Authorities said the facility’s alarm system had been cut, the water tank tampered with and a container with a strange odor left behind.

Two 15-year-old boys have been charged with malicious destruction of property, tampering with a public water supply and polluting the water supply — all felonies — and trespassing, Blackstone police Lt. Gregory Gilmore said. Their names were not released because of their ages. A summons was issued to a 15-year-old girl suspected of trespassing.

MISSISSIPPI

Convicted ex-Klansman moved to hospital

JACKSON — Edgar Ray Killen, the former Klansman convicted last year in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers, has been moved from his prison cell to a Jackson hospital, officials and family said yesterday .

His brother, Jerry Killen, told the Associated Press that the 81-year-old had been hospitalized for complications from a severe leg injury he sustained in a logging accident in 2005.

A tree fell on Killen while he was cutting wood last March, just months before he was convicted of three counts of manslaughter in the slayings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. He attended his trial in a wheelchair.

Barbara Austin, a University of Mississippi Medical Center spokeswoman, said Killen was in the hospital and in fair condition as of Tuesday night. She would not elaborate.

PENNSYLVANIA

Clean water to flow after four years

PETROLIA — Clean water will again flow to hundreds of residents who have been drinking bottled water for four years because their well water was contaminated by industrial pollution.

About 826 homes and businesses 45 miles north of Pittsburgh should be hooked into the new system by late summer or early fall. The state has supplied bottled water to the area since 2002.

TEXAS

Sheriff orders department probe

CORPUS CHRISTI — A sheriff has ordered a criminal investigation of her own department after six inmates were released by mistake this year.

The Nueces County sheriff’s office had instituted safeguards earlier this month after five inmates mistakenly were released from the county jail, but another erroneous release was discovered Tuesday.

“Preliminary information indicates that there may be highly suspicious circumstances surrounding this latest incident,” Sheriff Rebecca Stutts said Tuesday.

Chief Deputy Jimmy Rodriguez said the office would not release the name of the sixth wrongly released inmate, who was let out Friday, the charges against him or the circumstances of the release.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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