- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Father sentenced to holiday dinner

CONYERS — A woman and her two young children will get a special Christmas dinner at one of Atlanta’s most expensive restaurants this year, courtesy of a judge. Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation ordered Wendell Jerome Herman Rogers II to open his wallet and treat his family to a posh meal after he was charged with family violence on Christmas Day.

“Basically, you were hung over and didn’t want to be involved in some activities your wife planned,” Judge Nation told Mr. Rogers. “You acted up and ruined Christmas, so this year you’re going to make it up to them.”

Authorities say Mr. Rogers, 33, came home from a party on Christmas Eve and got into a confrontation with his wife in front of their two young children the next morning. He was charged with family violence battery and obstructing and hindering a person from making an emergency telephone call.

Judge Nation also sentenced Mr. Rogers to serve 12 months, although the time is suspended while Mr. Rogers continues an anger-management course. Mr. Rogers also has to pay a $1,000 fine.


Guilty plea given in slayings, kidnapping

COEUR D’ALENE — The man accused of kidnapping two children from their Idaho home and killing their family pleaded guilty yesterday to murder and kidnapping in a deal that spares his youngest victim from testifying at trial.

Joseph E. Duncan III, 43, was charged with bludgeoning two adults and a teenager to death at the home near Coeur d’Alene so he could kidnap the family’s two youngest children for sex.

The boy was found dead later at a Montana campsite. Only 9-year-old Shasta Groene, rescued after Duncan walked into a Idaho restaurant with her seven weeks later, survived. She was expected to be a primary witness against Duncan at trial. Duncan pleaded guilty shortly before his trial was to begin yesterday.

Under his plea agreement, he is to be sentenced to three consecutive life terms without parole in Idaho. That sentencing was delayed pending federal prosecution that could result in the death penalty, Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said.


Extradition waived in family deaths

QUINCY — A 22-year-old man accused of fatally shooting his parents and three teenage sisters waived extradition yesterday and will be returned to Iowa to face murder charges.

Shawn Bentler appeared in an Adams County courtroom yesterday for a brief hearing. Van Buren County, Iowa, officials were expected pick him up in the afternoon.

The five victims were found early Saturday morning in their home near Bonaparte, Iowa, about 60 miles northwest of Quincy. They were identified as Michael Bentler, 53; his wife, Sandra, 47; and their daughters, Sheena, 17; Shelby, 15; and Shayne, 14. Shawn Bentler was arrested a few hours later in Quincy, where he lived. He was charged in Iowa with five counts of first-degree murder.


Ship gashes anchored vessel

NEW ORLEANS — A cargo ship heading down the Mississippi River struck another vessel anchored west of New Orleans yesterday, knocking a huge gash in the anchored vessel, the Coast Guard said.

The anchored ship was listing, but the hole was above the water line and the vessel was not thought to be taking on water, said Chief Petty Officer Veronica Bandrowsky. No injuries were reported.

The vessels were the 712-foot Panamanian-flagged Zagora, which was heading downriver at the Kenner Bend area, west of New Orleans, and the 737-foot Greek-flagged Torm Anholt, which was at anchor at the time of the collision.

The Torm Anholt had a 12-foot-high, 6-foot-long gash in its right side 6 to 9 feet above the water line, the Coast Guard said. The ship listed after being struck, but the tilt may have been caused by a loss of ballast, the Coast Guard said. There were no reports of damage to the Zagora.

The Coast Guard established a one-way traffic safety zone in the area, but river traffic was not halted, Chief Petty Officer Bandrowsky said.


Gonzales to study crime trends

BOSTON — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales offered no new crime-fighting initiatives yesterday, promising only to study local crime rates in selected cities to see why homicides and other violent criminal activities are on the rise nationally.

In a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Mr. Gonzales said the Justice Departments’ role for now is to look for trends in gang violence, drug trafficking and how inmates released from prison may have contributed to the increase. Violent crime rose 2.2 percent last year, the first national increase since 2001.

“We need to figure out the whys behind the numbers, whether the story is good or bad,” Mr. Gonzales said in a 16-minute speech. He did not specify which cities would be studied.


Bear hunts allowed in 10 sanctuaries

BURNSVILLE — State officials will allow bear hunting in one of 10 mountain sanctuaries for the first time since the areas were established in 1970.

The bear population has rebounded and is probably “thriving too well,” leading to too much interaction between bears and humans, said Mark Jones, a wildlife biologist and the Black Bear Project leader for the Wildlife Resources Commission. An estimated 11,000 bears are roaming the state, Mr. Jones said.

Bear hunting season opened in western North Carolina yesterday. Hunting in the Mount Mitchell Bear Sanctuary in Yancey County starts Thursday and will be allowed Thursdays through Saturdays during eight weeks this year.


‘Record’ fish found packed with weights

KENNEWICK — Austin Kenyon insisted his smallmouth bass was one for the state record books. The state, however, wasn’t hooked. In fact, it ruled after a monthlong investigation that the bass was packed with lead weights.

Two of Mr. Kenyon’s friends signed statements attesting to tampering when the fish was weighed on a state-certified scale.

“Our determination is that the fish had been stuffed with lead weights at the time it was inspected,” said Keith Underwood of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Mr. Kenyon, 22, of Kennewick, claimed the fish was legitimate. He said it weighed 9.32 pounds on a state-certified scale. Ray Wonacott of Ellensburg holds the record with an 8.75-pound smallmouth bass caught in 1966.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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