- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

FLORIDA

New evidence delays Lionel Tate trial

FORT LAUDERDALE — The robbery trial of Lionel Tate, once sentenced to life in prison for killing a girl when he was 12, was delayed several months yesterday after defense attorneys said they have evidence that proves Tate did not hold up a pizza delivery man.

Tate attorney Jim Lewis said DNA taken from the mask reportedly used in the 2005 robbery belongs to another man. A new witness also says Tate, now 20, never committed the robbery and never carried the gun, Mr. Lewis said.

The trial had been set to begin yesterday, but the judge rescheduled it for Sept. 4 at the request of the defense and prosecutors.

GEORGIA

Bluffton officials thank hospital staff

ATLANTA — Officials from the Ohio university devastated last month by a fatal bus wreck visited Atlanta yesterday to see the crash site and thank hospital staffers for caring for the school’s baseball team.

“This is a very different occasion than on March 2 when I arrived in Atlanta,” Bluffton University President James Harder told doctors and nurses at Grady Memorial Hospital.

The hospital had taken the most seriously injured victims after a charter bus carrying the team to spring training in Florida plunged off an overpass in Atlanta early on March 2. Five students from the Mennonite school and the bus driver and his wife were killed. Twenty-eight other persons were injured.

At the crash site, Mr. Harder and others examined the flowers and notes still hanging in the fence that lines the overpass. The officials also checked out new safety measures installed along the exit ramp off Interstate 75, including larger stop signs and more reflective paint on the pavement. Investigators say the driver apparently mistook the ramp for a highway lane.

ILLINOIS

Man found guilty of spying for Saddam

CHICAGO — A suspected Iraqi “sleeper agent” sent by Saddam Hussein to spy on dissidents in the United States was convicted yesterday of lying about his ties to the former Baghdad regime.

Sami Latchin, 59, was taken into custody minutes after the federal jury verdict, which could send him to prison for up to 40 years. Prosecutors warned that Latchin would be a flight risk if allowed to stay free until sentencing.

Latchin, a former airline employee and Iraqi-born U.S. citizen who was arrested in August 2004, was convicted of all five charges against him: lying on his U.S. citizenship application, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and conspiring to do so, lying to an FBI agent and violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq.

IOWA

Breath tests used at school dances

DUBUQUE — Students at Wahlert High School are being tested to make sure they are not DUI — dancing under the influence.

Officials at the Catholic school said students will have to undergo a breath test before they are admitted to any school-sponsored dances for the rest of this school year, including the May 5 prom.

“Our goal is to do what we can do to ensure that our events are alcohol-free,” Principal Don Sisler said. “It’s a big step, but it’s a real simple one.”

A consent form giving the school permission to administer the test was sent home to parents along with a letter from Mr. Sisler.

Students who test positive will be retested, he said.

NEW JERSEY

Corzine undergoes surgery on leg

CAMDEN — Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday underwent another operation on the leg he broke in a highway crash that left him in critical condition.

The hourlong surgery at Cooper University Hospital, performed to clean out the 6-inch wound created when his left femur broke, was “uneventful,” said Andrew Poag, a spokesman for the governor.

Mr. Corzine remained in critical but stable condition. He also broke 12 ribs, his collarbone and chest bone and suffered some other, more minor injuries in Thursday’s accident.

Mr. Corzine, 60, was injured when the sport utility vehicle in which he was riding crashed on the Garden State Parkway just north of Atlantic City. The SUV, which was being driven by a state trooper, was hit by another vehicle that swerved to avoid a pickup truck, sending the governor’s vehicle skidding into a guardrail.

NORTH DAKOTA

Fertilizer theft leads to ammonia leak

LISBON — Thieves likely trying to steal liquid fertilizer to make methamphetamine broke a storage tank valve, releasing a dangerous plume of ammonia gas, police said.

The cloud hovered for several hours Sunday before dissipating. No arrests had been made, police said.

The leak of about 300 gallons of anhydrous ammonia was reported early Sunday by a man driving to work who saw the white plume of gas hugging the ground, police Chief Jeannette Persons said.

A newspaper carrier was treated at a hospital and released, apparently with no major health problems, Chief Persons said. No other injuries were reported.

OREGON

Volunteers snip fins of hatchery salmon

NETARTS — When a salmon raised at the Whiskey Creek Fish Hatchery grows up, fishermen will be able to distinguish it from a wild chinook by the absence of a tiny fin.

More than 350 volunteers turned out over the weekend for the hatchery’s annual fin-clipping day, teaming up to give about 100,000 young salmon a telltale snip.

The salmon get a dose of anesthetic before the scissors-wielding volunteers clip off the tiny adipose fin, on the fish’s back just in front of the tail.

“They wake up and have no idea what’s happened to them,” said Jerry Dove, president of Tillamook Anglers, which organized the gathering.

Bill Bakke, executive director of the Native Fish Society, said hatchery fish are marked if they are introduced into rivers so that fishermen can keep them and throw back the wild ones.

TENNESSEE

Daughter says she heard fatal shooting

SELMER — Prosecutors in the murder trial of a Tennessee preacher’s wife accused of shooting her husband asked the couple’s 9-year-old daughter yesterday what she remembered from the morning of the shooting.

“Well, at first I heard this big boom, or something, and it seemed like somebody fell on the ground,” Patricia Winkler said. “I went to Mama and Daddy’s room to see what had happened. I saw Daddy laying on the floor facedown.”

When Patricia sat down at the witness stand, Assistant District Attorney General Walt Freeland asked for her name and birthday. She gave it, then looked over at her mother, Mary Winkler, and started crying. Her mother and several jurors also began weeping.

Matthew Winkler, a 31-year-old preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, was found dead in the church parsonage on March 22, 2006.

The defense has said Mrs. Winkler, 33, intended to hold her husband at gunpoint only to force him to talk about his personal problems after a situation involving their 1-year-old daughter, Breanna. The defense did not describe the situation. Her attorneys also say that Mrs. Winkler didn’t know how to load or fire a shotgun and that the fatal blast was accidental.

UTAH

SUV rollover kills alien suspects

BLUFF — A sport utility vehicle carrying people suspected of being illegal aliens rolled several times in southeastern Utah yesterday, killing eight men and injuring seven others.

The driver was trying to avoid an animal when the vehicle went off the road in a remote area near the Utah-Arizona line, said Lt. Todd Peterson of the Utah Highway Patrol.

The vehicle, carrying 15 persons, was registered to an owner in Mesa, Ariz., but driven by a 30-year-old man from Mexico who was not identified, he said.

The driver fled the scene and was found hiding in the desert about two miles away, Lt. Peterson said. He was being held at the San Juan County jail.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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