- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2007


Woman won’t be forced to join NA

FAYETTEVILLE — A woman who sued a judge after he sentenced her to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings won’t be required to participate in the 12-step program that she said forced her to practice a religion, her lawyer said.

Mindy Gayle Offutt, who was sentenced on a misdemeanor drug possession charge last year, filed the suit in federal court against state court Judge Doug Schrantz, who sentenced her to 30 days suspended jail sentence, contingent on her attending 12 Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

But Doug Norwood, Offutt’s attorney, said that as part of a settlement, Judge Schrantz will issue an amended judgment, saying Offutt doesn’t have to attend the 12-step program. A federal judge dismissed Offutt’s lawsuit Monday.


Editor fatally shot in Oakland

OAKLAND — The outspoken new editor of the Oakland Post was fatally shot yesterday near a downtown courthouse in what police think was a deliberate hit.

Chauncey Bailey, who was a reporter for the Oakland Tribune before moving to the Post in June, was killed at about 7:30 a.m., Oakland Police spokesman Roland Holmgren said. He said witnesses told police that a gunman shot Mr. Bailey and then fled.

Police had no motive for the killing but said it did not appear to be random. Mr. Holmgren said investigators would look into any connections with Mr. Bailey’s work.

Mr. Bailey grew up in Oakland and worked with several area media outlets, including KDIA radio and Soul Beat TV, a local cable channel. He wrote for the Tribune for more than 10 years before being named editor of the Post.


Teen jailed over paid traffic ticket

ATLANTA — A high school student returning home from a European soccer trip got a different welcome than he expected: He was jailed for eight hours over a ticket he had already paid.

Customs officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport checked Stephen Kelsey’s passport Monday and found an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court on a ticket given for rolling through a stop sign.

Even though he had already paid the $175 fine, the 17-year-old was taken to the Fulton County jail.

“Somebody made a mistake, and here I am having to be handcuffed in front of my coaches, my mom, my brother and my teammates,” Stephen said.

The arresting officer told Stephen’s mother, Marlene Kelsey, to call officials in Sandy Springs where the arrest warrant was issued. The police department there admitted their fault and called the Fulton County jail to tell officials to release her son, said Sandy Springs Lt. Steve Rose. Stephen was released early Tuesday.


Workplace shooter gets 50 years

INDIANAPOLIS — A man with a history of mental illness was sentenced yesterday to 50 years in prison for shooting and injuring four co-workers at an Easter Seals factory.

Jason Burnam, 24, pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated battery last month in a plea agreement that allowed for a maximum sentence of 60 years.

He had told police that he shot the four “over respect.” His mother, Judy Burnam, said her son had complained that some co-workers teased him about his weight, which exceeds 300 pounds.

Superior Court Judge Carol Orbison said yesterday that Burnam’s premeditation and the fact that the shooting happened in a workplace influenced the lengthy sentence in the Jan. 11 shootings. The four victims had arm and leg wounds that were not life threatening.


Auto dealer vows to keep oversized flag

LAS VEGAS — An auto dealer vowed yesterday to fight a city order to take down the 109-foot pole from which he flies an American flag about the size of a competition volleyball court.

The City Council voted Wednesday to order the Towbin Hummer dealership to take down the 30-foot-by-60-foot flag after officials said the pole was too high and neighbors complained the flag flapped too loudly.

“The American flag stays,” dealership owner Dan Towbin declared. “I’m not convinced that people are complaining because of noise. This is about vindictiveness and power.”

The council action followed a similar decision in May. Mr. Towbin sued the city, and a state judge last month sent the issue back to the council, ruling that he should have been allowed to have an lawyer represent him before the body.


Immigrant selected U.S. poet laureate

CONCORD — Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic, who learned English as a teenage immigrant, will be the new U.S. poet laureate, the Library of Congress announced yesterday.

Mr. Simic, who lives in Strafford, will replace another New Hampshire poet, Donald Hall of Wilmot, who said yesterday that he is delighted by the selection of Mr. Simic.

The poet laureate program promotes poetry across the nation.

Mr. Simic taught at the University of New Hampshire for 34 years before moving to emeritus status. He won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems, “The World Doesn’t End.”

Mr. Simic was born in Yugoslavia in 1938. He moved to Paris with his mother when he was 15 and joined his father in New York a year later, in 1954. He has been a U.S. citizen for 36 years.


Carnival cruise ship strikes city pier

NEW YORK — A cruise ship bumped a pier at the Manhattan passenger terminal yesterday, but caused little damage and no injuries were reported, the fire department said.

The ship had a few thousand people aboard when it bumped the Hudson River pier shortly after 7 a.m. Carnival Cruise Lines released a statement saying its Carnival Victory was docking when it bumped the pier.


Teen convicted in principal’s death

BARABOO, Wis. — A high school student was convicted yesterday of fatally shooting his principal as homecoming festivities were about to begin last fall.

The jury deliberated for nearly 6½ hours after closing arguments yesterday before deciding on the first-degree intentional homicide charge against Eric Hainstock, 16.

Hainstock could face up to life in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled today. He was a 15-year-old freshman when he shot Weston Schools Principal John Klang three times on Sept. 29.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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