- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007

ALABAMA

Author attends ‘Mockingbird’ performance

MONTGOMERY — A high school play based on Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” brought together black and white high school students to tell the story of racial injustice, and even drew out the novel’s reclusive author.

Wednesday night’s invitation-only performance was organized to celebrate diversity and arts education in Alabama, the home state of the novel’s author. The book and the film were introduced at a time when Alabama was rigidly segregated.

About 60 students from two schools, all-black Fairfield High Preparatory School and nearly all-white Mountain Brook High, came together to perform the play from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Miss Lee, 80, was invited as a special guest to be honored by education and arts officials.

INDIANA

4 employees shot; co-worker arrested

INDIANAPOLIS — A man shot and wounded four co-workers yesterday at a factory that employs disabled people, telling police he did it “over respect,” authorities said.

Two men and two women were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Lt. Douglas Scheffel said.

Jason Burnam, 24, was arrested inside the company cafeteria, Police Chief Michael Spears said. Mr. Burnam told officers he targeted the victims, Lt. Scheffel said.

Mr. Burnam was charged with four counts of attempted murder and one count of carrying a handgun without a license.

Crossroads Industrial Services has about 100 employees who do light manufacturing.

ARIZONA

Wire transfer seizure banned for prosecutors

PHOENIX — A judge struck down a tactic that prosecutors say helped stem illegal migration from Mexico into Arizona, the country’s busiest point of illegal entry.

State prosecutors had won a special court order in September to seize wire transfers flowing into Mexico. Authorities suspected the transfers were payments to smugglers who were using Arizona as their gateway.

A judge, in a ruling released Wednesday, struck down the practice, saying it violated constitutional protections on interstate and international commerce and that prosecutors didn’t show that the wire service customers in question were involved in crimes.

State authorities estimate that human smuggling is a $1.7 billion a year business in Arizona.

FLORIDA

Burglar returns ashes of boy

NEW PORT RICHEY — Eve and Steven Greene made a simple plea to the burglar who broke into their house: Keep the valuables. Return the cremated remains of their 4-year-old son.

“Just drop it off somewhere with a note on it,” Mr. Greene said. “And that’ll be that.”

It worked.

Someone left the urn containing the ashes of 4-year-old Zachary Greene at the end of the Greenes’ driveway Wednesday morning, two days after it was taken in a burglary.

Police said a burglar broke into the home, snacked on Cheerios and tracked mud all over the house as he filled pillowcases with about $10,000 worth of valuables — and Zachary’s ashes.

Zachary died of cancer in 2005. His parents kept the urn above their fireplace next to a firetruck Zachary made before he died.

ILLINOIS

Marshal accused of leaking to mob

CHICAGO — A federal deputy marshal was charged yesterday with leaking information about a reputed mobster’s cooperation with prosecutors as they investigated the top echelon of Chicago’s organized crime family.

John Thomas Ambrose, 38, a former supervisory inspector of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force, surrendered yesterday at the FBI’s Chicago office, officials said. He is charged with theft of government property.

Mr. Ambrose is accused of revealing information concerning the cooperation and travel plans of Nicholas Calabrese, expected to be a key witness in the government’s Operation Family Secrets murder conspiracy case. Prosecutors said Mr. Ambrose told them in a Sept. 6 interview that he passed the information to an associate of reputed mob boss John DiFronzo in hopes of getting information on the whereabouts of organized crime figure Joseph Lombardo.

KENTUCKY

Soldier pleads guilty to murders in Iraq

FORT CAMPBELL — A soldier pleaded guilty yesterday to murdering three detainees during a raid on a suspected al Qaeda compound last year in Iraq.

Spc. William B. Hunsaker, 24, pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice during a hearing at Fort Campbell.

Hunsaker also had been accused of threatening another soldier’s life if he told authorities about the killings, but those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Hunsaker, 101st Airborne Division, was one of four soldiers charged in the killings during a raid at the Muthana chemical complex near Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

MISSOURI

Offers of help pour in for veteran

SPRINGFIELD — A soldier whose stored possessions were sold while he was in Iraq might never recover such treasures as family photos, but offers of help are streaming his way from strangers touched by his plight.

Patrick Rogalin, 20, an Army Reserve specialist, came home in October from a year in Iraq to find that Public Storage Inc. had auctioned off his books, furniture, clothes and everything else he had stored at one of the company’s sites near St. Louis.

On Monday, he accepted a settlement of $4,000 — but by then his story had become a national news item, via the Springfield News-Leader and later the Associated Press. The newspaper received more than 50 calls and e-mails from people wanting to help. A southwest Missouri woman wants to pay for Spc. Rogalin’s textbooks while he attends Missouri State University. One man offered to send him $1,000 anonymously. Lawyers lined up to represent him at no charge.

Before shipping out, Spc. Rogalin said, he had set up automatic payments with Public Storage. While he was in Iraq, he said, someone accessed his checking account and wrote more than $900 in worthless checks, which caused his storage payments to bounce. Spc. Rogalin said Public Storage never told him his account was in trouble, nor that everything he owned would be sold.

NEW JERSEY

Clergy may decline same-sex ceremonies

MOUNT LAUREL — Clergy cannot be required to unite same-sex couples in civil unions, the state attorney general announced yesterday in a decision that quelled the fears of some religious groups opposed to same-sex ceremonies.

Attorney General Stuart Rabner’s legal opinion, sent in a letter to the state registrar of vital statistics, was issued less than a month after the state became the third to offer homosexual couples civil unions. The unions give the legal benefits of marriage, but not the title. Couples may begin applying for licenses on Feb. 19 and can be united 72 hours later.

Under the law, all the same people who perform marriages — among them clergy, judges, mayors and other local officials — can preside over civil union ceremonies.

Some opponents of civil unions said they feared the law would give homosexual rights activists the ability to sue to force clergy to perform the ceremonies.

NEW YORK

New toilet is flush with fish

NEW YORK — Home renovators looking to bring life to the smallest room in their home now have the chance — with a toilet that doubles as an aquarium.

The Fish ‘n Flush is a clear two-piece toilet tank that replaces a standard toilet tank, with a see-through aquarium wrapping itself around a conventional toilet tank.

Devon Niccole, marketing director of California-based designer AquaOne Technologies Inc., said the company, which specializes in water conservation equipment for home appliances, had worked with a marine biologist to design a tank that ensured the fish were not harmed when the toilet was flushed.

TEXAS

Ban on hold for alien rentals

FARMERS BRANCH — A judge yesterday issued a temporary restraining order that prevents this suburban Dallas city from enforcing an ordinance that bans landlords from renting to illegal aliens.

The ban was to become effective today. Judge Bruce Priddy of the state’s 116th District Court submitted the order. Another hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 22.

The ruling was issued after attorneys for Farmers Branch resident Guillermo Ramos petitioned the court to halt the immediate implementation of the edict.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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