- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Videotaped officer cleared in arrest

LITTLE ROCK — A police officer who, in a video posted online, appeared to choke a skateboarder and put two others in a headlock used appropriate force when making his arrests, an internal police investigation found.

The Hot Springs Police Department Internal Affairs Board found that the use of force was within the police department’s policy on non-deadly force and recommended “no changes to this policy.” The decision was released Monday.

Officer Joey Williams confronted a situation that “would have overwhelmed any single officer” when he stopped those breaking a Hot Springs city ordinance by skateboarding on a downtown sidewalk June 21, the report said.

However, Officer Williams was faulted for leaving a handcuffed suspect unattended while chasing another youth in the resort town’s historic Bathhouse Row. Officer Williams has been on administrative leave since the video hit YouTube on June 25. Police said he would return to active duty tomorrow in the city’s downtown.


Plea given in case of girl in closet

HARTFORD — The man accused in the case of a teenager found locked in a storage room in his home pleaded not guilty to several charges yesterday, and his attorney said he was told additional charges were being filed.

Adam Gault entered his pleas to charges of second-degree unlawful restraint, second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree custodial interference, interfering with a police officer, risk of injury to a minor and three counts of second-degree forgery.

Mr. Gault also was advised that he would be charged with “sexual assault of some nature,” said his attorney, Gerald Klein. The lawyer said he did not know the exact charges. Prosecutors issued no comment.

The girl, who had been missing for a year, was found June 6 when police officers searched Mr. Gault’s home. An officer pushed aside a dresser blocking a door and found the girl, now 15, locked in the tiny room.

Police arrested Mr. Gault, 41, and two women who lived with him, Ann Murphy, 40, and Kimberly Cray, 26. The women pleaded not guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit unlawful restraint, conspiracy to commit risk of injury to a minor and interfering with police.


Shuttle Atlantis returns to Canaveral

CAPE CANAVERAL — A jumbo jet carrying Space Shuttle Atlantis landed yesterday at Kennedy Space Center after a trip that began in California.

A modified Boeing 747 with the shuttle mounted on its back touched down on the shuttle landing strip about 8:25 a.m. after taking off from a refueling stop in Kentucky. The jet made several stops on its cross-country trip. On Monday, it landed in Fort Campbell, Ky., after stops at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and Amarillo, Texas.

Atlantis, carrying seven astronauts, landed June 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in California after a 14-day construction mission at the International Space Station. Bad weather at the Florida launch site forced NASA to divert to the shuttle’s alternate landing site in California.


Window blows out of air ambulance

TWIN FALLS — A window blew out of an air ambulance at 20,000 feet and partially sucked a flight nurse out of the twin-engine turboprop plane.

Chris Fogg’s head and right arm were pulled outside, and he suffered cuts to his head that required 13 staples.

“I have a vivid picture of looking at the tail of the plane and seeing my headset dangling out of the plane,” he said.

Mr. Fogg pulled himself back inside and the plane landed safely with the patient and the pilot. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.


Stab video shows public indifference

WICHITA — As stabbing victim LaShanda Calloway lay dying on the floor of a convenience store, five shoppers, including one who stopped to take a picture of her with a cell phone, stepped over the woman, police said.

The June 23 situation, captured on the store’s surveillance video, got scant news coverage until a columnist for the Wichita Eagle disclosed the existence of the video and its contents yesterday. Police have refused to release the video, saying it is part of their investigation.

“The fact that people were more interested in taking a picture with a cell phone and shopping for snacks rather than helping this innocent young woman is, frankly, revolting,” police spokesman Gordon Bassham said.

Miss Calloway, 27, was stabbed during an altercation and died later at a hospital. It took about two minutes for someone to call 911, Mr. Bassham said. Two suspects have been arrested. A 19-year-old woman was charged with first-degree murder. Another suspect who surrendered also faces charges.


Execution sought for former soldier

LOUISVILLE — Federal prosecutors filed notice yesterday that they will seek the death penalty against former soldier Steven D. Green in the March 2006 killing of an Iraqi family and the rape of a 14-year-old girl.

The notice, filed in U.S. District Court, cites 12 purported offenses related to the four slayings, including that the deaths were premeditated, involved sexual abuse and were committed with a firearm. Mr. Green, who was a 101st Airborne Division soldier for 11 months, was indicted Nov. 1 in the rape and murder of the girl and the slayings of three others in her family in Mahmoudiya, Iraq.

Mr. Green was charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual abuse, murder, aggravated sexual abuse, aggravated child sexual abuse, obstruction of justice and four counts of use of a firearm in a crime of violence.

He is being tried in civilian court in Paducah because he was discharged for having an “anti-social personality disorder” before the case was brought. No trial date has been set.

Three soldiers have been convicted in military court for their roles in the attack.


ACLU sues city over Jesus painting

NEW ORLEANS — The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city of Slidell yesterday for displaying a painting of Jesus in a courthouse lobby, saying it violates the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion.

The ACLU sued after the Slidell City Court refused to voluntarily remove the picture and a message below it that reads: “To Know Peace, Obey These Laws.” The ACLU says the portrait — an image of Jesus presenting the New Testament — is a religious icon of the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity.

“We believe this display is clearly in violation of the law,” said Vincent Booth, president and acting executive director of the Louisiana ACLU chapter.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an unidentified person who complained to the ACLU about the picture.

The painting has been on display at the courthouse for nearly a decade and hadn’t provoked any complaints prior to the ACLU’s recent objections, said Michael Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian civil rights group representing the city and parish.


Five ‘third parties’ plan joint effort

LANSING — Five of the state’s political parties joined to establish the Michigan Third Parties Coalition in an effort to challenge election laws they say unfairly favor Democrats and Republicans.

Representatives of the Green, U.S. Taxpayers, Reform, Socialist and Libertarian parties met to discuss strategies. As part of their coalition effort, they want to amend ballot-access laws and fight the exclusion of third-party candidates from debates.


Defendant admits ’Baywatch’ scam

KANSAS CITY — A Kansas City man bilked investors out of $360,000 by claiming he had syndication rights to the popular TV drama “Baywatch” and help from star David Hasselhoff, prosecutors said yesterday.

David William Port, a 53-year-old U.S. resident originally from Britain, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday to soliciting investors for Kansas City-based PCG Media, falsely telling them that PCG Media owned the rights to syndicate the beach lifeguard show in 17 foreign countries and the rights to merchandise “Baywatch” promotional items.

“Victims of the scheme thought they were investing in a company that would produce high returns because of its worldwide syndication rights to the popular ‘Baywatch’ TV show,” U.S. Attorney John Wood said. The scam caught up “victim-investors” from Britain, Utah, New York, California and Delaware, he said.

Port faces up to 50 years in federal prison, plus a fine up to $1.25 million.


Man accused of Haggard fraud

RONAN — Some Merle Haggard fans here are likely singing the blues.

Police said Mark Sams, 48, was arrested for impersonating the son of the country music star, who had a hit with the song “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am.”

Mr. Sams was signing autographs using Noel Haggard’s name and charging people a fee to have their picture taken with him Saturday outside the Valley Club lounge, police said. Mr. Sams initially told officers he was Noel Haggard and that his name had been changed when he was a child to protect him, authorities said. An agent for the Haggard family told police that Mr. Sams was an impostor and not related to the “Okie from Muskogee.”

Mr. Sams was arrested on an outstanding Montana warrant on charges of issuing bad checks. He also has a warrant for his arrest in Maryland.


Gunman sought in triple slaying

CONWAY — Police combed the Mount Washington Valley yesterday for a gunman who killed three persons in what appeared to be a robbery at an outdoors gear store.

The manager of the Army Barracks store and two men in their 20s were fatally shot Monday morning by a man who then ran into the woods, police said.

“The suspect may still be in the community,” police and prosecutors said yesterday. “The public should continue to take precautions, as the suspect is believed to be armed and dangerous.”

Two victims were found inside the store and the third was “basically on the threshold,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Ann Rice said. The store is on busy Route 16 through the Mount Washington Valley, where outlet stores draw hordes of shoppers.

The victims were identified as store manager James Walker, 34, of Denmark, Maine; William Jones, 25, of Walpole, Mass.; and Gary Jones, 23, of Plymouth, Mass.


‘Threatened’ species can be fished

SILVER CITY — The state is allowing limited fishing for Gila trout in southwestern New Mexico.

Some streams had been closed to fishing since 1966, when the fish was listed as a federal endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently upgraded the fish to threatened rather than endangered, and the state Game Commission adjusted the fishing rules based on that decision.


Traffic fines ordered to fund schools

GREENSBORO — Towns and cities here may find it unprofitable to keep their red-light cameras after a state Supreme Court decision, officials said.

The justices refused to review a state Court of Appeals opinion that determined school districts are entitled to receive 90 percent of the money collected from fines for red-light violations.

Cities and towns use most of that money to administer the program, officials said.


Fatal wildfire allowed to burn

NEOLA — Fire authorities want to let a wildfire that has killed three persons and charred 62 square miles continue burning to clear out dead trees in a national forest, and one official said yesterday that the blaze might continue for the rest of the season.

“We might have fire out there on that mountain this whole summer,” said Kim Martin, incident commander.

Since Friday, when three persons were killed, the fire has burned nearly 40,000 acres, about one-third in the Ashley National Forest and the rest on private and public land and the Uintah and Ouray Indian reservations.

Officials said Monday evening that the fire was about 10 percent contained. It grew by nearly 8 square miles overnight, but most of the expansion was away from communities, officials said. Some small communities in the area of northeastern Utah still were under a mandatory evacuation.

Gov. Jon Huntsman toured the fire yesterday and said he was pleased with the progress made in protecting homes. He deployed 100 National Guard troops Monday to enforce road blocks and assist local police.


Historic site becomes wheelchair-friendly

ORWELL — The state Division of Historic Preservation has opened a trail designed for wheelchair accessibility at Mount Independence, the site of a Revolutionary War fort that has commanding views of the Lake Champlain Valley and surrounding countryside.

A federal grant allowed the group, which maintains the site, to develop a trail that meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards, said John Dumville, operations chief for Vermont Historic Sites.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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