- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2007


Governor seeks prayers for rain

MONTGOMERY — With parts of Alabama suffering an exceptional drought, Gov. Bob Riley is turning to God for help and asking other Alabamans to join him in praying for rain.

Mr. Riley issued a proclamation yesterday declaring tomorrow through July 7 as “Days of Prayer for Rain” and asked citizens to pray individually and in their houses of worship.

“Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty. This drought is without question a time of great difficulty for our farmers and for communities across our state,” he said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has placed most of northern Alabama under its worst classification, exceptional drought.


Residents offered bear-resistant bins

ANCHORAGE — For an extra $5 a month, Anchorage residents soon will be able to lease a bear-resistant trash container that allows them to store their garbage outdoors without drawing the prying paws of the city’s urban bruins.

Mayor Mark Begich, state biologist Rick Sinnott and Alaska Waste sales manager Craig Gales announced the project this week.

It is part of an ongoing effort to educate the public about how to store garbage safely in Anchorage, where bears frequent several neighborhoods in search of easy meals.


Ex-trooper sentenced in man’s death

BENTONVILLE — A former state trooper was sentenced yesterday to 90 days in jail for fatally shooting an unarmed, mentally disabled man he mistook for a fugitive.

The former trooper, Larry Norman, pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor negligent homicide and admitted he mistakenly shot Joseph Erin Hamley, 21, on March 7, 2006.

Mr. Norman and other officers mistook Mr. Hamley for Adam Lee Leadford, an escapee from Michigan. Mr. Hamley ignored commands to keep his hands out of his pockets, something his mother described as a nervous habit.

Leadford, 18, had escaped two days earlier from a Michigan prison. He was captured the evening of Mr. Hamley’s death after being wounded by police in a shooting in a Wal-Mart parking lot.


Man ordered to pay for wildfire

GOLDEN — A man accused of accidentally starting a 102-acre wildfire last year was ordered to pay $100,000 for firefighting costs.

John Rowley, 62, also received a two-year deferred sentence for fourth-degree arson. Mr. Rowley was burning dead branches and debris when gusting winds blew the fire out of control.


Convicted boy ordered to stay in custody

DAYTONA BEACH — A 10-year-old boy convicted of beating and stoning a homeless Army veteran was ordered to remain in custody yesterday until psychiatric evaluations show he is not a threat to others.

The boy was sentenced for last month’s aggravated battery conviction for the March attack on John D’Amico that he, another 10-year-old boy and a teenager were charged with.

The boys and Jeremy Woods, 17, were charged with beating Mr. D’Amico as he and a friend walked through a crime-ridden neighborhood.

“If we were to let him out and he harmed another child, it would be a tragedy,” Circuit Judge John Watson said.

Defense attorney Tonya Cromartie argued the boy should be released on probation and ordered to receive counseling.


Lawmaker’s son seeks new trial

PADUCAH — Attorneys for a state lawmaker’s son convicted of killing a pedestrian while driving drunk in 2005 filed a motion asking for a new trial.

Harrison Yonts was sentenced in February to 20 years.

The attorneys for Yonts, son of state Rep. Brent Yonts, contend that victim Nadia Shaheen, 62, may have been hit by a second car the night of the accident.


Officer denies suspect’s treatment

KANSAS CITY — An officer denied wedging a nightstick into the mouth of a handcuffed man suspected of hiding crack cocaine, his lawyer said.

The man, Michael Payne, who was released after the Nov. 2 encounter, filed a complaint against Officer Anthony Melkowski later that night.

Officer Melkowski was suspended with pay last month, but that suspension was changed to unpaid leave Tuesday when Chief Jim Corwin recommended firing him.

The nightstick accusation was not included in the termination papers. Instead, Chief Corwin cited seven other policy violations, including a 2005 excessive-force accusation against Officer Melkowski.


Reputed mobsters to face trial

ALBANY — Two reputed mobsters accused of hiring hit men to kill a rival within their crime family will face state murder charges despite beating federal charges for the same shooting, New York’s highest court ruled yesterday.

The state Court of Appeals rejected the argument brought by Carmine Polito and Mario Fortunato that double jeopardy prevents them from being tried again for the 1994 slaying of Sabatino Lombardi while he played cards at a Brooklyn social club.


Lady Bird released from hospital

HOUSTON — Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, 94, left an Austin hospital yesterday after six days of tests and observation, a Johnson family spokesman said.

“Because of her stroke in 2002, her family and physicians always operate with caution,” spokesman Neal Spelce said. “Everyone — especially Mrs. Johnson — is so pleased that she is home.”

The widow of late President Lyndon B. Johnson was suffering from a low-grade fever when she was admitted last Friday to Seton Medical Center in Austin.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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