- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007


3 soldiers killed in helicopter crash

SKYLINE — An Army helicopter on a training flight in foggy weather struck a power line and crashed in a pasture in northeastern Alabama, killing all three soldiers on board, officials said yesterday.

The UH-60 Black Hawk was based at Fort Campbell, Ky., where base spokesman Sgt. Mark Swart said the military had yet to release the names of the victims. They were identified by the military as members of the 101st Aviation Regiment, 4th Battalion.

Jackson County Coroner John David Jordan said the helicopter hit a power line and crashed into a field near a house about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. Debris was scattered over a large area, he said, and some of the wreckage burned.


Accused says he was ‘delusional’

ATLANTA — A man charged with fatally shooting four persons in a 2005 rampage that began inside a courthouse where he was being tried for rape was suffering a “delusional compulsion” when he committed the killings, his lawyers said yesterday.

Brian Nichols‘ lawyers said in a formal notice to the court that they will be asking the jury at Mr. Nichols’ murder trial to find him not guilty by reason of mental illness.

Specifically, they will argue that at the time Mr. Nichols killed a judge, court reporter, sheriff’s deputy and federal agent he was “acting under a delusion which overmastered his will to resist committing acts which are criminal.”

Prosecutors will ask the jury to find Mr. Nichols guilty and sentence him to death if he is convicted. Jury selection in the murder trial has been postponed several times and is currently scheduled to resume Oct. 1.


Surfer saves dog swept off pier

GRAND HAVEN — A surfer rode a wave on his stomach to rescue a struggling dog that had been swept off a pier and into Lake Michigan by a wave.

Matt Smolenski, 25, said he grabbed the pooch’s collar just as the exhausted, black-and-brown mixed breed stopped dog-paddling on Tuesday.

“He put the dog up on his surfboard, and the dog rode the surfboard in to shore,” said Royce Rodgers, an off-duty Muskegon Heights police officer who witnessed the rescue. As the dog crouched on the board, Mr. Smolenski held on from the water, fighting large waves and a strong current all the way to shore.

Mr. Rodgers said the owner thanked Mr. Smolenski and gave him a high-five.


Worker caught stomping garlic

NANUET — Stomping on garlic with your shoes on is apparently not the correct way to prepare food.

The Rockland County health department hit the Great China Buffet restaurant with two violations after someone took pictures of an employee stomping on a bowl of garlic with his boots in an alley. The man alerted health inspectors.

“I go back there, and the guy’s stepping on garlic,” said Dan Barreto, who used to eat at the restaurant. “There he was just jumping up and down on it, smashing it up, having a good time.”

The health department does not consider a person’s shoe or boot a proper instrument to use in food preparation, senior public health sanitarian John Stoughton said Tuesday.

Great China Buffet owner Jiang Shu said the worker has been fired.


Amish tell of recovery as anniversary nears

HARRISBURG — One shooting survivor depends entirely on her family for care and is fed through a tube. Another just endured surgery to repair a damaged shoulder and arm. A third endures vision problems.

The girls who lived through the Amish schoolhouse shootings a year ago face daunting challenges, but the Nickel Mines Amish community said yesterday the children have progressed miraculously given the severity of their wounds.

In the most detailed statement yet on how the Amish have fared since the shootings that left five girls dead and five others injured, a committee overseeing donations said the community’s strength has helped the families cope but that the approaching one-year anniversary has also sharpened their pain.

The committee, which is handling the $4.3 million in donations from around the world, confirmed that no public memorial events are planned Oct. 2. The school that was built to replace the one where the shootings occurred will, however, be closed that day.

Charles C. Roberts IV, who killed himself as police closed in, tied up the girls and shot them after ordering the boys and adults to leave the school.


Child killer dies in electric chair

NASHVILLE — Tennessee used its electric chair for the first time in 47 years yesterday to execute a man who killed his three sons and their half-sister.

Daryl Holton, 45, was pronounced dead at 2:25 a.m. at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution after receiving two jolts of electricity, prison authorities said.

When he was asked whether he had any last words, Holton replied, “Yeah, I do” but said nothing further. He had eaten a last meal of riblets on a bun, vegetables, baked beans, cake and iced tea.

Holton had methodically killed his children and their half-sister in a Shelbyville, Tenn., garage on Nov. 30, 1997, after a lengthy custody battle with his ex-wife.


Sniper kills wife, self, leaves last wishes

CHEYENNE — The day he took his life, a military-trained sniper who fatally shot his estranged wife as she sang in a bar scrawled his final wishes on a bunch of paper plates and a cardboard box.

Under the heading “July 17, 2007 Last Will & Testament of David M. Munis,” he bequeathed guns to his children, listed a song he wanted played at his funeral and asked his brother to teach his youngest son certain virtues. Photocopies of the will were obtained this week by the Associated Press.

Munis shot his 40-year-old wife, Robin, from outside the restaurant-bar where she was singing with a band July 14. Munis, 36, was found about three days later. He had shot himself with a high-powered rifle as armed police closed in on him in a remote area about 50 miles northwest of Cheyenne.

The killing of Robin Munis remains under investigation by the Cheyenne Police Department, which is awaiting ballistics tests before closing the case, Capt. Jeff Schulz said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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