- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2008

ALABAMA

Death-row inmate granted a stay

ATMORE — A murderer scheduled to die in what would have been the nation’s first execution in months won a last-minute reprieve yesterday from the U.S. Supreme Court, prison officials said.

James Harvey Callahan, set to die at 6 p.m., was granted a stay, Holman prison warden Grant Culliver told officers on death row.

The inmate’s attorney had asked the high court to halt the execution after a federal appeals court lifted a stay granted by a Montgomery judge.

It would have been the nation’s first execution since Sept. 25, the day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

CALIFORNIA

Church’s fate divides groups

MERCED — Preservationists and parishioners are squaring off over the fate of one of Merced’s landmark buildings, the Central Presbyterian Church.

Congregants voted Sunday to demolish the 92-year-old church and replace it with a new structure they say will better house the growing numbers of worshippers.

Parishioners still have to raise millions of dollars for the new building before the mission-style church is demolished.

The preservation group Sanctuary Merced plans to ask the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to list it as a local historic landmark.

The group also is seeking a restraining order to save the church from the wrecking ball.

CONNECTICUT

Roof fire caused by malfunction

MASHANTUCKET — A roof fire at a gambling resort’s hotel was caused by a malfunctioning device meant to keep pipes from freezing, a spokesman said.

Guests at the Great Cedar Hotel at Foxwoods Resort Casino were put up in other hotels but were allowed back Wednesday to retrieve belongings, resort spokesman Saverio Mancini said.

FLORIDA

Judge blocks Noriega extradition

MIAMI — A federal judge ruled yesterday that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega cannot be extradited to face French money-laundering charges until his appeals in U.S. courts are exhausted.

U.S. District Judge Paul Huck said Noriega deserves a chance to fully air his arguments that any French extradition is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions protections for prisoners of war and that Noriega instead should be repatriated to Panama.

The U.S. announced that France sought to extradite Noriega, 73, just before he completed serving a 15-year prison sentence in September for a 1992 drug racketeering conviction. He faces another 10 years behind bars if convicted of laundering $3 million in drug money through French banks.

Noriega’s attorneys sought the stay to prevent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from issuing final extradition orders while his legal appeals were pending.

NEBRASKA

Boy who fled to return to U.S.

OMAHA — A 14-year-old boy who fled to Mexico with his former teacher will be allowed to return to the U.S. for a year, his attorney said yesterday.

The Department of Homeland Security has granted the boy, an illegal alien, humanitarian parole, according to a letter sent to his attorney, Amy Peck.

“[The boy] is going home,” Miss Peck told reporters. “At the very least, he gets to speak about what happened to him.”

Marilu Cabrera, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said she couldn’t comment on specific immigration cases.

The boy’s former teacher, Kelsey Peterson, 25, of Lexington, Neb., remains in federal custody. She pleaded not guilty in November to federal charges of crossing a border to have sex with a minor and faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted.

Miss Peterson also faces state charges, including two sexual-assault charges that were added after she entered her federal court plea.

OHIO

Witness: Mother confessed to killing

DAYTON — A former cellmate of a woman accused of killing her month-old baby by burning the girl in a microwave testified yesterday that the woman confessed to the crime, saying the baby “fit right in” the oven.

Linda Williams testified that she developed a sexual relationship with defendant China Arnold when the two were cellmates in the Montgomery County jail in March and that Arnold confided in her about what happened to her baby.

She said the defendant feared that her boyfriend thought he wasn’t the child’s father and that he was going to leave her.

Sitting at the defense table, the 27-year-old mother showed little emotion as her trial got under way in the August 2005 death of Paris Talley.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Jon Paul Rion, Miss Williams acknowledged that she met with detectives after the reported conversation and told them the suspect had said she didn’t know how the baby died.

Miss Williams, who has since been released from jail, said she lied to detectives in that initial interview because she had feelings for the accused.

TEXAS

Sulfate cuts risk of cerebral palsy

DALLAS — Doctors can cut the risk of cerebral palsy in half for very premature babies by giving their mothers magnesium sulfate just before they give birth, new research shows.

The mineral compound, also known as Epsom salts, is already used to treat pregnancy-related high blood pressure and to stop early labor. Doctors should consider giving it to women about to deliver an extremely preterm infant, said one of the researchers, Dr. John Thorp of the University of North Carolina.

The research was led by Dr. Dwight Rouse at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was presented yesterday at a meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Dallas.

Dr. Thorp said it isn’t clear how magnesium sulfate works, but it is thought to open up blood vessels in the newborn’s brain.

WASHINGTON

Breath test results too flimsy for court

SEATTLE — The State Patrol’s toxicology lab has had so many ethical lapses and made so many scientific mistakes in recent years that alcohol breath test results should not be admitted at trial, a court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling by a three-member panel of King County District Court will likely make it easier for defendants in pending county cases to beat drunken-driving charges and for those previously convicted on breath-test evidence to appeal.

Prosecutors can still try to win convictions based on other evidence, such as erratic driving and field sobriety tests.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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