- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008


School-attack plotter gets 9 months

BROCKTON — A former student convicted of plotting to carry out a Columbine-style attack at a suburban high school was sentenced yesterday to nine months in prison.

Joseph Nee, 21, was convicted last week of conspiracy to commit murder, but was acquitted of two other charges.

Nee’s attorney said the plan by four Marshfield High School students was never a real threat, but prosecutors rejected that argument.

Three of the students, including Nee, went to police in 2004. They said that the fourth, Tobin Kerns, was planning to kill students and teachers in an attack similar to the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado. Kerns was arrested immediately.

Nee was charged a month later as a co-conspirator. The other two teens were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony. Kerns was convicted in September. He is serving a 10-month sentence.


Evangelist home after surgery

ASHEVILLE — Evangelist Billy Graham returned to his mountainside home yesterday to continue his recovery from surgery to upgrade a shunt that controls excess fluid on his brain, officials said.

Mr. Graham, 89, who underwent the elective surgery a week ago, is recovering well, and his physicians are pleased with his progress, said Mission Hospitals spokeswoman Merrell Gregory.

Dr. Ralph Loomis, Mr. Graham’s neurosurgeon, said doctors will continue to calibrate the updated valve at Mr. Graham’s home. The shunt was first installed in 2000 to drain fluid from Mr. Graham’s brain through a small tube, relieving excess pressure that can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Mr. Graham also has suffered from prostate cancer and macular degeneration. He was hospitalized last year for nearly two weeks after experiencing intestinal bleeding.


Reagan released from hospital

SANTA MONICA — Former first lady Nancy Reagan was released from a hospital yesterday, two days after falling at her Bel-Air home.

Mrs. Reagan, 86, was released from St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and was “very happy to be back in her home,” her spokeswoman Joanne Drake told the Associated Press. Mrs. Reagan has resumed her daily activities, she said.

Mrs. Reagan fell Sunday morning and was taken to a hospital, where doctors determined that she did not break a hip as feared. Miss Drake said Monday that doctors had performed tests on Mrs. Reagan and “all results were good.”

Mrs. Reagan stayed in the same hospital room where former President Ronald Reagan stayed after he broke his hip at home in 2001. He died June 5, 2004, after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.


Girl Scouts conned with fake $100 bill

WESTMINSTER — A pair of con artists ripped off a Girl Scout group when they exchanged a fake $100 bill for cookies, police said.

The couple, who have not been found, handed over the bill Friday night at a supermarket, telling the girls it had been washed when asked why it looked strange.

“It felt and looked wrong and it was a quarter of an inch shorter than a $1 bill,” said Jil Hennessey-Seabolt, the cookie director for Junior Girl Scouts Troop 2121. She said the Girl Scouts gave the couple $93.50 in change after the purchase.

The exchange eradicated the Scouts’ earnings that day. The money they raise in the sales goes to camping trips and to area charities.

In the end, a resident donated $100 to the Girl Scouts.


Atlantis crew readies for landing

CAPE CANAVERAL — Shuttle Atlantis crew members prepared yesterday for their planned touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center in central Florida after delivering Europe’s first permanent orbital laboratory to the International Space Station.

The weather at the Cape Canaveral seaside spaceport was expected to be nearly perfect for Atlantis to descend through the skies and land at 9:07 a.m. today, completing a 13-day flight.

Just in case the weather changes, NASA is staffing its backup landing site in California, spurred by the military’s desire to get the ship home as quickly as possible so it can proceed with a plan to shoot down a failed spy satellite that is loaded with toxic rocket fuel.

The shuttle and space station orbit at a much higher altitude than the ailing satellite. But NASA wants Atlantis to re-enter the atmosphere and land before the shootdown to avoid having the ship fly through a cloud of debris.

Atlantis commander Stephen Frick and pilot Alan Poindexter tested the shuttle’s landing systems yesterday while crew mates tidied up the cabin and set up a reclining seat for astronaut Dan Tani, who is returning after four months on the space station.

The reclined chair will ease his transition back to gravity.


Subpoena blocked in abortion probe

TOPEKA — The state’s highest court yesterday temporarily blocked a subpoena issued to Kansas’ attorney general by a grand jury investigating one of the few U.S. doctors who performs late-term abortions.

Attorney General Stephen Six had resisted the subpoena from the Sedgwick County grand jury for patient records and had asked the Supreme Court to intervene. The subpoena ordered Mr. Six to turn over by today the records of 60 patients obtained by his office from the Wichita clinic of Dr. George Tiller.

Dr. Tiller’s attorneys also have asked the court to quash three subpoenas served on him by the grand jury, including one for the records of about 2,000 patients. They also are challenging the grand jury’s authority to investigate the doctor.


4 students killed in bus crash

COTTONWOOD — A school bus and several other vehicles crashed in southwestern Minnesota yesterday, killing four students and injuring more than a dozen others, authorities said.

The bus was hit by a van about 3:25 p.m. on a highway north of Cottonwood. The bus then hit a pickup and tipped onto its side, State Patrol Lt. Mark Peterson said.

At least 14 persons were injured. Thirteen students were treated at hospitals.

News of the crash swept through Cottonwood, a town of about 1,000, about 120 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

Classes were canceled today at Lakeview School, which serves about 585 students in Cottonwood and Wood Lake, and plans were made to have grief counselors and clergy available to students, a school official said.

The bus was carrying 28 children from kindergarten through 12th grade.


Jury selection opens in child slaying trial

NORMAN — Jury selection began yesterday for the trial of a man accused of killing a 10-year-old girl whose mutilated body was found stuffed into a plastic tub.

Kevin Underwood is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jamie Rose Bolin in what police have described as a cannibalistic plot.

Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty for the April 2006 killing. The girl’s nearly decapitated body was discovered inside a plastic tub in a bedroom closet of Mr. Underwood’s apartment in Purcell.

The case was moved from Purcell in McClain County to Norman, about 20 miles away, because of pretrial publicity.

About 140 jurors reported to Cleveland County District Court. Judge Candace Blalock said she planned to question them in groups of 15 beginning yesterday afternoon and continuing today.

Shortly after Jamie’s disappearance, Mr. Underwood drew the suspicion of police officers at a traffic checkpoint and let them search his apartment, where they found the child’s nude body.


DVD takes bullet for firefighter

WALTERBORO — A South Carolina man is thankful for a digital video disc that ended up taking a bullet for him.

Colleton County Fire and Rescue Director Barry McRoy said he was leaving a Waffle House restaurant in Walterboro on Saturday morning when two men fighting over a gun entered. Police said a bullet hit one of the struggling men, shattered a window and then hit Mr. McRoy.

The bullet hit a DVD that Mr. McRoy was carrying in his pocket. He suffered a bruise but didn’t realize he had been shot. As he told a police officer what happened he noticed a bullet hole in his jacket, the shattered DVD case and a piece of the bullet.

One man was arrested on assault and battery and gun charges.

The DVD was nicked. It was a gift from an employee who had recorded a TV show about fire extinguishers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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