- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2008


Hospital wedding held for cancer patient

BOSTON — Camelia Rodriguez had her dream wedding. She wore a white dress and the ceremony was steeped in the traditions of her native Mexico.

It was quite a feat since nurses and other workers at Massachusetts General Hospital had to scramble to organize the wedding in one day, when Miss Rodriguez, who has advanced breast cancer, felt well enough.

Jorge Estuardo appeared emotional at times during the wedding to Miss Rodriguez, his partner of eight years.

“God has granted me one more day of life,” Miss Rodriguez said after the ceremony on Wednesday.

Fulfilling Mexican traditions, the groom gave the bride 13 gold coins to indicate his trust and confidence in her and that he will support her, and a white rope in a figure eight shape was placed around their necks to symbolize binding love.

The hospital’s catering unit provided refreshments and a wedding cake.


Strong earthquake strikes state

A strong earthquake yesterday shook rural northeastern Nevada at dawn, damaging a town’s historic district but sparing residents from any serious injuries.

The 6.0 magnitude quake near the town of Wells sparked small fires and cracked pipes, cutting off running water for a time, residents and officials said.

The quake, centered in a sparsely populated area 11 miles southeast of Wells near the Nevada-Utah line, was felt across much of the West, from northern Idaho and Utah to Southern California, officials said.

At least five less severe aftershocks were reported.

The most serious damage was reported in Wells’ largely unoccupied historic district, Elko County Undersheriff Rocky Gonzalez said.


Cat heads home after trip in locker

PHOENIX — A cat who took a three-week cross-country ride to Arizona in a storage container is headed home to Florida.

Arizona Humane Society officials said the 2-year-old gray cat crawled into the locker in Pompano Beach, Fla., while a man loaded it for a move to Phoenix.

The container spent time in a Florida warehouse and on a semitrailer before being delivered to a Phoenix facility.

A worker heard a cat meowing inside the container Tuesday. The cat, named Meatloaf, was hungry and thirsty but not harmed. The man who was moving remembered a similar cat near his old apartment.

Officials will give Meatloaf time to recover before flying him home.


Zoo tiger exhibit reopens to public

SAN FRANCISCO — The big cat exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo has reopened for the first time since a tiger escaped and fatally mauled a teen.

It’s been about two months since the attack.

Visitors to the zoo are once again able to watch the tigers and lions in their enclosure. But the big cat grotto now has higher walls and glass barriers with electrified wires that are supposed to prevent another animal escape.

Before the improvements, the walls were about 4 feet lower than national guidelines recommend.

The zoo also added warning signs and surveillance cameras around the exhibit.


FAA investigating whether pilots slept

HONOLULU — A Go airliner overshot Hilo International Airport by 15 miles last week, and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether the pilots were sleeping.

“We’re investigating whether the pilot and co-pilot of a Feb. 13 Go airlines flight fell asleep while the plane was in the air between Honolulu and Hilo,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Midmorning Flight 1002 drifted off course during the 214-mile trip and had to turn back to get to the airport on the Big Island. The flight landed safely.

Air traffic controllers tracking the plane by radar were unable to contact the cockpit for 25 minutes, according to a report by KGMB-TV.

If the pilots did fall asleep while the plane was on autopilot, FAA rules carry penalties ranging from a warning letter to license suspension or revocation.


3 bodies found in burned house

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Three persons have been found dead after a house fire in southern Maine, and police say the deaths are suspicious.

The bodies were discovered Wednesday after the fire was reported in a Cape Cod-style home in Old Orchard Beach. The tourist town is a short drive from Maine’s largest city, Portland.

The bodies are being taken to Augusta for autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office.

The fire was extinguished in about 20 minutes. No other injuries were reported.


Man gets 50 years for killing his wife

MOUNT CLEMENS — A man who killed and dismembered his wife was sentenced yesterday to serve at least 50 years behind bars by a judge who called his actions “demonic.”

Stephen Grant choked his wife, Tara, to death, then cut up her corpse in a machine shop.

After the killing, he tearfully told reporters he wasn’t involved in her disappearance.

“Stephen Grant is evil personified,” prosecutor Eric Smith said.

Grant, on the advice of his lawyer, did not speak during the sentencing.

A jury found him guilty in December of second-degree murder.


Van driver arrested in school bus crash

MINNEAPOLIS — Police yesterday arrested the driver of a van involved in a crash with a school bus that killed four students in rural Minnesota.

Alianiss N. Morales was being held on suspicion of criminal vehicular operation, the Lyon County sheriff’s office said.

Two brothers, the daughter of a teacher and the son of a former teacher at Lakeview School in Cottonwood were killed in Tuesday’s crash. At least 14 other persons were hurt; many remained hospitalized yesterday.

Mr. Morales was driving a van east on County Road 24, which has a stop sign as it ends in a T intersection with state Highway 23, the road on which the bus was traveling, authorities said. The van struck the bus, which rolled over onto a pickup truck, police said.

The driver of the truck told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that he saw the van run the stop sign.


Gunfighter stabbed to death in prison

NEW YORK — A man who gained notoriety after wounding six police officers in a 1986 gunfight that led to a nationwide manhunt was killed in prison, corrections officials said yesterday.

Larry Davis, serving 25 years to life on a murder conviction in an unrelated case, was stabbed to death about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday during a recreational break at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County, said Erik Kriss, a spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services.

Another inmate at the prison was being questioned in Davis’ death by state police and the inspector general for corrections and had been placed in a segregated cell, Mr. Kriss said.

Davis, 41, had most recently been convicted in 1991 of fatally shooting a suspected drug dealer in the Bronx.


Wrong body accidentally buried

CHARLESTON — Authorities mistakenly released the body of an adult woman to the family of a 2-year-old fire victim, and the woman’s body was buried in the girl’s grave, officials said.

A routine office check at the state Medical Examiner’s Office earlier this week showed that the body of Victoria Hope Starcher of Cottageville was still there. The child and her brother, 4-year-old Joseph Allen Starcher II, were both killed Feb. 8 when their two-story house caught fire.

Funeral services for the children were held Feb. 15 in Jackson County, said John Law, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Mr. Law said the employee who mistakenly released the woman’s body probably failed to check a label on the body bag against information identifying the remains. The woman, who has not been identified, also was a fire victim who was killed in a different blaze.

Dr. James Kaplan, the state’s chief medical examiner, and state Bureau of Public Health acting chief Ron Forren informed the girl’s parents, Joseph Starcher and Tammy Scarberry, of the mistake Tuesday.


Jury convicts man of poisoning wife

ELKHORN — A jury has convicted a man of poisoning his wife with antifreeze and then suffocating her.

A jury has found Mark Jensen guilty of first-degree murder in the 1998 death of 40-year-old Julie Jensen. She left a note blaming him if she turned up dead.

Prosecutors said Jensen searched the Internet for information on antifreeze, gave his wife sleeping pills and made her drink juice spiked with the toxic chemical.

Authorities said when her health appeared to improve, he pushed her face in a pillow and suffocated her.

The defense had claimed she committed suicide and framed her husband.

Jensen faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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