- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Thunderstorms slam Southeast

BIRMINGHAM — A broad storm system spread heavy snow across the Great Lakes region yesterday and fired up violent thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses in the Southeast.

At least two deaths were blamed on the stormy weather.

Fallen trees and other debris on roads slowed travel, and several traffic accidents brought morning rush-hour traffic to a standstill in Birmingham, authorities said.

A falling tree struck a mobile home and killed a 71-year-old woman in Leeds, a town outside Birmingham, the Jefferson County coroner’s office said. Snow fell from Illinois to New England, with more than 6 inchesby late morning in northern Indiana and Ohio.


Jury deliberating ex-officer’s sentence

CANTON — A jury began deciding yesterday whether a former police officer convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn daughter should get the death penalty.

Bobby Cutts Jr. was led from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies after the jurors began deliberations. It was the same jury that convicted Cutts earlier this month.

Assistant Stark County prosecutor Dennis Barr told jurors yesterday that the state had met its burden to prove that Cutts, who appealed to the jury Monday to spare his life, deserves to die.

But defense attorney Fernando Mack said execution would be inappropriate because it should be reserved for the “worst of the worst,” including serial killers, and “this is a situation that got out of hand.”


Polygamist leader faces new charges

KINGMAN — Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was handed over to Arizona authorities yesterday to face sex charges stemming from the arranged marriages of two teenage girls to older relatives.

He already has been convicted in Utah in connection with one of those cases, involving a 14-year-old girl.

Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will plead not guilty to the Arizona charges today in a Kingman court, said defense attorney Mike Piccarreta.

In an indictment, Jeffs, 52, is charged as an accomplice with four counts of incest and four counts of sexual contact with a minor.

The Arizona charges stem from the arranged marriage of a man in his early 50s to a 17-year-old relative and another between a 19-year-old man and his 14-year-old cousin.

Jeffs was convicted last year in Utah of rape as an accomplice in the latter case, but Arizona prosecutors said that doesn’t preclude them from bringing charges here.

Members of the church live in the isolated twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.


Traveler arrested after fleeing security

MIAMI — A man with multiple passports was arrested Monday after he bolted from security screeners at Miami International Airport, jumped from a second-floor concourse and broke his arm and ribs, authorities said.

Transportation and Security Administration officials became suspicious of Faid Beydoun as he stood in a security line, waiting to board a Los Angeles-bound flight. When Mr. Beydoun’s travel documents also raised concerns, agents asked him to step out of line for a secondary screening.

Mr. Beydoun, who was carrying multiple passports, then ran from security screeners, jumped 25 feet off the second-floor concourse and broke his arm and ribs, the Miami Herald reported.

Miami-Dade County Corrections Department spokeswoman Janelle Hall said Mr. Beydoun was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence Monday, as well as loitering and prowling.


Killer’s voice heard on 911 call

TINLEY PARK — Police have released 37 seconds of a 911 call made from a suburban Chicago Lane Bryant store, hoping someone will recognize the voice of the man who fatally shot five women during a botched robbery.

Tinley Park Police Commander Rick Bruno said the call released Monday was edited to isolate the killer’s voice.

Only snippets of a man’s voice can be heard during the 37-second recording. Most of the phrases are difficult to decipher, but at one point, it sounds as if the man says: “I’m losing it” and “foolishness.”

Authorities also have posted a composite sketch of the gunman on electronic billboards in the Chicago area.


Hurricane insurance cases head to court

NEW ORLEANS —Attorneys for a couple who lost their home to Hurricane Rita argued before the Louisiana Supreme Court yesterday that an insurance company must pay for the couple’s entire loss even though floodwater — not covered in their policy — did much of the damage.

It was one of two insurance cases before the court yesterday stemming from 2005 Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

The court first heard the case of Mark and Barbara Landry, whose Vermilion Parish home was demolished during Hurricane Rita. They sued Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. after the company denied their claim. The Landrys argued that Louisiana’s Valued Policy Law requires Citizens to cover all the damage to their home.

Both the Landrys and Citizens had appealed portions of a state appellate court ruling.


Slain groom’s dad testifies at trial

NEW YORK — The father of a man killed in a hail of police gunfire on his wedding day testified yesterday that he saw one of the three undercover detectives on trial for the shooting in the bar where his son’s bachelor party was held.

On the second day of testimony in the trial, William Bell identified Marc Cooper, who is charged with reckless endangerment in the shooting of his son, Sean, early on the morning of Nov. 25, 2006. Detectives Gescard Isnora and Michael Oliver face manslaughter charges.

Detective Oliver reportedly fired 31 shots — including the one that killed the unarmed Mr. Bell — outside a Queens strip club where he, his father and friends were celebrating Mr. Bell’s impending wedding. Detective Isnora fired 11 shots, and Detective Cooper fired four times. Two other officers also fired shots but have not been charged.

William Bell, speaking calmly, said he was reluctant to attend the last-minute party. But Sean “kept calling. He insisted. So I finally decided to go.”


Slain girl warned against strangers

NORMAN — The father of a slain 10-year-old testified yesterday that he had warned his daughter to be careful of strangers before her mutilated body was found in their neighbor’s apartment.

“I told her you can’t be trusting people and do not go into anyone’s apartment,” Curtis Bolin testified yesterday in the murder trial of Kevin Underwood, 28, who is accused of killing Jamie Rose Bolin in a cannibalistic plot.


Lech Walesa tested for heart transplant

HOUSTON — Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Polish President Lech Walesa was undergoing tests for heart failure and being evaluated as a potential heart-transplant recipient, Houston’s Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center said yesterday.

A brief announcement from the heart center did not detail the extent of Mr. Walesa’s condition, saying only that he was being evaluated this week.

The former electrician at what was then known as the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk rose to power as the leader of the Solidarity trade union that emerged from a 1980 strike at the shipyard. Solidarity’s recognition by the ruling government ultimately toppled the communist regime in 1989.


Plane slides off runway at airport

JACKSON — A United Airlines jet carrying 121 persons skidded off a runway when it landed at the Jackson Hole, Wyo., airport, officials said. There were no major injuries.

An airport official said passengers used emergency slides to get off the plane after Monday night’s mishap. One passenger sprained a wrist while exiting the jet.

The plane, arriving from Denver, was carrying 115 passengers and a crew of six.

The National Transportation Safety Board plans to investigate the incident.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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