- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

ARIZONA

Court backs state on alien-hiring law

PHOENIX — A federal judge yesterday upheld an Arizona law that prohibits businesses from knowingly hiring illegal aliens and yanks the business licenses of those that do.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business groups that argued that federal law severely restricts a state’s ability to punish people who knowingly employ illegal aliens.

Many cities across the country have passed similar measures, although some have been rejected in court.

Judge Wake, however, concluded there is no conflict with federal immigration law, which he said specifically lets states regulate business licensing, adding that Arizona’s law gives sufficient due-process protections to businesses.

“Preservation of that state power was itself part of Congress’ careful balancing of policy objectives,” Judge Wake wrote.

The business groups challenging the law said they will appeal the ruling to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

CALIFORNIA

SWAT officer among five killed

LOS ANGELES — A gunman killed three apparent relatives and a veteran SWAT officer and wounded another officer before police fatally shot him early yesterday in a home that erupted in flames during a long standoff. A woman escaped near the end of the siege.

There was no immediate explanation of what triggered the bloodbath in the modest San Fernando Valley home, leading to the first line-of-duty death in the 41 years of the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite SWAT team.

“Today’s a sad and tragic day here in the city of Los Angeles,” said an emotional Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who revealed that both officers, 20-year members of SWAT, were assigned to protect his children last year.

Randal Simmons, 51, left a wife and two children. His colleague James Veenstra, 51, was in stable condition after surgery.

The gunman was killed about 11 hours after barricading himself in the house and telling police in a 911 call that he had killed three relatives, police said. Those victims’ identities were not immediately known. The shooting occurred at the home of a man, his wife and their three sons, said Armando Rivera, who identified himself as a cousin.

FLORIDA

Atlantis blasts off with science lab

CAPE CANAVERAL — After two months of delay, shuttle Atlantis blasted into orbit yesterday with Europe’s gift to the international space station, a $2 billion science lab named Columbus.

Atlantis and its seven-man crew safely roared away from their seaside launch pad at 2:45 p.m., overcoming fuel-gauge problems that thwarted back-to-back launch attempts in December.

The same cold front that spawned killer tornadoes across the South earlier this week stayed far enough away and, in the end, gave NASA a break.

Atlantis’ commander, Stephen Frick, and his U.S., German and French crew will reach the space station tomorrow and begin installing Columbus the next day. Three spacewalks are planned during the flight, scheduled to last 11 or 12 days.

Besides Columbus, Atlantis will drop off a new space station resident, French Air Force Gen. Leopold Eyharts, who will swap places with NASA astronaut Daniel Tani and get Columbus working.

KENTUCKY

Prisoner punches his attorney in court

GEORGETOWN — A public defender who was punched in court by a disgruntled client said yesterday that he doesn’t blame the man who gave him two black eyes.

The disorder in the court, captured on video, happened Monday at Scott County Circuit Court after the judge refused defendant Peter Hafer’s request for a new attorney.

Mr. Hafer, 30, of Cynthiana, told the judge that he didn’t trust his court-appointed lawyer, Doug Crickmer. As Judge Rob Johnson began to tell Mr. Hafer that he couldn’t choose his public defender, Mr. Hafer landed the first punch. He hit the attorney several times in the face and stomach. Mr. Crickmer was admitted to Georgetown Community Hospital and released later that day. He said he will not file assault charges.

MICHIGAN

Mayor, lover tried to conceal texts

DETROIT — Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick approved a secret agreement to keep confidential the intimate text messages between him and his former chief of staff in an $8.4 million whistleblower settlement, newspapers reported yesterday.

The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News said their lawyers’ notes show that Mr. Kilpatrick and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty signed a confidential agreement that would conceal the text messages as part of the city’s settlement of the lawsuit.

Under the deal, Michael Stefani, lawyer for two former police officers in last summer’s lawsuit, would surrender all original records and copies of those records from the city’s communications provider, SkyTel, the newspapers said. Those messages show that Mr. Kilpatrick and Mrs. Beatty had an intimate physical relationship in 2002 and “03, something they both denied under oath during the lawsuit.

NEBRASKA

Teen in sex case returns to U.S.

OMAHA — A 14-year-old illegal alien who fled to Mexico with his former teacher has reunited with his family in Nebraska, his lawyer said yesterday.

Amy Peck said her client arrived Wednesday after the Department of Homeland Security gave him humanitarian parole, a seldom-granted measure that lets people into the country temporarily.

The boy, who was born in Mexico, left Lexington with his former teacher Kelsey Peterson. Miss Peterson, 25, is accused of having sex with him and is in custody facing federal and state charges.

TEXAS

‘Jena Six’ student faces new charge

CARROLLTON — A defendant in the Louisiana “Jena Six” case was arrested after reportedly slamming a student’s head into a bench at his new school in Texas, police said.

The defendant, Bryant R. Purvis, 19, was arrested on a charge of assault causing bodily injury Wednesday after an altercation at Hebron High School. It began because Mr. Purvis thought a student had flattened his tires, Sgt. John Singleton said.

Mr. Purvis was released from jail yesterday morning.

According to a police report, the student felt Mr. Purvis come behind him and “grab his neck with one hand and begin to choke him.”

Mr. Purvis then said, “Don’t you ever mess with my car again” and slammed the student’s head into the bench of a table and walked away, according to the report. The student’s left eye was injured, but Sgt. Singleton didn’t know whether he needed medical attention after seeing the school nurse.

Mr. Purvis was one of six black Jena High School students initially charged with attempted murder after a 2006 assault on a white student.

WEST VIRGINIA

Woman pleads guilty to hate crime

CHARLESTON — A white woman pleaded guilty to a hate crime and other charges yesterday in the kidnapping and torture of a black woman who authorities say was held captive for days last summer.

Authorities said Karen Burton’s crimes include stabbing Megan Williams in the ankle while saying, “This is what we do to … down here.” She is the third in a group of seven persons charged to plead guilty in the case, and the only one charged with a hate crime.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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