- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Officer shot, suspect killed in altercation

CAMDEN — A naked stabbing suspect got into a struggle with a female police officer yesterday, leading a second officer to open fire and kill the suspect. The female officer was shot and seriously wounded.

Authorities were investigating whether she was shot by the other officer, or by the suspect, who may have grabbed her gun.

Police were called to a South Camden neighborhood after reports that a man had stabbed someone. The suspect was identified as Lamont Morton, 19.

When police arrived, they found Mr. Morton naked, knocking on the door of a house in the neighborhood, said Camden County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Jason Laughlin.

The officer was taken to Cooper University Hospital with several wounds, Mr. Laughlin said. The stabbing victim was at the same hospital as the officer, Mr. Laughlin said, and was expected to survive.


Police officer charged in shooting death

LIMA — A white police officer accused of fatally shooting a black woman as she held her 1-year-old son during a drug raid was charged with two misdemeanors yesterday, outraging activists and relatives of the woman who said he should face tougher penalties.

Sgt. Joseph Chavalia was charged with negligent homicide in the death of Tarika Wilson, 26, who was killed in a January SWAT raid at her house while looking for her boyfriend.

He was charged with negligent assault in the wounding of her son Sincere Wilson, whose finger had to be amputated. He pleaded not guilty yesterday to both counts. If convicted of both he would face a maximum of eight months in jail.

Jason Upthegrove, Lima NAACP president, said the group will ask the FBI and Justice Department to determine whether the case was handled fairly.


Ailing man blames ricin

SAN DIEGO — A man who has been hospitalized since Valentine’s Day with respiratory ailments and failing kidneys told his brother that he thinks he was contaminated by the deadly ricin poison found in his Las Vegas motel room.

Roger Bergendorff regained consciousness Wednesday and was upgraded to fair condition yesterday at a Las Vegas medical center.

His younger brother, Erich Bergendorff, of Escondido, Calif., told the Associated Press that they spoke briefly on the telephone Sunday for the first time since the ricin was found.

“He did mention that he would have never done anything to anybody,” said Erich Bergendorff. “He himself is under the impression he was contaminated by it — he did mention the ricin and seemed to say something like, ‘Gee, it sure worked on me.’ ”

Erich Bergendorff said his brother told him the ricin was easy to make. He added that his brother, who was on a ventilator until last week, still had a hard time speaking clearly, so it was not clear whether Roger Bergendorff made it himself or watched someone else manufacture the powder.


Bomb scare forces patients from hospital

BOULDER — Police shot a man in a wheelchair at a Colorado hospital after a five-hour standoff during which he claimed his oxygen tank had a detonator.

Boulder police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said Terrance Baughman, 32, was in surgery yesterday after being shot in the chest.

Miss Huntley said officers haven’t been able to deactivate a device on Mr. Baughman’s oxygen tank. Police will use a robot to remove the device from the hospital and dismantle it in a park.

The 200-bed Boulder Community Hospital was shut down about 9 a.m. when Mr. Baughman announced he had a detonator. Patients were moved, and emergency-room patients were taken to other hospitals.


Space robot gets eyes, tool belt

CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts last night worked to give the International Space Station’s new robot some eyes and a set of tools.

It was the third spacewalk of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s visit to the station, each one aimed at constructing Dextre, the giant robot.

The last time astronauts floated out of the station, Dextre’s arms were attached. This time, the robot was getting a tool belt and two cameras that will serve as eyes, at waist level.

The robotic work by astronauts Richard M. Linnehan and Robert L. Behnken should complete Dextre’s assembly outside the space station. So far, the 12-foot robot and both of its 11-foot arms have checked out fine. Each arm has seven joints, and the crew ensured the brakes worked.

Dextre, a Canadian Space Agency contribution that cost more than $200 million, is designed to assist spacewalking astronauts and eventually assume some of their chores. Its designers envision the robot one day replacing batteries and other space-station parts — it can lift as much as 1,300 pounds — and also performing some precision tasks such as handling bolts.

It has a sense of touch and is capable of sensing force and movement.


High court rejects death-row appeal

ATLANTA — A U.S. court yesterday rejected an appeal by a death-row inmate who protests his innocence in a case that the pope and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have described as troubling.

In a 4-3 decision, Georgia’s Supreme Court turned down an appeal for a new trial for convicted murderer Troy Davis, saying the initial trial court did not abuse its power by rejecting a fresh trial or a hearing on new evidence.

Davis was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to death in Georgia’s Chatham County for the 1989 murder of police Sgt. Mark MacPhail, who was fatally shot near a Burger King restaurant in Savannah.

His attorneys said it was a case of mistaken identity. Seven of nine witnesses who testified against Davis have since recanted and some said police coerced them into giving their original evidence. Four of those witnesses also now say that another man, Sylvester Coles, shot Sgt. MacPhail and three of them say Mr. Coles confessed to the murder, according to court papers.

Davis, who is being held at a state prison in Jackson, was “stunned and silenced” by the decision yesterday, said defense attorney Jason Ewart, who added that the opinion set an impossibly high standard for recantation evidence.


McGreevey affirms sexual threesomes

TRENTON — He says yes. She says no. He says yes.

Former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey said yesterday that he and his wife and a male aide engaged in sexual threesomes, contradicting a denial issued hours earlier by his estranged wife.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, the nation’s first openly gay governor said published reports by former campaign aide Teddy Pedersen are true.

In interviews posted online Sunday night by the Star-Ledger of Newark and the New York Post, Mr. Pedersen said he had consensual sex with the couple for about two years before the Democrat became governor. He said he had contact only with Dina Matos McGreevey during the trysts, and wasn’t sure whether Mr. McGreevey was gay.

In his statement, Mr. McGreevey said he and his estranged wife need to move forward for the sake of their 6-year-old daughter.NEW YORK

7th body recovered from crane rubble

NEW YORK — The last of seven bodies was pulled from the rubble yesterday at the site of a crane collapse that obliterated a town house and severely damaged other buildings.

Six construction workers and a woman in town for St. Patrick’s Day were killed Saturday when the crane broke from an apartment tower under construction and toppled like a tree onto buildings as far as a block away. The last three bodies were found yesterday.

A preliminary city investigation found that the crane toppled after a steel collar used to secure it to the side of the building fell as workers attempted to install it.

The crane, which rose 19 stories, crashed into a Manhattan neighborhood a few blocks from the United Nations on the city’s east side.

All the dead were construction workers, except for a woman who was in the four-story town house that was demolished when the crane collapsed.

Twenty-four others, including 11 first responders, were injured, said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Eight persons remained hospitalized yesterday, officials said.


Jury set to weigh case against coroner

PITTSBURGH — Jurors are set to begin deliberating today whether celebrity pathologist Cyril Wecht should be convicted of using public employees, resources and equipment to benefit his multimillion-dollar private practice.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Wilson told the jurors yesterday that Allegheny County voters and taxpayers were entitled to Dr. Wecht’s honest service when he served as coroner from 1996 until he resigned after being indicted in January 2006.

“The public relies on officials of the government to act for the public interest, not their own enrichment,” Mr. Wilson said in his closing argument.

Dr. Wecht’s attorney, Jerry McDevitt, argued in his closing remarks that prosecutors were making a case out of little more than “legal buckshot” and “hoping that one pellet will kill the bird.”

Dr. Wecht, 76, made millions of dollars from his private investigations into deaths, including celebrated cases such as JonBenet Ramsey and Anna Nicole Smith’s son, Daniel.

He faces 41 counts, mostly mail and wire fraud, charging that he had his county employees send correspondence relating to his private practice from the coroner’s office on county time.


Molotov cocktails thrown at apartments

PROVIDENCE — Police said someone threw a pair of Molotov cocktails at a two-story, off-campus apartment building where an employee of a campus Jewish organization lives.

No one was injured in the attack and no arrests were made.

Police said one device hit the outside of the building and started a small fire.

A second landed inside but failed to ignite.


Flying-saucer house sells for $135,000

CHATTANOOGA — The sale price for a Chattanooga house shaped like a flying saucer is nothing to phone home about.

The Space House sold at auction Saturday for a down-to-earth bid of $135,000.

Auctioneer Terry Posey said he was surprised bidding didn’t go higher. The sale of the 38-year-old, three-bedroom structure perched on six “landing gear” legs attracted worldwide attention.

Mr. Posey said Pearl Johnson of Cincinnati bought the mountainside house but didn’t want to discuss the transaction.

The house has a retractable staircase that lowers to the ground. A neighbor said that feature aided one former owner who was having an argument with her husband. She pulled up the stairway, drove her husband’s truck underneath it so he couldn’t get the stairs to the ground and left him stuck inside.


Police overwhelmed by spring-break fights

GALVESTON — Police officers were overwhelmed Sunday trying to restore order as a spring-break rap concert ended in multiple fights on the beach in Galveston, authorities said.

Police Lt. Jorge Trevino said it took officers almost four hours to clear the streets after the concert and at least 12 persons were arrested.

Four officers initially were assigned to patrol the concert but eventually all of Galveston’s on-duty officers were sent to the scene.

The concert was called the “Spring Break Party Beach Bash.” It was hosted by a Houston radio station that said scheduled performers included 2 Pistols, Colby O’Donnis, Lil Wil & Lil Keke and Webbie.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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