- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ALABAMA

Two die in argument after football game

EVERGREEN | A man and woman were fatally shot after an argument that witnesses said started over an Alabama-LSU football game, but sheriff’s investigators said Monday they continued to investigate the motive.

The Conecuh County sheriff’s office identified the victims as Dennis James Smith, 41, and Donna Kaye Hall Smith, 39, of Brewton. The two were shot about 7 p.m. Saturday in the rural community of Owassa in southern Alabama.

Michael W. Williams, 28, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder over the shooting at his home, where he had watched the game. He was being held Monday without bond. A sheriff’s investigator handling the case did not know whether the suspect had an attorney.

An investigator said Monday that people watching the game at Mr. Williams’ home said the dispute was over the game, which Alabama won 27-21 in overtime Saturday. The investigator also said alcohol may have been a factor.

CALIFORNIA

Some evidence likely out of MySpace trial

LOS ANGELES | Prosecutors in the trial of a woman accused of a MySpace hoax that purportedly led a 13-year-old girl to kill herself will likely be prohibited from presenting evidence of the suicide, a federal judge said Monday.

U.S. District Judge George H. Wu told attorneys he was leaning toward excluding the evidence from the trial of Lori Drew, who is accused of using a fictitious profile on the social networking site to drive Megan Meier, her daughter’s former friend, to hang herself.

Mrs. Drew has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization.

“I don’t necessarily think the suicide is relevant to the crime charged,” Judge Wu said, adding he thought details of Megan’s death would unfairly prejudice the jury. He said he planned to announce his final decision Friday.

Prosecutors say Mrs. Drew, 49, of O’Fallon, Mo., helped create a false-identity MySpace account and harassed Megan with cruel messages.

Megan, who was being treated for depression, hanged herself after purportedly receiving messages saying the world would be better off without her.

FLORIDA

Ugliest dog dies of cancer

GULFPORT | A one-eyed, three-legged dog that won the title of world’s ugliest pooch this summer has died.

The St. Petersburg Times in Florida reports that Gus, a Chinese crested dog, had cancer. He was 9.

Gus was rescued from a bad home and went on to win the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Northern California.

Gus came from humble origins. According to the fair, his adopted family in Gulfport, Fla., rescued him after learning he was being kept in a crate inside someone’s garage.

He had one leg amputated because of a skin tumor and lost an eye in a cat fight.

Gus’ owner had said the prize money from the contest would be put toward the dog’s radiation treatment.

ILLINOIS

Felon questioned in Hudson case held

JOLIET | A parole review official on Monday refused to release the felon questioned in the killings of Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew, after a witness reported seeing him with a gun similar to the one used in the slayings.

A 35-minute hearing ended with a decision that there is probable cause to believe that William Balfour, Miss Hudson’s estranged brother-in-law, violated parole and should be held until a Dec. 3 hearing before the full Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Balfour, 27, has been questioned, but not charged, in the killings. Authorities have called him a “person of interest.”

During Monday’s hearing by a member of the review board, Balfour denied any involvement in the crime, including the allegations that he had been seen with a gun.

MICHIGAN

Trucker accused of hiding $2 million

DETROIT | A Canadian trucker was caught trying to smuggle $2 million in U.S. cash into this country, federal agents said.

Authorities said the driver told agents at a Michigan border crossing Friday he was traveling to the West Coast with food. But border officers became suspicious after an X-ray of his Volvo rig at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. A search dog got excited, too.

Officers said they found 138 bundles of cash and six cell phones inside the walls of the truck. It’s illegal to conceal more than $10,000 when leaving or entering the U.S.

The driver, Eskender Mafarani of Richmond Hill, Ontario, agreed to remain in custody Monday until his next hearing Nov. 18.

NEBRASKA

Teen at hospital, 30th haven case

OMAHA | A 17-year-old boy left by his mother at an Omaha hospital on Monday is the 30th child abandoned under Nebraska’s safe-haven law, state officials said.

The boy from the Omaha area was left at Creighton University Medical Center on Monday morning, said Todd Landry, director of children and family services for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The state was investigating the case, and additional details were not available, he said.

Nebraska is the latest state to enact a safe-haven law, intended to protect unwanted newborns from being abandoned.

Some have interpreted the state’s law as meaning it could apply to children as old as 18, because it uses the word “child” and doesn’t specify an age limit. Those interpretations take the word “child” to mean “minor,” which in Nebraska includes anyone under the age of 19.

NEW YORK

Jewish group irked by baptisms

NEW YORK | Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they are making changes to their massive genealogical database to make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.

But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. At a news conference in New York City on Monday, he said the church also must “implement a mechanism to undo what you have done.”

Mr. Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, are over. He said his group will not sue, and that “the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion.”

OHIO

‘Kidnapped’ woman admits to theft

TOLEDO | A former Toledo, Ohio, lawyer who made up a story about being kidnapped after a client accused her of stealing his money has admitted she took $624,000 from about two dozen people.

Karyn McConnell Hancock, 38, pleaded guilty to aggravated theft on Monday. She’s a former city councilwoman and a daughter of a judge. Hancock will face a maximum of eight years in prison when she is sentenced next year.

Hancock was the subject of a nationwide search after she went missing for three days in December.

At first, she said she was abducted in Toledo and driven to Georgia. She later admitted that she made the story up.

TENNESSEE

Purse stops bullet from hitting student

MURFREESBORO | The contents in an oversized purse saved a 22-year-old Middle Tennessee State University student by stopping a bullet during an attempted robbery, police said.

Elizabeth Pittenger was walking to her car on campus Thursday evening when a man confronted her and demanded her purse, cell phone and laptop, university Police Chief Buddy Peaster said. She fought the man off, but he fired a gunshot before fleeing.

The bullet was found inside the purse, along with a calculator, umbrella and small case that had been punctured. Miss Pittenger was not injured.

Police nearby heard the gunshot and arrested Orlando Edmiston, 20. Officers found a .38-caliber handgun beneath a parked van.

TEXAS

Ex-IRA militant fights deportation

RAYMONDVILLE | A former IRA militant and escaped political prisoner who has lived in immigration limbo for 25 years in California may see it all unravel from inside a south Texas federal detention center.

Pol Brennan, convicted member of the Irish Republican Army and escapee from a notorious prison outside Belfast, was nabbed with an expired work permit in south Texas in January. He has been detained ever since, awaiting a hearing Wednesday and Thursday on whether he’ll finally earn legal residency or be deported to Northern Ireland, where his wife says he will face retaliation.

Mr. Brennan’s situation is so muddied that questions of why he would be deported now after 25 years are balanced by the marvel that he was not sent home years ago for sneaking into the country under an assumed name. He had brushes with the law in the U.S. before his arrest in Texas, but was able to renew work permits without becoming a permanent legal resident.

Since coming to America, Mr. Brennan married and worked as a master carpenter, bought a gun under an assumed name, once applied for a passport, also with an assumed name, and was convicted of misdemeanor assault for scuffling with a contractor who he claimed owed him money.

Immigration officials won’t comment on his case, citing the upcoming hearing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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