- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008

CALIFORNIA

Marine Bush praised won’t get medal

SAN DIEGO | A Marine sergeant singled out by President Bush for throwing his body on a grenade to save his comrades in Iraq will receive the prestigious Navy Cross rather than the nation’s highest military award, military officials said.

The family of Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was posthumously nominated for the nation’s highest military honor, told the North County Times of Escondido, Calif., they were disappointed he was not receiving the Medal of Honor.

“I don’t understand why if the president has been talking about him,” his mother, Rosa Peralta, told the newspaper, which was the first to report the bestowing of the Navy Cross.

Mrs. Peralta said she was informed during a meeting with Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski that a committee could not agree on awarding the Medal of Honor to her son, who Marine Corps officials say was first wounded by friendly fire. She said the general mentioned the friendly fire aspect as part of her son’s death during the discussion.

ILLINOIS

Student, Chicago fight for Web site

CHICAGO | A 29-year-old MBA student is countersuing the Chicago Olympic committee for rights to Chicago2016.com.

Northwestern University student Stephen Frayne Jr. bought the Chicago2016.com site from a Japanese company in 2004. Chicago kicked off its bid to host the 2016 Olympics two years later.

The city’s Olympic committee has trademarked Chicago 2016, and uses Chicago2016.org as its Web site.

The Chicago and U.S. Olympic committees appealed to an international arbitration organization for ownership of Chicago2016.com, and a decision is expected Monday.

Mr. Frayne sued Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago to stop the proceedings. He uses the site to host discussions about the city’s Olympic bid.

MICHIGAN

Woman gets prison for fatal dog attacks

HOWELL | A woman whose bulldogs mauled two people to death, including a 91-year-old man, was sentenced Thursday to up to 15 years in prison.

Circuit Judge Stanley Latreille ordered Diane Cockrell to pay restitution as well as serve from 43 months to 15 years.

Cockrell pleaded no contest last month to two felony counts of keeping dangerous animals causing death and a third lesser charge. A no-contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

Authorities said four of Cockrell’s dogs attacked Edward Gierlach, 91, in his driveway and pounced on Cheryl Harper, 56, who was walking or jogging nearby. The attacks happened last September.

NEVADA

Simpson lawyer quizzes detective

LAS VEGAS | O.J. Simpson’s defense lawyer tried to show jurors Thursday that police quickly made him the focus of their investigation in a hotel room confrontation and might have been out to “get” him.

Simpson’s lawyer, Yale Galanter, opened the day asking Las Vegas police Detective Andy Caldwell about comments that Mr. Galanter said were captured on a recorder during the investigation a year ago.

“Do you recall officers saying, ‘They didn’t get him in California, we’re going to get him now,’ and this was … just hours after your investigation started?” Mr. Galanter asked during cross-examination.

Detective Caldwell responded that he remembered officers making some comments, but said he couldn’t remember the exact words.

The recorder was hidden in the Las Vegas hotel room where Simpson and five other men allegedly robbed two memorabilia dealers at gunpoint a year ago.

Simpson and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges including armed robbery, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and coercion. The confrontation was over Simpson’s effort to retrieve items that the former football star says belonged to him.

NEW YORK

Boyfriend accused of brutalizing cat

NEW YORK | Trial has begun for a baseball player-turned-actor accused of brutally killing a cat in a jealous rage after complaining that his ex-girlfriend cared more for the furry feline than she did for him.

Assistant District Attorney Leila Kermani told the jury in opening arguments that the cat named Norman died with broken teeth, broken ribs, a broken leg, a torn tongue, massive internal injuries including bruised lungs and a bruised liver and a chest cavity filled with blood.

Former New York Mets minor leaguer Joseph Petcka, 37, is on trial on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals for killing Norman on March 27, 2007, after a night of heavy drinking. He faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

Mr. Petcka’s attorney, Charles Hochbaum, admitted his client kicked the 8-year-old tabby and “swatted him really hard” after the cat bit him, but he said his client did not mean to kill him.

Norman’s owner - Lisa Altobelli, a Sports Illustrated reporter - testified she had dated Mr. Petcka about six weeks before he killed her cat.

WYOMING

District eyes virtual charter school

CHEYENNE | The school district in Cheyenne is looking into starting a virtual charter school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Students enrolled in the school would take classes online.

District Superintendent Ted Adams said the goal is to serve youngsters in the district who are currently home-schooled. Ten home-schooled students are ready to enroll now.

It wouldn’t be the first virtual charter school in Wyoming. The school district in Gillette started one a few years ago.

Enrollment in that K-through-6 school is now open to students statewide.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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