- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ARKANSAS

Man pleads not guilty in beauty queen killing

RUSSELLVILLE | A man accused of killing an Arkansas beauty queen in 2005 has pleaded not guilty to a capital murder charge.

Gary William Dunn, 29, appeared in Pope County Circuit Court on Monday. He is accused of bludgeoning Nona Dirksmeyer, 19, with a floor lamp and slitting her throat in her off-campus apartment at Arkansas Tech University. She was the reigning Miss Petit Jean Valley.

Miss Dirksmeyer’s boyfriend, Kevin N. Jones, was acquitted of the killing during a 2007 trial. A special prosecutor launched a new investigation into Miss Dirksmeyer’s death after police said DNA found on a condom wrapper matched Mr. Dunn.

Mr. Dunn is being held in lieu of $1 million bond. His trial is scheduled to begin April 13.

ALABAMA

Dog carries home child’s severed foot

RUSSELLVILLE | A family dog brought home a child’s severed foot, but searchers combing surrounding woods in northwestern Alabama found no signs of any other remains and don’t know where the child might be.

No children have been reported missing, killed or maimed in or around Russellville. Police Chief Chris Hargett said investigators were studying missing persons reports from nearby areas and sent the severed foot for forensic tests in a bid to narrow the search.

The son of a homeowner spotted the family dog carrying something late Saturday and called his father, who then alerted police. Chief Hargett said an orthopedic surgeon verified that the dog had dragged up a child’s bare foot, severed below the ankle.

The foot was found in a subdivision, Chief Hargett said, and authorities searched the area Sunday with cadaver-sniffing dogs without finding anything.

CALIFORNIA

Owner sentenced in fatal dog mauling

SAN FRANCISCO | A woman whose dogs viciously attacked and killed her neighbor in the hallway of their apartment building seven years ago was sentenced Monday to 15 years to life in prison.

Marjorie Knoller was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2001 mauling death of Dianne Whipple, but a judge later reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter and sentenced her in 2002 to a four-year prison term.

But the California Supreme Court last year said the trial judge was wrong and returned the case to the lower court. Last month, Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard reinstated the murder conviction, for which Knoller was sentenced Monday.

The case is California’s first murder conviction connected to a dog mauling, prosecutors said.

ILLINOIS

Airliner overruns O’Hare runway

CHICAGO | An American Airlines Boeing 757 blew a tire and ran off a runway Monday during an emergency landing at O’Hare International Airport, aviation officials said.

No injuries were reported, the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline said.

The plane came to rest with its wheels on a grassy area off the runway.

Flight 268 was en route from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to New York’s Kennedy International Airport when a cockpit indicator light alerted pilots to an “electrical system issue,” said American spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan.

The plane was diverted to O’Hare and landed at 1:42 p.m., blowing a tire after it touched down.

Passengers were taken to the terminal by bus. Miss Fagan said arrangements were made to put them on another flight to New York.

INDIANA

Cities face shortage, high cost of road salt

INDIANAPOLIS | A shortage of road salt and skyrocketing salt prices could mean slippery roads this winter in communities across the nation as officials struggle to keep pavement clear of snow and ice without breaking their budgets.

Heavy snow last year heightened demand for salt, and now many municipalities can’t find enough of it. The shortage could force many cities to salt fewer roads, increasing the risk of accidents. Other communities are abandoning road salt for less expensive but also less effective sand or sand-salt blends.

“The driving public may be the ones who suffer on this,” said Robert Young, highway superintendent for northwestern Indiana’s LaPorte County, which has 20,000 tons of salt on hand, only half as much as needed to last a normal winter. Because of the shortage, three companies refused to bid on the county’s request for more.

Prices also have tripled from a year ago. The salt industry says the increased demand and higher fuel costs are to blame, but some officials insist salt prices have spiked more dramatically than fuel.

“That explanation doesn’t wash,” said Tom Barwin, city manager in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill., one of several officials who have asked the Illinois attorney general to investigate the price increases. The office said it doesn’t have jurisdiction.

MISSOURI

Elvis museum again for sale on EBay

ST. LOUIS | The Elvis Is Alive Museum is once again for sale on EBay.

The museum’s owner, Andy Key, 39, of Mississippi, said military duties will keep him away from home for at least five months.

Mr. Key set a minimum starting bid of $15,000 on the listing, which ends Friday. He bought the museum on EBay last year for $8,300.

Mr. Key told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he hopes to find a local buyer for the contents of the museum and continues operations in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The collection includes photographs, books, FBI files, DNA reports and other memorabilia that aim to support the theory that Elvis never died.

Bill Beeny, a Baptist minister who founded the museum in 1990 in Missouri, said he has no plans to buy it back.

NEW JERSEY

Judge dismisses gambler’s lawsuit

ATLANTIC CITY | A federal judge has dismissed a $20 million racketeering lawsuit against seven casinos by a former New York City attorney who said they had a duty to stop her from gambling.

In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Renee Bumb wrote that Arelia Margarita Taveras failed to support her claim that gambling is a hazardous endeavor worthy of special protections.

“Playing blackjack, roulette or the slots bears no likeness to dumping toxic waste,” the judge wrote. “She spent money on the bona fide chance that she might win more money. In short, she gambled.”

Miss Taveras, who now lives in Minnesota, argued that the casinos saw she clearly had a gambling addiction yet did nothing to stop it. She said she gambled nonstop for days at a time in the casinos, and lost close to $1 million in less than two years.

Miss Taveras said she plans to appeal the dismissal.

NEW YORK

Release of detainee photos upheld

NEW YORK | The U.S. cannot conceal pictures of abusive treatment of detainees by its soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by saying their release might cause enemies to hurt someone, a federal appeals court said Monday in ordering the release of 20 photographs.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a 2006 ruling by Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordering the release of the pictures to the American Civil Liberties Union. Judge Hellerstein had ordered that identifying facial features be removed from the pictures.

The color photographs were taken by service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government has opposed the release of pictures of abuse, saying they would incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and provoke terrorists.

The Freedom of Information Act allows restrictions when images could reasonably be expected to endanger someone’s life or safety, but the appeals court said that exemption was meant for instances where threats were specific.

TEXAS

Lawsuit fast-tracked for leases to illegals

DALLAS | A federal judge Monday agreed to fast-track a lawsuit challenging a Dallas suburb’s ordinance that would essentially bar illegal immigrants from renting homes there.

U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle, who earlier this month issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the Farmers Branch ordinance, agreed to an Oct. 29 deadline for motions to be filed in the case. She didn’t set a trial date, but attorneys for both sides agreed to Dec. 8 or sooner.

The ordinance would require prospective renters to obtain a license from the city. Information from the license application would be forwarded to the federal government for verification of a tenant’s legal immigration status.

The city would revoke licenses of those who can’t prove they live legally in the U.S. and penalize landlords who rent to tenants lacking current licenses.

The plaintiffs, who include property managers, a former City Council member and two civil rights groups, say the ordinance is unconstitutional and infringes upon the federal government’s responsibility for enforcing immigration law.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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