- - Saturday, December 12, 2009

Woman, 98, indicted in roommate’s death

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — A 98-year-old woman was indicted Friday on a second-degree murder charge that alleges she strangled her 100-year-old roommate in a nursing home.

Laura Lundquist was sent to a state mental hospital for a competency evaluation before she is arraigned on the murder charge. Her defense attorney, Carl Levin, said Ms. Lundquist has a “long-standing diagnosis of dementia, as well as issues of cognitive impairment.”

The body of Elizabeth Barrow, with a plastic bag tied around her head, was found in her bed at the Brandon Woods nursing home in Dartmouth on Sept. 24. Police initially speculated it was a suicide, but a medical examiner ruled it a homicide after an autopsy indicated strangulation.

Hostage-taker back on probation

DOVER, N.H. — A man who took six people hostage at one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign offices two years ago is getting another chance at probation.

Leeland Eisenberg was released from prison in late November. He was jailed again a few days later, accused of violating the terms of his probation by not plugging in his electronic monitoring bracelet.

Foster’s Daily Democrat reports that at a hearing Friday, a Strafford County Superior Court judge ordered Eisenberg be released again.

It was not clear when he would be released. Probation officials said they need to reschedule his mental health appointments and ensure he’s on his medication schedule.

State constitution: No God, no seat

RALEIGH, N.C. — An avowed atheist was just sworn in as a city councilman in North Carolina, but political opponents are challenging his appointment, using a little-known clause in the state constitution.

Cecil Bothwell took the oath Monday to serve as a member of the Asheville City Council. But as an atheist, he didn’t put his hand on the Bible and he didn’t swear to God.

Local political detractors said that means Mr. Bothwell can’t legally serve in North Carolina. In an article from 1868, the state constitution disqualifies anyone who denies a belief in “Almighty God” from serving in public office.

Mr. Bothwell’s opponents are threatening litigation. But courts have repeatedly ruled that provisions such as North Carolina’s are unenforceable because they conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

Six suspended in patient probe

LAS VEGAS — University Medical Center has suspended six employees while it investigates claims that a woman was ignored for so long in an emergency room that she went home and gave birth to a premature baby who later died, Clark County officials said.

County officials released a statement Friday from hospital administrator Kathy Silver expressing condolences to the woman, Roshunda Abney, 25, and promising a thorough investigation of the Nov. 30 incident.

Others who were in the waiting room at the region’s only public hospital have corroborated accounts by Miss Abney and her fiance that they were ignored for several hours until they finally left.

Miss Abney gave birth at home to a premature baby girl who died a short time later.

UPS driver finds, returns $5,200

RANDOLPH, N.J. — A UPS driver’s unscheduled delivery in New Jersey has made one retailer very grateful.

John Piontkowski spotted a bank bag in the middle of the road while he was making deliveries in Randolph. Inside, he found $5,200 and a Bank of America deposit slip showing the money came from Stuyvesant Liquors in Jersey City.

The driver took the money to the bank. He told the Daily Record of Morristown that he never considered keeping the cash.

Store owner Don Knaus said he and his wife were busy running errands Wednesday and lost track of the money, which somehow landed in the road near their home. As they searched, their bank called to say the money had been found.

The driver said the store owner gave him “a very nice reward.”

Drug combo extends breast cancer survival

SAN ANTONIO — Women with very advanced breast cancer may have a new treatment option.

A combination of two drugs that more precisely target tumors significantly extended the lives of women who stopped responding to other treatments, doctors reported Friday.

The study is the first big test of combining Herceptin and Tykerb. In the study of 300 patients, women receiving both drugs lived 20 weeks longer than those given Tykerb alone. Doctors expect the combo to make an even bigger difference for women with less advanced disease.

The medicines aim at a protein that is made in abnormally large quantities in about one-fourth of all breast cancers. One drug blocks the protein inside a cell and the other does the same on the cell’s surface.

Wild horses killed on range

RENO, Nev. — Investigators are looking into the suspected shooting deaths of a group of wild horses in Nevada and the possibility the case could be linked to heated debate over the future of mustangs in the West.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman John Dearing said Friday that five horses died of apparent gunshot wounds, while the cause of death of a sixth horse nearby was unknown.

The bodies were found Saturday on public land along the Nevada-California state line in Washoe County. Authorities think the animals had been dead for about two weeks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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