- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 18, 2009

‘Castle’ mansion damaged in blaze

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. | A waterfront mansion known as the “North Bay Road Castle” for its quirky medieval decor was engulfed in flames on Friday in a morning blaze that authorities said spread quickly through the sprawling home.

The fire at the Miami Beach mansion took about two hours to contain, Fire Rescue Chief Javier Otero said. The home, which had been vacant, was largely made of wood and had “a lot of places where a fire can hide,” Chief Otero said.

Miami-Dade County property records indicated that the home was sold for $7.6 million in 2007.

The mansion has 10 bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a billiard room and a home theater, according to a luxury real estate Web site.

The home had been vacant for a few years. According to reports, the property’s current owner, listed in online records as Antonio Rodriguez, had planned to demolish the house and sell the land.

High court asked for sex case stay

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. | A Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep sex-abuse documents under wraps.

Bridgeport Diocese officials on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to continue a stay on releasing the documents while it appeals to the nation’s highest court.

The state court has ruled that more than 12,000 pages of documents from more than 20 lawsuits against priests should be released. Those documents have been sealed from public view since the diocese settled the cases in 2001.

The records could shed light on how recently retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was Bridgeport bishop from 1988 to 2000.

Trial witness: Family blocked foster care

TEXARKANA, Ark. | A woman who says she was “married” to evangelist Tony Alamo at age 8 is telling jurors that her parents worked against her when she tried to obtain help from social workers after leaving the minister’s Arkansas compound.

The woman, now 18, said Friday that she drifted around the country after leaving the sect at age 15. Under cross-examination at Mr. Alamo’s sex-crimes trial, she said she tried to enter foster care in New Mexico but that her parents prevented it.

She said her parents are prominent figures in Mr. Alamo’s ministry and they told New Mexico officials that she was a liar.

Mr. Alamo is charged with taking five young girls across state lines for sex. The 74-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

National swine flu deaths rise to 263

ATLANTA | Health officials say their count of U.S. swine flu cases has surpassed 40,000, and deaths have risen to 263.

Hospitalizations from swine flu total about 4,800. The numbers, released Friday, are up from 37,000 confirmed and probable cases and 211 deaths reported last week.

Those are lab-confirmed and probable infections. CDC officials believe those cases are just the tip of the iceberg. They estimate more than 1 million Americans have been infected with the virus so far, though many probably had only a mild illness.

State fines teen for hike rescue

CONCORD, N.H. | New Hampshire plans to fine a Massachusetts teenager for the cost of rescuing him from Mount Washington in April.

A planned day hike turned into three nights alone in the woods for Scott Mason, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout from Halifax, Mass. He decided to take a shortcut after spraining his ankle, but that emergency route led him into rising water and deep snow caused by unseasonably warm weather.

New Hampshire law allows the Fish and Game Department to charge negligent hikers for the cost of rescuing them from the woods. Mason’s family confirmed that he has been fined, but had no other comment Friday.

When the law was tweaked last year, officials estimated they could seek reimbursement in about 40 of the 140 rescues it typically handles each year.

Teen to be tried in bombing case

PITTSBURGH | A 17-year-old boy from suburban Pittsburgh - who police say tried to kill his sleeping family last fall by placing homemade chlorine bombs in their beds - will be tried in juvenile court.

The bombs did not go off and no one was hurt.

Initially, Christopher Janney was charged as an adult. If convicted, he would have faced decades in prison.

At a hearing on Thursday, Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani held the teen for trial. However, Judge Mariani said the boy should be tried in juvenile court.

While Judge Mariani said he is disturbed by the planning and the sophisticated getaway plan, he was swayed by two experts who said the boy should not be tried as an adult.

Two other teenagers have also been charged as accomplices.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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