- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ARIZONA

Defendant explains guilty pleas

PHOENIX | A man facing life in prison or a death sentence in the city’s so-called serial shooting case told jurors Tuesday that he pleaded guilty to two murders so he could testify against his partner in the random attacks.

“It was just too much - too much pain caused, too many innocent people hurt,” Samuel Dieteman said during the penalty phase of his trial. “I just couldn’t allow that to happen, to go unpunished.”

Prosecutors countered that Dieteman had the chance to end the bloodshed by turning in Dale Hausner but didn’t take it.

The gunmen terrified Phoenix as they preyed on pedestrians, bicyclists and animals in a 14-month spree that left eight people dead and many more seriously wounded. The violence ended in August 2006 when the two men were arrested at an apartment they shared.

CALIFORNIA

Pot activists file ballot measure

SAN FRANCISCO | Oakland pot activists fresh off a victory at local polls on the taxing of medical marijuana took their first official step Tuesday toward asking California voters to legalize pot.

A proposed ballot measure filed with the California attorney general’s office would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of pot. Homeowners could grow marijuana for personal use on garden plots up to 25 square feet.

The measure’s main backer is Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, who helped push a first-of-its-kind tax on city medical marijuana dispensaries that passed with 80 percent of the vote last week.

The statewide measure needs nearly 434,000 signatures to make the November 2010 ballot.

FLORIDA

Shuttle undocks from space station

CAPE CANAVERAL | After 11 days together in orbit, Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station on Tuesday and began its trip home, leaving behind a larger and more energized outpost.

The shuttle’s departure broke up the biggest off-the-planet gathering ever: 13 people in space. Seven astronauts were headed back aboard the shuttle. Six remained on the station.

The two spacecraft parted company 220 miles above the Indian Ocean. Endeavour took a lap around the space station for some impressive picture-taking before pulling away for good. The shuttle is aiming for a Friday touchdown.

ILLINOIS

Man accused of threats ex-informant

CHICAGO | A New Jersey blogger accused of threatening to kill three federal judges has been an FBI informant and even told authorities about a potential plot to assassinate President Obama, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Extremist blogger Hal Turner, 47, pleaded not guilty earlier in the day to charges that he threatened to kill three Chicago-based federal appeals judges.

At his bond hearing, defense attorney Michael Orozco said Mr. Turner of North Bergen, N.J., was not a danger to the community as federal prosecutors claim. Mr. Turner deserved to be released on bond, Mr. Orozco said, adding that he had served as an FBI confidential informant.

“He provided information about the potential assassination of President Obama,” Mr. Orozco told U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Ashman.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan told Judge Ashman he “never heard anything about that” and said Mr. Turner’s contacts with the FBI ended “quite some time ago.”

KANSAS

Not guilty plea in doctor’s death

WICHITA | The man accused of killing Kansas late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities said pro-life activist Scott Roeder also threatened two ushers who tried to stop him during the May 31 shooting in the doctor’s church in Wichita. Mr. Roeder is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the slaying.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges Tuesday after witnesses gave chilling testimonies at a preliminary hearing. A judge ordered Mr. Roeder to be held on $20 million bond and set a trial date for Sept. 21.

Dr. Tiller practiced as one of the nation’s few providers of late-term abortions and was shot in both arms by a pro-life activist in 1993.

MASSACHUSETTS

Health care costs for immigrants eyed

BOSTON | Massachusetts is wrestling with the first major cut to its landmark health care law after lawmakers eliminated subsidized insurance to thousands of legal immigrants, and now are weighing whether to partially restore it.

The state budget approved by lawmakers last month ended health care funding for nearly 30,000 legal immigrants enrolled in the subsidized care plan that is the core of the law, a cut that saves the state an estimated $130 million. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the budget, but asked lawmakers to partially reinstate the coverage by restoring $70 million.

The decision to eliminate insurance coverage for legal immigrants is the latest test for the state’s experiment with providing health care to virtually all residents. The 2006 law has made Massachusetts a proving ground for some of the proposals being weighed as Congress and President Obama debate dramatically expanding health coverage nationally.

MISSISSIPPI

County judge to plead guilty

JACKSON | A Mississippi judge known for successfully prosecuting white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith for the 30-year-old murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, will plead guilty to lying to an FBI agent investigating judicial corruption, the judge’s attorney said Tuesday.

Thomas Durkin said Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter will enter the plea in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen. The trial - on charges of conspiracy, obstruction and three counts of mail fraud - is set for Aug. 17 in Oxford.

Judge DeLaughter was portrayed by Alec Baldwin in the 1996 movie “Ghosts of Mississippi.”

NEW JERSEY

Mayor to quit after corruption arrest

SECAUCUS | The mayor of Secaucus is the first elected official arrested in a federal corruption sweep to say he’ll resign.

Dennis Elwell’s lawyer said his client is stepping down but is not admitting guilt and will defend himself against the allegations. Mr. Elwell, 64, has been mayor since 1999.

Mr. Elwell was charged last week with accepting $10,000 from a federal informant who said he needed help on a building project in Secaucus.

In a statement released Tuesday, attorney Thomas Cammarata said Mr. Elwell is resigning in the best interests of his family and the citizens of Secaucus.

Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez and Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III also were arrested last week but say they won’t step down.

NEW MEXICO

3 Buffalo Soldiers reburied at cemetery

SANTA FE | The remains of three Buffalo Soldiers disinterred during an investigation of looting at Fort Craig are being reburied with military honors at a national cemetery in New Mexico.

Assistant Interior Secretary Anne Craig spoke at the ceremony Tuesday at which members of the Arizona Buffalo Soldiers Association served as pallbearers.

More than 100 people paid tribute to Army Pvts. Thomas Smith, Levi Morris and David Ford. The soldiers were among the many black members of the Army who served at remote outposts on the Western frontier.

The men died between 1866 and 1877.

The ceremony at the Santa Fe National Cemetery marks the end of a project by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which exhumed more than 60 sets of human remains in 2007 after grave looting was discovered at the Fort Craig cemetery in southern New Mexico.

TENNESSEE

State senator quits after intern affair

NASHVILLE | State Sen. Paul Stanley, 47, has resigned from his post after his extramarital affair with a 22-year-old intern was revealed by an investigation into an extortion case.

Mr. Stanley said Tuesday that he has “decided to focus my full attention on my family and resign my Senate seat effective August 10.”

Court records show that Mr. Stanley told agents investigating a blackmail case that he had a sexual relationship with intern McKensie Morrison. Her boyfriend, Joel Watts, is charged with trying to extort $10,000 from Mr. Stanley in April in return for explicit photos of Miss Morrison that Mr. Stanley had taken.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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