- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2009


Dad pleads guilty in children’s deaths

MOBILE | A Vietnamese refugee accused of tossing his four young children to their deaths from a coastal Alabama bridge has pleaded guilty and asked to be put to death.

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Lam Luong told a state court judge in Mobile on Thursday that he was pleading guilty to capital murder in the deaths at Dauphin Island Bridge on Jan. 8, 2008. He also asked for the death penalty.

The plea was made at a hearing on a change of venue motion. His trial is scheduled to start Monday.

The children, ages 4 months to 3 years, were tossed from the bridge after Luong had an argument with his wife. A search recovered the bodies.


Two found guilty of killing family

WEST PALM BEACH | Two men were convicted Thursday of gunning down a family of four along a dark stretch of Florida’s Turnpike to settle a drug debt and now could face the death penalty.

A federal jury deliberated three days before convicting Daniel Troya and Ricardo Sanchez Jr., both 25, of armed carjacking resulting in deaths, conspiracy, weapons counts and drug offenses.

Danny Varela, 28, and Liana Lopez, 20, also were convicted on drug conspiracy and weapons charges. They face life in prison.

The bodies of Jose Luis Escobedo, 28; his wife, Yessica Guerrero Escobedo, 25; and their sons, Luis Julian, 4, and Luis Damian, 3; were found alongside the road on Oct. 13, 2006. The bodies laid in a twisted mound in the grass, shot at close range.


Craigslist sued over sex ads

CHICAGO | Cook County’s sheriff filed a federal lawsuit against Craigslist on Thursday, saying the popular online classifieds site promotes and facilitates prostitution on a massive scale.

Sheriff Tom Dart wants Craigslist to eliminate its “erotic services” section, suggesting that many of the section’s ads are blatant solicitations for prostitution.

“Missing children, runaways, abused women and women trafficked in from foreign countries are routinely forced to have sex with strangers because they’re being pimped on Craigslist,” he said.


Man charged with $57 million fraud

BOSTON | A Massachusetts man has been accused of stealing $57 million from the descendants of a 19th century industrialist and using the money on personal extravagances, including three private jets.

John Doorly, 60, of Topsfield was charged in a federal indictment Wednesday of assessing millions in phony fees, transferring company funds to himself and hiding the theft with various schemes, including false financial statements.

Mr. Doorly faces up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.


Convictions upheld in Fort Dix plot case

CAMDEN | A judge upheld the guilty verdicts on Thursday of five Muslim immigrants convicted of plotting to massacre U.S. soldiers, ruling the government provided ample evidence.

U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler’s decision angered several of the convicted men and their family members, who began shouting “Allahu akbar” - Arabic for “God is great” - as the men were led from the courtroom.

U.S. Marshals quickly cleared the courtroom after the outburst.

It was the first court appearance for the five men since they were convicted on Dec. 22.


3 Sept. 11 suits still unsettled

NEW YORK | A mediator said all but three of nearly 100 lawsuits brought on behalf of those killed or injured in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have been settled for half a billion dollars.

The mediator, Sheila Birnbaum, reported the results of her work to a judge who has presided over the 95 lawsuits brought against airlines and aviation-related companies.

She said the settlement amounts are confidential but the total amount is about $500 million.


Barbara Bush recovers from surgery

HOUSTON | Former first lady Barbara Bush was making “an excellent recovery” following a 2 1/2-hour heart surgery to replace her aortic valve and was joking with hospital staff, her lead surgeon said Thursday.

Mrs. Bush, 83, was expected to be released from the intensive care unit at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center on Saturday, Dr. Gerald Lawrie told reporters.

He said Mrs. Bush awakened earlier than most elderly patients do after undergoing the “very routine procedure” and started joking with the doctors.

Her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, said “she looks well to me, and beautiful,” as he choked back tears, describing the operation as one of the most stressful days of his life.


Request for politeness leads to pepper spray

BLAINE | A Canadian said he got a face full of pepper spray after repeatedly asking a U.S. border inspector in Blaine to say please.

Desiderio Fortunato, 54, said he thought the inspector who told him to turn off his engine Monday was rude and asked him to say please.

The British Columbia resident told the Bellingham Herald that the inspector repeatedly ordered him to turn the car off and then said he would spray him if he didn’t.

He said he was stunned and blinded by the pepper spray and was pulled out of the car and handcuffed. He was detained about three hours.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mike Milne in Seattle said it was a lawful order that travelers must obey. He said the use of force is under review.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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