- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2009

Man who kept woman in casket convicted

RIVERSIDE, Calif. | A man accused of kidnapping a woman, holding her in a makeshift casket and demanding $140,000 in ransom has been convicted and faces up to life in prison.

Mark Herbert Warren of Victorville was convicted Friday of kidnapping for ransom, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon in the 2007 attack.

Prosecutors say the 50-year-old contractor attacked the woman with a stun gun at her Riverside home, handcuffed her, covered her head with a hood and placed her in a casketlike box inside his van. The victim’s husband returned home to find a ransom letter and photographs of her being restrained.

Warren was arrested and the woman was rescued about seven hours later after a resident spotted a suspicious van. Warren returns to court for sentencing Nov. 12.

Dead beluga whale was pregnant

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | A scientist says a dead beluga whale found in the waters off downtown Anchorage was pregnant.

Pathologists were still studying tissue samples they collected from the dead whale Friday. It beached along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. They won’t know how she died until they get back to the lab and run some tests. But they are sure she was pregnant. The beluga population is declining and is estimated at about 321.

Boy accidentally hanged while playing

AZTEC, N.M. | Authorities say a 9-year-old boy is dead after accidentally hanging himself while playing on a hoist in his yard.

San Juan County sheriff’s Capt. Jim Smith said the boy and a companion were playing on the metal A-frame hoist Friday afternoon at a home near Aztec. Capt. Smith said the boy was standing on a folding table under the hoist and placed a rope attached to the hoist around his neck.

The table then collapsed, and the boy’s friend ran inside the house for help. The boy’s father untangled the boy, took him inside and started CPR.

Capt. Smith said deputies arrived within a minute to assist. Rescue crews took the boy to San Juan Regional Medical Center, but he couldn’t be revived.

The boy’s name was not released. No charges were expected.

Crews near control of California wildfire

WRIGHTWOOD, Calif. | Firefighters are nearing full containment of a blaze near the mountain community of Wrightwood in Southern California.

The fire in the San Bernardino Mountains was 98 percent contained Saturday. The fire has burned at least five structures and 7,128 acres of brush and timber, or more than 11 square miles.

Lower temperatures have helped fire crews, who reported good progress on their patrols of the burned areas. The cause of the blaze, which was sparked last Sunday, is under investigation.

Wrightwood is about 70 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Noted defense lawyer dies at 94

NEWARK, N.J. | Raymond A. Brown, a veteran New Jersey defense lawyer whose high-profile clients included former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, has died. He was 94.

Brown, a Montclair resident, died Friday from pulmonary disease, said his son and law partner Ray Brown Jr. He had practiced law for 59 years and had continued working until March.

Carter was convicted along with another man of murdering three people in a Paterson bar in 1966. Their convictions were overturned in 1975, but both were found guilty a second time in 1976. After serving 19 years, Carter was freed in 1985 when a federal judge overturned the second convictions.

Mr. Brown also represented Joanne Chesimard, a Black Liberation Army member who was convicted of gunning down a state trooper in 1973. She fled to Cuba after escaping prison in 1979 and is now known as Assata Shakur.

Harvard to digitize rare Chinese books

BOSTON | One of the most extensive collections of rare Chinese books outside China will be freely available as Harvard University has agreed to digitize the titles.

Representatives from the Harvard College Library and the National Library of China signed a deal Friday to digitize more than 51,000 volumes in the Harvard collection. Some are more than 1,000 years old.

All the rare books are held at the Harvard-Yenching Library.

Harvard technicians have been designing new equipment as they prepare to begin the six-year project in January. Officials have not disclosed the cost, saying only that it’s a multimillion-dollar project.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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