- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CONNECTICUT

Plea closes fatal hit-and-run case

HARTFORD | A Hartford man pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday in a fatal hit-and-run case that sparked outrage and soul-searching because a video showed bystanders ignoring the victim.

Luis Negron agreed to a plea bargain in Hartford Superior Court on the day his trial was supposed to start. He also pleaded guilty to evading responsibility by leaving the scene of the accident.

The plea bargain calls for up to 12 years in prison; prosecutors said Negron faced up to 30 years. Sentencing is set for May 3, which would have been the 80th birthday of the victim, Angel Arce Torres.

He was struck May 30, 2008, by a car driven by Negron, who was chasing another motorist in a dispute over money, prosecutor John F. Fahey said in court; Torres died a year later. The state medical examiner’s office ruled that the accident caused his death.

A surveillance video showed cars and trucks driving past Mr. Torres as he lay injured in the street and bystanders doing nothing.

ILLINOIS

Panel: Hypertension a ‘neglected disease’

CHICAGO | High blood pressure is a “neglected disease” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must do more about it by helping Americans eat better and encouraging doctors to treat the malady more aggressively, an expert panel said Monday.

The report by the Institute of Medicine, one of the National Academies of Sciences, urges the CDC to promote policies that make it easier for people to be more physically active, cut calories and reduce their salt intake.

High blood pressure or hypertension is easily preventable through diet, exercise and drugs, yet it is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, said committee Chairman Dr. David Fleming, who directs Public Health for Seattle and King County in Washington state.

“Hypertension as a disease is relatively easy to diagnose and it’s inexpensive to treat,” Dr. Fleming said.

“Yet despite that, one in six deaths in the United States is due to hypertension and it costs our health care system $73 billion each year in expenses. … In that context, hypertension is really a neglected disease in this country. There’s a huge gap between what we could do and what we are doing,” he said.

MARYLAND

Mother convicted of killing daughters

ROCKVILLE | A jury on Monday convicted a Maryland woman of first-degree murder in the deaths of two of her adopted daughters, whose bodies were found in a freezer in the woman’s home.

Montgomery County jurors found Renee Bowman, 44, guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for killing her two older daughters. She was sentenced last month in Calvert County to 25 years in prison for abusing her surviving daughter.

The 9-year-old testified at Bowman’s trial about what she endured at the hands of the woman she called her “ex-mother.”

Bowman’s lawyer argued the killings weren’t premeditated and suggested jurors should convict her of lesser second-degree murder charges. Prosecutors said Bowman deliberately smothered the children.

NEW YORK

Settlement OK’d for Merrill deal

NEW YORK | A federal judge said Monday he would reluctantly approve an amended $150 million settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bank of America to end civil charges accusing the bank of misleading shareholders when it acquired Merrill Lynch.

But U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff called the revised pact “half-baked justice at best” and said the court approved it “while shaking its head.” The dispute had been scheduled for trial next week.

The judge last year rejected a $33 million settlement stemming from the early 2009 acquisition, calling it a breach of “justice and morality.”

TEXAS

Daughter: IRS crash pilot was hero

AUSTIN | The daughter of a man who crashed his small plane into a building housing offices of the Internal Revenue Service called her father a hero for his anti-government views but said his actions, which killed an IRS employee, were “inappropriate.”

Joe Stack’s adult daughter, Samantha Bell, spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” from her home in Norway. Asked during a phone interview broadcast Monday whether she considered her father a hero, she said: “Yes. Because now maybe people will listen.”

Authorities say Mr. Stack, 53, targeted the IRS office building in Austin on Thursday, killing employee Vernon Hunter and himself, after posting a rant against the agency and the government. He apparently set fire to his home before flying his plane into the office building.

Mr. Hunter’s son, Ken Hunter, said he is alarmed by comments that the pilot was a hero.

“How can you call someone a hero who after he burns down his house, he gets into his plane … and flies it into a building to kill people?” Ken Hunter told ABC. “My dad, Vernon, did two tours of duty in Vietnam. My dad’s a hero.”

Mrs. Bell said she offered her deepest condolences to Mr. Hunter’s family. She said her father’s last actions were wrong.

“But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished,” she told ABC. “But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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