- - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ARIZONA

Loughner team to focus on mental illness in family

PHOENIX | The defense team for the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage has interviewed at least one of its client’s relatives and sought records on other family members as part of an effort to show that his family has a history of mental illness.

Jared Lee Loughner’s attorneys sent subpoenas to state officials in Illinois seeking birth records and in some cases death records for nearly two dozen relatives on Mr. Loughner’s mother’s side of the family.

They also sent a mitigation specialist to the Texas home of a Loughner relative to talk about mental health problems suffered by relatives.

Judy Wackt, a first cousin of Mr. Loughner’s mother, says she confirmed the history of mental illness within the family when the mitigation specialist came to her home in March.

CALIFORNIA

ACLU sues over shackling of immigrant detainees

SAN FRANCISCO | The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal court seeking to halt a practice in which alleged illegal immigrants are shackled at the feet, waist and wrists while appearing in immigration court.

The ACLU contends in the lawsuit filed Wednesday that the blanket policy violates constitutional bans against cruel and unusual punishment.

According to the lawsuit, the overwhelming majority of prisoners appearing in immigration courts have no violent criminal histories and aren’t flight risks. The lawsuit seeks to compel the Department of Homeland Security to make individual determinations about shackling rather than carrying out a blanket policy.

Officials at DHS declined to comment on the lawsuit.

IDAHO

Officials clean up toilet paper that fell in river

LEWISTON | A river in Idaho has finally run out of toilet paper.

State environment officials say crews finished removing massive rolls of unprocessed toilet paper that fell off a truck and were lodged for weeks in the upper Lochsa River.

Earlier attempts to pull out the paper was called off when it began disintegrating, creating an even bigger mess.

Department of Environmental Quality official John Cardwell says teams yanked out the remnants last weekend when lower river flows made the work more manageable.

The Lewiston Tribune reports crews wrapped the rolls with a reinforced mesh before they were pulled out by a tow truck.

The rolls landed in the water after the truck hauling the load along U.S. Highway 12 slid into the river. The driver was cited for inattentive driving.

IOWA

Off-duty Secret Service agent held on DUI charge

DECORAH | A Secret Service agent on assignment in Iowa to help with presidential security has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

City Police Chief Bill Nixon says 40-year-old Daniel L. Valencia was off duty when he was arrested Saturday in Decorah. President Obama visited the northeast Iowa city on Monday as part of his three-day Midwestern bus trip.

Chief Nixon says the arresting officer suspected Mr. Valencia had been drinking, but that no vehicles were involved in an accident. He declined further comment Wednesday.

Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvee confirmed that Mr. Valencia is an agent and that the matter had been turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Mr. Ogilvee would not comment further.

FLORIDA

Former Venezuelan leader to be buried at home

MIAMI | Relatives of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez have agreed that he will be buried in Venezuela, ending a bitter family feud.

A joint statement Wednesday by attorneys for both sides says Perez’s remains will return to Venezuela for burial as soon as the proper arrangements are made. The parties have agreed that it is in the best interests of the families and of Perez’s legacy to end the months-long litigation.

Perez was Venezuela’s president from 1974-79 and 1989-93 and died in Miami in December at age 88.

The struggle began when Perez’s estranged wife claimed she had the right to take his body home to Venezuela. Perez’s longtime companion in Miami insisted he would never return with political archfoe Hugo Chavez as president.

Perez left no written burial instructions.

MASSACHUSETTS

Man accused of stealing $200,000 from dates

BOSTON | A married Massachusetts man is facing charges of wooing women he met online, then stealing more than $200,000 from them.

Albert Lovering, of Waltham, was indicted Tuesday on 23 counts of larceny charging him with stealing the money from four women.

Mr. Lovering pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the larceny charges and a charge of being a common and notorious thief. Bail was set at $10,000 cash.

Mr. Lovering is said to have met the women through various dating websites, including Plentyoffish.com and the personal ads on Craigslist.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone says the 54-year-old Mr. Lovering deceived the women into thinking he was romantically attached to them and “in need of financial assistance.”

NORTH CAROLINA

Police: Man steals plane, crashes it

GRAHAM | Authorities are looking to arrest a man they say stole an airplane from a North Carolina airport and crashed it before getting away.

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday that 46-year-old Curtis Rene Mellott stole the single-engine Piper Saratoga from the Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill. They say he crashed it in the woods along a highway about 60 miles west of Raleigh.

One warrant charges Mr. Mellott of Chapel Hill with felonious larceny. Another charges him with felonious possession of stolen property.

The plane was stolen between 9 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday, and investigators found blood in the cockpit

Mr. Mellott was still at large Wednesday afternoon.

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