- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Amanda Knox hires lawyer to help get book deal

Amanda Knox said she’s hired a Washington, D.C., lawyer to help her land a book deal after an Italian court cleared her and her ex-boyfriend in the killing of her British roommate, the Associated Press reports.

Knox family spokesman Dave Marriott said Robert Barnett will represent Miss Knox in discussions with publishers and help her evaluate other opportunities.

Mr. Barnett has represented the literary interests of President Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Miss Knox returned to her hometown of Seattle in October after she was cleared in Meredith Kercher’s death.

The 24-year-old had been in custody since 2007, and experts have suggested she could score a seven-figure book deal. She hasn’t granted any interviews since her release.

Poet Ted Hughes honored with memorial stone in abbey

British poet Ted Hughes is being honored with a memorial stone in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, joining a line of great British writers going back to Geoffrey Chaucer.

The stone in the abbey floor, which was to be unveiled Tuesday evening, is next to one honoring T.S. Eliot, Hughes‘ mentor and publisher.

Hughes‘ stone is inscribed with his name and words from “That Morning,” one of his “River” poems: “So we found the end of our journey / So we stood alive in the river of light / Among the creatures of light, creatures of light.”

Some 300 people are expected to attend the ceremony, including Hughes‘ widow, Carol, and daughter Frieda. Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney will deliver an address.

Hughes died of cancer in 1998, months after publishing “Birthday Letters,” a powerful collection reflecting on his troubled first marriage to poet Sylvia Plath. Plath killed herself in 1963, after the couple had separated. A letter Hughes wrote to her in 1956 was chosen as one of the readings for the ceremony.

“Birthday Letters” brought Hughes sympathy and a torrent of praise after long years of keeping silent about his marriage to Plath.

Hughes joins 111 writers memorialized in Poets’ Corner in the area where Chaucer was buried in 1400 - not because he wrote “The Canterbury Tales,” but because he was clerk of the works at the nearby Palace of Westminster, now almost entirely rebuilt. Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Johnson, Rudyard Kipling, John Masefield and Alfred Lord Tennyson are among the writers buried in the abbey.

Christie Brinkley plans quick payment to resolve tax issue

Christie Brinkley vows she’ll immediately repay the $531,000 she owes in back taxes, according to the Associated Press.

New York’s Daily News recently reported the Internal Revenue Service has filed a tax lien against the supermodel.

Miss Brinkley said the lien was a “result of an error” and pledges it will be paid in full by Wednesday.

She said she regrets not paying more attention to her accounting. She said she’s been focused on her parents, who are dealing with “serious health issues.”

Martin Sheen advocates for prisoner’s release

Martin Sheen put a spotlight Monday on a prisoner’s efforts to get his 1999 murder conviction thrown out, saying the case “cries out for justice.”

Meeting inmate Jon-Adrian Velazquez at a suburban prison Monday “confirmed my belief that he is an innocent man,” the actor said at a news conference later in the day outside a Manhattan courthouse. “I came away inspired. He is a young man on fire with the truth.”

Mr. Sheen’s appearance placed some star power on a case that involves a longstanding issue getting new attention from the U.S. Supreme Court: the reliability of eyewitness identifications of suspects.

Convicted of fatally shooting retired police officer Albert Ward in an underground betting parlor in 1998, Velazquez is serving 25 years to life in prison. But he and lawyers Robert C. Gottlieb and Celia A. Gordon are trying to persuade Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. to reinvestigate the case and exonerate Velazquez.

Mr. Vance’s office is reviewing the case, spokeswoman Erin Duggan said Monday.

With no DNA or other physical evidence against Velazquez, “This case is strictly the result of eyewitness misidentification” from photo arrays and lineups that weren’t properly conducted, Mr. Gottlieb said.

Retired from the police force since 1977, Ward, 59, was in a Harlem betting parlor when two men came in and announced a stickup Jan. 27, 1998, authorities said. Ward pulled his gun and fired, and the robbers fired back, hitting him in the face and killing him, according to authorities.

After a witness picked Velazquez’s photo out of a police book, that witness and three others identified him in an in-person lineup.

Two eyewitnesses have since given Velazquez’s lawyers sworn statements recanting their identifications of him, and the other two who identified him now say they aren’t sure, his lawyers said.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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