- - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GEORGIA

Execution is fodder for drug challenges

ATLANTA — The execution of a Georgia inmate who appeared to struggle last week will be at the center of a push to stop lethal injections using a controversial new sedative, even though they may never be able to prove that it caused the spasms in his last moments.

Capital defense attorneys say they plan to cite Roy Willard Blankenship’s execution as they urge courts to block executions using pentobarbital.

A growing number of states use the chemical amid a supply shortage of another drug that had been commonly used.

Blankenship’s head jerked several times and he appeared to gasp for breath after he was pumped with pentobarbital on Thursday in Georgia’s death chamber.

Some experts say the movements were a sign the execution was botched, while others say it’s a side effect of the sedative.

NEW YORK

Park to get 3,000 flags for 9/11 event

NEW YORK — Nearly 3,000 flags bearing the names of 9/11 victims will go up in a park near ground zero for the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

John Michelotti, a former engineer from Greenwich, Conn., came up with the idea. He says NYC Memorial Field will be open Sept. 8 to 12.

Only victims’ families will have access to the new 9/11 memorial on Sept. 11.

Mr. Michelotti wants others to have a place to reflect on the tragic events. The flags will be mounted on 7½-foot poles, low enough for visitors to hold and read the names.

Mr. Michelotti has previously displayed several hundred flags in Battery Park.

He says the city parks department has granted a permit for the flags. A message for the agency wasn’t immediately returned.

NORTH DAKOTA

In Minot, some prefer camping to shelters

MINOT — When the rising Souris River forced Minot to evacuate some 10,000 residents, many people took refuge with family or friends, or went to a shelter. But hundreds have chosen a different option: They’re camping out.

More than 60 people, most of them in RVs and tents, have been staying for the past week in and around a city ice arena.

The scene looks like most campgrounds, with brand-new tents, dogs on leashes, kids on bikes, and barbecue grills and generators providing power.

But the mood is a little more solemn. Chuck Benjamin lost his home to flooding. Mr. Benjamin says nobody is there because they want to be.

The Souris is declining slowly and the city hopes for no more damage than the 4,100 homes that have been hit.

PENNSYLVANIA

Couple hitched in hospital after groom takes spill

ERIE — A love-sick Pennsylvania couple ended up getting hitched in a hospital chapel after the groom tumbled down a set of stairs on their wedding day.

The Erie Times-News reports Derek and Cassy McBride were married Saturday at Saint Vincent Health Center because Derek took the wrong kind of plunge a few hours earlier.

The wedding appeared doomed when tests showed Derek McBride had three broken ribs and a punctured, collapsed lung.

But family and Saint Vincent nurses stepped up, decorating the chapel with medical glove balloons and bows made of gauze. Guests were told the beach wedding was scrapped.

Cassy McBride, whose maiden name was Messenger, wore her gown. Mr. McBride had one too — a hospital one, under his tuxedo.

Mr. McBride hopes to be released soon.

SOUTH CAROLINA

City imposes curfew after attack on teen

COLUMBIA — After an 18-year-old was severely beaten by a group of teens in Columbia, S.C., an emergency curfew has been imposed on young people in one of the city’s popular nightspot districts.

The curfew requires anyone under 17 to be off the streets from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the city’s Five Points area west of downtown and two parks nearby.

Carter Strange was jogging home the night of June 20 when the group of teens attacked and beat him. Eight people are charged in the beating, including a 13-year-old, a 14-year-old and four 16-year-olds.

His family told NBC’s “Today” show that he needed two surgeries, including one to remove a blood clot in his brain.

The case has stoked racial tensions. Mr. Strange is white, and his attackers are black.

TEXAS

Police: Man drives miles with dead crash victim

HOUSTON — Authorities say a suspected drunken driver struck and killed a pedestrian on a Houston freeway, then drove several miles after the victim had crashed through the windshield and landed next to the passenger’s seat.

A spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said 49-year-old James Onak faces a felony charge of failure to stop and render aid in a fatality and a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Onak had an attorney.

The name of the 32-year-old male victim was not immediately released.

Police say the victim’s vehicle had broken down when he was hit early Tuesday and went through Mr. Onak’s windshield. They said Mr. Onak drove about three miles before a deputy constable noticed damage to his vehicle and pulled him over.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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