- - Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Killer father’s papers found at recycling site

GRAHAM — A search at a recycling center recovered some papers, books and a map of Utah that Josh Powell dropped off the day before he killed his two young sons and himself in an explosive fire, the Pierce County sheriff’s office said.

Volunteers who combed through more than 10 tons of paper over the weekend found what the sheriff’s office called a “testament” with Powell’s name on it, some paperback books with his wife’s name on them and the Utah map. The office did not elaborate on what the testament contains.

Investigators also are testing a bloodstained comforter that was found last week in a storage unit Powell had rented.

Authorities are still looking for the body of Susan Powell, who disappeared in December 2009 in Utah. Josh Powell was a person of interest, and the Pierce County prosecutor considers Powell’s killing of his children and himself an admission of guilt in her death.

Powell slammed his door in the face of a social worker Feb. 5, seized his sons, Charlie and Braden, hit them with a hatchet and set fire to his gasoline-soaked home in Graham in a blast that rocked the neighborhood.


Doctor gets 4 terms of life in pill mill case

COLUMBUS — A Chicago doctor who prosecutors say dispensed more of the powerful painkiller oxycodone from 2003 to 2005 than any other physician in the country was sentenced Tuesday to four life terms in the overdose deaths of four patients.

Dr. Paul Volkman, 64, made weekly trips from Chicago to three locations in Portsmouth in southern Ohio and one in Chillicothe in central Ohio before federal investigators shut down the operations in 2006, prosecutors said. He was sentenced in federal court in Cincinnati.

Volkman fired his attorneys earlier this month and said he acted at all times as a doctor, not a drug dealer.


Mormons apologize for posthumous baptisms

SALT LAKE CITY — Mormon church leaders have apologized to the family of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal after his parents were posthumously baptized in a Mormon temple ritual last month.

Salt Lake City researcher Helen Radkey found documentation of the baptisms while conducting regular checks of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints genealogical database last week.

Mormons believe posthumous baptism by proxy rites allow deceased persons to receive the Gospel in the afterlife.

The baptism of Holocaust victims was supposed to be barred by a 1995 agreement between the church and Jews, although some submissions continue by church members.

Church officials say the person who entered the names into the database has been disciplined.


Caylee bill nearing passage in Legislature

TALLAHASSEE — A bill inspired by the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony is moving closer to passage in the Florida Legislature.

Lawmakers crafted the bill last year after Caylee’s mother, Casey Anthony, was acquitted of murdering the toddler. Casey Anthony was convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators.

She was sentenced to the maximum of four years, but was set free after nearly three years because of time served and good behavior.

The bill in Florida increases the maximum penalty from a year in jail to five years in prison for knowingly making a false statement to police about a missing child.

The bill was approved by a House subcommittee Tuesday. On the Senate side, the bill is still in a committee.


1st gay couple weds at Empire State Building

NEW YORK — Two women who met at the University of Alaska have become the first same-sex couple to be married at the Empire State Building.

Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur exchanged rings Tuesday and promised to love each other for the rest of their lives.

The couple won an online contest. Theirs was the first of four Valentine’s Day weddings being held at the landmark New York City skyscraper.

A wedding chapel was set up for the occasion. After the ceremony, the couple went to the observation deck for photos.

The 29-year-old Ms. Figarelle wore a black tuxedo for the ceremony. The 24-year-old Ms. McArthur wore a strapless white gown with a train.

Both work as personal trainers in Anchorage, Alaska.


Hundreds turn out against immigration law

MONTGOMERY — Hundreds crowded the Alabama Statehouse courtyard to protest the state’s immigration law that is among the toughest in the nation.

Protesters chanted in English and Spanish before moving into the Statehouse Tuesday to deliver heart-shaped lollipops and Valentine’s cards calling for the law’s repeal.

Alabama legislators say a bill will be introduced in the coming weeks to make subtle changes to the law but that it won’t be overhauled.

Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice coordinator Zayne Smith said the rally was meant to send a message of love and respect for immigrants. She said changes to the law won’t go far enough and a full repeal is needed.

The president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women said in a statement that the law is working to lower unemployment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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