- - Thursday, May 31, 2012


NASHVILLE — Construction is continuing on a mosque as attorneys debate a judge’s ruling that said local officials did not give the public enough notice about a meeting during which building plans were approved.

Opponents of the mosque believe the ruling means construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro must stop. They have asked a judge to put construction on hold.

County Attorney Jim Cope said he believes construction can continue. He said opponents need to sue the mosque if they want to halt construction.

Rutherford County Chancellor Robert E. Corlew III ruled Tuesday that there was not enough public notice of the meeting when the site plan for the mosque was approved in 2010.

The main building for worship is nearly complete.


Court orders new sentence regarding 1968 air hijacking

NEW YORK — A man sentenced to prison for 15 years for hijacking a plane from New York to Cuba four decades ago will be resentenced after a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a lower-court judge wrongly concluded he would not be eligible for parole.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the resentencing for 69-year-old Luis Armando Pena Soltren. Pena Soltren returned to the United States from Cuba in October 2009 to face air-piracy charges. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison without parole.

The appeals court said Pena Soltren is entitled to a sentence that includes the possibility of parole because parole existed in the federal sentencing structure when Pan American Flight 281 was hijacked Nov. 24, 1968. The 2nd Circuit said the judge can take Pena Soltren’s parole eligibility into account in determining a new sentence. Prisoners at the time were generally eligible for parole after serving about a third of their sentences.

Authorities said Pena Soltren put a knife to the throat of a flight attendant and a gun to her back before entering the cockpit. Prosecutors said Pena Soltren, a U.S. citizen, carried out the hijacking with at least two others who brought pistols and large knives aboard in a baby’s diaper bag. The pilots were forced to divert the Puerto Rico-bound flight, which was carrying 103 passengers and crew, from Kennedy International Airport to Havana.


Giant cuckoo clock gets new village home

SUGARCREEK — One of the world’s largest cuckoo clocks has a new home in an Ohio village.

The wooden clock measures more than 23 feet tall, 24 feet wide and 13 feet deep. It was hauled Wednesday from a vacant lot to a street corner in Sugarcreek, about 70 miles south of Cleveland.

It features a hand-carved, five-piece band playing music and a cuckoo bird that sounds at regular intervals. Sugarcreek Mayor Clayton Weller tells the Times-Reporter in nearby New Philadelphia that the clock doesn’t function and will get needed electrical work to operate again.

A Swiss cheese-maker added the clock at his restaurant near Wilmot three decades ago. The restaurant closed in 2009, and the clock was sold to an Ohio man who agreed to move it to Sugarcreek.


Judge rejects Amish hate crime law challenge

COLUMBUS — A judge has rejected a challenge of the federal hate crimes law by Amish defendants charged in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio.

The defendants argue the alleged attacks last fall weren’t hate crimes but internal church disciplinary matters not involving anti-Amish bias.

The defendants also argue that the federal hate crime law violates their First Amendment rights of religious expression.

U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster on Thursday dismissed those arguments, saying the religious beliefs of the victims, not the defendants, are what matter in the case.

Judge Polster also said nothing in the hate crime law prohibits it from covering acts of violence perpetrated by one religious group on another.

The attorney pushing for the hate crime charges to be dropped did not immediately return a message Thursday.


Mom with stroller testifies in Detroit rape case

DETROIT — Detroit mother says she was robbed while pushing her 7-month-old daughter in a stroller, raped behind a vacant house and shot in the back when she fled.

The woman testified Thursday in the preliminary exam of 18-year-old Job Hughley.

Mr. Hughley is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and assault with intent to murder in the April 12 daylight attack.

The 37-year-old woman testified that she was accosted on a northwest Detroit street and gave her attacker two $100 bills before being forced at gunpoint to push the stroller several blocks and then raped.

Her child was not injured.

Mr. Hughley also will stand trial in two separate rapes.


Police say Ohio woman broke into house to clean it

ELYRIA — Police in suburban Cleveland say a woman who owns a cleaning service broke into a house and washed the dishes, took out the trash and vacuumed before leaving a handwritten bill with her name on it.

And police say it might not be the first time.

The woman, Sue Warren of Elyria, is in jail on a burglary charge.

Police in Westlake say Miss Warren broke into a home last week and began tidying up, but she didn’t take anything. They say she then wrote out a bill for $75 on a napkin and included her name and address.

One officer says Miss Warren told him she does it all the time.

A call to Miss Warren’s cleaning business was not answered Thursday. It’s not immediately known if she has an attorney.


Patrol says 8 students hit by truck should live

HEMET — California Highway Patrol officers say it appears all eight students injured when a pickup truck plowed into them in front of Hemet High School will survive.

The injury toll was reduced by one Thursday when highway patrol investigators determined no adult was hurt. Highway patrol spokesman Darren Meyer tells the (Riverside) Press-Enterprise that reports of a 60-year-old woman being injured were unfounded.

Although three students were initially listed in critical condition, Mr. Meyer says each now has a good prognosis.

There were claims of mechanical trouble, so Mr. Meyer says the highway patrol’s major accident investigation team will inspect the 1994 truck that struck a group of students in a crosswalk. An 18-year-old student was behind the wheel.

Investigators are also reviewing surveillance video from cameras in the area.


Judge says no to halt of sea lion killings

PORTLAND — A federal judge has rejected a request to halt the killing of California sea lions that eat protected salmon at Oregon’s Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

The Humane Society of the United States wanted to stop the lethal injections while its lawsuit against the practice works its way through the courts.

Judge Michael Simon has said the request faced difficult tests in such legal circumstances. The Oregonian reports he ruled Wednesday it didn’t pass the tests.

Eleven California sea lions were trapped and killed this spring. Another was sent to an aquarium. The rest have largely returned to their oceanic breeding grounds after the spring fish run.

Judge Simon has said he wants to rule on the lawsuit itself before the sea lions return next year.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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