- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Tennessee man charged with planning mosque attack in NY

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - A man who ran for Congress last year in East Tennessee has been indicted on a charge of soliciting another person to burn down a mosque in a small Muslim enclave in New York, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Robert Doggart, 63, had agreed to plead guilty in April to plotting an attack on residents of “Islamberg,” a self-named community outside Hancock, New York, consisting primarily of Muslims. But the agreement was thrown out June 29 by a federal judge who ruled it did not contain enough facts to constitute a true threat.

The new indictment by a grand jury in Knoxville says Doggart tried to “solicit, command, induce and endeavor” to persuade someone to burn down a mosque in Islamberg. The charge of violating civil rights laws carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Doggart’s attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Doggart’s plans included burning a mosque, a school and a cafeteria, and he solicited others to join in his plan through Facebook posts and in telephone conversations, prosecutors said. Court documents allege Doggart wrote that “Target 3 (Islamberg) is vulnerable from many approaches and must be utterly destroyed.”

A judge ordered Doggart released in early May with certain conditions, including home detention, psychiatric treatment and drug testing, refrain from possessing a firearm and post a $30,000 bond. Court records show Doggart entered the bond May 6.


Tennessee death row inmates challenge execution method

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - After more than a year of delays, a trial challenging Tennessee’s method for executing prisoners began on Tuesday with an anesthesiologist suggesting that inmates given high doses of lethal injection drugs could spontaneously recover, although that was unlikely.

Dr. David Lubarsky, chief medical officer for the University of Miami health system and chair of the anesthesiology department, testified for several hours about how powerful anesthetics like pentobarbital work in the body. He expressed concerns about the ability of prison guards to administer lethal injections correctly and said there was a likelihood the drugs would spill into the surrounding tissue, causing painful caustic burns.

He also said a high dose of an anesthetic could put an inmate into a coma in which vital signs were difficult to detect and there was a possibility that an inmate could spontaneously recover from that state, although he did not think that was very likely to happen.

The trial comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s lethal injection procedure, which uses different drugs than Tennessee but considered some of the same broad issues.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Sutherland said the high court’s ruling means that to prevail in the Tennessee case, the 33 death row inmates must show lethal injection “creates a risk of severe pain and suffering and/or lingering death that is substantial when compared to known alternatives.”

Sutherland said the Supreme Court has ruled inmates aren’t guaranteed a painless death and execution is cruel and unusual only if it involves torture or the deliberate infliction of pain.


FBI investigating kidnapping of bank executive, family

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The FBI says a bank executive and his family have been released after being kidnapped at gunpoint and the man forced to withdraw an undisclosed amount of money from a Knoxville bank.

Multiple media outlets identified the employee in Tuesday’s incident as SmartBank first vice president Tanner Harris.

Ed Reinhold, the FBI special agent in charge of the Knoxville office, said it’s possible the kidnappers are the same people who kidnapped a credit union CEO’s family three months ago.

The agency said the employee was left at the bank while his wife and infant son were taken to another location and left unharmed. Spokeswoman Joyce McCants said the armed group hid the car keys, but the wife was able to find them and go for help.


Officials warn against well water use near train crash site

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Officials were advising residents against the use of well water Tuesday in the area where a CSX train car carrying hazardous material derailed and caught fire in east Tennessee.

A well water sample within about 350 feet of the train derailment site has shown detections of acrylonitrile, a hazardous material used in multiple industrial processes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency as well as state and local officials.

Municipal water supplies weren’t affected. “Very few residents” were impacted by the advisory as of Tuesday, City Manager Greg McClain said.

The chemical was in a train car that derailed and burned late Wednesday in Maryville, leading to the evacuation of about 5,000 residents on Thursday. Evacuees were allowed to return to their homes Friday.

Officials said about 10 wells are located in the area, but it was not immediately clear how many homes were affected. Police officers were knocking on doors to locate unidentified wells in the area for testing. Bottled water was being brought in for residents.

Also, officials lifted an advisory issued Monday telling residents to avoid a creek where dead fish were found after the crash.

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