Saturday, September 5, 2009

O.J. Simpson’s bid for release denied

LAS VEGAS | The Nevada Supreme Court denied O.J. Simpson’s request Friday to be let out of prison pending the appeal of his conviction in a gunpoint heist in a Las Vegas hotel room.

A three-judge panel that heard oral arguments on Aug. 3 concluded Simpson and convicted co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart didn’t meet what the court called the “heavy burden” required to be allowed to post bail.

Simpson and Stewart were convicted of kidnapping and robbing two sports memorabilia dealers in September 2007.

Eco-group topples Seattle radio towers

EVERETT, Wash. | Two radio station towers north of Seattle were toppled early Friday, a banner left nearby bearing the initials of the Earth Liberation Front.

An FBI spokesman said authorities haven’t found any evidence that other individuals or groups besides ELF were involved.

The towers were torn down because of health and environmental concerns, according to an e-mail from the North American ELF Press Office, which has represented the shadowy group in the past.

“We have to weigh our priorities, and the local ecosystem in Everett, along with the local residents, do not need additional sports news radio station towers that come at the expense of reduced property values and harmful radio waves,” ELF press office spokesman Jason Crawford said in the e-mail.

ELF is a loose collection of radical environmentalists that has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks since the 1990s. The FBI has taken over as lead investigator in Friday’s incident.

The towers apparently were taken down with a track hoe, a piece of heavy construction equipment that was already on the site, FBI agent Marty Prewett said.

ELF’s Web site featured a picture of one of the towers lying on its site with the caption “Earth Liberation Front Topples Two Radio Station Towers in Snohomish County, WA,” followed by the words: “Details coming soon.”

Ex-soldier sentenced for Iraqi rape, deaths

PADUCAH, Ky. | A former soldier has received five consecutive life sentences for his role in the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the slaying of three of her family members.

Barring a successful appeal or presidential pardon, Steven Dale Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, will not be eligible for release from prison.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell handed down the sentence Friday in federal court in western Kentucky.

A civilian jury convicted Green in May of conspiracy, rape and multiple counts of murder for the deaths of members of the al-Janabi family on March 12, 2006, at their rural home outside Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. The panel couldn’t reach a unanimous decision about whether Green should get a death sentence, automatically making Green’s sentence life in prison.

Charter boats accused of breaking laws

NEW ORLEANS | Federal agents have cited 15 charter boat companies that take anglers out into the Gulf of Mexico for a variety of violations, such as working without permits, fishing out of season and catching undersized fish.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday said it sent uncover agents on chartered trips across the Gulf and documented multiple violations.

Agency officials said charter boat companies were found operating in violation of state, Coast Guard and fishery laws.

Hal Robbins, a special agent in charge of the NOAA division in St. Petersburg, Fla., said the crackdown protects “law-abiding charter operations from unfair competition.”

Space junk misses space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. | A big piece of space junk safely sped by the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Discovery, missing by less than a mile.

The astronauts were still asleep Friday when the old rocket part, measuring 15 feet around, passed by. NASA had been monitoring the situation and decided that it was unlikely to be a problem, so controllers did not move the station-shuttle complex.

Astronauts went ahead with a spacewalk on Thursday night to install a new fully-loaded tank of space station coolant.

The near-miss occured at 11:07 a.m. NASA officials said the closest it came to the astronauts was about 4,200 feet, or the length of 14 football fields.

Homeless man dies in second train hit

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. | A homeless man who survived being struck by a train two years ago has died after being hit by another train as he sat on the tracks.

Phillip Holman, 46, was hit by a train in Huntsville in 2007 while intoxicated on brandy. His right arm was ripped off and his left leg was badly broken.

Doctors at Huntsville Hospital reattached his arm and straightened his leg. He recuperated at the Downtown Rescue Mission in Huntsville. In an interview during his recovery, he said he wanted to stop drinking and repair his relationship with his family in nearby Madison, “who I have let down more times than I can count.”

Huntsville police said Mr. Holman was sitting on the tracks Wednesday when he was struck and killed by a Norfolk Southern train.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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