Wednesday, October 29, 2008

News From All Over.....

California Newlywed Killed by Police in Mistaken Identity

A newlywed killed by police after he stepped outside his home to confront suspected burglars was shot in a case of mistaken identity, police said. Julian Alexander died after being shot twice in the chest by a police officer who was chasing four burglary suspects early Tuesday morning. Police Chief John Welter said the officer ran into Alexander, mistook him for one of the four juvenile suspects and shot him.

"The last thing we ever want to do, No. 1, (is) take somebody's life," he said. "And we certainly don't want to take the life of someone who is mistakenly believed to be involved in some criminal activity."

"He was a good kid, trying to protect his house," said Alexander's mother-in-law Michelle Mooney. "And the police, instead of asking questions, they just shot first. Somebody has to be held responsible for this."

Welter would not release the officer's name, but said he was a 10-year veteran of the department. The officer was placed on paid leave pending an investigation.

"It's mistaken identity, but that doesn't bring my son back," said Alexander's father Jerry.

He said Alexander got married last weekend and his 19-year-old wife is expecting a baby in December. Alexander's wife said she heard the gunshots and tried to go into the yard, but the officer told her to stay inside. From the window they saw Alexander handcuffed and bleeding in the front yard. Paramedics treated him at the scene and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The four burglary suspects were detained and interviewed, but no arrests were made.

Welter said investigators would interview the officer to determine what commands he gave to Alexander before he fired. Investigations will be conducted by the FBI, the Orange County Office of Independent Review and the district attorney's office, Welter said.

Body Found in Search for New York Teacher; Shades of Laci Peterson?

Authorities searching for a schoolteacher reported missing two days ago found the body of a white female Wednesday near a busy highway in Long Island, N.Y., and are treating the case as a homicide investigation, police told FOX News New York.

The discovery along the Long Island Expressway's North Service Road, near Shelter Rock Road, is about 10 miles from where Leah Walsh's car was found abandoned with a flat tire early Monday morning, said Nassau County Police Department spokesman Lt. Kevin Smith. Police could not confirm whether the body was Walsh's, but said they are investigating the case as a homicide.

The 29-year-old special education teacher was reported missing after failing to arrive at her Glen Cove school on Monday morning. Her car was later found - coincidentally by her father, a bus driver who happened to be on the highway later Monday morning -- but there was no sign of the woman. Her purse turned up in a ditch nearby.

Earlier Wednesday, rush-hour traffic was stopped for miles along the northbound Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway in Bethpage as police handed out a "missing persons" flier with a photo of the teacher, as well as a picture of her 2005 Ford Focus. The car was locked near an exit ramp of the highway, with a flat front tire.

Detectives questioned the woman's husband, William Walsh, on Tuesday, but police emphasized it was a routine part of the investigation and noted they had no suspects in the woman's disappearance. He was cooperating with authorities, Smith said. Leah Walsh, who usually leaves her home for work between 6:15 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., sent a text message to her husband at about 6:25 a.m. Monday, telling him to "have a great day," William Walsh told 1010 WINS radio.

"That's the last I heard from her," he said.

He spoke to reporters later outside the couple's home in Bethpage, before the discovery of the body. "I miss her more than anything," he said. He described his wife as an "easygoing person" who loved her students. "She wouldn't just leave them," he said. "Something had to have happened."

But Lucas Bean, a friend of Leah Walsh's who lives in Los Angeles, told the New York Daily News that she texted him over the weekend to say that she was in a "huge fight" with her husband and things were not going to work out between them. The couple have been married for three years; they have no children, police said.

Wife-Killer Scott Peterson Writing Casey Anthony

Convicted murderer Scott Peterson is writing the Florida woman accused of killing her missing toddler, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel. Sources tell the paper that the California death-row inmate has been writing Casey Anthony in the Orange County Jail. Peterson was convicted three years ago of killing his wife, Laci, and unborn son, though he maintains his innocence.

On Tuesday, Casey Anthony entered a not guilty plea to charges she murdered her daughter, Caylee, who has been missing since mid-June. The 22-year-old Orlando resident is also charged with aggravated manslaughter, aggravated child abuse and four counts of lying to investigators. She's due to stand trial on Jan. 5, 2009.

A spokesman for Anthony's lawyer told the Sentinel that she has not been corresponding with Peterson, but declined to say who might be writing her. A jail spokesman told the paper that inmate correspondence is not public record.

If convicted at her trial, Anthony could face life in prison or the death penalty. The State Attorney's Office also said it still will not comment on whether capital punishment will be sought, in part because it doesn't want to generate the type of publicity that would require a change of venue for the trial. The case has already created a media frenzy for months.

"Remember, these charges are only allegations and do not constitute a proof of guilt," prosecutors said. "Ms. Anthony has the right to a trial by jury and is cloaked with the presumption of innocence."

Anthony told authorities she had left her daughter with a baby sitter in June and the two were gone when she returned from work. She says she spent the next month trying to find her daughter and didn't call authorities because she was scared. Investigators say little that Anthony has told them has proven to be true. The apartment where she said she dropped her daughter off had been vacant for months, and she also lied when she told them she had been working at an area theme park as a photographer, according to police.

Developing Story: Obama Effigies Strung Up in Kentucky, Indiana, Elsewhere in U.S.

Barack Obama effigies turned up today on the University of Kentucky campus and in a front yard in Indiana, as federal authorities said they weren't investigating a Sarah Palin hanging-from-a-noose Halloween display in California as a hate crime.

Kentucky school officials in Lexington were trying to determine who hung a mannequin lookalike of Obama from a tree on campus, school spokesman Carl Nathe told The Associated Press. Police took the effigy down immediately.

In Clarksville, Ind., Kirk Deddo strung an Obama doll up by a noose from a tree on his lawn and called it a Halloween decoration, saying it was the most frightening one he could find, WNDA-TV in Indiana reported. Deddo said the effigy had nothing to do with race, and he put it up because he doesn't like Obama's stance toward the military.

"Electing Obama as president would be the scariest thing in the world," he told the station.

University of Kentucky President Lee Todd told the AP that he will apologize to the Obama family on the university's behalf because he is "personally offended and deeply embarrassed by this disgusting episode." The Kentucky incident marks the second time this week that an effigy of the Democratic presidential candidate has been discovered on a college campus.

George Fox University in Oregon announced that it would punish four students who admitted stringing up an Obama doll from a tree on school grounds.

News of the Obama effigies came as the FBI and police in Los Angeles said they aren't treating a Palin doll dangling from a noose in West Hollywood, Calif., as a hate crime because it was part of a Halloween display.

"I'm not defending this; I'm not criticizing it. It doesn't rise to the level of hate crime," L.A. County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told The Los Angeles Times.

Amber Alert Issued for Florida Boy

An Amber Alert has been issued for a 6-year-old boy missing from central Florida, according to FOX News Orlando.

Ar'Marion Hargrove is from Bartow, but was last known to be in the Miami Springs area, authorities said. He was traveling with a 25-year-old black male named Charles Hargrove, possibly in a white four-door Chevrolet Impala with Florida license tag 575 HXD. Ar'Marion is black, 3-feet tall and 25 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white polo shirt with dark blue jeans, a gray and black jacket and black tennis shoes.

Woman Tossed From Mechanical Bull Sues Restaurant

A Queens woman has become at least the second person to file a lawsuit claiming injuries from being thrown off a mechanical bull in a Western-themed New York City restaurant. Rachel Love's lawsuit accuses Johnny Utah's in Rockefeller Center of negligence and "assault and battery." It says the restaurant allowed "an inebriated individual" to ride the bull.

Love's lawsuit says while she was riding the bull on Jan. 31 a Johnny Utah's employee increased its speed, making it "become more violent" in an effort to throw her off. Her lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It doesn't detail her injuries. No one at Johnny Utah's has returned a telephone call seeking comment.

In September, Aaron Schnore sued Johnny Utah's, claiming he was hurt after being tossed off the bucking bull.

82-Year-Old Accused of Trading Drugs for Sex

Police in eastern Kentucky say an 82-year-old man traded prescription drugs for sexual favors. Archie Anglin, of Berea, has been charged with trafficking in a controlled substance. Anglin's attorney, Michael Eubanks, said a possession of a controlled substance charge was dismissed against Anglin because he had prescriptions for the drugs. Anglin was free on bond.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that police said they were initially concerned that women in their 20s, often seen at Anglin's home, were taking advantage of him. But police said when they investigated Anglin's complaints about thefts at his home, they discovered he gave two women the prescription drug OxyContin in exchange for sex.

Eubanks declined to comment further on the case against Anglin.

Law Restricting Sex Offenders on Halloween Blocked

A federal judge has ruled that parts of Missouri's new law restricting registered sex offenders' actions on Halloween night are unenforceable, saying the law lacked clarity and could cause confusion for sex offenders and those charged with enforcing it.

The law, signed by Gov. Matt Blunt in June, requires that sex offenders avoid all Halloween-related contact with children from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 31. It requires them to remain inside their homes with the outside lights off and to post a sign saying they have no candy. A violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

After hearing arguments in a case brought by four sex offenders, U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson on Monday granted a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of some parts of the law. Scott Holste, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, said the office would appeal the order, but he declined further comment.

Attorney Chris Quinn, arguing for the state, said the law is aimed at protecting children on a night when many visit strangers' homes, sometimes without their parents.

"Sex offenders pose a risk of reoffending that's higher than anyone else," he said during the hearing.

Jackson found no fault with the provision requiring sex offenders to keep their porch lights off. She agreed there was no lack of clarity in the requirement for a sign that reads, "No candy or treats at this residence."

But other aspects of the statute were too broad and raise questions, the judge said. For example, Jackson said, may a sex offender have contact with his or her own children on Halloween? Passing out candy is clearly prohibited, but what else constitutes Halloween-related contact? And if a sex offender planned to be out of town on Halloween, he or she would not technically be "inside the home" as the law requires, Jackson pointed out.

The law allows sex offenders to leave home on Halloween night if there is "just cause" such as work or an emergency, but Jackson criticized the measure for failing to define the term more clearly. Such vagueness would cause confusion among sex offenders, police and prosecutors, she said.

The judge cited a letter sent by the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department to registered sex offenders in the southeast Missouri county. She said the letter's reference to the "Halloween season" could have police trying to enforce the law on days other than Oct. 31.

The injunction stemmed from a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. Attorney Dave Nelson called the law's requirements a "scarlet letter" for sex offenders. He said the statute also results in additional punishment by requiring what amounts to "house arrest" one day each year.

The scope of Jackson's ruling was not immediately clear. Anthony Rothert, the legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, said the order was not limited to the four plaintiffs. But to his understanding, the ruling means that sex offenders in Pike, Cape Girardeau and St. Louis counties -- where the plaintiffs live -- can spend time with their children on Halloween night and do not have to stay inside their homes.

Rothert said the order applies only to this Halloween but that the ACLU will continue working to get the entire statute off the books. It is part of a nationwide law enforcement trend targeting sex-offense suspects or registered sex offenders on Halloween and more severely restricting their activities on that night.

Vienna Streetcar Driver Fired for Nazi Greeting

A Vienna streetcar driver says it was all a joke, but his "Sieg Heil" to passengers has cost him his job -- and could potentially land him before a judge. Officials at Wiener Linien, which operates the Austrian capital's subway, bus and tram system, said Tuesday the man has been fired after uttering the Nazi greeting over the tram's public address system over the weekend.

State-run ORF radio and television said on its Web site that the unidentified 35-year-old made the comment at the end of a a brief statement mentioning that this was his streetcar's last trip on the historic Vienna Ring encircling the city center. Transit authorities ended some streetcar routes on the Ring and changed schedules for others Sunday.

"This is a historic moment and is a day of remembrance of historic events," the Web site quoted him as saying. "Sieg Heil!"

Transit authorities took action after a Jewish newspaper reported the alleged remarks. After some passengers booed -- while others laughed -- the driver reportedly said: "Can't you take a joke?" Invoking Nazi symbols and spreading Nazi propaganda are crimes in Austria, which Hitler annexed before World War II, and local news media suggested he might be charged.


Orlando Sentinel, Fox Orlando, Fox New York, ORF Radio/TV, LA County Sheriff, WINS Radio, Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department, WNDA-TV, Orange County Police, New York Daily News, Associated Press.

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