INDIANAPOLIS – Oral arguments are set for next month in the appeal of a man convicted of murdering a 19-year-old IU student.\nThe three-member Indiana Court of Appeals has set the case for March 20 in Indianapolis.\nJohn Myers II was convicted in 2006 of murdering Jill Behrman, who disappeared in 2000 while cycling. Her remains were found in April 2003.\nThe appeal filed in September argues that jurors misbehaved and that pretrial publicity tainted the trial.\nIt also questions whether a forensic pathologist’s opinion that Behrman had been raped, even though there was no evidence of sexual assault, should have been admitted.\nMyers is serving a 65-\nyear sentence.
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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is among a group of states considered the worst contributors to a nearly 8,000 square mile patch in the Gulf of Mexico that is inhospitable to marine life, according to research by the U.S. Geological Survey.\nAnimal manure and fertilizer flowing from Indiana and nine other states into the Mississippi River has significantly contributed to a seasonal “dead zone” – an area that is so depleted of oxygen that most aquatic life cannot survive.\nAlong with Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi were the worst contributors to the dead zone.\nThe nine states represented one–third of the 31-state Mississippi River drainage basin, but were responsible for more than 75 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorous that deplete oxygen from the Gulf, killing fish, crabs, clams and shrimp, according to the study.\nThe excessive amount of nitrogen in the Gulf was mainly caused by corn and soybean farming, and the overabundance of phosphorous was primarily caused by animal manure on pasture and rangelands, the survey said.\n“Conventional thinking has been that the pasture and rangelands don’t contribute as much as the cultivated cropland,” said Richard Alexander, a research hydrologist and lead investigator on the study. “The thinking has been that the row crops would contribute more phosphorous.”\nThe study found 37 percent of phosphorous delivered into the Gulf comes from animal manure on pasture and rangelands.\nCorn and soybean farming accounts for 52 percent of nitrogen contributions.\nIndiana was the third worst contributor of nitrogen at 10.1 percent and sixth worst contributor of phosphorous at 8.4 percent among the states in the basin. Illinois was the worst offender for contributions of both substances.\n“This is one more piece of strong evidence about the source of nutrients and about the serious action that should be taken to reduce the nutrients,” said Nancy Rabalais, who serves as executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and researches the dead zone.\nShe said regulation may be difficult because the nitrogen and phosphorous are coming from the land and atmosphere rather than from pipelines.\nBruno Pigott, an assistant commissioner with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Water, said the agency was reviewing the report but had been working on nutrient issues for years.\nHe said the sources of nutrients in groundwater were diverse, including wastewater treatment plants and lawn fertilization as well as runoff from farming and other activities.\n“We think there has to be a broad-based approach to reducing nutrients,” he said.\nMeanwhile, Pigott said Indiana Department of Environmental Management is using public funds to reduce pollutants to waterways and developing statewide criteria for nutrients.\nThe agency also has phosphorous limitations in place for wastewater treatment plants upstream of lakes, especially in the Great Lakes region, he said.
MUNCIE — The implosion of a 190-foot smokestack emblazoned with the name Chevrolet marked the end of a chapter in the city’s automotive industry.\nThe Chevrolet plant opened in Muncie in 1935, employing 1,100 people. As many as 3,400 people worked at the plant at its peak in the late 1970s, although only 380 remained when it closed in March 2006.\nThe last remnant of the razed plant came down Thursday in front of crowds.\n“This is the last hurrah,” said Jerry Friend, the city building commissioner. “It’s too bad.”\nOver the years that plant operated as Detroit Diesel Allison Muncie Transmission Plant and New Venture Gear, a General Motors/DaimlerChrysler joint venture. Demolition of the complex has taken several months.\n“It is the end of an era,” said Mike Jones, chairman of United Auto Workers Local 499. “It’s sad to see it go, that’s for sure, but more importantly, what it represented is going away. That’s even sadder.”\nThe city’s other big auto parts maker, BorgWarner, will close its plant in early 2009. As many as 6,000 worked there in its heyday.
LONDON – More than 40 years after it barred the iconic British band from playing there, Israel said it wants the surviving members of the Beatles to participate in a concert celebrating the country’s 60th birthday.\nBut the Israeli embassy in London denied a report that the Jewish state had apologized for its original refusal to let the Beatles perform in the country. The band had been booked to appear in 1965, but the government refused to grant the necessary permits on the ground that its music might corrupt the country’s morals.\n“Israel missed a chance to learn from the most influential musicians of the decade, and the Beatles missed an opportunity to reach out to one of the most passionate audiences in the world,” Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor said in a letter addressed to Sir Paul McCartney. “On our 60th anniversary, we would like to take the opportunity to offer you a second chance to play in Israel.”\nThe embassy said a letter was presented by Prosor to Jerry Goldman, chief executive officer of the Beatles Story museum in the north England city of Liverpool. It was also sent to Sir Paul McCartney and Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr.
INDIANAPOLIS – The wrongful death lawsuit against a former Ball State University police officer who fatally shot a student in 2003 was set to go to trial Tuesday.\nThe trial in the case against Robert Duplain will be held in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.\nMichael McKinney, 21, of Bedford, was shot four times by Duplain, who was responding to a report of a stranger pounding on the door of a house in Muncie early on Nov. 8, 2003. Tests later showed that McKinney had a blood-alcohol content of 0.34.\nThe lawsuit filed by Timothy McKinney, Michael’s father, alleges that Duplain first shot the student twice in the back and side while he was facing away from him, then ran up and shot him twice more after he turned around.\nThe defense contends that Duplain fired only after McKinney charged at him.\nJudge Richard Young has ruled that the key issues in the trial will include whether McKinney charged Duplain, whether Duplain sufficiently alerted McKinney to his presence and whether Duplain acted reasonably in shooting McKinney four times.\nThere was no telephone number for Duplain in published listings and he could not be reached for comment.
INDIANAPOLIS – Connie Heermann was thrilled when she saw some of her 11th-grade English students reading with rapt attention for the first time when they took up a book of diary entries by students who inspired the movie “Freedom Writers.”\nShe had a problem, though: Her administrators say they didn’t approve, and they’re now trying to terminate her for insubordination.\nHeermann, who’s been suspended, is fighting for her job at Perry Meridian High School.\n“This is not about my own self-justification or my union rights or my retirement. That is not what I’m fighting for,” said Heermann, who has been a teacher for 27 years. “I want the public to know what has happened because I don’t want the students at Perry Township to continue to be disserviced.”\nThe book contains racial slurs and some sexual content. It has been taught in other schools around the country, but at least one other district, in Howell, Mich., has encountered controversy over use of the book.\nThe book’s approach encourages students to write about their experiences, to reach out to students of different backgrounds and to work toward attending college and taking active roles in their communities.\nHeermann collected parental permission slips before introducing the book, but officials for the south suburban district said Heermann never got permission from administrators.\nShe said that when she told the students to turn in the books, 19 of the 22 students in the class initially refused.\nJon Bailey, the school district’s lawyer, said not only did Heermann disobey an order from her supervisors not to teach the book, she used a book that hadn’t been through the district’s approval process.\n“Anything that gets kids to write is good, but these are kids’ journals written in some very explicit language,” Bailey said. “The core issue here is, does a school district have a right to decide its curriculum content or do individual teachers have a right to take it in whatever direction they wish?”\nPrincipal Joan Ellis made it clear to Heermann that she could not pass out the books or use them for lessons, he said.\n“It was made very clear to her not to move forward,” Bailey said.
General Electric said Thursday it plans to close its Bloomington refrigeration plant by the fourth quarter of 2009 due to losses of about $45 million last year and an expectation of similar losses this year.\nGE “can no longer effectively compete” because of declining sales of side-by-side refrigerators and rising costs of materials and labor, plant manager Kent Suiters said in a news release.\nThe plant employs about 900 people, who were notified Thursday. GE said about 60 percent of the employees would retire with retirement and pension benefits.\n“This announcement is particularly difficult because our employees have done everything we have asked of them,” Suiters said in the release. “The hard fact is that even with investment and great effort by our employees, the plant has continued to lose money. It does not make good business sense to continue down this path.”\nThe 837 hourly employees are represented by IBEW Local 2249, which may request a 60-day bargaining period in which alternatives to the closing may be presented, according to the release.\nLocal President Bill Mitchell said he plans to open negotiations to try to save the plant, but acknowledged the union would have to be “very creative” to come up with a solution.\n“We’ll give it our best shot,” he said.
REMINGTON, Ind. – Storms that dropped more than 5 inches of rain on parts of Indiana amid record warmth pushed rivers and streams over their banks, killing at least one person and threatening to overwhelm a dam on the Tippecanoe River.\nA man was swept into floodwaters in Remington and drowned Tuesday morning as he was trying to get out of his house after Carpenter Creek flooded, said Karen Wilson, Jasper County Emergency Management director. Remington is about 90 miles northwest of Indianapolis.\n“The waters were moving so rapidly and so deep that he just went under and didn’t come back up,” she said.\nShe said up to 150 people were evacuated around Remington and up to 30 homes were affected by water that reached waist-high levels in some places. Evacuees were sheltered in local churches.\nIn nearby White County, where the National Weather Service had issued a flood warning, county emergency management director Gordon Cochran said boats had been called out to assist in evacuating hundreds of people in Monticello, Blue Water Beach and Diamond Point, which are all about 80 miles northwest of Indianapolis.\nCarroll County Emergency Management director Dave McDowell said 200,300 homes may possibly be flooded but that many are unoccupied summer residences.\nThe weather service reported near-record flooding at the Norway and Oakdale dams just north of Monticello, a city of 5,400 people about 30 miles north of Lafayette.\nMcDowell said officials are recommending that all residents south of the Oakdale Dam leave their homes.\nThe weather service said that neither dam was expected to fail but urged residents to closely monitor the situation along the Tippecanoe River, which was forecast to rise steadily into the afternoon. White County Sheriff John Roberts confirmed that the dams are holding, although water levels were high.\n“The water, either from wind or the flood, is coming over the top of the dam, but it’s minimal,” Roberts said.\nMaster Trooper Bill Brooks said the speed of the Tippecanoe River jumped to nearly 27,000 cubic feet per second at around 9 a.m. from nearly 23,000 cubic feet per second at about 7:15 a.m.\nU.S. 24 was closed for more than 20 miles between Reynolds and Interstate 65, Brooks said. The Indiana Department of Transportation said several other highways in northwestern Indiana also will be closed until floodwaters recede.\nSome roads had washed out in White County, including Indiana 16 east of Monon, which is closed.\nPaul Dyke, youth minister at First Christian Church in Remington, said about 150 evacuees were taking shelter at the church. The American Red Cross set up shelters in Lafayette, Delphi and smaller towns along the flood path.\nLafayette city officials were preparing in case the rain continues to raise the level of the Wabash River. At noon, the weather service issued a flood warning along the Wabash from Lafayette to Terre Haute.\nThe thunderstorms that dumped the heavy rains were accompanied by record warmth across much of the eastern half of the nation that pushed Monday’s high in Indianapolis to 68, breaking the old record of 64 set in 1907.\nNear-record highs were expected again Tuesday across much of Indiana, said Joseph Nield, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Indianapolis bureau.\n“We’ve been kind of sandwiched between high pressure to the east and strong low pressure to the west that’s brought southerly and southwesterly winds,” he said.\nNield said a cold front will pass across the state overnight, bringing cooler air, although even those readings, in the upper 40s, will be unseasonably warm. January’s average highs are in the middle 30s, he said.
CROWN POINT, Ind. – A judge has dropped charges against a Gary man who sparked a police chase in which an officer died when two patrol cars crashed.\nBernard D. Watkins, 27, was released from the Lake County Jail on Monday. He had been charged with carjacking, resisting law enforcement, auto theft and misdemeanor battery in the Aug. 12 crash that killed 28-year-old Patrolman Benjamin Wilcher.\nLake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. granted the request to drop the case on Monday. In their motion, prosecutors said they were unable to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.\nWatkins’ live-in girlfriend told investigators that he was driving her car when he became upset and began punching her, court documents said. She said he kicked her, pulled her from the car, then drove off and said he would be back “to shoot everybody up.” The woman told police that Watkins was armed.\nSoon after, officers spotted the car and tried to pull him over but the driver sped away. Patrolman Arthur Lemme said the car drove through a stop sign, after which Lemme’s cruiser collided with Wilcher’s at the city intersection.\nWilcher died at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields, Ill., several days later. Lemme suffered a broken foot and ankle and a serious arm injury, court documents said.
MUNCIE – A homeowner foiled an armed robbery attempt at his house by grabbing the intruder’s rifle, smashing the weapon and holding the teenage suspect until police arrived.\nGarry Roberts, 54, said a teenager came to his door Sunday and asked to borrow a cup of sugar. When he returned from the kitchen, the youth had donned a ski mask and was pointing a .22 caliber rifle at Roberts, demanding money, he said.\n“If I gave him the money, I knew he would shoot me,” Roberts said.\nRoberts told authorities he placed the bowl of sugar in front of the gunman and offered him $10 out of his wallet. Then, as he continued talking, he moved close enough to grab the rifle when the teen turned away for a split second. He threw the weapon against the front door, breaking the gun, then took the suspect outside to a neighbor’s house and called police.\nDavid Anthony Alva, 17, was waived to adult court. He was being held without bond in the Delaware County Jail on Monday on preliminary charges of armed robbery, burglary while armed with a deadly weapon, pointing a firearm and residential entry.
CHARLESTOWN, Ind. – State inmates soon could return to work as municipal firefighters, a state prison official said.\nThe program that uses the inmates to fight fires for the Charlestown Volunteer Fire Department during daytime hours was suspended last week amid concerns voiced by opponents.\nDetractors complained at a meeting that the inmates were not well supervised and had been allowed to go through residents’ homes while at fire scenes.\nRandy Koester, chief of staff for the Indiana Department of Correction, said the program has been suspended while allegations are being investigated. However, he said the investigation so far has found no wrongdoing, and the program could resume soon.\nState inmates are used across Indiana to help municipalities with garbage collection, road cleaning and other tasks, Koester said. The DOC supported the idea of using them as firefighters because it can help them develop valuable skills they can use once they leave prison.\n “We want to provide a good community service. At the same time, provide inmates with meaningful work,” Koester said.\nBut at a fire board meeting Thursday night, some residents complained about the program.\n“I really don’t feel comfortable calling 911 and having a criminal come to my home,” resident Carla Shields told the board.\nMaurice Jones, one of two firefighters who have been fired after opposing the program, said he took photographs of inmates watching television, playing pool, using computers and loafing around the fire house.\nHe said members of the fire department should have been allowed to vote on whether to allow inmates to fight fires.\nHowever, Fire Chief Lee Slaughter and the program’s coordinator, Mark Goodlett, said Jones’ allegations were unfounded and that the program has fared well.\nGoodlett, a city councilman, said the program began about a year ago. At first, inmates were used for tasks around the fire house such as cleaning fire trucks.\n“We decided to take it to the next level to see if we could use these guys to fight fires,” Goodlett said, adding that none of the firefighting inmates are sex offenders, violent criminals or arsonists.”\nHe said when the program was approved by the state, about 50 inmates were interested. The department had them take agility tests – something the regular firefighters don’t have to pass – and the top eight were selected.\n“They’ve been a tremendous help to us,” Goodlett said.\nHe said they are constantly supervised and are strip-searched when they return to the firehouse from a run.\nSlaughter said he was skeptical of the program when it was proposed.\n“It’s actually a lot better than what I thought,” he said.\nThe inmates are used during the day, when manpower is in short supply because volunteers are at their day jobs, Slaughter said.\n“What I ended up with was one heck of a fire department,” he said.
UPLAND, Ind. – Two dozen quilts that a northern Indiana woman meticulously pieced together in the last months of her life have been donated to a group that provides handmade blankets and quilts to seriously ill infants and children.\nCarol Vore, who died of cancer at age 68 on Dec. 4, knew her time was growing short in August when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Having previously battled throat cancer, the Upland resident knew her prognosis was bleak.\nVore, who was a longtime quilter, felt a sense of urgency to get as many quilts as possible made while she still could sew, her relatives said.\nOver the last four months, her sewing machine had put in countless stitches as she pieced together colorful squares of flannel, cotton and fleece.\nWhile making them, she read on the Internet about Project \nLinus, a nonprofit group that provides handmade blankets and quilts to seriously ill, grieving or traumatized infants and children.\nVore decided to devote the rest of her days to making quilts for Project Linus.\nAnd the sicker she became, the more intensely she worked to complete more quilts, said her son, Steve Vore, who also lives in the Upland area.\n“She went crazy making quilts,” said Steve Vore, whose wife, Cheryl, and his sisters –even the grandchildren – also caught the Project Linus bug from Carol Vore.\nNow, the legacy of her last months will be wrapped around young sick children facing surgery, enduring chemotherapy or recovering from a major trauma in their lives.\nOn Friday, the Vores delivered 16 quilts to Project Linus’ Fort Wayne office. Another eight are on their way as soon as some finishing touches are made.\n“Her only regret is that she did not feel well enough the last month to complete more quilts,” Steve Vore said, adding that he plans to donate stacks of her fabric pieces.\nAt Thanksgiving, the Vores realized that, although she had always made quilts for others, she’d never made one for herself.\nSo the children and grandchildren secretly put together a special quilt – a soft green one – for their mother and grandmother.\nThat quilt was to be a Christmas gift, but Carol Vore’s health was rapidly declining and they gave it to her early.\n“It brought her a lot of comfort the last few days,” Cheryl Vore said of the quilt.\nAfter his mother’s death, Steve Vore sent an e-mail to Peggy Albertson, chapter coordinator of Project Linus in Fort Wayne, offering his mother’s quilts.\n“I’ve never received such a letter,” said Albertson, who remembers the emotions she felt when reading of Carol Vore’s love of quilting for others. “I know how much the blankets mean to these children, but they will never know the story behind them.”\nIn 2007, the Fort Wayne chapter of Project Linus delivered 11,761 quilts to northeast Indiana children. In 2008 and beyond, Carol Vore’s legacy will wrap love and care around scores of other youngsters.\n“How very honored we are,” Albertson said, “that she chose Project Linus for a project she poured so much of her heart into.”
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of a woman who was sentenced to eight years in prison in the 2004 dragging death of a Bloomington man.\nThe court ruled that 30-year-old Misty Evans'' attorney should have objected to improper instructions given to the jury.\nThe appeals court''s ruling does not prevent Evans from being tried again, and the prosecutor could ask the state Supreme Court to consider the decision. The Associated Press left a message seeking comment with the prosecutor''s office.\nProsecutors say Evans had been drinking before she hit 21-year-old Jesse Reuben Jacobs with her car and dragged him to death. Evans says she wasn''t drinking and that she thought she had hit a deer. She says she didn''t see Jacobs'' body under her car when she stopped to look for the animal.\nJury instructions at her trial told jurors to determine whether there was an accident that caused Jacobs'' death, and that Evans failed to remain on the scene. But the appeals court says the jury should have also considered whether Evans knew the accident hurt a person.\n"Had the jury been properly instructed, it would have been required to find that the state proved not only Evans''s knowledge of an accident, but also her knowledge, actual or imputed, that the accident resulted in injury to a person in order to convict her of leaving the scene of an accident," the court wrote in its decision. "Because of the faulty instruction, however, the jury may not have properly assessed the credibility of Evans'' defense."\nThe appeals judges said they believe there is a "reasonable probability" the jury''s verdict could have been different had Evans'' lawyer, Ron Chapman, objected to the instructions and sought directions that included all the guidelines.\nChapman said Friday he has no qualms with the appeals court finding he made a mistake.\n"Anything that will get a conviction overturned is OK with me," he said. "I''m very pleased for her. Justice has finally prevailed."\nChapman said he hoped Evans would soon be released from prison. The Indiana Department of Correction Web site lists Evans as being housed in the Madison Correctional Facility.
BEIJING – Rights groups have called on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the International Olympic Committee to confront the organizers of the Beijing 2008 Summer Games over China’s media restrictions and human rights record.\nNew York-based Human Rights Watch said Bloomberg, who is visiting China this week, is obligated to express concern about media freedoms because of his background as founder of the global financial news service that bears his name.\n“Bloomberg should explain to the Chinese government how important media freedom is to China’s social, economic and political development,” the group said in a statement Saturday.\nBloomberg is scheduled to attend a series of meetings with government officials and business leaders in Beijing and Shanghai.\nSeparately, London-based Amnesty International said the IOC must push Beijing organizers at its Executive Board meeting this week in Switzerland for progress on reducing use of the death penalty and detentions of citizens without trial, allowing greater freedom of expression and ending harassment of human rights activists.\nWhile reforms are primarily the government’s responsibility, the IOC “can still make a significant contribution by using its influence to bring about positive change in line with the Olympics Charter,” the group said.\nChina is considered the leading jailer of journalists, with at least 29 behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy group. Most independent reporting and criticism of the ruling Communist Party is blocked, and monitors erase critical commentary on the Internet and frequently jail cyber-dissidents. Scores of Web sites carrying news and opinion are blocked within the country.\nAuthorities have relaxed rules for foreign media ahead of the Aug. 15 opening of the Olympic Games, promising unrestricted access, visa exemptions, tax waivers for equipment and other benefits. However, harassment and occasional detentions continue, according to monitoring groups and foreign journalists.\nChina is believed to execute more people for crimes each year than all other nations combined and regularly sentences petty criminals and government critics to two or more years in prison camps without trial. Activists highlighting corruption and the denial of civil, religious, medical and labor rights are frequently threatened and detained.\nChina has repeatedly claimed it upholds civil rights in conformity with its constitution, while avoiding discussion of specific cases.
INDIANAPOLIS – A former church elder who pleaded guilty to child molestation charges has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.\nTerry Van Gorp, 59, offered a brief apology to the victim’s family but showed no remorse for his actions, said Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steve Nation.\nVan Gorp was arrested in June 2006 after he told family and other church members that he had molested the girl, now five years old, at his home in February 2006. Van Gorp pleaded guilty to a felony charge of child molesting, and two other felony charges were dropped in the plea deal.\nNation sentenced Van Gorp to 15 years, with 10 served in prison and five on probation. After being released from prison, Van Gorp will have to register as a sex offender and complete a court-approved sex offender treatment program. He will not be allowed to contact the victim, travel alone after 10 p.m. or use a computer with Internet access without permission from his probation officer.\nNation said those precautions will keep other children safe, but the victim’s family members still have concerns.\n“He deserves so much more (time in prison),” the victim’s father said. “But we didn’t want to have to put (the victim) through testifying in front of him again, when she had nightmares after the first time.”\nVan Gorp was an elder at College Park Church in Carmel, Ind. The victim’s family has since left the congregation.
NEW YORK -Billy Joel has released a new pop single, the anti-war “Christmas in Fallujah.” Just don’t expect to hear his voice on it.\nAt 58, Joel felt he was too old to sing the song, which was inspired by letters the Piano Man received from soldiers in Iraq. So he gave it to Cass Dillon, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Long Island.\n“I thought it should be somebody young, about a soldier’s age,” Joel said in a statement on his Web site. “I wanted to help somebody else’s career. I’ve had plenty of hits. I’ve had plenty of airplay. I’ve had my time in the sun. I think it’s time for somebody else, maybe, to benefit from my own experience.”\nDillon said he was thrilled to be asked.\n“When someone of that stature, with that history of great songs behind him with such a huge catalog asks you to sing something he’s written, there’s nothing you can do but be completely honored to perform,” Dillon said in a \nstatement.\n“Christmas in Fallujah” went on sale Tuesday on Apple Inc.’s iTunes. Net proceeds will be donated to Homes for Our Troops, which builds homes for severely wounded veterans of Iraq and \nAfghanistan.
A car bomb exploded in a largely Shiite neighborhood Wednesday, killing at least 16 people, just as Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the capital and said a secure and stable Iraq was within reach. It was the deadliest of four bombs in Iraq on Wednesday that killed a total of 25 people. Earlier, a blast went off in the northern city of Mosul, where Gates had landed on his sixth trip to Iraq. Gunfire and sirens followed the bombing in Baghdad’s Karradah neighborhood, and a plume of smoke rose in the sky.
The trial of Indiana Pacers players Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels, both facing charges stemming from a bar fight almost a year ago, has been rescheduled for Jan. 14.\nThe trial was to begin Monday, but defense attorney James Voyles requested the delay, the second since September, because the Pacers have a road game at Cleveland on Tuesday.\n“We’ll be all ready,” Voyles told The Indianapolis Star.\nA Marion Superior Court jury is expected to hear three days of testimony.\nA grand jury indicted Tinsley on a felony charge of intimidation and misdemeanor counts of battery, disorderly conduct and intimidation in connection with a Feb. 6 fight at the 8 Seconds Saloon. Daniels is charged with battery and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors.\nAccording to a police report, the manager of the bar said Tinsley threatened to kill him during the fight. The confrontation with the players followed another fight involving a person who employees thought was trying to steal coats from the coat check area, police said.
BROWNSTOWN, Ind. – A teenager pleaded guilty to killing one man and wounding another in a series of Indiana highway sniper shootings in a deal with prosecutors that relatives of the slain man say they dislike.\nZachariah Blanton, 18, of Gaston, was scheduled to stand trial next week on charges of murder, attempted murder and criminal recklessness. He pleaded guilty in Jackson Circuit Court to lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon and criminal recklessness. He faces a possible sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison. A judge must still approve the deal, and sentencing is set for Dec. 27.\nProsecutors say Blanton fired his hunting rifle into Interstate 65 traffic from an overpass near Seymour, Ind., about 60 miles south of Indianapolis on July 23, 2006.\nOne of the shots went through a pickup truck’s windshield and killed 40-year-old Jerry L. Ross of New Albany. An Iowa man traveling in another pickup truck also was injured.\nPolice say Blanton later shot at cars along another highway northeast of Indianapolis, but no one was injured. Blanton, who was 17 at the time, was arrested at his home two days later.\nBlanton said very little in court, giving short answers to the judge’s questions about the shootings. His grandparents declined to comment after the hearing.\nBlanton’s defense attorney did not publicly comment after court, and The Associated Press left a message at his office.\nSeveral of Ross’s relatives wearing “Justice for Jerry” buttons gathered at the courthouse, saying they were unhappy with the plea deal.\nHis father, 70-year-old Jesse Ross, had been with his son at car races in Indianapolis the day of the shooting and they were headed back home to New Albany.\nHe said a jury should have decided Blanton’s fate.\n“Twelve people would be about as fair as it could be, it couldn’t get no better than that,” Ross said. “I don’t think this is right the way they’re doing it. All we want is a fair trial because you can’t bring nothing back.”\nJerry’s twin brother, Terry Ross, said many family members were going to stay out of the hearing as a protest.\n“He committed those crimes, he should be standing trial for them,” he said. “He didn’t give Jerry any kind of a deal.”\nProsecutor Rick Poynter said after the hearing that he understands the family’s pain but had to make a decision based on the strength of his case.\nIf Blanton was tried for murder, he could have faced 45 to 65 years in prison. But Poynter said the jury also would likely have been able to consider convicting him of the lesser charge of reckless homicide, which has a sentence of two to eight years. He also could have been acquitted.\n“I can’t tell you what a jury would or would not do, what I’m saying is there is a big risk between 45 to 65 years and two to eight years,” Poynter said.\nEvidence against Blanton included a rifle seized from his grandparents’ home that prosecutors said matched bullet fragments pulled from vehicles shot along I-65 and on I-69 near Muncie.\nBlanton confessed to the shooting and provided police with details, according to statements by Indiana State Police Sgt. John Kelly in a July probable cause hearing. Blanton told police he fired the shots to relieve pressure after he argued with fellow participants in a southern Indiana hunting trip. Blanton confirmed the motive in court Monday.
FORT WAYNE – A judge has postponed until early February a hearing on nine criminal indictments against defeated Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty.\nThe hearing scheduled for this Monday was delayed until Feb. 8, according to documents filed Thursday in Allen Superior Court.\nJudge Kenneth Scheibenberger granted a request by both sides for more time.\nSpecial Prosecutor Daniel Sigler had sought more time to respond to a defense motion to dismiss the charges that argued Kelty did not break any laws.\nKelty’s attorneys, meanwhile, asked for more time to respond to Sigler’s response.\nA grand jury issued the indictments against Kelty in August, alleging that he improperly handled campaign contributions and lied in his testimony to the grand jury.\nFive of the counts deal with how Kelty reported a $150,000 loan he received from Fred Rost, former campaign chairman and head of Allen County Right to Life, and another $10,000 he received from Steve and Glenna Jehl, his campaign managers.\nAlthough Kelty initially reported he loaned his campaign $140,000 and $8,000 in late December, after he defeated Nelson Peters in the Republican primary in May, Kelty disclosed the money originally came from personal loans from Rost and the Jehls.\nHis attorneys argue there is no Indiana law that says a candidate cannot borrow money from a personal acquaintance or friend, nor one that prohibits a candidate from loaning the proceeds of a prior loan to his or her campaign committee, according to court documents.\nKelty, a Republican, lost to Democrat Tom Henry in the Nov. 6 general election.