Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

Nation briefs

April 6, 2001



Flight attendant loses tobacco trial

A flight attendant awaiting a lung transplant is not entitled to money from the tobacco industry for illnesses she blames on cigarette smoke in jetliner cabins, a jury decided Thursday. The jury found the tobacco industry was not liable for the lung disease that made Marie Fontana cough up blood on the witness stand during her testimony in the three-week trial.

The nation's four biggest cigarette manufacturers disputed testimony that she has emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and insisted the cause is unknown for the only ailment they said she has. Fontana's attorneys argued that her medical condition was aggravated by smoky air in the TWA jets she flew from 1973-96, when she retired on disability.


College newspaper seeks Earnhardt photos

A Daytona Beach judge allowed a newspaper from the University of Florida to challenge the sealing of the Dale Earnhardt autopsy photos and test the constitutionality of a new law that restricts access to such images. Circuit Judge Joseph Will said Thursday that he wants to try to answer the many legal questions that remain on whether the public has the right to view autopsy photos.

The NASCAR legend's widow, Teresa Earnhardt, protested the decision. Allowing the challenge negates a compromise reached with the Orlando Sentinel to permanently seal the autopsy photos after an independent medical expert had viewed them and written a report, her lawyers argued.


Jurors watch video of girl fighting for life

Jurors cried as they watched a 70-minute videotape Thursday of a girl struggling for her life while wrapped in a blanket during a "rebirthing therapy" session. The girl died the next day. The videotape was played at the trial of two therapists charged in the death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker.

"I can't do it! Whoever is pushing on my head, you're not helping. I can't do it, I can't breathe, I can't breathe." Later the girl said, "I'm dying! It feels like I'm dying!" as the two therapists and their assistants pushed against large pillows on either side of the girl. Therapist Julie Ponder appeared to be lying on top of Candace. Connell Watkins and Ponder are charged with reckless child abuse resulting in death.


Slain officer's family sues prison system

The family of a slain police officer filed a $500,000 claim against the state prison system Thursday, saying negligence led to a prison break that resulted in the officer's death. Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins, 29, was shot and killed in the Dec. 24 robbery of a sporting goods store, 11 days after seven convicts escaped from a maximum security prison in south Texas.

The inmates were the focus of a six-week national manhunt that led to Colorado, where six of them were captured and another killed himself.

New York

Teen pleads guilty to pizza driver murder

The second of three teen-agers accused of fatally beating a pizza delivery driver pleaded guilty Thursday to murder and robbery. Theodore Haynes, 17, was expected to get 40 years to life in prison when he's sentenced, prosecutors in Schenectady said. Isaiah Curry, 15, pleaded guilty last month to murder and robbery and is expected to get 10 years to life in prison. Police said Haynes, Curry and Marty Humphrey, 16, lured 38-year-old Domino's driver Hassan Noorzai to a vacant apartment with a bogus food order. The three beat him with baseball bats and stole $15.

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