Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

Nation Briefs

March 14, 2002

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PHILADELPHIA: Judge reverses fingerprint decision

A federal judge reversed himself Wednesday, saying he would allow experts to testify that fingerprints lifted from a crime scene match those of a particular defendant.

In his previous Jan. 7 ruling, believed to be the first of its kind, U.S. District Judge Louis H. Pollak ruled that experts could testify about crime-scene fingerprints and compare them to those on a defendant's hands, but couldn't declare them a definite match.

The judge's reversal on the issue comes two weeks after an unusual three-day hearing on the accuracy of fingerprint analysis, held at the request of federal prosecutors who had asked Pollak to change his mind.

Prosecutors said their evidence countered Pollak's concern that scientists have never calculated an error rate for fingerprint testimony or set standards for what constitutes a match.

Georgia: More charges filed in crematory case

Authorities filed 30 more charges Wednesday against the operator of the Tri-State Crematory in Noble, where 339 corpses have been discovered.

Ray Brent Marsh, 28, now faces a total of 204 charges in Georgia of theft by deception for allegedly dumping the bodies on the crematory grounds rather than cremating them, as he was paid to do.

Marsh has been behind bars since last month.

Authorities in nearby Bradley County, Tenn., filed arrest warrants charging Marsh with six counts of abuse of corpses, but on Tuesday said that at the request of Georgia investigators they were holding off asking for an indictment.

Records show at least 250 bodies sent to the crematory since 1998 were from Tennessee. Tri-State also contracted with funeral homes in Alabama.

Washington, D.C.: Pentagon plans sixth missile-defense test

The Pentagon plans its sixth test of a ground-based anti-missile rocket on Friday.

The test is part of the military's efforts to develop systems to destroy an enemy's long-range missiles before they reach U.S. targets. President Bush announced last year he was pulling the United States out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which bans such systems.

Friday's test will evaluate all of the interceptor's systems, including the sophisticated radar that tracks the incoming missile, the interceptor's guidance system and the "kill vehicle" designed to smash into the missile in space.

Critics say the missile defense program is too expensive and unrealistic, arguing that the few countries with the technology to threaten the United States could find ways to defeat missile defenses.

Colorado: Teen-ager sentenced for role in cult slayings

A 16-year-old member of a wannabe paramilitary group was sentenced to 60 years in prison for his role in the killings of a teen-age friend and the boy's grandparents.

Isaac Robin-McCain Grimes pleaded guilty in October to charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of Tony Dutcher, 15, and his grandparents Carl and JoAnna Dutcher.

The three were found stabbed and shot to death at the grandparents' trailer home near Guffey during the New Year's 2000 holiday. Grimes confessed about a year ago to killing Tony Dutcher, who had been his friend.

A psychologist hired by the defense testified during the sentencing hearing Tuesday that Grimes had been brainwashed by two older defendants in the case and had been fearful that his family would be killed if he didn't go along with the slayings.

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