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Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2003

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April 16, 2003

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Texas: David Duke begins 15-month prison term

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke turned himself in to a federal prison Tuesday to begin a 15-month sentence for mail and tax fraud.

Duke, a former Louisiana state representative who ran for governor and the U.S. Senate about a decade ago, did not speak with reporters at the prison in Big Spring.

Duke pleaded guilty to falsely reporting a gross income of $18,831 in 1998, rather than the actual $65,034, and to bilking supporters. The mail fraud charge grew out of what prosecutors described as a scheme between 1993 and 1999 to swindle thousands of followers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through a direct mail campaign.

New Orleans: Police: School shooting apparently retaliation

A loaded handgun was found Tuesday on the body of a 15-year-old boy who was gunned down in a high school gym, according to police who say they believe the attack was retaliation for an earlier slaying.

Jonathan Williams and his attackers apparently bypassed metal detectors at the main entrance of John McDonogh High School in New Orleans simply by going in through the gymnasium, schools Supt. Tony Amato said.

"It's obviously a gaping hole" in security, said Amato, adding that all city schools' security systems will be checked in the next couple of weeks.

Police said the shooting probably was in retaliation for last week's shooting death of 18-year-old Hillard Smith. Police had not considered Williams as a suspect in that killing until they began investigating his death, and still have no proof he was involved, Police Supt. Eddie Compass said.

Eight suspects, ranging in age from 17 to 19, were in custody Tuesday. All faced charges of first-degree murder except one who was held as an accessory.

New York City: Gay partner allowed to file suit as spouse

A judge ruled that a gay man can sue a hospital as the spouse of another man who died a year ago, in what a gay rights group believes to be an unprecedented decision.

John Langan can proceed with his wrongful death lawsuit against St. Vincent's Hospital in connection with Neal C. Spicehandler's death, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice John P. Dunne said in a decision released Tuesday.

Adam Aronson, a lawyer for the gay civil rights group Lambda, said the ruling was the first in the nation to treat a same-sex couple joined in a Vermont civil union as a married couple. The group represented Langan.

Spicehandler was struck by a car on Feb. 12, 2002, and was taken to St. Vincent's, where he died three days later from medical complications. Langan sued the hospital as Spicehandler's spouse, alleging that Spicehandler's treatment by medical professionals was negligent and reckless.

Texas: Convicted killer gets execution reprieve

A condemned killer won a reprieve about two hours before his scheduled execution Tuesday in Huntsville for the fatal shooting of a Houston businessman during a botched burglary 12 years ago.

The execution of Kenneth Wayne Morris, 32, a ninth-grade dropout with a history of theft and burglary, was stopped by order of a federal appeals court, based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that barred execution of mentally retarded people.

In a last-ditch appeal, Morris' lawyers argued their client was retarded, even though he had never been given an IQ test.

In its order, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans gave Morris' lawyers permission to file additional legal actions in a lower federal court.

New York City: No charges filed in fatal bar stabbing

The district attorney will not file charges against two men arrested in the fatal stabbing of a nightclub bouncer who police say was trying to enforce the city's new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

Police officials announced the decision early Tuesday following an investigation into the stabbing of Dana Blake, 32, who died about 11 hours after a fight Sunday at an East Village nightclub.

Police had arrested two brothers, stockbroker Jonathan Chan, 29, and medical student Ching Chan, 31, shortly after the fight on charges of assault, criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.

Investigators initially believed Blake was stabbed in a fight with the brothers, but the Medical Examiner's Office now is trying to determine whether he may have been cut by a piece of glass from a broken bottle, police said.

New York City: Couple plead guilty to harboring killer

Two anti-abortion activists admitted Tuesday that they tried to give money and refuge to a man who was later convicted of killing a suburban Buffalo abortion doctor.

The married couple, Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to harbor James Kopp before the fugitive was captured and convicted of the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian.

Malvasi, 53, told a federal judge he "knew Mr. Kopp was wanted" when he "offered to let him stay at my house." Marra, 39, admitted trying to wire Kopp money while he was hiding out in Europe.

Each faces up to five years in prison at sentencing July 11.

Kopp was convicted this year of gunning down Slepian through a window of the doctor's home.

Shortly after the shooting, Kopp fled to Mexico and then Ireland. He was arrested in France in 2001.

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