Archive for Wednesday, August 4, 2004


August 4, 2004



Notorious teacher completes prison term

The teacher whose seduction of a sixth-grader provided abundant fodder for tabloids in the late 1990s is getting out of prison.

Mary Kay Letourneau, 42, is scheduled to be released today from a women's state prison near Gig Harbor after serving a seven-year sentence for child rape.

Letourneau has not said whether she will reunite with Vili Fualaau, now 21, with whom she has two children.

Letourneau was a 34-year-old elementary school teacher in suburban Des Moines, Wash., and a married mother of four in 1996 when her friendship with the then-12-year-old Fualaau became sexual.

When Letourneau was arrested in 1997, she was already pregnant with Fualaau's daughter. A judge sentenced her to six months for second-degree child rape and ordered her to stay away from Fualaau.

A month after her release, however, Letourneau was caught having sex with Fualaau in her car.

She was sent to prison for 7 1/2 years, and gave birth to Fualaau's second daughter behind bars.

West Virginia

Prosecutor disputes cruelty to chickens

The prosecutor investigating mistreatment of chickens at a West Virginia slaughterhouse said Tuesday that he did not believe what he has seen so far amounts to torture.

An animal-rights group released secretly recorded footage last month of workers stomping on chickens and slamming them into walls at a Pilgrim's Pride plant in Moorefield. Pilgrim's Pride quickly fired 11 employees.

"From where I stand, I don't think it's torture at this time," Hardy County Prosecutor Lucas See said Tuesday. "It looks as though that was the quickest method they had available to them to kill the birds."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which released the footage, has accused See of not taking the case seriously and urged him to file felony animal-cruelty charges.

See, who still has to interview more workers and view additional video footage, said Tuesday he would not be pressured into prosecuting.

"These people are after headlines," he said of PETA. "I'm after what I think is justice."


Abortion opponents dispute traffic arrest

Abortion opponents allege state police violated their civil rights by stopping them on a highway near Norwalk and arresting a passenger, but officers said Tuesday they stopped the group because its slow-moving vehicle created a traffic hazard with a display of photos of aborted fetuses.

The American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, which is representing the demonstrators, demanded an investigation into Thursday's incident and said it planned to file a lawsuit.

State police said that they received several complaints from the public about the graphic nature of the photos and that the truck was driving so slowly in the center lane it was backing up traffic.

"Both the images and the vehicle's speed were causing a curiosity backup and causing a public-safety concern," Sgt. Roger Beaupre said.

A passenger in the truck, Michael Marcavage, 24, of Lansdowne, Pa., got out of the vehicle to videotape the incident and walked on the highway, Beaupre said.

He was arrested after repeatedly refusing to get back into the vehicle for his own safety and was charged with interfering with police and reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian, police said.


Contractor skimps on Army base cleanup

An Army contractor charged with cleaning up an abandoned military base left unexploded shells beneath leaves and dirt instead of removing and destroying them, state and military officials said Tuesday.

Cleanup work at Fort McClellan in Anniston was halted Friday after the discovery.

State regulators said a July 21 inspection of a wooded area on the property uncovered 13 mortar rounds that were supposed to have been removed for disposal by Tetra Tech FW Inc. Instead, the rounds appeared to have been concealed behind trees, and some were covered with leaves and soil.

Clint Niemeyer, a spokesman with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, said the discovery raised questions about whether more old shells were hidden.

The state ordered the Army to inspect land within 100 feet of previously cleaned areas to determine whether additional rounds were present.


Plane crash into house kills all six aboard

A small plane crashed into a house bordering a golf course in suburban Austin and burst into flames Tuesday, killing the six people aboard. Three people inside the luxury two-story home escaped unharmed.

Two children -- including one who was just 18 months old -- their parents, a pilot and another person were killed after the twin-engine prop plane refueled and took off from Lakeway Airpark just before noon, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman John Clabes said.

The family was apparently from Edmond, Okla.; the pilot was from Oklahoma City, Clabes said. He did not know where the sixth person was from. He declined to release their names.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said she did not know where the plane originated, but witnesses at the airport said it was headed to Oklahoma City.

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