Archive for Saturday, April 9, 2005

Briefly - Nation

April 9, 2005


New Hampshire

Brother gets life term for three murders

A man who stabbed his own sister to death, along with her two young children, was sentenced to life in prison Friday after his mother testified it would be "a just sentence."

Christopher Bernard pleaded guilty to murder in the Oct. 4 slayings of Tricia Doyle, 30; her 4-year-old daughter, Gillian; and her 2-year-old son, James.

"I lost more than anyone could have possibly imagined," Patricia Bernard, the mother of the two siblings, testified. Addressing her son, she said: "You committed a horrific act and you need professional help. We feel life in prison without parole is a just sentence."

Bernard, 36, struggled with addictions to Oxycontin and cocaine and had drugs in his system when he tried to commit suicide after the killings. He ran onto a highway, where he was hit by a truck.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," he said Friday in Hillsborough County Superior Court. "If my mind was not polluted by drugs, today would be a different day."


New law will ban drinking while driving

Some Montana motorists, the joke goes, measure distances driven by how many beers they can down along the way. But the long-cherished right to have a cold one behind the wheel is about to end.

State lawmakers passed an open-container ban Friday that makes Montana one of the last states to outlaw drinking while driving.

The Montana House approved the bill 76-21 and sent it to Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who has said he will sign it. It takes effect Oct. 1.

The delay is designed to let Montanans get used to the prohibition, which until now had been found only in cities and towns, not on the open highway.

Only Mississippi now lacks a state law against open containers, though many cities and counties there also prohibit open containers locally.

Montana stood to lose $5 million a year in federal highway funds if it failed to pass the law.


Suspect in shooting had hit list, friend says

The man accused of shooting his son's football coach in the east Texas town of Canton had told a friend he had a list of potential targets, according to a search warrant affidavit released Friday.

Jeffrey Doyle Robertson, 45, was charged Friday with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Bond was set at $1 million. If convicted of the second-degree felony, Robertson could face two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The coach, Gary Joe Kinne, 37, who is also the athletic director at Canton High School, was shot once in the chest Thursday at the school's field house. He was in critical but stable condition Friday at Trinity Mother Frances Health System in Tyler, according to a news release.

The search warrant, which gives more details on the shooting, said a friend of Robertson's identified as Johnny Brewer told police that Robertson had made threats.

Brewer said Robertson told him "when he goes he will take some people with him" and that he had a hit list, according to the affidavit.


Skywatchers get peek at partial solar eclipse

Local skywatchers had to contend with rain clouds, but caught intermittent glimpses of the moon eclipsing part of the sun Friday in a phenomenon that will not be visible again in the continental United States for seven years.

The partial solar eclipse was visible across a corridor extending from the South Pacific to the Americas. People in south Florida had the best U.S. view of nearly half of the sun's diameter covered over at 6:20 p.m., although rain clouds sporadically obstructed the view.

Spectators were offered protective glasses to gaze toward the eclipse on the roof of the Museum of Science and Planetarium observatory, but there were only a few takers because of the rain.

Solar eclipses occur when the Earth, moon and sun line up and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. Total eclipses cast the Earth into darkness; this was only partial.


News columnist fired for promotion contract

The Boston Herald on Friday fired a columnist who signed a contract worth up to $10,000 to help Gov. Mitt Romney's administration promote its environmental policies.

Herald Publisher Patrick Purcell initially said the paper would continue Charles Chieppo's weekly column, a day after he began working for the governor's Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. The contract calls for him to help officials write op-ed pieces and internal documents.

A few hours later, however, Purcell released a second statement that read, "Upon further review, the Boston Herald has decided to sever our relationship with Charles Chieppo."

Chieppo began writing for the Herald in January and was paid per article. His job with the paper started shortly after he left his position as state policy director of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance.

He said he disclosed the environmental state contract to the Herald and received clearance from the state ethics commission.

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