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Archive for Friday, March 27, 2009

People in the news

March 27, 2009

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Man pleads not guilty to stalking gymnast

Los Angeles — A man who police say had guns, duct tape and love letters in his car when he tried to jump a security fence in an attempt to meet “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Shawn Johnson pleaded not guilty Thursday to stalking and other charges.

Robert O’Ryan was arrested Tuesday at the studio where the ABC show is produced. Authorities say they found loaded guns, duct tape and love letters in a car he drove from Florida to meet Johnson, a 17-year-old Olympic gymnast.

The 34-year-old O’Ryan was charged Thursday with one felony count of stalking and two misdemeanor counts of carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle. Wearing a red shirt and khaki pants, with long brown hair to his waist and a beard, O’Ryan tried to hide behind his attorney as he was arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court.

His bail was raised from $35,000 to $220,000, and a trial date of April 27 was set.

Public defender Dwight Corum represented him in court, though records did not indicate whether he had been assigned a lawyer beyond Thursday.

A restraining order requested by Johnson’s parents said she was “in fear of her life” and was issued Wednesday against O’Ryan.

Selleck unveils traveling memorial exhibits

Washington — Emmy-award winner Tom Selleck visited the National Mall in Washington on Thursday to launch new exhibits for a traveling museum honoring Vietnam veterans.

The 64-year-old actor joined members of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as they unveiled exhibits for The Wall That Heals, a 45-foot aluminum trailer that travels across the country to people who may not have the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

The museum, which has been on the road since 1996, already features a removable half-scale replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. This is the first time new exhibits have been introduced.

R&B singer Wayna arrested at airport

Houston — Grammy-nominated singer Wayna has been arrested at a Houston airport after trying to get on a plane with a collapsible police baton that she uses while performing.

Wayna, whose real name is Woyneab Miraf Wondwossen, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon Wednesday.

Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said Thursday that security guards at the checkpoint at Bush International Airport discovered the 24-inch baton in her carry-on bag.

Wondwossen, 35, was transported to the Houston jail and posted $5,000 bond.

Wayna released her second album, “Higher Ground,” in 2008. One of the songs on the album is “Billy Club,” a ballad about police abuse, and Wondwossen twirls and points the baton when she performs the song live.

Survivor winner seeks release from prison

Providence, R.I. — “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch wants a judge to free him immediately from a federal prison for evading taxes on the $1 million prize he won on the debut season of the CBS reality series, according to court documents.

Hatch, who is representing himself, filed the request Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Providence. He is now serving a four-year and three-month sentence at a prison in West Virginia.

The reality TV star argued in a 43-page memo that he should be released because he is innocent, was represented by ineffective lawyers and that a judge improperly calculated his prison sentence.

Phil Spector murder retrial in hands of jury

Los Angeles — The murder case against music producer Phil Spector is in the hands of a California jury again.

The case was turned over to the Los Angeles Superior Court jury Thursday after the prosecution concluded a rebuttal to the defense closing arguments.

Spector is being retried on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting of actress Lana Clarkson six years ago.

His first trial ended in a jury deadlock in 2007 with the majority favoring conviction. This time the jury has the option of considering a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Clarkson died of a gunshot fired inside her mouth as she sat in the foyer of Spector’s home. The 40-year-old star of the cult film “Barbarian Queen” had met Spector hours earlier at her job as a hostess at the House of Blues.

Rip Torn seeks to avoid drunken driving charge

Litchfield, Conn. — Actor Rip Torn is trying to avoid a drunken driving charge in Connecticut by applying for an alcohol education program.

The 78-year-old Salisbury resident appeared in Bantam Superior Court on Wednesday to request the program, which requires offenders to take classes before charges are dropped.

Torn was pulled over near his home in December while driving a car with a Christmas tree tied to the top. He pleaded not guilty in January.

Torn’s lawyer says his client could qualify for the program even though he has two previous drunken driving arrests. Those charges came in New York where he was acquitted in one case and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in the other.

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