Thursday, June 16, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-17-'11
- Attorneys in the case of two Iraqi men arrested in Bowling Green are scheduled to speak with a federal judge on June 21st about how the case will proceed. Governor Steve Beshear said Thursday that he wants terror suspects 30 year old Waad Ramadan Alwan and 23 year old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi out of Kentucky, adding that he's "fine" with having the federal government send the Iraqi men to Guantanamo Bay to face charges. Alwan and Hammadi are charged in a 23-count indictment with conspiring to send weapons and money to Al-Qaida in Iraq. Beshear says his main concern is to get them out of Kentucky, and he has contacted federal authorities to let them know his concerns and to ensure that wherever they are held and however they are tried is not going to put Kentuckians at risk. Senator Rand Paul says, "I want to know why the taxpayers are being forced to subsidize, give them government housing, government food stamps, how they got in here without a significant background check and why does America want to have 18,000 refugees coming here under asylum." Alwan and Hammadi were admitted into the United States with refugee status in 2009. Homeland Security officials have said the men slipped through cracks in the system that have since been fixed. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to the suspects as "foreign fighters" who should face the same system as combatants caught on the battlefield. McConnell says sending the men to Guantanamo Bay on the southeastern tip of Cuba is the best way to ensure that there will be no disruptions that could come with a civilian trial.
- Floyd County Judge James R. Allen, who has served the county for more than twenty years as a district judge and as Commonwealth's attorney, has announced his plans to retire after August. Former Circuit Judge Danny P. Caudill will fill the vacancy until an appointment can be made to replace Allen.
- Officials in Floyd County announced Thursday that their law enforcement team will now have the benefit of a new E-Warrant system which will allow them to share information with more than fifty other rural counties around the state.
- Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott ruled Thursday that a judge erred in not dismissing two prospective jurors in the case of 50 year old Nathan McDaniel Jr. of Manchester in Clay County. McDaniel is serving 30 years in prison for the beating death of Gerald Sizemore, who died August 19, 2007, a day after prosecutors say McDaniel beat him during a fight. Two jurors acknowledged knowing the victim in the case. Scott ruled that defense attorneys should not have had to use challenges to dismiss the two jurors. Instead, Scott ruled, the two jurors should have been dismissed automatically because of their relationships with Sizemore and his family. McDaniel was granted a new trial.
- A Kentucky Equality Federation gay rights rally in Hazard is scheduled for Saturday at 2:00 P.M. at the Hazard Pavilion Pool. Friday, June 10th, a pool manager at the city-owned Hazard Pavilion told two developmentally challenged gay men to leave the facility after one sat on the other's lap. The men had been swimming under the supervision of a staff member at Mending Hearts, a home for the developmentally challenged in Perry County. Hazard city officials say they're still looking for a way to resolve the controversy. Hazard Mayor Nan Gorman says she's sincerely sorry about the incident, and the city has a strict anti-discrimination policy.
- Ira Hall III, 32, of Jackson, in Breathitt County, has entered an Alford plea after originally being charged with murder following an October 2010 accident in the Krypton community of Perry County that killed his 12 year old son, Ira Hall IV. Hall could serve eight years in prison after entering an Alford plea to one count of second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony, as well as two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, one count of tampering with physical evidence and several traffic offenses. Hall will be sentenced July 28th.
- A Franklin County grand jury has indicted 39 year old Gary Hall of Lexington, the former executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association, with embezzling $78,000. Hall is charged with three counts of theft by deception over $500 and three counts of theft by deception over $10,000. Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland says Hall was fired in January after officials found he had used the association's credit cards for $16,000 in personal purchases between 2009 and 2011. Cleveland says Hall also gave bonuses to himself and staff members totaling $44,000 and paid $18,000 for a trip to Marco Island, Florida for himself, staff members and their families.
- Kentucky State Police say 47 year old Terrence Allen Cram was arrested Wednesday after officers received a tip that he was living in Goodyear, Arizona. He is being held in Arizona pending extradition after being indicted in Anderson County, Kentucky on charges of murder, tampering with physical evidence and fraudulent use of a credit card. Cram is charged in the January death of 49 year old Tena L. McNeely of Anderson County, who died of blunt-force trauma to the head. She was the daughter of state Trooper James McNeely, who died in the line of duty during a flood rescue in Frankfort in 1972.
- The American Red Cross says it's laid off eight workers in the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region because of rising costs and slow revenue growth. The cuts are among 400 to 500 layoffs nationwide. Staff cuts also are being made at the American Red Cross' national headquarters and local chapters. The organization has nearly 20,800 employees. The Greater Alleghenies Region serves 100 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The American Red Cross says its Biomedical Services expenses have risen by more than 4 percent while revenue is growing by less than 1 percent. The organization says it can't continue on that path.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday granted a hearing to death row inmate Brian Keith Moore, who is awaiting execution for the slaying of Virgil Harris in Louisville during a kidnapping and robbery. Preliminary tests on a shirt, jacket and check used as evidence at his trial showed DNA from multiple people and could not definitively include or exclude Moore. Moore sought to be allowed to conduct independent DNA testing on evidence from the 1979 murder after testing by state investigators found evidence from multiple people. The justices also ruled that Moore is not entitled to any relief because several items of evidence that would have been subject to DNA testing were lost.
- A prosecutor is set to drop murder charges against former Fort Campbell soldier Brent Burke who has been tried four times in the 2007 slayings of his estranged wife, Tracy Burke, and her former mother-in-law, Karen Comer. The commonwealth has failed to win a conviction. Comer's daughter, Michelle Kerstetter of Hershey, Pennsylvania, says she received a letter from Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Shaw, stating that he plans to file a motion to dismiss charges on Tuesday. Kerstetter says she doesn't know what prompted his decision. Tracy Burke's mother, Patricia Wilburn, said her ex-husband, David Wilburn, also got the letter from Shaw.
- Illinois lawmakers are meeting with that state's governor to discuss reducing a bill that would allow expansion of gambling, but Churchill Downs Inc. officials say they don't know of any attempt to make changes that would affect the company's properties there. The Illinois legislation would allow slots at Churchill's Arlington Park in Arlington Heights and its Quad Cities Downs, a simulcasting facility. Churchill CEO Bob Evans told shareholders Thursday that approval of the Illinois bill would give Churchill about 5,500 slot or video poker machines next year at its properties in four states where such gambling is allowed, up from fewer than 1,000 in 2007 in Louisiana only.
- Kentucky's jobless rate has dropped below double digits for the first time in more than two years. The state Office of Employment and Training said Thursday the unemployment rate fell to 9.8 percent in May, down from 10 percent a month earlier. The jobless rate was 10.4 percent in May 2010. Labor market analyst Justine Detzel says nonfarm employment was weighed down by supply disruptions due to the tsunami in Japan along with high food and gas prices. Kentucky's jobless rate in May was above the 9.1 national rate. The state says the leisure and hospitality sector added 700 jobs, but other sectors reported drops, including the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which plummeted by 1,300 jobs.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether a former Boone County judge who oversaw a settlement involving the diet drug fen-phen should be disbarred permanently. The Kentucky Bar Association unanimously recommended the action against Joseph "Jay" Bamberger when in met Tuesday in Lexington. The panel voted to disbar prominent attorney Stan Chesley for the role he played in negotiating the $200 million settlement for people who suffered health problems from taking the drug. Three other lawyers who participated in the case have already been disbarred. A hearing officer said it was "inconceivable" that Bamberger didn't know lawyers in the case were taking excessive fees.
- A former judge in south-central Kentucky has been suspended from practicing law for a year after a conviction for passing a bad check to a lawyer. The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Roger P. Elliott to serve a year's probation that could be converted to a further suspension if he violates the law again. Elliott was a district judge in Adair and Casey counties from 1984 through 2007. He entered an Alford plea in July to passing a bad check for $8,194 to an attorney in Pulaski County for legal services. Elliott was sentenced to 30-days house arrest and put through a pre-trial diversion program, which required him to stay out of trouble for two years.
- A western Kentucky county is seeking laid-off workers to help with flood cleanup. McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry says federal funds are paying for temporary laborers who have been laid off from work. He says jobs that include cleaning and painting are expected to last up to six months and workers will be paid $10.50 an hour. The Purchase Area Development District in Mayfield received a check from U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield last week to employ 317 workers throughout the state. The total grant was for $4.2 million with $2.7 million given to the West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, which will provide jobs for 200 temporary jobs in 16 western Kentucky counties.
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