Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday summary

North Little Rock police are investigating the reported kidnapping at gunpoint of a 9 month-old girl from a McCain Blvd residence. Police have named the biological father, Cleveland Williams Jr., as a possible suspect.

A former Little Rock municipal judge who resigned from the bench in 1996 after being sanctioned by state regulators says that he is considering running for a vacant judicial spot next year. Bill Watt agreed in 1996 that the would never again seek or accept judicial office. The deal helped him avoid a public hearing into complaints that he had made an improper campaign contribution, inappropriately used his court staff to investigate truancy cases and forged a signature on a loan document.

A prison inmate who has been recommended for executive clemency has a lengthy history of bad behavior in state custody, including an incident that occurred just two months ago, according to a state prison spokeswoman. Brett Surveyor is serving a 60-year sentence from Jefferson County for aggravated robbery and other offenses.

A woman serving a life sentence for the 1975 murder of a West Memphis man and a man convicted of murder in Pulaski County were among state inmates recommended for executive clemency, the state Parole Board announced Wednesday. The board also recommended clemency for a man convicted of attempted murder in Lincoln County.

A decision by the state Workers' Compensation Commission to deny disability benefits to a Pine Bluff woman was based on a review of the wrong patient's medical record, the state Court of Appeals found Wednesday. The appeals court reversed the commission's decision in the case of Diana Vaughan, who reported pain in her neck, right shoulder and right arm following her shift at a Pine Bluff bakery in Sept. 1997.

State officials have set a July 5 deadline for written comments on proposed amendments to state water quality standards, including the possible damming of Lee Creek in Northwest Arkansas.

Rep. John Boozman on Wednesday withdrew a controversial measure opposed by Amtrak and the passenger rail industry. Instead Boozman said he would request the Government Accountability Office conduct a study on Amtrak's priority access to freight rail within its corridors.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton returns to Arkansas this weekend to headline the state Democratic Party's biggest event of the year. Clinton, a former Arkansas first lady and currently a top candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, will the keynote speaker for Saturday's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.

A petition seeking a public vote on a proposed domestic partner registry in the city of Eureka Springs has been rejected for not meeting legal requirements, paving the way for the city to begin registering couples Friday.

Electronic games of skill at a West Memphis dog track and a Hot Springs horse track handled more than $30 million in wagers last month, according to figures released Wednesday by the Arkansas Racing Commission. Combined, the machines brought $369,725 to the state through an 18 percent privilege fee levied on their net proceeds.

A board appointee of Gov. Mike Beebe acted in roles similar to a judge and defendant when he voted as a board member to accept a settlement involving his propane gas dealership. Don Anderson of Hindsville presented the Arkansas Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board with a check to pay a $1,500 fine. Anderson’s Gas & Propane Inc., has been fined three times, more often than any other of the 70 or so dealerships in the state. Anderson is the only board member to ever be fined by the board.

Faulkner County Justices of the Peace unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday night authorizing County Judge Preston Scroggin to enter a contract with private attorneys to file litigation in recovering expenses lost during the era of meth addiction in the United States.

A federal lawsuit against the Rogers mayor and police chief maintains a ban on pandhandling violates the constitutional rights of both the panhandler and the giver. The suit is filed on behalf of J.D. Ames. who, according to the complaint, is neither a panhandler nor a resident of Rogers. It states she works in Rogers and has given to panhandlers in the past and plans to make such donations in the future.

Pulaski County Coroner Mark Malcolm has been selected as one of 30 members of a newly created advisory council for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals dismissed a Hot Spring County woman’s arson conviction, ruling that prosecutors did not offer proof other than a disputed confession that she set fire to her home. Barbara Fowler was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a Hot Spring County Circuit Court found her guilty of felony arson.

Special Pope County Circuit Judge John Patterson has scheduled a hearing for June 29 to address outstanding issues in advance of Kevin Jones’ trial for the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer. Among items to be reviewed is a bloody palm print on a lamp which is the alleged murder weapon.

Several defendants have been added to a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died following his arrest by Russellville police. The family of Bobby Joe Rylee alleges in a federal lawsuit that the officers beat him and jumped on him, then jailers refused to provide medical assistance despite Rylee suffering life-threatening injuries after his July 15 arrest.

Two men accused in a May 2006 fatal road rage shooting understood English and voluntarily gave statements to police, a judge said Wednesday, denying requests from defense attorneys to suppress the statements and prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

Little Rock police continue to investigate the shooting in broad daylight of two unidentified men at a Brookside Drive apartment complex. The attack occurred during an eviction and shots were apparently fired from a passing automobile. A nearby traffic accident may be part of the incident.

Dickey Morton, the University of Arkansas’ second all-time leading rusher, has been arrested on 21 felony counts of theft and computer fraud, accused of duping more than 20 farmers and businessmen out of about $100,000.

A Fort Smith police officer, Cpl. Tim Randolph, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge connected to an reported confrontation with his estranged wife in a local restaurant.

Fort Smith police are on the trail of three men suspected of robbing and beating a wheelchair-bound local woman, and possibly robbing three men in a separate incident.

A pair of farmers from Pocahontas had the surprise of their lives recently when they learned of crop circles in their Delaplaine wheat field. Justin Gates farms with his father, Fred Gates. About a week ago a crop duster pilot flying over their field spotted the crop circle, which was not completed.

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