Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday summary

In the trial of Kevin Jones for the killing of Arkansas Tech coed Nona Dirksmeyer, defense attorney Bill Bristow closely questioned Russellville police about their lack of policy on handling evidence and preserving a crime scene. Bristow also questioned why local investigators gave Dirksmeyer’s cell phone to her father without testing for DNA or keeping it to review information in the memory.

America's war on drugs has done more to spur the drug trade than throttle it, a former big-city cop who now advocates legalizing narcotics told a civic club Thursday. "The war on drugs has been one of the biggest public policy failures this country has ever seen," former Denver police Lt. Tony Ryan, who was in Arkansas as part of a speaking tour organized by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

A veterans group blasted legislation that Arkansas senators are supporting as a possible new course for the war in Iraq. The measure, calls for the recommendations of the blue ribbon Iraq Study Group to be made the official U.S. policy. The group contends it would only shield lawmakers from deciding on tougher legislation to end the war. The organization is made up of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Spliting along racial lines, the Little Rock School Board directed its lawyer Thursday night to begin mediation with an attorney appealing the end of desegregation monitoring in the state's largest school district. The district has won the case and been declared “unitary.” Among concerns cited is the loss of state money if the lawsuit is allowed to end.

Nine months after the November elections, a judge has thrown out 12 absentee ballots and reversed the outcome of a Faulkner County race for justice of the peace. The 12 voters had either failed to state a reason for voting absentee on their ballot applications or had no application on file with the county clerk’s office.

An attempt by an Oklahoma Indian tribe to build a casino in Fort Smith failed to clear its first regulatory hurdle. The opposition of Governor Mike Beebe was a significant factor in a denial of a land trust application from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

With Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy his only announced foe, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor said Thursday that he has nearly $3 million in the bank for next year’s election.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a finalist for a $12 million grant designed to improve state public school students' performances in math and science courses, Education Commissioner Ken James announced.

A Pine Bluff man who was being sought in connection with the death of an infant Saturday surrendered and is being held without bond at the Jefferson County Detention Center on probable cause of capital murder. Treveles Bullard turned himself in to Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson. Bullard had been identified as a suspect in the death of 9 months old Jermauri Craig.

A convicted sex offender who had reportedly been living in Russellville for the past four months is charged for failing to register as required by state law. Darryl Lamont Byers claims he was unaware of the requirements. A warrant for the same crime out of Tennessee also existed at the time of his arrest. It was also in Tennessee that Byers was convicted of sexual assault on a child.

Phony $100 bills have reappeared in Forrest City, and these are proving a little harder to spot than earlier forgeries. Bank tellers and store cashiers use a special felt tip pen which does not detect the latest batch of bad money.

Arkansas’ largest water utility agreed to give private developers $1 million and let them build homes, poisoning the main source of drinking water for nearly 400,000 people.

The family of a crop duster pilot from Wheatley who was killed in a midair collision with an Air Force training jet has been paid a $5 million settlement. Carl Dierk Nash II was killed as he flew over Hollister, Okla., on Jan. 18, 2005.

The Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission has issued a 14-page report detailing its plans for changing the troubled Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Pulaski County Quorum Court members are being asked to approve a class-action lawsuit settlement that would take $300,000 in next year’s budget and again in 2009. Since 2005, Pulaski County attorneys have defended the sheriff ’s office in a lawsuit brought by a man who was held in jail for seven days before seeing a judge. Kirk Moffitt was arrested April 20, 2005, on charges of breaking and entering and failure to appear, but he wasn’t the man officers were seeking.

Former West Helena mayor Johnny Weaver is suing the city of Helena-West Helena and current Mayor James Valley for retirement benefits for the years he served as the city's chief executive officer. Weaver's attorney, Jimmie Wilson, filed the lawsuit that alleges other former mayors of Helena and West Helena have received or are currently receiving retirement benefits after holding the office.

The state Highway and Transportation Department on Wednesday approved plans to build a $6.3 million highway department headquarters and complex in Fort Smith.

Dave Woodman, a former “Voice of the Razorbacks” and Little Rock television sports anchor, will serve as the play-by-play announcer this fall for the Saline County high school football Game of the Week on Courier TV95.

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