Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wednesday summary

Judge John Patterson, presiding in the trial of Kevin Jones for the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer, has apparently refused a defense motion made in a sidebar conference to bar the press from the courtroom. Also, Jonesboro attorney Bill Bristow, one of Jones’ lawyers, has argued against admission of an enhanced police recording of a Jones statement to police.

Nona Dirksmeyer had romantic relationships with at least two men before her death in December 2005, even though her longtime boyfriend Kevin Jones said his relationship with her was exclusive, attorneys told a Franklin County Circuit Court jury Tuesday.

Donelle “Boo” Richardson accepted an 80-year prison sentence Tuesday that prosecutors say will keep him behind bars for at least 16 years for tossing a brick into the windshield of Carolyn Mierk as she and her daughter returned home from church. Richardsom told police he was “bored.”

The Russellville School Board voted unanimously during a special-called board meeting to propose a 6.9-mill property tax increase. That would bring $31.6 million into the district for future renovation and construction. The millage rate would increase from 33.9 mills to 40.8 mills.

The state commission that disciplines judges has set aside two days next month for a hearing to determine whether Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen violated the code of judicial conduct by making public statements critical of the Bush administration, the Iraq war and other issues.

The price tag for establishing a satellite campus of Arkansas' only medical school in Northwest Arkansas could top $25 million over the next eight years, a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences official told lawmakers Tuesday.

In a unanimous ruling, the Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies issued a cease-and-desist order to Karnish & Hultquist Inc., doing business as Show Me the Money, for violating the Arkansas Check-cashers Act. Show Me the Money was represented by Jeremy Hutchinson.

Virginia Hillman leads Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon in yesterday’s city election for Mayor. There will be a run off. Harmon had drawn controversy over plans for the city to buy the now defunct North Hills Country Club and endorsements by several local churches, which brought their tax-exempt status into question.

The FBI will conduct a federal civil-rights investigation into reports that corrections officers beat inmates at the East Arkansas Regional Unit at Brickeys.

Pulaski County needs to seek a quarter-percent sales tax to help run the county jail, but only after leaders take steps to tighten spending and restore the public’s trust in county government, members of a University of Arkansas at Little Rock public-safety task force said. Voters rejected such a tax, which would raise $20 million annually, an amount far above the operational cost of the jail.

With little discussion, the Conway City Council voted 8-0 to approve an ordinance requiring mobile ice-cream vendors to obtain city permits. To qualify for a permit, they must, among other things, submit a copy of their commercial driver’s license, provide proof of vehicle insurance and consent to a criminal background check.

The woman who passengers say caused a Greyhound bus to crash in Lonoke County on Monday is now in the State Hospital undergoing mental evaluations. Greyhound officials say they have not yet learned who purchased the woman’s ticket or if she was escorted onto the bus. Some passengers said police took the woman onto the bus. Some said that happened in Nashville, while others said Memphis.

A Little Rock man who had been placed under medical isolation while state health officials determined whether he had contagious tuberculosis escaped from a hospital 10 days ago and has yet to be found. Franklin Greenwood broke a window in his third floor hospital room at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and likely walked across a catwalk around the back of the building to make his escape.

A Van Buren woman arrested after a fire at a meth lab seriously burned another participant pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of methamphetamine and a count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Trona Joyce Whybark received a 10-year suspended sentence on each charge, with the terms running concurrently.

A judge in Clinton sentenced Eric Watson, a Van Buren County constable, to prison Tuesday after Watson pleaded no contest to second-degree sexual assault of a girl under age 14.

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