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May 8, 2008
Tonight: Motown, rock in Providence; Newport reggae
The East Side Horns and Mac Odom and Chill play rhythm and blues and Motown at The Hi-Hat, 3 Davol Square, Providence. Call 453-6500, www.thehihat.com. 8 p.m. to midnight.
Hard Skin, Invasion and White Load play rock at AS220, 115 Empire St., Providence. Call 831-9327. 9 p.m. $7. All ages.
Hot Like Fire plays reggae at The Rhino Bar and Grille, 337 Thames St., Newport. Call 846-0707. 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
See what else is up on the local music scene here.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:08 PM
It's back: Bill seeking legislators to pay health-plan share
PROVIDENCE -- A bill introduced today would require state lawmakers to pay a share of medical, dental and vision plans that the state currently provides to them.
Rep. Amy G. Rice, D-Portsmouth, re-introduced the legislation in the General Assembly.
“During a time when significant cuts are being made, I find it unfair for legislators to continue to receive free health care,” Rice said in a news release. “It’s time that we, as leaders of the state, set a good example and show that we’re willing to make the same sacrifices that we’re asking others to make.”
The state's part-time lawmakers get a stipend; this year, it will be $13,508. They are allowed to enroll in the state employee health, vision and dental insurance programs, either as an individual or in a family plan, without paying anything toward the premium.
Lawmakers’ full medical, dental and vision benefits cost taxpayers $5,810 for an individual plan and $16,233 for a family plan, according to the news release. Those costs are projected to go to $6,305 for individuals and $17,620 for families as of July 1. Under the Rice legislation, lawmakers would be required to pay 10 percent of their health care costs.
The bill would also ban legislators from receiving any payment for waiving their health insurance benefits. Lawmakers now get a $2,002 stipend for waiving state health insurance.
State employees began paying a portion of medical, vision and dental insurance -- either a percentage of wages for most union employees or, for most non-union employees, 9 to 11 percent of the premiums for individual plans and 6 to 11 percent of premiums for family plans, depending upon the employee’s salary -- in January 2005.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:05 PM
Photo: Aiming to spawn cleaner waters
Journal photo / Gretchen Ertl
Caroly Shumway, director of conservation science for The Nature Conservancy's Providence office, drops some of the 20,000 pounds of shellfish into Ninigret Pond today as the first step in a new shellfish and eelgrass restoration effort in South County's salt ponds. The "spawner sanctuary" will serve as a breeding ground for the shellfish. The clams filter the water to feed, cleaning the water in which they live which, in turn, should improve the water quality of the pond. For more about the effort to clean up South County's ponds, read a Journal story from last year.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 6:34 PM
CEO: APC will stay at S. Kingstown site
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SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- After looking into other possible locations for the company’s headquarters, American Power Conversion has decided there’s no place like home.
Laurent Vernerey, APC’s president and chief executive officer, announced today that the $3.5 billion company will keep its corporate headquarters at its present location on Fairgrounds Road.
APC makes equipment for large corporations and for consumers that make sure computers stay running when the power goes out. The company also makes cooling equipment used to keep computer servers from overheating.
Vernerey said that after Schneider Electric purchased APC last year, the company began to investigate whether or not it made sense to move to another location, he said.
-- Journal staff writer Timothy C. Barmann
One of the reasons APC considered moving was the fact that the Fairgrounds Road facility was built mainly as a manufacturing plant. Since then, the company has moved almost all of its manufacturing elsewhere, leaving it with a large warehouse-like space.
Instead of moving, Vernerey said the company will convert the manufacturing space into something more suitable.
“After looking at all of our alternatives, we have decided to make a $3 million to $4 million investment in this facility, here, to make it a greater place to work,” Vernerey said at APC’s headquarters yesterday.
Besides redesigning the buildings interior, Vernerey said that some of the investment will go towards making the building more energy efficient.
The improvements will be made over the next six to eight months, he said.
There are 1,100 employees at the facility. Most work in corporate support positions, software engineering, research and development, and sales and marketing, Vernerey said.
“Our employees have been waiting for this decision of mine for a while,” he said. “I think for the state of Rhode Island, it’s important you know we will continue to invest."
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:53 PM
Bunnell trial: Woman accused in toddler's death sobs
PROVIDENCE -- Katherine Bunnell broke down in the court today, interrupting her trial on child murder charges, as the lead investigator read a statement he took from her just hours after 3-year-old Thomas “T.J.” Wright suffered the injuries that led to his death.
“I can’t, I can’t,” Bunnell said, and started to sob as retired Woonsocket detective sergeant Todd Brien read the question from the statement, “How many times did you hit T.J.?” and her answer, “Twice, I wouldn’t abuse a kid like that.”
Bunnell, 24, is being tried on charges of murder and murder conspiracy. She and her ex-boyfriend, 27-year-old Gilbert Delestre, are accused of fatally beating T.J., a foster child in their care, after they returned home from a night out three and a half years ago and found a mess the toddler had made on their living-room floor.
Bunnell’s lawyer, Gerard H. Donley, tried to calm her down, putting his arm around her shoulder and whispering to her. But she continued to sob, and Donley asked for a recess.
Judge Gilbert V. Indgelia admonished Bunnell when court reconvened.
“I do not in any way want to see a situation where you cannot fully participate in your trial,” Indeglia told Bunnell while the jury was out of the courtroom.
However, if there are further outbursts, Indeglia said he would have to consider the alternatives, “including having to remove you from the courtroom.”
“You understand what I’m saying?” the judge asked.
“Yes,” Bunnell answered tearfully.
At that point, testimony resumed.
Read about testimony from earlier today, when the teenager who had been babysitting T.J. that night took the stand to tell what she saw.
-- Journal staff writer John Castellucci
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:11 PM
Update: Newport broker accused of embezzling $7.3M
A Newport woman duped investors out of $7.3 million, using some of the money to buy a 65-foot yacht, rent a house in St. Barths and travel to Europe and the Caribbean, according to the Rhode Island State Police.
Elizabeth C. Baldwin, 62, of 1 Commercial Wharf, Apartment B26, was arrested Monday after a seven-month investigation. She faces several charges of embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, and fraudulent use of a computer, according to the state police.
The state police say Baldwin, acting as an investment broker, used an "elaborate scheme" to dupe 47 investors out of their money. Investigators say she paid off early investors with money from investors she later deceived.
In addition to using the money to cover losses, Baldwin used money for personal expenses, including the purchase of Van Ki Pass, a 65-foot wooden yacht.
The state police began investigating after receiving a complaint in September of last year from a group of investors from Virginia Beach, Va. According to the state plice, the group gave Baldwin $1,956,650 to invest in futures and commodities.
She provided the investors with monthly statements "indicating substantial returns" on their investment, according to the state police. But the investors contacted the state police after Baldwin neglected to provide a withdrawal from the account, the state police said.
See the full police affidavit, including descriptions of complaints by investors, here.
After her arrest, Baldwin was arraigned in 2nd Division District Court, Newport, and bail was set at $100,000 with surety bail. She was ordered to surrender her passport and forbidden from providing financial advice.
She is set to appear in court for a screening next month.
Assisting the State Police Financial Crimes Unit in the investigation was the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation and the Newport Police Department.
Baldwin also faces a complaint by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which alleges that between 2004 and Nov. 2007, she fraudulently obtained more than $500,000 doing business under the name Newportant Group.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 4:58 PM
Hearing in ex-councilman's sex-assault case delayed
A pre-trial hearing for a former Central Falls councilman who faces three charges of sexual assault has been postponed to May 28.
Luis Gil was arrested Nov. 12 after Providence police said they found him partially dressed in his car with a 15-year-old boy in the back seat. Gill told police he was the boy’s soccer coach.
Further investigation led to two additional charges against Gil, who resigned from his council seat Nov. 23.
Third-degree sexual assault, a felony, involves a defendant older than 18 who engages in sexual penetration with someone between 14 and under 16.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:50 PM
Barrington student, 18, accused of molesting girl, 16
BARRINGTON -- A high school student has been charged with second-degree sexual assault following allegations that he molested a 16-year-old girl on multiple occasions, some in public.
Alex J. Moore, 18, of 30 Washington Rd., was arrested just before school let out on Monday, arraigned on the felony charge at the police station that evening and released on $10,000 personal recognizance, Det. Lt. Dino DeCrescenzo said today.
The case has been under investigation for weeks.
According to police, the victim's mother came to them at the end of March after learning that officials at the high school had already begun questioning students about Moore's behavior.
The 16-year-old told police and the state attorney general's office that Moore had begun touching her at the school and outside the school sometime before Christmas, including beneath her clothing.
According to police, one incident allegedly occurred the day before Good Friday on the bench in front of the school as the girl waited to be picked up by her mother. The girl said she pulled Moore's hand out from under her clothing and told him to stop. She alleged Moore responded that he wasn't going to stop until he got what he wanted.
Another student subsequently alleged to DeCrescenzo that she had been touched inappropriately by Moore as well and that he stopped after she threatened to have her boyfriend beat him up.
Moore is due back in court May 20.
-- Journal staff writer C. Eugene Emery Jr.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:06 PM
Judge wants more information in same-sex divorce case
PROVIDENCE — A judge today said she needs to know more before deciding whether to ask the state Supreme Court if the Superior Court can grant Rhode Island’s first same-sex divorce.
In December, the Supreme Court ruled that Family Court lacked jurisdiction to grant a divorce to two Providence women who married in Fall River in 2004, shortly after Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But now one of the women wants the high court to determine whether Superior Court — the state’s main trial court — can dissolve the marriage.
During a hearing this morning, Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Hurst asked both sides to submit legal memos, and she scheduled another hearing for June 12.
“You have caught me off guard with a one-page motion with no supporting memoranda, no analysis,” Hurst told Louis M. Pulner, the lawyer representing Margaret R. Chambers.
But the judge did make some initial comments on the request to certify a question to Supreme Court.
“Superior Court does not have jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, so the question is whether Superior Court has jurisdiction over proceedings that resolve marital rights without calling a divorce proceeding.” Hurst said. “We do not have jurisdiction over divorce proceedings. Does the court have jurisdiction over two people who want to resolve property interests? That happens every day.”
Pulner said Chambers and Cassandra B. Ormiston already have a Superior Court case over property interests. What they want is a divorce, and Superior Court does have jurisdiction to grant them a divorce, he said.
Pulner’s motion asks the Superior Court to pose this question to the Supreme Court: “May the Superior Court properly recognize, for the purpose of entertaining a divorce petition, the marriage of two persons of the same sex who were purportedly married in another state?”
The motion says that question “is one of extreme public importance, which is capable of repetition but will evade review unless decided by the Supreme Court.”
-- Journal staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick
Posted by Jack Perry at 2:09 PM
Concentration of rare whales has left Cape Cod Bay
BOSTON — The unusually large concentration of rare right whales that gathered last month to feed in Cape Cod Bay has moved on.
The state reported today that the North Atlantic right whales have left, citing aerial surveys and acoustic buoys that listen for the whale.
Boaters in the area had been warned to slow down to avoid the animal and stay 500 yards away if they spotted one.
About 25 to 50 whales annually migrate to the bay in April, but unusually rich plankton slicks this year drew a bigger crowd.
Scientists said 75 to 100 animals were in the bay. That’s roughly a quarter of their population estimated at 350 to 400.
Now, they’ve likely moved north and east of the bay to seek greater densities of plankton.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 1:39 PM
Facebook agrees to add safeguards against predators
The Facebook social networking Internet site has agreed to carry out more than 40 safeguards that Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch and 48 other attorneys general said today will better protect children from predators and objectionable content.
Facebook will provide automatic warning messages when a child "is in danger of providing personal information to an unknown adult," the news release says, restrict users' ability to change their listed ages, take "more aggressive action" to remove from the site inappropriate content and groups, and mandate third-party vendors to follow Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.
“It’s significant that another major social networking Web site that attracts millions of young users is stepping up to foster a safer online environment,” Lynch said in the statement. “Just as important, this agreement will foster a better relationship between law enforcement officials and Facebook, thus enhancing our ability to investigate and prosecute Internet crimes.”
The release from Lynch's office says the agreement is similar to a pact attorneys general reached with another Web site, MySpace, in January.
-- The Associated Press and projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
MySpace agreed to head a task force, which Facebook has joined, to explore and come up with age and identity identification tools for social networking Internet sites. The Internet Safety Technical Task Force reports to attorneys general every three months and will put out a report with recommendations at year's end.
Facebook also has agreed to maintain and monitor a list of pornographic Web sites and regularly sever any links with such sites. It will remove groups for violations of its terms of services such as incest, pedophilia, and cyberbullying, and expel individual violators, too.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:05 PM
R.I. Red Cross can funnel donations for Myanmar
The Red Cross' Rhode Island chapter today announced a local address for people to send donations to help those affected by the deadly cyclone that devastated Myanmar.
Contributions may be sent directly to: The American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter, 105 Gano St., Providence, RI, 02906. Indicate Myanmar Relief in the memo line of the check.
The Associated Press reports that United Nations relief supplies started arriving in Myanmar today, but U.S. military planes carrying aid were denied access by the country's regime five days after the cyclone.
The AP says the military junta continues to stall on visas for U.N. teams trying to enter the country formerly known as Burma to ensure aid gets to the victims amid fears that lack of safe food and drinking water could push the death toll above 100,000.
Nationally, the American Red Cross will get a $1 million contribution from the U.S. Agency for International Development top help the people affected by the cyclone, bringing the Red Cross commitment to the disaster response to $1.25 million.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:49 PM
Folk or pholk: Ex-Phish singer joins Newport lineup
NEWPORT -- Phish-heads and Parrot-heads, unite!
Trey Anastasio, the former Phish lead singer, has been added to the Newport Folk Festival, joining Jimmy Buffett, the Black Crowes and Levon Helm.
Other new additions include alt-country band Son Volt and 1960s folkster Richie Havens, who performed at Woodstock.
It's Anastasio's first time playing the famed festival, and organizers say it'll be his first-ever full solo acoustic show.
Phish broke up in 2004, but still have a devoted following and reunited Wednesday evening at the Jammy Awards in New York City.
The folk festival lineup also includes Cat Power, Cowboy Junkies and Jakob Dylan.
The festival is scheduled for Aug. 1-3 at Fort Adams State Park in Newport.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:36 PM
Bunnell trial: Babysitter faces tough cross-exam
PROVIDENCE -- The babysitter who was there the night that toddler Thomas "T.J." Wright was fatally beaten came under withering cross examination today, as the defense lawyer tried to show that her previous statements were less incriminating than the testimony she's offered at trial.
Kayla Roderick, who was 15 at the time, testified yesterday that the 3-year-old boy's face and head repeatedly hit the floor when his aunt and guardian, Katherine Bunnell, was beating him.
Roderick, now 18, also testified that Bunnell, still angry about a mess T.J. had made in the living room of Bunnell's Woonsocket apartment, told Roderick she wa going to kill the boy as she drove the babysitter home that night.
Bunnell had come home about 2:30 a.m. from a night out 3½ years ago to find the mess on the floor.
Today, defense lawyer Gerard H. Donley got Roderick to acknowledge she had omitted the death threat from the hand-written statement she gave Woonsocket police a few hours after the beating on Oct. 30, 2004.
Donley sought repeatedly to impeach Roderick's testimony that T.J.'s head hit the floor over and over again when Bunnell dragged him around the apartment, alleging that Roderick did not mention the boy hitting his head when she testified at Bunnell's bail hearing and before the grand jury.
The line of questioning was important because prosecutors allege T.J. suffered brain death as a result of head injuries he sustained in the beating.
Prosecutor Stacey P. Veroni objected, accusing Donley of quoting selectively from Roderick's testimony at the bail hearing and before the grand jury. Veroni pointed out that while Roderick did omit mentioning the boy's head hitting the floor at certain points in her prior testimony, at other points she stated that as a fact.
"There's no inconsistency with her testimony here today," Veroni told Judge Gilbert V. Indeglia.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer John Castellucci
Bunnell, 24, is being tried on charged of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Her ex-boyfriend, Gilbert Delestre, 27, is expected to stand trial separately on the same charges.
Prosecutors allege that Bunnell and her boyfriend beat T.J. so badly that he suffered broken bones, bruises and head injuries so severe his brain shifted inside the skull. The defense argued, in part in opening statements, that the beating that caused the death of the child came from Delestre.
Read the Journal's coverage of yesterday's trial testimony.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:07 PM
Germany-based market opens 2nd R.I. store
Aldi, a Germany-based chain, opens its second market in Rhode Island today at 1138 Pontiac Ave., in Cranston.
Aldi opened its first Rhode Island store in March at 444 Quaker Lane in Warwick.
Aldi is smaller than a typical supermarket and carries about 1,300 products, many of them private label. Aldi also says that because it doesn't offer the frills of its larger competitors, its prices are lower.
Aldi's world headquarters is in Essen, Germany, and its U.S. headquarters is in Batavia, Illinois. The company has 3,000 stores nationwide, 850 in the U.S. and six in New England.
Aldi plans to open other Rhode Island stores in East Providence and in the former Valueland property on Smith Hill in Providence.
-- Journal business editor John Kostrzewa
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:56 AM
Update: WaterFire dates announced
Journal Photo/Glenn Osmundson
Wood is added to the fire at the First WaterFire of the season in 2003.
PROVIDENCE -- The city's popular WaterFire festival will go on strong this year, despite soaring costs and a weak economy, the festival will go on this year, with the same number of full lightings as last year.
There will also be four partial lightings, two at the Waterplace Park basin and two between Steeple Street and Providence Place.
Earlier this month, WaterFire creator Barnaby Evans said that corporate funding had fallen behind this year, but he called that fact "a concern, not a crisis."
The first lighting is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. May 24. Click below for the full list of dates and times.
-- with reports from Journal arts writer Bill Van Siclen
Saturday, May 24 (8:08 p.m.)
Friday, May 30 (8:13 p.m.)
Saturday, June 21 (8:24 p.m.)
Saturday, June 28 (8:25 p.m.)
Saturday, August 2 (8:02 p.m.)
Saturday, August 16 (7:44 p.m.)
Saturday, August 30 (7:22 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 13 (6:58 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 20 (6:46 p.m.)
Saturday, Sept. 27 (6:34 p.m.)
Saturday, Oct. 11 (6:10 p.m.)
WaterFire organizers have also announced four partial lightings, beginning on Tuesday, June 3 (8:16 p.m.) and Wednesday, June 18 (8:24 p.m.) at the Waterplace Park basin.
Partial lightings will also be held on Wednesday, Sept. 17 (6:51 p.m.) and Friday, Sept. 19 (6:47 p.m.) between Steeple Street and Providence Place.
(Note: additional dates may be added as the WaterFire season progresses.)
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:25 AM
Superior Court hears arguments over FM Global site
Lawyers for CapLease, the town of Johnston, and FM Global clashed this morning in Superior Court.
CapLease, which owns FM Global's existing headquarters, is pursuing a temporary restraining order to halt all construction at the site of FM Global’s new headquarters building off Central Avenue.
CapLease has accused town officials of bias and helping FM Global rush the construction of the building to the detriment of CapLease’s rights during the planning and appeals period for the approval of the project.
“They ignored the law to the benefit of FM Global,” CapLease’s lawyer, William Dolan, said. “If you’re FM Global and you’re in Johnston, you get what you want but no one else does.”
The town's lawyer, William Conley, argued that many of CapLease's complaints should be handled during appeals hearings before town panels next week.
"It's the town's position that most of what was addressed to you is not even properly before the court this morning," Conley said.
The town's building official has allowed contractors to finish certain foundation work, despite the appeal of planning decisions, for the purpose of keeping the site as safe as possible, Conley said.
Public Works Director Makram H. Megalli and Building Official Bernard J. Nascenzi, both named as defendants, were to be cross examined later today.
-- Journal staff writer Mark Reynolds
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:24 AM
Hearing today in same-sex divorce case
PROVIDENCE -- A hearing is scheduled for Superior Court today involving a same-sex couple who were married in Massachusetts and are trying to get a divorce in Rhode Island.
Margaret R. Chambers and Cassandra B. Ormiston married in Fall River in 2004, shortly after Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The Providence couple sought a divorce in Rhode Island Family Court in 2006. But in a December 2007 decision that drew national attention, a divided Supreme Court ruled that Family Court lacked jurisdiction to grant the divorce. The majority opinion said that under the law allowing Family Court to handle divorces, the word "marriage" means just one thing: the union of a man and a woman.
Last month, a lawyer representing Chambers filed a motion asking Superior Court to pose a different question to the Supreme Court: "May the Superior Court properly recognize, for the purpose of entertaining a divorce petition, the marriage of two persons of the same sex who were purportedly married in another state?"
Chambers’ lawyer, Louis M. Pulner, said in an interview that the December decision was based on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 1961 statute that created Family Court, but there would be no such statute to analyze in determining if the Superior Court can grant the divorce.
The motion to certify a question to the Supreme Court is scheduled to be heard before Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Hurst.
Meanwhile, the General Assembly is considering several bills involving same-sex marriage, including a bill that would allow same-sex couple to divorce in Rhode Island.
Posted by Jack Perry at 9:56 AM
Former councilman in court on sex assault charges
A former Central Falls councilman who faces three charges of sexual assault is scheduled to appear in court this morning.
Luis Gil was arrested Nov. 12 after Providence police said they found him partially dressed in his car with a 15-year-old boy in the back seat. The boy was allegedly buttoning his jeans and trying to put on a shirt when police arrived. Gill told police he was the boy’s soccer coach.
Further investigation led to two additional charges against Gil, who resigned from his council seat Nov. 23.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Gil allegedly approached the boy last August as the boy was waiting for a bus in Pawtucket. Gil was initially rebuffed, but, according to the state, Gil followed the bus and talked to the boy again.
Investigators allege that the two went to the former rectory of the Notre Dame Church, where they had consensual sex.
Third-degree sexual assault, a felony, involves a defendant older than 18 who engages in sexual penetration with someone between 14 and under 16.
Gil is due for a pre-trial conference today in Superior Court, Providence.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 8:47 AM
Summer warning: It could be a bad year for ticks
Journal Photo/Gretchen Ertl
Ticks used in a URI research study
A University of Rhode Island Professor is warning that this summer may be a big one for a small, disease carrying critter.
Thomas Mather thinks this summer could be a good one for ticks, and a bad one for us.
The problem starts with acorns, Mather says, which were plentiful in 2006. More acorns, more mice. More mice, more Lyme disease, which ticks transmit between the rodents and humans.
“The result,” he said, “is that people will be more likely to encounter ticks that can transmit Lyme and other diseases.”
Mather, an entomology professor and the director of URI’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease, also thinks the tick season will begin a little early this year –– mid May instead of late May or early June.
His predictions rest on the right conditions for tick survival, “The weather could have an impact on how bad the tick season is,” he said “If we have a very dry May and June, my predictions get tossed out the window.”
But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Mather suggests checking for tics thoroughly every day; using a pointy tick removing tweezers to safely remove attached ticks; treating clothes with repellent containing Permathrin and wearing treated clothes; keeping yards clear of trash and other litter; hiring a professional pest controller to treat yards.
For more information, see the URI Tick Encounter Resource Center, online.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:10 AM
Marine who killed Iraqi gets sentence cut, rank reduction
LOS ANGELES -- A Marine from Massachusetts sentenced to 15 years in the brig for killing an Iraqi civilian had his term reduced by four years and was given a dishonorable discharge, the man's attorney and a Marine spokesman said.
Lawrence G. Hutchins III was also given a reduction in rank from sergeant to private after his commanding general, Lt. Gen. Samuel T. Helland, reviewed his case, said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine Corps spokesman who is traveling with Helland on a tour of the Middle East.
As part of the process, an appeal on Hutchins' behalf will automatically be filed, Gibson said.
Hutchins, of Plymouth, Mass., was the leader of an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, from his home in April 2006, then marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death. The killing took place in Hamdania, a small village in Al Anbar province.
He will serve his sentence at the prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
All eight squad members - seven Marines and one Navy corpsmen - were initially charged with murder and kidnapping, but four lower-ranking Marines and the sailor cut deals with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony and received sentences ranging from one to eight years in prison.
Other Marines were acquitted of murder but convicted of lesser charges and freed after their courts-martial.
-- The Associated Press
Hutchins was sentenced Aug. 3 after being convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, making a false official statement and larceny. He had been charged with premeditated murder, but premeditation was removed from the verdict, meaning Hutchins no longer faced a mandatory life sentence.
Rich Brannon, Hutchins' civilian lawyer, said he had not yet seen official paperwork approving Hutchins' sentence reduction, but that he learned of the decision Tuesday from the Marine's legal team at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego.
"I was pleased to see a reduction, but I would like to see more," Brannon told The Associated Press in a phone call Wednesday from North Carolina.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:06 AM
Download today's front page
New bridge restrictions and the latest sounding on the Democratic primary lead today's Journal.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 7:06 AM
Today's front page
The weight limit on the Pawtucket River Bridge has been lowered again -- to 18 tons. More vehicles, including some full school buses, will be forced to take a detour.
And a Journal's Washington bureau reporter gets the story from a Democratic Party insider on the Presidential Primary Race.
Download a .PDF copy of today's front page to read those and other stories.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:02 AM
Less sun, more rain but temperatures steady for now
You can see for yourself, the warm, sunny days are over for the week. It's still warm, with a high temperature near 74 degrees, but we'll have clouds all day and rain on and off -- likely through the weekend.
More rain tonight, with increasing clouds and temperatures dipping to about 49 degrees. Winds may pick up, too, gusting from the west as high as 24 mph.
We're in for a big change tomorrow, with steady rain expected and a high temperature of just 53 degrees.
To keep an eye on the rain, see projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:01 AM