National Roundup

Judge: Fort Hood suspect’s beard disrupting court

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A judge has the authority to order an Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage to be forcibly shaved before his murder trial, military attorneys told an appeals court Wednesday.
The attorneys, in a document filed on behalf of Col. Gregory Gross, contend that forcibly shaving Maj. Nidal Hasan would not violate the American-born Muslim’s religious freedoms and said it is similar to “and no more invasive than” a judge’s right to restrain a defendant who is disruptive during a court-martial.
Last week that appeals court delayed Hasan’s court-martial, which had been set to start earlier this week with jury selection, while it considers his appeal to being forcibly shaved.
Hasan has grown a beard apparently to express his Muslim faith. His defense attorneys have said he won’t shave since he’s had a premonition that his death is imminent, and he doesn’t want to die without a beard because he believes not having one is a sin.
Hasan faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted in the November 2009 attack on the Texas Army post that killed 13 people and wounded more than two dozen others.

FDA names farm tied to melons with salmonella

OWENSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has identified a southern Indiana farm that produces cantaloupes linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak and says the operation has recalled its melons.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of 178 people infected in 21 states, two have died and 62 have been hospitalized. Chamberlain Farms of Owensville could be one source of contaminated fruit in the multistate outbreak, the FDA said in a statement released late Wednesday.
Attorney John Broadhead said Chamberlain Farms voluntarily withdrew its cantaloupes last week and that all its retail and wholesale purchasers complied with the recall.
The farm about 20 miles north of Evansville sold cantaloupes to grocery stores in four southwestern Indiana counties and one in southeastern Illinois, Broadhead said in a statement.
Neither the FDA nor the farm gave any information about what might have caused the contamination.

Woman just misses record half-ton marlin

HONOLULU (AP) — A 5-foot-9-inch woman tournament fishing in Hawaii waters fought a 12-foot marlin more than four hours before getting it on her team’s boat and weighing it at more than a half-ton — a would-be world record.
But 28-year-old Molly Palmer is missing out on the glory and thousands in tournament prize money for one pesky reason: Her team’s honor code.
Cheating would have been easy and tempting. The Big Island Invitational Marlin Tournament runs in part on an honor system and Palmer, her captain and crewmates put up roughly $9,000 to enter last week.
But the Kailua-Kona angler said it wasn’t a question of whether or not to cheat — her team just wanted to reel in the big catch. So they disqualified themselves and Palmer’s crewmates helped pull the monstrous fish aboard.
Palmer needed to reel in the fish by herself in order for it to qualify as a valid catch for the tournament, according to rules set by the International Game Fishing Association.
Palmer’s fish weighed in at 1,022.5 pounds, well over the record of 950 pounds for a woman using a 130-pound line, tournament organizer Jody Bright said.

2 killed, 6 hurt as crash mixes water and power

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seven people suffered electric shocks including two women who were electrocuted Wednesday night as they rushed to help at a Los Angeles accident scene where an SUV knocked over a fire hydrant and a power pole, exposing live wires that electrified the gathering water, authorities said.
The two women were the first to reach the scene on a front lawn in the Valley Village area where the man driving the SUV was injured in the crash but was the only victim not shocked. They were taken in grave condition to a hospital where they were declared dead, said Los Angeles fire spokesman Erik Scott.
The driver of the SUV, a white Chevy Traverse, was attempting to round a corner as he drove on Magnolia Boulevard, lost control, and hit the hydrant and pole before coming to rest on the front lawn of a home.
As more people approached the scene to help, more were shocked.
Firefighters, who had to approach the scene carefully to avoid being shocked themselves, worked to treat the injured and shut down the water and power with help from city utility workers.
The six survivors had minor injuries, Scott said. Five were taken to hospitals, and one declined an ambulance.

2 men charged in August deputy sheriff slayings

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Authorities say they have charged two men with murder in the slayings of two Louisiana deputy sheriffs last week.
The Louisiana State Police said in a news release late Wednesday that they have charged 24-year-old Brian Lyn Smith and 28-year-old Kyle David Joekel with two counts of first-degree murder of a police officer and three counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer.
Meanwhile, Brittney Keith has been charged with two counts of principal to first-degree murder of a police officer. She is the girlfriend of Brian Smith.
The three are among seven people charged in shootings Aug. 16 that killed St. John the Baptist Parish deputies Brandon Nielsen and Jeremy Triche and wounded deputies Michael Scott Boyington and Jason Triche.

Tanker crash leads to cleanup and evacuation

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana authorities plan to evacuate an area near Interstate 10 where a tanker carrying flammable isobutane crashed in order to perform a controlled “vent and burn” of the chemical.
Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said authorities will attempt to blow two holes in the tank, ignite the isobutane and conduct a controlled burn. The truck was carrying 8,700 gallons of the chemical.
Police said the accident happened when a car flipped early Wednesday morning after the driver lost control and hit a retaining wall. A tanker truck stopped at the scene and was rear-ended by another truck.