CRIME AND COURTS
Bombing trial ends
A Spokane jury found three white separatists from Sandpoint guilty Wednesday of a series of bombings and robberies in the Spokane Valley last year.
Charles H. Barbee, Robert S. Berry and Verne Jay Merrell were convicted in U.S. District Court of eight felony counts each. It took two monthlong trials, but the militia members now face mandatory life imprisonment and up to $1 million each in fines.
“I think a lot of people will sleep easier tonight,” FBI regional supervisor Burdena Pasenelli said of the verdicts. At one point, the investigation consumed 80 percent of the FBI’s resources in Washington state.
Federal prosecutors nearly convicted the men in April, but one juror deadlocked the panel when he refused to convict the defendants of the most serious charges.
U.S. Attorney Jim Connelly refused to speculate on why the second jury had an easier time favoring the prosecution. “It was a long, difficult case,” he said.
The frantic manhunt for Andrew Cunanan ended Wednesday when the suspected serial killer, hiding in the upstairs master bedroom of a houseboat, stuck a .40-caliber handgun into his mouth and pulled the trigger as SWAT team members closed in.
Miami Beach police said it was the same gun he used to kill Gianni Versace outside the Italian designer’s mansion 2-1/2 miles away.
The 27-year-old Cunanan was charged with or the prime suspect in the slayings of Versace and four other men in Minnesota, Illinois and New Jersey. He had eluded a massive dragnet for nearly three months after the killing spree started in late April.
SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT
The untold story
As many as 50,000 people throughout the United States may have developed thyroid cancer from the clouds of radioactive fallout released during atomic bomb testing in Nevada during the 1950s, The Spokesman-Review reported.
This alarming information is included in a study requested by Congress 14 years ago but that has been held from public release for five years by the National Cancer Institute.
“They’ve been sitting on this for five years. They’re very nervous about the results,” said a high-ranking U.S. Department of Energy official who’s reviewed the study.
The long delay in the release of the study was called “a major public health scandal” by Tim Connor of Spokane, a member of a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health studies panel that’s been pressing for access to the study for more than a year.
Gingrich closes the book
“I will not allow another chapter to be written in this tiresome and overwrought saga.”
With these words, House Speaker Newt Gingrich apparently has put an end to a scandal that erupted in the Party when certain members of the House leadership attempted a coup against Gingrich two weeks ago.
At a party caucus held at the insistence of his supporters, Gingrich reportedly said “there was a single line of authority and he was it.”
It seemed clear that the July 10 plotting, which prompted the resignation of Rep. Bill Paxon of New York from his appointed position as chairman of the leadership, would claim no other victims soon.
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, chairman of the caucus and one of the leaders who the dissidents claim led them on, and Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the majority whip, both said they expected to remain in their jobs.
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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman from wire reports