June 22, 2007 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Man to be charged in journalist’s death

The Spokesman-Review

A graduate student who was behind the wheel when Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam was killed in a car crash will be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, a district attorney said Thursday.

Kevin Jones, 26, a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley’s journalism school, was driving Halberstam to an interview with football legend Y.A. Tittle on April 23 when the fatal accident happened in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco.

An investigation showed that Jones made an illegal left turn into the path of a car that had a green light. That car smashed into the passenger side of the car in which Halberstam was riding, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Jones had a red light.

Records from the California Department of Motor Vehicles show that Jones had two previous accidents on his record, from March 2005 and March 2006. Neither resulted in a citation. In 1999, while he was a teenager living in Washington state, Jones was convicted of driving under the influence and paid an $862 fine, court records show.

Austin, Texas

Police revise fatal attack details

About three or four people – not a mob of up to 20 – beat a man to death after the car he was riding in struck and injured a toddler, police said Thursday.

Police backed off earlier descriptions of Tuesday’s attack, also saying that fewer than two dozen people – rather than hundreds – were witnesses.

City officials held a news conference to revise their report Wednesday that 2,000 to 3,000 festivalgoers were in the area when David Rivas Morales, 40, was beaten to death after a car in which he was riding bumped a toddler. The toddler was not seriously hurt.

“We’re looking for three or four heinous criminals,” said Assistant Police Chief David Carter. “I want to bring them to justice.”

Charleston, S.C.

Worker: Fire began in smoking area

Passing motorists and a store worker frantically called authorities about a fire behind a furniture store the night nine firefighters perished inside, according to 911 tapes and transcripts released Thursday. An employee said the area was where workers took smoke breaks.

While federal investigators probing the blaze have not confirmed where the Monday night fire started, recordings of some of the 10 calls bolster what several city fire officials have said: The fire apparently started at the back of the store in a covered space between the showroom and a warehouse crammed with furniture.

“I’m at Sofa Super Store on Highway 17. There’s a huge fire in the back of the warehouse,” one male caller said. It appeared that “a little shed” was on fire, he said.

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