Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Today's News- Wednesday, May 21st

The degree of guilt hearing for 43-year old Joseph Cress of Girardville will continue today in Schuylkill County Court. Cress, pleaded guilty in April to killing Roseann Barrett, also of Girardville, in June of last year. The Republican Herald reports the first day of the combined degree of guilt hearing and non-jury trial wrapped up mid-afternoon Tuesday, after state police officers testified and went over what was at the crime scene. Following the two days of testimony, Judge John Domalakes will determine whether Cress is guilty of third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, and also if he is guilty of aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Discussions continue about a proposal for Schuylkill County to switch from coal to natural gas. The County Commissioners have been in negotiations with Honeywell Incorporated to implement a change from coal to natural gas at the courthouse and prison. The company has guaranteed several million dollars in savings from their plan over 15 years. According to the Republican and Herald, a meeting was held between county officials, representatives from Honeywell, and Brian Rich of Reading Anthracite, a leading producer of coal, to discuss the continued use of coal at the county's buildings. Reading Anthracite has been asked to submit a proposal within 30 days. County officials stress that they are looking for the most cost effective manner to heat the buildlings. The furnace at the prison needs to be replaced, and they hope to have a definitive plan in place before the heating season returns. Rich reportedly asked to review Honeywell's proposal, but county officials declined to do so. Forensic pathologist Saralee Funke will testify for the prosecution.

A Shenandoah man is locked up in county prison on arson charges. Borough police arrested 23-year-old Michael Galuppi last night, accused of setting a fire that damaged a vacant building on Atlantic Avenue on April 8th. Galuppi reportedly was with some friends were gathered in Girard Park on the night in question. He reportedly left, went to the building and set the fire, then told friends that he committed the crime. State police Fire Marshal John Burns determined that the fire was set outside of the building. Galuppi was arraigned on arson and other charges and was taken to Schuylkill County Prison.

An Auburn woman escaped injury in a crash on Route 183 yesterday. Schuylkill Haven state police report that 54-year-old Bonnie Nyer was driving north on Route 183 in the vicinity of Summit View Restaurant when she apparently fell asleep at the wheel. Her car crossed the southbound lane, struck a mailbox and the brick sign for the restaurant. Troopers will cite her for careless driving. The crash occurred around 4:30pm.

Five people were involved in a crash in Pine Grove Township Tuesday afternoon. Holly Gerlesky of Pottsville was driving her Chevy Impala on Sweet Arrow Lake Road, when she failed to negotiate a curve on the road and lost control. Her vehicle struck a tree and an embankment. One passenger, James Culbert of Pottsville, was injured. Three other passengers and the driver were not hurt. The crash happened around 5:30pm yesterday. When you go to college, you write almost as many checks as term papers. One House Democrat in Harrisburg wants to make it easier for students and their families to budget for that college degree, as Roseann Cadau reports.

CADAU (click to listen)

Worker charged with vandalizing military helicopter in Pa.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The lawyer appointed to represent a man accused of vandalizing a military helicopter says her client is "very concerned and very remorseful." Mara Meehan is the public defender for 33-year-old Matthew Kevin Montgomery of Trevose. She says one of the reasons he's undergoing
a mental health exam is because he's so upset. Prosecustors say he cut a bundle of about 70 wires because he was upset about a pending job transfer at the Boeing plant near Philadelphia. Court papers say Montgomery admitted to cutting wires on the morning of May 10, his last day working on the Chinook line. Federal prosecutors say they are still trying to determine who damaged a second helicopter at the plant.

Senate GOP says tax cuts can help invigorate Pa. economy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Six weeks before the state budget deadline, Republicans who control the state Senate say more should be done to help businesses and low-income families. The tax cuts they are proposing would cost the state more than $200 million a year. They want to let businesses carry forward more losses to offset taxes on future profits, and to lighten the tax burden on businesses for property and equipment. Republicans and business advocates say that will encourage more investment. They also want to exempt another 150,000 to 200,000 of the lowest-income households from the state personal income tax to help people afford gas and food.

Erie collar-bomb defendant to appear at competency hearing

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A woman accused in the collar-bomb death of a pizza deliveryman in a suburban Erie bank robbery is expected at a court hearing to determine if she's mentally competent for trial. Fifty-nine-year-old Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong was indicted in July on bank robbery, conspiracy and a firearms violation in the August 2003 robbery that left Brian Wells dead.
Her attorneys say she has a long history of mental illness and has been found incompetent in the past. She's expected in court Wednesday. Wells told police he was forced at gunpoint to wear a bomb around his neck and rob the bank. As officers waited for a bomb squad, the device exploded, killing him. Diehl-Armstrong is in prison for killing her boyfriend. Prosecutors say she killed him so he wouldn't tell of the plot.

Pa. court says school must admit teen living with grandma

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania court has ordered a Monroe County school district to re-enroll a teenager who lives with his grandmother. A three-judge Commonwealth Court panel says 17-year-old Jose Velazquez should be allowed to return to school in the East Stroudsburg Area School District. The ruling overturns a county court ruling that barred Velazquez from attending district schools because his grandmother receives child support from his mother. The lower court cited a law that requires relatives to care for children without receiving compensation. But Len Rieser of the Philadelphia-based Education Law Center says the law is intended to prevent "district shopping" - a practice in which parents enroll their children in neighboring school districts without paying out-of-district tuition.

Philly DA says grand jury will consider police beating

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A prosecutor says a grand jury will consider whether Philadelphia police officers who were videotaped beating three men should face criminal charges. District Attorney Lynne Abraham said Tuesday there will be "a full, thorough investigation." As for Monday's announcement that four officers would be fired, Abraham says she has nothing to do with that decision and won't comment on it.

Ex-chief justice says slots-pay raise suit is 'preposterous'

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's former chief justice says allegations in a lawsuit against him are "preposterous." The lawsuit accuses Ralph Cappy of negotiating a judicial pay raise in exchange for the court upholding the state's slot-machine gambling law. The League of Women Voters says the alleged deal violates its constitutional rights to due process. That's because the league was one of the groups that filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's 2004 slots law. Cappy left the bench in January. He's vowing to defend himself vigorously.

UNDATED (AP) - With the Democratic primary season finally nearing an end, Barack Obama is edging closer to sewing up the party's nomination for president. He split a pair of primaries yesterday with Hillary Clinton and now needs fewer than 100 delegates to capture the nomination. Obama and Clinton both campaign today in Florida.

BOSTON (AP) - Tributes and well-wishes continue to pour in for Ted Kennedy, diagnosed yesterday with a brain tumor. Fellow Massachusetts Democratic senator John Kerry calls him "one unbelievable fighter." Doctors for the 76-year-old Kennedy are weighing a treatment of drugs and radiation.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cell phone users who want to switch services could be getting a break. The Associated Press has learned that the government is negotiating an end to the customary contract cancellation fees. Users can now find themselves staring at a charge of $175 or more if they want to bail out.

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - Some of the Texas polygamist sect mothers who've been held in state foster care as children turn out to be adults. One was 27. At least eight have been reclassified and officials say 15 more could be. Texas courts continue to pour over the cases of more than 460 children removed from the group's ranch.

TOKYO (AP) - In another bow to exorbitant gas prices, Honda says it's introducing a hybrid car next year, described as new, improved and affordable. The new gas-electric hybrid will be sold in the U.S., Japan and Europe. No name yet for the car, which will cut the size and weight of the engine and feature seating for five.


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