SOUTHWEST - WHITTIER NOW ABLE TO SPEAK, DUE TO LEAVE HOSPITAL BY JULY -- Katherine Whittier, finishing up speech and physical therapy at George Washington University Hospital this past week, is scheduled to be discharged sometime in July, pending Doctor's approval.
Whittier was injured by brain seizures resulting from a mysterious cocaine overdose a couple of months ago, a reaction that is highly unusual but not unheard of in severe asthmatics, as Ms. Whittier was. Police and doctors dismissed her earlier insistence that she had a year-long battle with cocaine addiction, after her own doctors and hospital tests conclusively corroborated with one another to show that this was impossible, and perhaps her brain injuries had caused her to imagine or say uncharacteristic things.
While Whittier is now cogent enough to receive visitors, there is still a dark cloud over the incident that neither Police nor her doctors have been able to resolve. There is hospital security footage of an unidentified, dark haired Caucasian man in his 20's or 30's in the hallway outside Whittier's room the night she was admitted, and several nurses and security guards on that floor suddenly left their posts for unexplained reasons. The staff members were later disciplined but not fired, as the incident was suspicious in nature.
Whittier is still somewhat unstable, and contradicting herself regarding the events of that night. Police are still investigating but have not pressed charges formally, though they are hard-pressed to explain how Whittier could not have been responsible for her overdose. Police cruiser footage of the man who supposedly stalked her into the alley where she was found has become unavailable for review. Currently her doctors say she is lucid enough to receive visitors and speak to Police but that it's debatable whether she is fit to stand trial, if evidence warrants pressing charges, or even if the Police find the man who was harassing her and she wished to press any against him.
The Washington Post has indicated that they are still holding Whittier's job at present, until such time as Human Resources can make a determination as to her fitness for duty as a columnist and objective reporter.
NORTHEAST - AMBROSE'S LAB RESULTS SHED DOUBTS ON CHARGES AGAINST BYRNE; TRIAL DATE SET - WASHINGTON, DC (Reuters) - Crime laboratory evidence shows the woman who has accused Steven Byrne (aka Loki) of rape, had consensual sex with another man within 24 hours before she said the musician raped her, Channel 4 News reported on Wednesday.
The DNA evidence from the prosecution's own laboratory could be introduced in court as early as next Thursday when the singer will be back in the courtroom for a pre-trial hearing, the TV report said.
According to the NBC report, fresh sperm and semen samples were found inside the accuser's body from samples given during a rape examination and that such evidence would prove she had sex within hours before the incident with Byrne. This discovery would detract from her credibility by being used to paint her as promiscuous. Byrne and Ambrose were known to be stormy former lovers, and some are claiming the incident was consensual, and simply a misunderstanding or an unintended consequence of drug use on both parties' parts. Coupled with the recent exposure of Ambrose's cocaine habit, recent events have chipped away at her defense. Byrne continues to assert that he has no recollection of the facts of that evening.
Krista Flannigan, a spokeswoman for Washington, DC prosecutor Mark Hurlbert, said the office could not comment on the report.
A two-day pretrial hearing in the sexual assault case will resume on Tuesday, with both sides keying in on an August trial date. Attorneys on both sides said they could be ready for trial as early as the last week in August, though the judge didn't immediately set a trial date.
On Monday, both sides in the case clashed over how the potential jurors will be instructed. One of the major obstacles is the issue of consent. "The jury has to be told that if someone consents, that's not submission against her will," argued defense attorney Hal Sutherland.
Prosecutors countered by saying that they are only required to prove that Byrne's actions were enough to make Ambrose succumb to sex against her will, thus making the question of consent irrelevant. The defense team wants the jurors told that they can only convict Byrne if prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged victim did not consent to sex, and that he knew it.
Given the couple's social lifestyle (Web of Night-style Goth music, infamous associates, and Adult Entertainment), the Defense team asserts that the couple could have simply been engaged in rough sexual play that went wrong unintentionally, nothing new for the duo.
Next Tuesday's hearing is expected to include testimony by witnesses and arguments over a defense motion to have Ambrose's sexual activity in the days surrounding her meeting with Byrne admitted as evidence. Byrne's lawyers have subpoenaed phone records for Ambrose's cell phone calls for that time period as well. The messages will be kept sealed for the time being. It's possible the judge could later rule they're not relevant to the case. Criminal cases in Europe and Asia have hinged on text message evidence. Ambrose's lawyers have counter-motioned to admit items from Byrne's past drug use and sexual/dating history to paint someone who is promiscuous and chemically impaired in his judgment, although with recent incidents involving Ambrose's own cocaine use, this tact could be turned against them..
The judge also rebuffed a last-ditch prosecution bid to conduct new tests on potentially exculpatory DNA evidence.
"As it stands now, the
prosecution is hurt by the DNA results," said Cody Silverman, a DC
defense attorney familiar with the case. "That's why they wanted a
retest, but no retest will occur, so they're stuck with a bad
Rape-shield law generally prevents the defense from using an accuser's sexual history against them at trial. A judge, however, can admit the evidence if it is deemed relevant.
Defense attorneys also were rumored to be introducing two surprise witnesses, one of whom may be considered a "hostile witness," meaning that while the witness may possess information crucial to their case, the relationship between the witness and the party for whose benefit they are testifying, may be prejudiced against that party.
If convicted of felony sexual assault,Byrne could face from four years to life in prison, or 20 years to life on probation.
NORTHEAST - UP AND COMING REPORTER, VETERAN COP AMONG THE DEAD IN MYSTERIOUS FOGGY BOTTOM CONDO FIRE: DC Police and Fire units responded to a call last week of a fire in a Foggy Bottom church complex that had been renovated into condos just 5 years ago. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined; however, investigators state that it bears a disturbing resemblance to a rash of fires in Anacostia last year that were thought to be gang-related. The flames were unusually efficient and expedient in destroying a large part of the lower levels of the building before the sprinkler system kicked in. One of the policemen who responded to the fire later died of burn-related injuries, and his partner is on Psych Leave in St. Elizabeth's Hospital, suffering from Post-Traumatic hallucinations relating to the incident.
Washington Post Junior Reporter Berkeley Learmonth was a resident of that condo complex, and was caught in the lobby fire, unable to escape the building until she had sustained too many burns to survive. Her body was discovered in the parking lot just outside, along with another unidentified woman who did manage to survive. Police were unable to say anything further of the second fire victim, other than she was treated and released.
Learmonth's body was burned so badly that she could only be identified between dental records, and corroborative statements placing her in the building at the time of the fire, being one of the only residents not accounted for afterwards. A private funeral ceremony is being arranged in Loudoun County, Virginia, after the DC Morgue releases her body post-autopsy.
Fellow William and Mary Alumna Ashley Peterson was said to be devastated by the news, and has gone into seclusion following notification of Learmonth's death.
Fellow Post reporter Katherine Whittier, still in rehabilitation therapy resulting from a cocaine overdose, was unavailable to comment, but Post Spokesperson Audrey Neff expressed condolences and loss from the entire staff of Learmonth's co-workers.
Two anonymous tips to police hotlines (in separate precincts) placed Learmonth at the infamous adult club "The Foxxx's Den" just days before the incident, possibly the same night it was raided by the FBI, and also with an unidentified group of friends in a Catholic Church in Mid-town, of which Learmonth was not a member, just a day or less before her death. Whether either incident ties to the unusual fire, or the events are unrelated, is undetermined at this time. Anyone else with leads on these events is asked to come forward to police.
STYLE & SOCIAL NEWS
[Compiled from staff reports, while Columnist Kitty Whittier is out on leave.]
Socialite Ashley Peterson seems to have an ever-expanding laundry list of tragedy and drama surrounding her. At the same time that speculation runs high she will be called upon to testify at the upcoming rape trial of sometimes-casual boyfriend singer Loki, rubbing salt in the wound of her recent peccadilloes with him, she then suddenly loses a close friend and sorority sister, Berkeley Learmonth, in a devastating and suspicious fire. Peterson has gone into seclusion to mourn, possibly sequestered with the too-quiet of late Lady and Jamison Fairfield, and cohort Cross Sanchez, or perhaps with another MIA school chum, fellow socialite Pastiche Devereaux.
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PRAYING PREACHERS GROUND FLIGHT - BUFFALO, NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two preachers grounded a flight leaving Buffalo, New York, after they frightened passengers by declaring the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were a good reason to pray, officials said on Thursday. One preacher told fellow passengers as the Continental Airlines plane taxied down the runway, "Your last breath on earth is the first one in heaven as long as you are born again and have Jesus in your heart," according to FBI spokesman Paul Moskal.
Passengers on the Wednesday flight to Newark, New Jersey told a flight attendant, who alerted the plane's captain, officials said. The captain turned the plane around.
"They were sincere in their beliefs and were not malicious," Moskal said by telephone from Buffalo. "In the context of 9/11 it may not have been the best way to promote their religion."
The two Pentecostal ministers, Canadian nationals Yohan Heenatigala and Komal Singh, were questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and later released and put on another flight, the spokesman said. They were traveling to attend a convention in Baltimore, Maryland.
Meteor Explosion Lights Up The Northwestern Skies - SEATTLE, WA - Bright flashes and sharp booms were reported in the skies over the Puget Sound area early Thursday, and aviation officials said a meteor may have been the source.
Nothing unusual was detected on National Weather Service radar, and authorities also ruled out aircraft problems or military flight tests.
Toby Smith, a University of Washington astronomy lecturer who specializes in meteorites, told The Associated Press that scientists were looking into the cause of the skybursts reported over a wide area about 2:40 a.m.
Witnesses along a 60-mile swath of the sound from near Tacoma to Whidbey Island and as far as 260 miles to the east said the sky lit up brilliantly, and many reported booming sounds as if from one or more explosions.
Weather service officials at Sand Point in north Seattle said there was no storm or other meteorological activity that could have produced the skybursts.
Wait! It's a ... : Unidentified creature stumps experts --
ASHEBORO, NC -- First of all, this is a real newspaper, not a grocery-store tabloid.
So, the story you're about to read is true.
It starts with Bill and Gayle Kurdian throwing out dried corn for the wildlife in their neck of the woods in eastern Randolph County, and an odd-looking creature taking them up on their hospitality early last winter.
"What in the world?" Bill Kurdian asked himself when he saw the animal for the first time.
About the size of a fox, but with short brown hair and a long cat-like tail, it looked more like an animal in a National Geographic spread out of Africa than any critter native to the woods of central North Carolina.
Though Gayle Kurdian could vouch for her husband, when Bill Kurdian talked about the animal, people scoffed that it was just a dog.
"Everybody thought I was crazy," said Kurdian, the vice president of Matlab in Asheboro.
But Kurdian, an avid outdoorsman, got proof.
He captured the animal on two frames of film on May 20, using a motion-sensing camera that his wife gave him for Christmas.
Kurdian still hopes that someone can identify his mystery animal. He's trying to catch it alive so the zoo or the N.C. State vet school can run blood tests.
"I'm not going to kill it," Kurdian assured folks.
"I don't think it's a vicious animal," he said. "It's just interesting."
MYSTERY HAND FALLS FROM SKY -- NASSAU COUNTY, LONG ISLAND -- A boat party in an exclusive area of Long Island Sunday night was interrupted - when a severed human hand mysteriously dropped out of the sky onto the deck of a boat, police said yesterday.
The bizarre incident occurred in the water just off the Lawrence Village Marina, where a group of boats had gathered to have a party.
One owner was in the cabin when "he heard a noise, goes out to check and finds the hand on the rear deck of the boat," said Nassau Detective Sgt. John Azzata. "At this point, we don't have a clue where it came from. It's a mystery."
What Would Jesus Say About Pete?
Pete would prefer that parents pass on pornography. Pete is repulsed by porn, and he’s prepared to proselytize. But Pete’s not a person—Pete’s a puppet. Meet Pete the Porno Puppet, coming soon to a Public Service Announcement near you.
Part “Sesame Street,” part “Odd Couple,” Pete is the brainchild of two pastors and a pornographer. It may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, but to hear Craig Gross, Mike Foster and James DiGiorgio tell it, it could just be a match made in heaven. Gross, 28, and Foster, 32, are the founding ministers of Fireproof Ministries, a nonprofit Christian outreach group that has launched a crusade against the multi-billion dollar pornography industry. Not content to preach to the converted, the duo took a more unorthodox tack: they launched XXXchurch.com, a “Christian porn site” to educate Web surfers about the addictiveness of porn and the damage it can do to a person’s life. (Their first PSA ran on cable featuring a cast of dwarf actors, but the nonprofit organization Little People of America demanded Gross and Foster kill it because they found the tag line—“porn stunts your growth”—offensive.) They also host booths at adult film industry conventions in Las Vegas. “We debuted our site at a porn show,” says Gross. “We’re not yelling at people...We kept going back to these shows because they kept asking us back.”
Enter James DiGiorgio. Known to his fans as Jimmy D., DiGiorgio is the man behind Smash Pictures. Over the past 10 years he has shot such titles as “Sopornos #3” and “Nutjob Nurses,” but after seeing Gross and Foster quietly hold court at industry conventions for more than a year, he decided to find out what they were all about. He was charmed. “They’re kinda wacky, but they’ve got a great sense of humor,” he says. “It reminded me of the story of Jesus walking with the lepers.” After hearing about their first failed PSA, he offered his services for free. Their discussion went from filming a strictly anti-porn spot—a stance DiGiorgio (whose livelihood relies on a robust smut industry, which recently suffered a setback due to the discovery of HIV infections among some of the actors) could not wholly embrace—to focusing on keeping children from encountering sexually explicit images. “Now they were talking about something I can get 100 percent behind,” he recalls. “I have a grown daughter and an 8-year-old son who spends a lot of time online. So I said ‘hell yeah, let’s go for it. I am way, way, way behind that.’”
And so Pete the Porno Puppet was born.
Man Commits Suicide After Sex with Hen
LUSAKA (Reuters) - A 50-year-old Zambian man has hanged himself after his wife found him having sex with a hen, police said Friday.
The woman caught him in the act when she rushed into their house to investigate a noise.
"He attempted to kill her but she managed to escape," a police spokesman said.
The man from the town of Chongwe, about 50 km (30 miles) east of Lusaka, killed himself after being admonished by other villagers.
The hen was slaughtered after the incident.
PROFESSOR EXAMINES WEEPING STATUES: AUSTRALIA -- The Catholic Church has enlisted a retired chemistry professor to determine whether religious objects in a small Brisbane church are actually bleeding and weeping.
Judicial vicar and investigator Dr Adrian Farrelly said the professor may be able to provide a scientific explanation for the phenomenon which many have hailed as miracle.
"We've got a retired professor of chemistry," Dr Farrelly said. "He wants to remain private, given the sensitivities of the matter. He's not Catholic, he's agnostic, but he's got the required skills I need."
Some of those who have flocked to the church have said the substance on the statues and crucifixes was a sign of hope from God in a world now fraught with uncertainty.
Church spokesman Vincent Do said the abnormalities began when rose oil started flowing from the eyes, nose, forehead and fingers of a statue of the Virgin Mary.
A small cross on the altar has also bled, as have religious figurines.
SCIENTISTS PUZZLED BY DEAD DOLPHINS IN MAURITANIA - NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - More than a hundred dolphins, eight marine turtles and five beaked whales have washed up dead on the windswept beaches of southern Mauritania in recent days, puzzling scientists and worrying the government.
Experts from the West African country's Institute of Oceanographic Research and Fishing visited the scene but were unable to take any samples because of the advanced state of decay of the corpses, the government said late on Thursday.
It was the third June in a row that scores of dead marine mammals had suddenly appeared along the country's coastline, but authorities voiced concern at this year's number of deaths, which included 139 dolphins.
A team of scientists from Holland did laboratory tests on samples from corpses beached in the region last year but failed to find any virus responsible for killing the animals.
"Nonetheless the Dutch scientists still favor a viral infection as the explanation," the statement said.
The waters off Mauritania's barren coast are home to one of the world's largest concentrations of fish, crustaceans and mollusks, as well as hammerhead and tiger sharks, dolphins, turtles, and a dozen species of ray.
AUDITIONS -- MUSICIANS AND ENTERTAINERS WANTED!
The Phantasm and The Web of Night are combining forces for a soon to be announced Charity Benefit Concert this summer featuring a variety of local and national entertainers.
Auditions are now being held for any entertainers who want to be included in the line-up, and not just those who perform in the genres traditionally sponsored by either venue.
To get an audition, please call (202) 555-HELP and ask to speak to Jasmine.