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Rough riding at the rodeo. B1
WE BREAK MORE NEWS AT SATURDAY / MARCH 1 / 2008
Investigators say you can’t do anything about con artists who prey on your good will; just check them out before opening your wallet. B1 Authorities have not yet released the name of a Toney man who died in a house fire Thursday night, and the cause remains undetermined. B1
Bullets don’t deter suspect
Shots to buttocks fail to stop two more break-ins
By NIKI DOYLE
Times Staff Writer email@example.com
An Albertville man shoots one of two backyard prowlers Friday. B2
A witness questions the timing of Dr. David Tipton’s arrival at home on the day he found his wife dead. B1
The sponsor of legislation to allow electronic bingo at dog tracks in Mobile County and Birmingham is back for another try this year. B3
A six-foot fence, three dogs, 385 pounds worth of teenage boys and three gunshot wounds to the buttocks didn’t stop one alleged burglar from bursting into two other homes before police detained him Thursday night. Huntsville police were still trying to verify the suspect’s identity Friday but believe he is 36-year-old Marvin Horton, police spokesman Wendell
Johnson said. Horton allegedly jumped a 6foot chain-link fence at 2702 Ninth Ave. and dodged Brenda Glover’s pit bull puppy, Rottweiler and German shepherd before forcing open her front door at about 11:15 p.m. Glover said she went to bed early, but her two sons, 17-yearold David and 18-year-old Jerry, were up playing video games and heard the dogs bark seconds before the burglar crashed into their home.
Glover woke up and heard the man fighting with her sons, who managed to wrestle the man into a headlock. She grabbed an umbrella before entering the scuffle. “I told him to leave, and he said, ‘No, I’m coming in the house,’” she said. “He still kept coming, and I told him, ‘I’m going to go get my gun if you don’t leave.’” The three tried to push the man back out the front door, but he wouldn’t budge, Glover said. When the burglar didn’t heed her warning, Glover retrieved her .38-caliber pistol and gave him a final chance to leave before firing a shot into his backPlease see BULLETS on A7
Trail of a burglar
Suspect forces his way in, fights with homeowner who detains him until police arrive.
Suspect forces entry, fights with two young boys, the mother of the boys shoots him.
Huntsville Area of detail
Suspect forces open door, fights with homeowner.
LET’S MAKE IT THREE
NASA clears space shuttle Endeavour for liftoff March 11 on a 16-day mission – the longest space station visit ever. A4
A White House aide who served as President Bush’s middleman with conservatives and Christian groups resigns after admitting to plagiarism. A2
Patients strain hospital capacity
Flu, other ills put record numbers at city’s facilities
By STEVE DOYLE
Times Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Prince Harry, the third in line to the British crown, is whisked out of harm’s way in Afghanistan after his service is revealed. A4
Turkey says it has pulled its troops out of northern Iraq, concluding a large-scale offensive against Kurdish separatist guerrillas that has strained relations with the U.S. A4
Robin Conn/Huntsville Times
Robin Conn/Huntsville Times
Butler players celebrate their Class 5A boys state championship Friday afternoon.
Bob Jones players Kylie Cook, left, and Jala Harris celebrate after winning the state Class 6A girls championship Friday.
Dow Nasdaq S&P 500 -315.79 - 60.07 - 37.15 Defense contractor Colsa Corp. is expected to complete construction this summer on its third building in Cummings Research Park. E1
Cheers and tears
Details in Sports, F1
Ellen Hudson/Huntsville Times
Tuscaloosa prosecutors offer to dismiss a disorderly conduct charge against Alabama football captain Rashad Johnson. F1
Madison Academy’s Dante Bowman holds the 3A boys championship trophy as the team returns to Madison Friday morning. They won the title Thursday night – their third title in a row.
Panel takes bite out of false verdicts
2 men now free after testimony of dentist disputed
By SHELIA BYRD
The Associated Press
Full weather, D10
Forecast: Sunny, mild. High today
MACON, Miss. – At a smalltown courthouse in one of rural Mississippi’s poorest counties, Dr. Michael West swore under
oath that a dead girl had bite marks all over her body and that they were made by the two front teeth of the man charged with murdering her. Such testimony had become commonplace for West. The dentist considered himself an authority on forensic odontology and had taken the stand at numerous trials as a paid expert
for the prosecution. On the strength of West’s testimony and little else, a jury in 1995 convicted Kennedy Brewer of raping and murdering the 3-year-old girl and sentenced him to death. Three years earlier, West gave similar testimony in a nearly identical rape-and-murder case involving another 3-
year-old girl from the same town. West testified there were bite marks on the victim’s wrist and they were made by Levon Brooks. Brooks, too, was found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. Today, more than a decade later, both Brewer and Brooks Please see VERDICTS on A7
A nastier-than-usual cold and flu season in North Alabama has area hospitals stuffed to the gills. Crestwood Medical Center and Huntsville Hospital are both scrambling to keep pace with record numbers of patients battling the flu, strep throat, pneumonia and gastrointestinal illnesses, officials said. Huntsville Hospital saw some of the highest patient volumes in its history in late February, with more than 800 of its 881 licensed beds occupied, said Chief Executive Officer David Spillers. Crestwood is just as busy, with 136 of 150 patient beds full in recent days and big crowds in the emergency room and intensive care unit, said Chief Nursing Officer Martha Walls. The problems peaked Feb. 20, when equally slammed hospitals in Birmingham and Nashville began steering trauma patients to Huntsville Hospital for treatment, Spillers said. For about a two-hour stretch that Wednesday, Huntsville Hospital asked paramedics to divert patients to Crestwood’s emergency room. “That was to give (doctors and nurses) time to catch their breath and get ready for the next round,” Spillers said Thursday. “The people down in the emergency department work just as hard as they possibly can, and no one Please see PATIENTS on A7
Abby/C2 Bridge/C2 Business/E1 Classifieds/D1 Comics/C3 Crossword puzzles/C2, D8 Cryptoquote/C2 Deaths/B3 Editorials/A9 Horoscope/C2 Life/C1 Lotteries/A2 Movies/C5 People/C2 Sports/F1 Sudoku/D3 Television/D10
Mobile lands Air Force contract
Northrop/EADS is the top choice to build air tankers
By GARRY MITCHELL
The Associated Press
Huntsville, Alabama Vol. 98, No. 345, 44 pages Contents © 2008, The Huntsville Times
MOBILE – The Air Force announced Friday it had picked Northrop Grumman and its Paris-based partner, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., to build 179 refueling tankers at a site at Mobile, cre-
ating an estimated 2,000 jobs and putting the city on the aeronautics industry’s world map. The selection of Mobile gave Alabama’s port city its second major industrial victory in less than a year. The contract is worth $30 billion to $40 billion over 10 to 15 years and could be even more lucrative – it is the first of three deals to replace the Air Force’s entire fleet of nearly 600 tankers.
Last May, German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp picked a site near Mobile for a steel plant expected to create some 2,700 jobs when fully operational, another coup for the city on Mobile Bay. A project of this magnitude “is a change-agent for Mobile,” Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce President Win Hallett said. “We are now well-positioned to lead the United States’ aerospace industry.”
Supporters of the Northrop/EADS plan said it could move Mobile into the same league with Seattle, where Boeing builds large aircraft, and Toulouse, France, where EADS makes the Airbus. “To say this is a great day for Alabama is a monumental understatement,” Gov. Bob Riley said. “The Northrop Grumman/EADS project will expand the aerospace industry in
Mobile, as well as provide a tremendous amount of opportunities for additional aircraft manufacturing suppliers, and good paying jobs for the people of our region,” Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said at a news conference that turned into a champagne-pouring celebration. “This a community-changing industry.” The announcement surPlease see MOBILE on A7
The Huntsville Times, Saturday, March 1, 2008 A7
Continued from page A1
side. The first shot didn’t register with the man, so Glover fired at least two more shots before he finally turned and ran back out the door. Glover’s husband called police. “What really freaked me out is when I shot him (the first time), he wouldn’t leave,” Glover said. The burglar took off across the street, jumped a 4-foot fence and kicked in the door of 2703 Ninth Ave. The homeowners pushed him back out
the door fairly quickly, said Glover, who watched the man flee her house. He then ran down the street and jumped through the window of 2712 Ninth Ave., where the homeowner, 50-year-old Otis Ethridge, held the man until police arrived. Horton struggled with officers while they handcuffed him, Johnson said. He faces multiple charges when he’s released from Huntsville Hospital, where he was taken to be treated for the gunshot wounds. Police said his injuries weren’t serious. Johnson said it’s unlikely any charges will be filed against any of the homeowners who struggled with Horton, including
Glover. “Usually, if there’s any question regarding self defense, our investigators present it to the district attorney’s office and consult with them,” he said. “I don’t think that will happen, though.” Nothing was taken from the homes, all of which had fences. Police said they weren’t sure what caused Horton to allegedly break into the homes. Incident reports show that officers believe he was under the influence of drugs. None of the Ninth Avenue residents were seriously injured, although Glover and her sons have some minor scratches, bruises and knots. The incident wrapped up a Bush said Friday. With so much sickness swirling around, Crestwood put up signs at every entrance reminding visitors to wash their hands and cover their coughs. The hospital also offers sterile masks to ER and intensive care unit visitors. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this year’s flu vaccine is only partly effective against two of the three flu strains that Huntsville are making Hospital CEO David Spillers people sick. The flu season typically runs from late December to late March. Crestwood’s emergency room treats 115-120 patients a day on average, Walls said, but hit 159 patients recently. Making matters worse, some hospital employees have had to call in sick with the flu and other
difficult day for Glover, whose grandmother died Wednesday. But Glover said it’s just another day on Ninth Avenue, where she often has had to ask homeless people to move out of her driveway when she comes home. Her car stereo has been stolen, and a thief snatched her husband’s boots from the front porch, but she’s never come faceto-face with someone determined to get in her home. “I got the gun for protection when my kids were little,” she said. “I always thought I would have to use it out and about, not in my own house. I never expected that.” illnesses. “Our staffing has been stretched,” Walls said Friday, “but we’ve managed quite well. This particular flu has taxed the emergency room more than the inpatient side.” Spillers said Huntsville Hospital’s patient census is still higher than normal, but down from last week’s peak. Things should be better next winter, he said, because Huntsville Hospital will be finished with its $27 million emergency room expansion project. A new ER wing opened in August, but the old section was closed until this summer for remodeling. When the dust settles, the state’s busiest emergency room will literally be the size of a grocery store, with nearly 50 additional patient beds and more treatment rooms. “That would have helped immensely” with the current flu problems, Spillers said. “I think it’s pretty clear that the shots didn’t cover all the viruses this year.”
Continued from page A1 prised even the state’s congressional delegation, which has lobbied on Mobile’s behalf for months but knew the Northrop team was widely considered the underdog in the competition, after Boeing. Sen. Richard Shelby, RTuscaloosa, called it “stunning news.” “Alabama’s on a roll,” he said. “Our economy is good.” Shelby said the Northrup/EADS plane appeared to be the better option all along. “It is larger. It’s more modern. It’ll carry more, and in the long run, it’ll save us money.” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said the contract award is “fabulous news.” “We’re talking about billions of dollars over decades of work,” Sessions told a crowded room of local officials in a telephone call. “I know there will be a lot of challenges as we move forward from here.”
Continued from page A1
Continued from page A1 likes going on divert.” “But sometimes you just run out of room at the inn.” Ironically, Spillers and his counterpart at Crestwood, Dr. Pam Hudson, were in Montgomery that day to learn the fate of a proposed Madison hospital that would give the county 60 extra hospital beds and its third emergency room. Unable to get a quorum of voting members, the state Certificate of Need Review Board postponed action until March 19. Don Webster, chief operations officer for HEMSI ambulance service, said seven patients who requested transport to Huntsville Hospital during the divert period were taken instead to Crestwood. “The paramedics explained it to the patients and their families, and nobody got upset,” Webster said. “There is a good procedure in place when either hospital has to go to a divert process.” Barbara Bush, Crestwood’s infection control coordinator, said the hospital off Airport Road has treated 111 flu patients since December, plus scores more with strep throat, pneumonia and other winter ailments. “We’ve seen an increase (in flu patients) every week since the beginning of January,”
are out of prison, and prosecutors have all but pronounced them innocent. The reason: A third man confessed to both killings after DNA connected him to one of the rapes. As for West, his analysis of bite marks in the two murders – and in hundreds of other Mississippi criminal cases over the years – is under attack. A panel of forensic experts that examined the Brewer case says the wounds on the victim were not human bites at all, but were probably caused by crawfish and insects nibbling on the corpse, decomposition, and rough handling when the body was pulled from the pond where it was found. Brooks’ lawyers say West got it wrong in their case, too, by identifying scrapes as bites. The turn of events has shocked the community, especially the victims’ families, and led to accusations that West deliberately falsified evidence. “You have people who engaged in misconduct and manufactured evidence and we’ve proved it,” said Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project, which has won the exoneration of more than 200 inmates nationwide and assembled the expert panel that examined the Brewer case. “These two cases are going to be an eyeopener for the people of Mississippi about some of the problems they have in criminal justice and how easy it will be to make it right.” West, a 55-year-old in private practice, did not return numerous calls to his Hattiesburg office. Brewer, now 36, and Brooks, 48, were found guilty in the slayings, respectively, of Christine Jackson and Courtney Smith, who were killed 18 months apart. Both girls were daughters of the men’s girlfriends, and both lived in Brooksville, a poor community of about 1,100 people. Both defendants were poor; Brewer is said to be mildly disabled mentally. Forensic experts had testified for the defense at the trials of Brooks and Brewer that the marks on the victims were not made by human teeth. But the testimony seemed to make little difference. Earlier this month, Justin Albert Johnson, a 51-year-old Brooksville man who had been a suspect early on, was arrested and charged in one of the murders. Investigators said he confessed to both killings after DNA analysis proved that his semen was in the victim in the Brewer case. Brewer, who was released on bail last year, a few years after DNA tests excluded him as the rapist, was finally exonerated by a judge on Feb. 15. “I ain’t worried about the past. I’m thinking about the future,” Brewer said. But he offered some advice to prosecutors: “They need to get the truth before they lock up the wrong somebody. It doesn’t feel good to be called a rapist and murderer.” As for Brooks, he has a court date on March 10, when prosecutors are expected to drop the case against him. He is already back home, living with his 83year-old mother. In its February 2007 report, the Innocence Project panel of top forensic odontologists from England, Canada and the U.S. concluded that West had misinterpreted the purported bitemark evidence in the Brewer case. Panel member Dr. David Senn, a forensic odontologist for the county medical examiner in San Antonio, told the AP that the experts were “scratching their heads to figure out how he could come to the conclusions he came to.”
Mobile has long had a thriving port and industrial sector. Then last May ThyssenKrupp picked a site near Calvert north of Mobile for a steel plant that had been widely courted by other states. For more than two years, local and state officials supported the refueling tanker proposal by the partnership of Northrop Grumman/EADS, which would bring with it high-paying jobs. The industry recruiters pointed to the city’s closeness to the Gulf of Mexico shipping lanes and its available airport space, highways and railroads. In June 2005, Riley joined EADS North America executives to announce the firm’s plans for an engineering facility at Brookley Industrial Complex, the city’s largest manufacturing employer, in anticipation of assembling its KC330 refueling aircraft there. The engineering facility, which opened in January 2007, is involved in the company’s Airbus engineering plans and will continue to operate.
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