Today's News - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

According to “The Tribune-Democrat,” on April 9, the State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on an appeal filed on behalf of Ernie Simmons who was on death row in 2009 for the 1992 murder of 80-year-old Anna Knaze of Johnstown when the higher court ordered a new trial. Instead, Simmons pleaded to third-degree murder and was released from prison with credit for time served. He was placed on probation for 6 months to 10 years, but returned to jail after he allegedly threatened to kill a man. The Cambria County District Attorney’s Appellate Division plans to argue that Judge Timothy Creany ruled correctly when he revoked Simmons parole in February 2011. This is expected to be a precedent-setting decision that could have impact on probation and parole violations.

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Two men were arrested for taking part in a shootout last May in Hornerstown. Johnstown police say they were responding to a burglary in progress Friday when they found alleged shooter 22-year-old Anthony Sanders and 26-year-old Daron Shamburger in downtown sharing a taxi. A stolen handgun was also found in the vehicle. Both are in the Cambria County Jail on $40,000 bond.

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Johnstown police say a woman is facing child endangerment and drug charges after cops found her two young children home alone in Hornerstown with the family's pit bulls Monday afternoon. Police were originally called for a report of a pit bull on the loose. One of the animals was extremely aggressive and the other was still a puppy. Authorities say the inside of the apartment was a mess and there was drug paraphernalia, including several syringes, out in the open.

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Today in Bedford County Court, testimony is to begin in the trial of 79-year-old Richard Maine of the Blue Knob area. He’s accused of sexually assaulting two female relatives starting when they were 8- and 10-years-old. The girls claim Maine threatened them to keep quiet and his wife urged them to lie about the abuse. Maine remains jailed on $250,000 bond.

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The Cambria County DUI task force conducted a St. Patrick’s Day sobriety checkpoint Saturday night into Sunday morning along Route 219 in East Carroll Township. Troopers made four drunk driving arrests and two drug arrests. They also busted six people for underage drinking and handed out 26 traffic citations and 30 warnings.

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State police in Cambria County tell the “Altoona Mirror” that two Reade Township residents have received letters purportedly from the Ku Klux Klan, warning them to stop speaking out about municipal leadership. Both Thompson and March, who has some mixed race grandchildren, say they will not be bullied into silence. The investigation continues.

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Three former Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board officials are being forced to pay restitution for more than $23,000-worth of gifts they received from vendors. The state ethics commission announced Monday that former chief executive officer Joe Conti, former chairman Patrick Stapleton III and former marketing director James Short violated ethics laws by accepting tickets, hospitality and other gifts. The ethics commission cannot file criminal charges because it is a civil agency but officials say all findings are reviewed by the Attorney General's office.

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According to StateCollege.com, both the NCAA and Penn State want a court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Paterno family, and they filed documents in Centre County Court Monday. Penn State attorneys claim the family is not a recognized legal entity and cannot maintain a suit. The family and supporters are asking for damages related to the Sandusky scandal aftermath and to have NCAA sanctions cancelled.

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A candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor is challenging the validity of an opponent's filing papers. Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski lodged the challenge with state elections officials yesterday, citing issues with Jay Paterno's signatures. Koplinski claims some voters were not registered at their listed addresses and some were not registered Democrats. Requirements say candidates for lieutenant governor need at least a thousand signatures from their party's registered voters.

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No one on that missing Malaysian airliner appears to have had a criminal or political motive to hijack or crash the plane. Investigators are convinced that someone with intimate knowledge of the Boeing 777 and commercial navigation diverted the jet.

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President Obama will award two dozen Medals of Honor for combat valor to minority veterans from three wars today. A Pentagon review determined the Army soldiers were overlooked for deserved honors previously. Recipients include Jewish, Hispanic and African-American Army veterans from World War Two, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

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The first lawsuit tied to last week's building explosion and collapse in Harlem, New York is being filed. The $10 million notice of claim against the city was filed on behalf of Jose Vargas who was on a bus driving past the scene. Vargas was blown out his seat and says he is suffering from torn ligaments and torn blood vessels.

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Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to bar the accused Boston Marathon bomber from seeing autopsy photos of his alleged victims. "The Boston Globe" reports they argue allowing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to see the photos, except those used during the trial, would "needlessly revictimize" the families.

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Kevin Trudeau is going to prison for ten years. The infomercial king was sentenced in federal court yesterday. He was convicted of bilking customers for his book "The Weight Loss Cure They' Don't Want You To Know About."

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Ron Paul says the flag flying over Crimea isn't important. In a "USA Today" opinion piece, the former congressman from Texas compares the country's secession vote to similar decisions made in Scotland, Catalonia and Venice. Paul calls self-determination the "center piece of international law."

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There are more recalls in store for General Motors. The automaker has announced a recall of more than one-point-five million vehicles for air bag and fire risks. GM expects to take a $300 million financial hit as a result of this and another massive recall of $1.6 million vehicles earlier this year for air bag and ignition switch issues.

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The New York Senate is putting an end to the Dream Act. The state Senate called a surprise vote Monday on the bill that would allow the children of illegal immigrants to receive state financial aid to attend a New York college. The measure went down in a narrow defeat by a 30 to 29 vote, a tally that was allowed and then rejected by Senate Republicans.

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A Michigan man is accused of trying to join a terrorist organization in the Middle East. Mohammad Hamdan appeared in federal court Monday and was ordered held pending a detention hearing next week. Hamdan is accused of trying to provide aid to Hezbollah which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

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A California National Guardsman is accused of aiding a terrorist plot. FBI officials say Nicholas Michael Teausant was captured Monday near the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington. Federal officials say Teausant had been working with co-conspirators on a foiled plot to bomb the subway system in Los Angeles in a targeted attack on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

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A North Texas man is dead after falling over 300 feet at the Grand Canyon. The National Park Service says John Anderson of Grapevine plunged to his death Saturday morning near El Tovar Lodge. The 53-year-old was apparently visiting the park with his family.

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Katharine McPhee is making her way back to television. The "American Idol" runner-up has landed the female lead in a new CBS pilot called "Scorpion," the story of an eccentric super-genius who leads an international team fighting against cyber threats. She's returning to the small screen after two seasons starring in the Broadway drama "Smash."

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Chris Brown is singing the jail house blues for another month. The embattled singer appeared in Los Angeles court Monday after he was arrested for being kicked out of court-ordered rehab on Friday. According to TMZ, on April 23 Chris will return to court for a probation hearing, in which a judge will make a ruling based on the result of his Washington, DC trial for misdemeanor assault.

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Walmart is asking for your used copy of Call of Duty. The retailer is expected to announce Tuesday that it will start letting shoppers trade games for store credit. Starting March 26, people will be able to swap their games at more than 3,100 stores nationwide.

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"The Tonight Show" is paying tribute to comedian David Brenner. Jimmy Fallon took a minute to honor the frequent guest on Johnny Carson's rendition of the show. Brenner lost his battle with cancer over the weekend, and Fallon paused during the opening segment of Monday's show to pay his respects.

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The White House will be screening the upcoming Cesar Chavez biopic on Wednesday. "Cesar Chavez" chronicles the life of the famed Mexican-American labor leader and his efforts to unionize farm workers. -0- The Mega Millions jackpot is huge and that could be very good news for someone our area. The estimated jackpot for tonight's drawing is $400 million and even the cash option is $224 million.

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