Today's News - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One person was killed in a fiery crash on Route 30 near Stoystown, Somerset County, yesterday afternoon. State Police say 29 year-old James Harris Jr. of New Alexandria was killed when the delivery truck he was riding in struck a coal truck head on. The coal truck then collided with a third vehicle before rolling onto its side and catching fire. The drivers of all three vehicles were taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown. The coal truck driver was transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital with severe burns.

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42-year-old Steven Fisher of Patton can expect a long prison term when he’s sentenced today in Cambria County Court. Fisher pleaded guilty to having a meth lab at his home which police found when they came to investigate a rape reported by his estranged wife in February of last year. The woman told police Fisher threatened to kill her and their two children if she didn’t drop a PFA order against him. He also pleaded guilty to trespassing on Cambria Heights School District property in 2011, leading to a lockdown at the middle and high school.

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Drugs appear to have been a factor in a shooting at the Prospect Homes in Johnstown Sunday morning and police have charged four people. Police say 26-year-old Tyshawn Plowden shot Ramon Hernanez twice in the torso. He’s recovering at Memorial Medical Center. Police received a tip and found Plowden at an apartment on Gray Avenue. They also found a large amount of drugs and arrested Donnie Jones, Jasmine Hinton and Nathaniel Danner on drug charges. All four are in the Cambria County Jail.

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Police are investigating the assault of three Indiana University of Pennsylvania students. Officers say the students were walking on South Seventh Street near Washington Street Saturday night when they were confronted by a group of seven rowdy men. One of the victims was punched and kicked during the altercation and another was threatened with a knife. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

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Death row inmate Andre Staton used his handcuffed wrists to club his defense attorney during a Blair County Courthouse hearing back in May, and now the “Altoona Mirror” reports that lawyer Tim Burns is suing Blair County Commissioners, the prison board and the sheriff. Burns, who is still recovering from a concussion and other injuries, claims security should have been tighter. The lawsuit seeks at least $50 thousand in damages on each of five counts. No comment yet from county officials.

-0- Legislation that would allow Pennsylvania bars to profit from small games of chance is waiting for Governor Tom Corbett’s signature. The Senate voted to approved the House Bill yesterday, permitting bar owners to apply for a license to offer pull-tab games, daily drawings and raffles. The bars would then in turn, pay a 60 percent state tax and 5 percent local tax on the proceeds. Officials say the bill could generate up to $200 million annually for Pennsylvania.

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A bill to raise fees and taxes to fund transportation projects in the state is dead in the water. the House shot down the bill yesterday with a vote of 98 to 103. The plan was backed by Governor Tom Corbett, who held a news conference yesterday saying the longer lawmakers wait, the more expensive it will be. House Transportation Committee Chairman Nick Micozzie called the situation, “critical” saying it is a tragedy waiting to happen. The debate could resume as early as today.

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Penn State officials say costs for the Jerry Sandusky scandal are almost $52 million as of August 31st. The latest data is posted on Penn State’s Progress website. The total includes $12 million in fine money paid so far to the NCAA, as well as legal service expenses.

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Following the Sandusky scandal, Donald Trump once again criticized penn state’s leadership Sunday. His Twitter message read: “The wimps that run Penn State should be forced to resign (and be sued) for the pathetic settlement they made and destruction of a great legacy.” The board of trustees has authorized settlements with 26 men who claim they were abused. Monday, Trump sent a tweet bashing the NCAA. It said: “How did the NCAA, which is weak and becoming irrelevant, extract such a big & reputation shattering settlement from Penn State. Others zero!”

-0- JPMorgan Chase and government officials have agreed on a four-billion dollar consumer relief package. A source says the package is part of $13 billion deal to settle the bank's liability to government agencies over mortgage securities. The person says the $4 billion portion will pay for write downs of mortgage loans, demolition in blighted areas and lower monthly payments for homeowners.

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At least eight people are dead as a result of tornadoes that ravaged parts of the Midwest. The National Weather Service now says two tornadoes that hit the Illinois communities of Washington and New Minden were EF-4, with winds that reached at least 166 miles-an-hour as they tore through the area.

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The trial for accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes could be delayed. Prosecutors are asking for a second mental evaluation on him. He's pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of killing 12 people and wounding dozens of others in an Aurora theater in July 2012.

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Today marks the 150th anniversary of what is arguably the most famous speech in American history – the Gettysburg Address. On November 19th, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln spoke for about two minutes at the dedication of a cemetery for soldiers killed in the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.

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George Zimmerman is under arrest once again in Florida, this time in a domestic violence case. Seminole County police say Zimmerman's girlfriend claims he pointed a shotgun at her during an argument. He'll face a court hearing Tuesday morning.

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A North Carolina judge is refusing to lower the bond for a couple in a child abuse case that made headlines across the country. Deputies say their foster son was handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck. Wanda Larson is being held on $525 thousand bond and her boyfriend, Dorian Harper, is being held on $500 thousand bond.

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's popularity as a presidential candidate is bad news for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, even in his home state. A new Sienna College poll shows Christie would beat Cuomo 47 percent to 42 percent if the presidential election were held today, even in New York. In the 2016 presidential race, the real elephant in the room, "Time" Magazine not withstanding, is Hillary Clinton.

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A pastor in southeastern Pennsylvania could be defrocked for officiating at his son's same-sex wedding. A jury of other clergy on Monday found the Reverend Frank Schaefer guilty of performing the marriage in 2007 and of disobeying the discipline and order of the United Methodist Church. The penalty phase of the church trial begins Tuesday.

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The collaboration of luxury department store Barneys New York and Jay Z to celebrate their "New York Holiday" event is off. "Women's Wear Daily" reports that the event was supposed to be a fundraiser for Jay Z's charity, the Shawn Carter Foundation, and was set to take place tomorrow.

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The well-preserved fossilized remains of two dinosaurs are going on the auction block today in New York. Bonhams auction house believes they'll fetch between $7 and $9 million. The so-called "Dueling Dinosaurs" were discovered in Montana seven years ago. It appears the pair was locked in a fight to the death 67-million-years ago.

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Google is replacing a Google Maps image that shows the body of a murdered California teen. Google is taking the action after the teen's father discovered the image on Google Maps' satellite view feature.

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New findings in the 2009 death of Brittany Murphy suggest the actress may have been poisoned. According to "The Examiner," the findings are the result of a new toxicology report ordered by the family of the "Clueless" actress. The Los Angeles Coroner initially ruled Murphy's death to be the result of pneumonia and anemia.

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