Friday, March 25, 2005

Pre-trial motions for an East Newton High School graduate accused of four murders in Killeen, Texas, will be held Friday, April 1 in Bell County Circuit Court.
The trials of Timothy Doan Payne, formerly of Granby, a soldier at Fort Hood, and his codefendant Richard Lee Tabler, are expected to be held sometime before the end of the year.
Payne and Tabler were indicted by a Bell County grand jury last month in connection with the November 2004 deaths of four people connected with Teazers, a Killeen strip club.
In a December interview with the Dallas Morning News, Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith described the deaths as coming as the result of a "sinister and gruesome plot" to kill Teazers employees who had wronged Tabler.
The Morning News reported that Tabler had been fired from the nightclub for dealing drugs and fencing stolen property. Those allegedly shot to death by Tabler while Payne videotaped the murders, according to printed reports were: Tiffany Dotson, 18, a blond dancer from California; Amber Benefield, also known as Zoe, 16, a runaway from Louisiana; Mohamed Amine Rahmouni, the bar manager and a native of Morocco; and Haitham Zayed, who was described by authorities as most likely being a bystander who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Payne had been assigned to Fort Hood for less than a month, according to the Morning News. Payne and Tabler could receive the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted. Tabler is being held in lieu of $8 million bond, while a $4 million bond has been set for Payne.
A Mexican citizen stopped in Joplin with a truckload of illegal aliens faces a March 30 arraignment and scheduling hearing in U. S. District Court in Springfield.
The Joplin Police Department was responsible for the arrest of Yovani Diaz-Cruz on March 12, when JPD officers came across a 1995 GMC Safari Van parked at the corner of Main and F. Officers saw Hispanic men sitting in the driver and front passenger seats. Cruz was the man in the driver's seat, according to court documents.
Twelve other Hispanic men were found hiding under a nearby bridge. Believing them to be undocumented aliens, Joplin Police called the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Springfield. All 12 men admitted to being Mexican citizens illegally in this country, according to court documents.
"They claim to have paid between 1,000 and 2,000 dollars for transportation from Phoenix, Ariz., to Georgia or Kentucky," Special Agent James Webb said in an affidavit filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. "Three of the 12 claimed to have paid 5,500 pesos as their fee for transportation. The group identified (Diaz) as the driver of the vehicle."
Diaz and the passenger, who is not identified in the court documents, also admitted to being Mexican citizens in the U. S. illegally. All 14 men were arrested and taken to the Christian County Jail in Ozark.
On March 14, according to the affidavit, Diaz said he was "hired by an unidentified person he called 'Mario' to transport the group from Phoenix, Ariz., to various locations in Atlanta, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He claimed that on March 11, 'Mario' gave him the van with the group of illegal aliens already loaded in the van. A check with the FBI database determined that Diaz had been deported from this country twice, on March 10, 2003, and April 20, 2003, both times from Nogales, Ariz.
Lawyers for the Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn and the Jasper County Commission have already jumped on the order issued earlier today (see below) by U. S. District Court Judge Richard E. Door giving convicted child molester Martin Eck 20 days to answer their questions or risk having his $10 million lawsuit dismissed.
A 10 a.m. April 8 deposition has been scheduled at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.
Convicted child molester Martin Eck has been given 20 days to answer questions from lawyers representing Sheriff Archie Dunn and the Jasper County Commission or his $10 million lawsuit against them may be dismissed.
The order was issued today by U. S. District Court Judge Richard E. Dorr. The county officials' lawyers went to Jefferson City to interview Eck at his prison Jan. 28 and were told that he would not answer questions without his lawyer. He said his mother was trying to hire a lawyer for him.
Eck is suing the county officials because he did not receive proper dental care during his stay in the Jasper County Jail.
A closed-door session is scheduled for later this morning between Missouri Department of Natural Resources Doyle Childers and officials of ConAgra to discuss the odor coming from the company's Renewable Environmental Resources plant, which changes the waste from ConAgra's butterball turkey plant into oil.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that the meeting will be closed because company officials will talk about technology that is owned by the company. Obviously, this will prevent other companies from learning how to make an entire area smell like sewage. State Senator Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, is also scheduled to attend the meeting.
Childers will take questions from the public after the meeting, the article said, but no time frame was given for when the meeting will be over. The state agency has been under pressure from Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt and U. S. Senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent to do something about the odor.
Carthage city officials have said they are considering taking legal action against ConAgra.
The News-Leader article notes that when ConAgra was considering building the plant, Blunt and Bond helped secure $15 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to help.
The Montgomery, Ala. Advertiser reports that ConAgra is closing its food processing plant in that city, eliminating 365 jobs. Company officials blamed the age of the plant, which was built in 1961 and the projected renovation cost. The article speculated that it might have more to do with the company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reported first in The Turner Report Thursday, that ConAgra will have to restate its financial results for last year and the first half of this year, due to income tax errors, which may amount to between $150 million and $200 million.
The Eastern Jasper County Laubach Literacy Council and the Carthage Crisis Center will be among the entities receiving grants from the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Regional Grant Making Program, according to an article in today's Springfield News-Leader.
The program holds fund volunteer training, buy property, teach reading, educate parents, house homeless and introduce kids to the arts, according to the article.
The Laubach Literacy Council will share $32,282 with two other literacy programs coordinated through Southwest Missouri State University, the article said.
The Carthage Crisis Center will receive $14,500, which will go toward buying and remodeling a new, larger facility.

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