The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 2, 1997 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, May 2, 1997
Page 1
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Window boxes can give any home a floral facelift/A8 HOME & GARDEN U2's pop Irish band banking on success of PopMart tour/01 ENCORE! * 16X88 StandOft: Kansas man is part of Texas group / A10 • FDR'S legacy: Many American's lives shaped by New Deal policies / C6 INSIDE Ugh: 60 Urn: 42 Thunderstorms are possible today with 20 to 30 mph winds / B3 WEATHER Classified / C7 Comics / B4 Deaths / A9 Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 Encore! / D1 Great Plains / B1 Money / C4 Sports / C1 Viewpoints / B2 INDEX FRIDAY MAY 2, 1997 SALINA, KANSAS 5O cents V TRIPLE MURDER CASE Death-penalty cases take time and money To deal with capital caseload, state-appointed attorneys tell courts to 'wait your turn' By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal When Kansas lawmakers reinstated capital punishment in 1994, prosecutors and defense attorneys had no illusions that such cases would be easily or quickly resolved. Their assumption was correct. After finding Wednesday that Alan Eugene White should stand trial for capital murder for the slayings of three people in east Salina, District Judge Dan Boyer inquired of the attorneys how soon they thought they could be ready. Not before January, replied Benjamin Wood and Jeffrey Moots, White's attorneys. And not because of pretrial motions and paperwork, which are extensive. It's because they are involved in three other capital cases ahead of White's. "I admit, counsel, that kind of takes my breath away," Boyer said. "I had hoped we could get to it sooner than that." The state-appointed attorneys defending accused criminals facing the death penalty have adopted a "wait your turn" approach out of necessity in dealing with the capital caseload. There are 10 such cases statewide in the pipeline. That's three more cases than the state's head capital defense lawyer thought there might be annually when the punishment was reinstated. "I'd like to see the damn thing abolished," said Ron Wurtz, coordinator of the state's death penalty defense unit, based in Topeka. Short of that, "Eventually, the defense and prosecution are going to need more help in order to make this thing work. When I see what is involved, it's unbelievably complex and stressing. It's not an impossible task, but everyone has to have enough patience to let each part of the system work." With just five defense attorneys on staff, the capital defender's office is "maxed out," Wurtz said. He hired a private attorney to lead the defense in the most recently assigned case, that of the slaying of a sheriffs deputy in Wichita. "If this pace keeps up, we're not going to be able to keep up," he said. "I'm hoping this is a glitch, a bump, a hump on the scale." The experience of other states with capital punishment may be a predictor for Kansas. Missouri resumed executions by lethal injection in 1989. Twenty-four inmates have been put to death since then, said Scott Holste, spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General's office. The average length of time from conviction, through appeals, to execution in Missouri is 10 to 11 years, he said. That's on par with the average for 37 states that have capital punishment. Holste said he's never seen a figure on the average cost of convicting and extcut- ing a prisoner. A report by Kansas Legislative Research estimated the cost of imprisoning See MURDER, Page A9 T FLOODING Oberlin embraces victims Youth who were flooded out in Grand Forks stay with an uncle in Oberlin By DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal OBERLIN — When Kay Richards was told by her parents to leave her clothes, her school and her home, her thoughts turned to Kitty. The 11-year-old was one of almost 50,000 residents who had to leave their Grand Forks, N.D., homes because of the swelling Red River. She and her brother, Cap, 8, left when the river swallowed their backyard, lapped against her front door and swept into their basement. She wondered if she again would see her 6- year-old Siamese. "I never really came up with a name," Kay said. "So we just always called her 'Kitty.' She's really nice. She likes people but mostly me. I'll bet.she misses the attention." The two arrived in Oberlin to live with their uncle and aunt, Barry and Patti Richards, and attend school while their parents, Doug and Kristy, stayed behind. They expect to stay in town at least a month before their parents will join them. As the water moved in, Kay wondered what would happen to home. • "I kept wondering where I would wind up," Kay said. "My parents said it would be better to be here than with them. They said they would be crabby and stuff." The two have adjusted to their new school, said Barry Richards, who has four boys, ages 6 to 13. He said he talked regularly with his brother Doug as the river rose. The family sustained damage throughout the house, but only the Abasement and its contents are a total loss, Richards said. The basement had eight feet of water in it. The water has been drained, and Doug has spent most of his time scooping mud out of a cold home because no electricity exists. The two, and Kitty, are staying at a neighbor's home eight miles east of town. Kristy and Doug talk to Kay and Cap every night. "He just finished his basement this winter," Barry Richards said. "He's pretty upset about it. But he can drive to his house now. He was using a boat to get there." The town has embraced the two children, Richards said, with clothes and kind words. The warmth wasn't lost on Kay, who said that the people "are nicer in Oberlin." The two miss their friends, but they don't know where they are. Kay does know that one of her friend's homes floated away. Cap sees his friends' faces, and he imagines himself playing football during the down times. Football is his favorite sport, and he has a computer football game that he loves to play with his dad. , Cap almost lost his sports card collection, but Dad rescued it just in time. He misses the game, but he misses his dog, Baby, even more. Cap said it was "kind of scary" to attend a new school, but he likes it. And he is looking forward to the arrival of a touch of home. "My dad has the football game," he said. "And he is going to send it here." Rain dance KELLY PRESNELUThe Salina Journal U.S. and Kansas flags flying near the corner of Fourth and Ash streets are reflected in a rain- speckled pool late Thursday afternoon. T BUDGET Congress and Clinton close to budget deal Administration tries to sell deal to Democrats, who remain skeptical By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — President Clinton and congressional leaders worked into the night Thursday polishing final details of a pact to balance the budget by 2002 while trimming taxes by about $135 billion. With a conclusive handshake seemingly near, both the White House and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill made plans for announcing a deal today. The GOP and White House negotiators were haggling over whether the current bargainers or Republican-dominated congressional committees later on would define the details of tax cuts, and what their 10-year price tag would be. Also in play was whether Clinton would get all of the extra $70 billion he wants over five years for education and other domestic programs. Late in the day, Clinton spoke by telephone to Senate Republican leader Trent Lott — with House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the room with Lott. House Republicans were to meet later. Administration officials were all over Capitol Hill making the case for a deal to Democrats, some of whom were making their displeasure clear. But the deal was nearly done — so close that GOP leaders were preparing the Capitol's Rotunda to be the site of an announcement. According to participants on both sides, the package contained: • $115 billion in five-year Medicare savings, including slight increases in monthly premiums for many recipients. • A children's tax credit, reductions in the capital gains and estate levies, and tax breaks for college students Clinton sought. The Associated Press Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott meets with reporters on Capitol Hill to discuss the ongoing budget negotiations. • An assumption that the government will pare its measure of inflation, meaning slower growth of Social Security benefits and of deductions and exemptions for most taxpayers. Attention was already turning to the process of lining up support in Congress for the compromise, which if completed would mark a watershed in the deficit wars the two parties have waged since the beginning of the Reagan era. The early conventional wisdom was that most Republicans and a minority of Democrats would vote for budget-balancing legislation that would be written to reflect the compromise. The likeliest opponents: liberal Democrats upset that domestic spending was too low, and conservative Republicans angry that tax cuts were insufficient. • Democrats angry / Page A6 T BOULDER MURDER JonBenet's parents deny killing their little girl The Associated Press John Ramsey watches as his wife, Patsy, holds an ad promising a reward for information leading to the arrest of their daughter's killer. Parents acknowledge their silence added to suspicion of them By The Associated Press _ BOULDER, Colo. — Directly answering for the first time the question that has hung over them ever since their daughter's slaying, JonBenet Ramsey's parents declared Thursday they did not kill their little girl. "I'm appalled that anyone would think that John or I would be involved in such a hideous, heinous crime. I did not kill Jon- Benet. I did not have anything to do with it," said Patsy Ramsey, who with her husband broke four months of public silence. "I loved that child with my — whole of my heart and soul." t John Ramsey said: "I did not kill my daughter JonBenet." The couple spoke to a small group of reporters at a local hotel for more than a half-hour. They asked the public for help in finding the killer and called for the harshest penalty for anyone convicted. "This is a solvable crime and it will be solved," John Ramsey said. Patsy Ramsey added: "God knows who you are and we will find you." Six-year-old JonBenet was found strangled in the basement of the family's large, Tudor-style home after Patsy Ramsey reported finding a ransom note demanding $118,000. An autopsy indicated the former Little Miss Colorado may have been sexually assaulted. District Attorney Alex Hunter recently acknowledged that the couple were the focus of the investigation. They were questioned by police at length on Wednesday — separately, as investigators had demanded — after months of wrangling over the terms of the interrogation. Reporters from area media outlets were forbidden to ask about the police interrogation or the night of the slaying. John Ramsey acknowledged the suspicion that has surrounded the couple because of their reluctance to speak to police and because they hired lawyers shortly after the slaying. "Sadly for our country most tragedies of this nature — the killing of a child — apparently in the majority of cases are family- related," he said. "That's a tragic statement for our country but because we were the parents of Jon- Benet we were automatically put in the suspect pool."

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