US: Better 911 contacts might have foiled fatal bike crash

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says better communication between police agencies might have prevented the deaths of five bicyclists last year in southwestern Michigan.

A pickup truck plowed into a pack of cyclists on a rural road near Kalamazoo last June. The driver, Charles Pickett Jr., is charged with second-degree murder and driving while under the influence of drugs.

The NTSB says 22 minutes passed between the first 911 call about an erratic driver and the crash in Cooper Township. The board says Pickett might have been intercepted by an officer if dispatchers for three police agencies had shared more information among themselves about three 911 calls.

Audit: Federal grant funds tapped for medical marijuana

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An audit by independent investigators with the U.S. Justice Department has determined a New Mexico program that helps crime victims allowed federal grant funds to be used to reimburse the purchase of medical marijuana.

The review by the agency’s inspector general was released this week. It identified $7,630 in questioned costs.

Officials noted that while medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico, the substance is still banned under federal law and not an expense that can be covered by grant funding.

Testing begins after brown spots appear in 2 Florida cities

SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is looking into complaints about brown spots that are appearing on cars, boats, air conditioning units and other objects in a couple of cities.

Dozens of people complained to Springfield city officials in the last week or so, prompting them to ask the environmental agency to investigate.

Agency spokeswoman Brandy Smith says investigators have visited some of the larger nearby industrial facilities, but didn’t find a potential source for the spots.

Charles Lewis tells The News Herald the spots went through the clear top coat on the hood of his new silver SUV and won’t come off.

Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond says so far no one has reported health issues.

Police look to
uncover judge’s movements before death

NEW YORK (AP) — Police are asking for the public’s help as they try to track the movements of a pioneering New York judge before she was found dead in the Hudson River.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s body was found along the riverbank near her Manhattan home on April 12. She had been reported missing a day earlier.

Two law enforcement officials say the death is being treated as a suicide. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn’t been completed.

Investigators were looking for any video or any witnesses who may have seen the 65-year-old in the time leading up to her death.

An autopsy was inconclusive as to the cause of death and required further study.

Abdus-Salaam was the first black woman on New York state’s highest court.

Pastor won’t face trial in girl’s faith-healing death

BERNVILLE, Pa. (AP) — The leader of a Pennsylvania church that rejects modern medicine won’t stand trial after a judge dismissed a novel case that sought to hold the pastor responsible for failing to report suspected abuse when his own granddaughter died of pneumonia.

A district judge found insufficient evidence to support the felony charge against the Rev. Rowland Foster in the November death of 2-year-old Ella Foster.

Foster serves as pastor of Faith Tabernacle Congregation, part of a fundamentalist Christian sect that instructs members to eschew treatment by physicians and the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

The church’s stance against modern medicine has resulted in the deaths of dozens of children from preventable or treatable illnesses, most in Pennsylvania, according to an advocacy group that tracks faith-based medical neglect. Their members hoped the prosecution of the pastor might spur change in a church that has resisted it.

“I think there’s just a lack of evidence all the way around,” defense lawyer Chris Ferro said. “This is a grieving grandfather, not a criminal.”

Ella Foster likely suffered from severely labored breathing and a temperature of about 104 on the day she died, police said in charging documents, citing a forensic pathologist. She almost certainly would have survived had she been given antibiotics, the pathologist said.

The girl’s parents, Jonathan and Grace Foster, summoned the elder Foster to their home while she was dying, and he anointed her head with oil. Police called after she died found her body fully dressed, covered with a blanket.

Rev. Foster, 72, told police he has never been to a doctor.

The girl’s parents are charged with involuntary manslaughter and await trial. They have relinquished custody of their six other children.