Report says Alabama crime down 4 percent
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A new report says the crime rate in Alabama went down 4 percent in 2013.
The annual report from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center says 173,916 crimes were reported by law enforcement agencies in Alabama in 2013. That was down from 181,752 crimes in 2012. It was the second consecutive year for a decrease.
The center reports that property crimes were down 5 percent, burglaries down 11 percent and robberies down 6 percent. Homicides were up 5 percent and crimes involving motor vehicles went up 9 percent.
The report notes that 24 percent of the crimes were cleared by an arrest or other means. That was the highest rate in the last five years.
BURGLAR KILLED-GRAND JURY
Ala. grand jury clears woman who shot burglar
PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) - A grand jury won't bring charges against an Autauga County woman who shot and killed a knife-wielding burglar who forced his way into her home.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports District Attorney Randall Houston confirmed the grand jury opted to take no action against the woman Friday morning. He did not release the woman's name.
Authorities say 18-year-old Mikel Smith of Marbury came to the door of the woman's home in Booth after midnight on April 4. A police report says he told the woman his car had broken down and he needed help, then pushed his way into the home armed with a knife.
Police say the woman had come to her door armed with a revolver and she shot Smith several times.
$2.5M bond set for Ala. coach in child porn case
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - A judge has set bond at $2.5 million for a Guntersville soccer coach jailed on child pornography charges.
WAFF-TV reports suspended high school coach David Barrow appeared in a Marshall County courtroom Friday. Prosecutors asked Judge Mitchell Floyd to set the maximum bond allowed, arguing Barrow posed a flight risk because he's a pilot with his own plane. The judge said Barrow would have to surrender his pilot's license as a condition of his bond.
Prosecutors say Barrow used cameras hidden in an athletic facility and in a bathroom stall to film minors. He faces similar charges in Madison County.
No attorney appeared with Barrow in court Friday. He told the judge, "I have things to say, but I have been told to remain silent."
Indicted Alabama legislator seeks to bar call
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - An indicted Alabama legislator is asking a judge to keep prosecutors from using a recording of a phone call he had with his primary election opponent.
Attorneys for Republican Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise say the recorded call can't be used because Moore was in Florida and Josh Pipkin was in Alabama when Pipkin recorded the call. They say Florida law requires the consent of both parties to record a call.
In the phone call, Moore says House Speaker Mike Hubbard is furious about Pipkin running and he makes other remarks about the race.
Moore faces perjury and false statement charges accusing him of lying about the call when he testified to a Lee County grand jury. He has pleaded not guilty.
Moore defeated Pipkin in the June primary.
Lawyer: Claims of botched circumcision are untrue
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Two doctors are denying claims by an Alabama man who says his penis was amputated during what was supposed to be a routine circumcision.
A lawyer for the physicians says the allegations in a lawsuit filed this week in Birmingham by Johnny Lee Banks Jr. are untrue.
The attorney, Will Axon, says the lawsuit is an attempt to damage the reputation of the physicians.
Banks and his wife filed the lawsuit this week against Drs. Vincent Michael Bivins and Alan Aikens, their medical groups and a hospital. He claims his penis was wrongly amputated during a circumcision last month.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of medical malpractice, negligence and other wrongdoing. It seeks an unspecified amount of money.
The hospital also says the claims are without merit.
Former astronaut Hank Hartsfield dies at 80
HOUSTON (AP) - Former astronaut Henry "Hank" Hartsfield, who logged 483 hours during three trips into space and commanded two shuttle missions, has died.
He was 80.
Hartsfield's daughter, Judy Gedies, said Friday her father died July 17 of complications following back surgery. Funeral services were set for Saturday in suburban Houston.
Hartsfield, from Birmingham, Alabama, had a physics degree from Auburn University, graduated from Air Force test pilot school and was selected for astronaut training in 1969. He earned an engineering science master's degree from the University of Tennessee in 1971.
He served on a 1972 lunar landing support crew, was pilot 10 years later for the shuttle Columbia's last test mission and commander for a Discovery flight in 1984 and Challenger in 1985. Hartsfield later worked in several NASA administrative positions.
Suit over student's death to become federal case
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - An attorney for the family of a student shot to death by a University of South Alabama police officer says a lawsuit in the case is moving from state court to federal court.
A grand jury found that Officer Trevis Austin was justified in shooting Gil Collar. Police said he was naked and banging on a window at a campus police station Oct. 6, 2012. Austin, who went outside to investigate the sound, said Collar was acting erratically and lunged toward him.
Al.com reports that Mobile County Circuit Judge Robert Smith granted a request by lawyers for Collar's parents to dismiss the suit in state court.
Lawyer Ben Locklar, who represents the family, said he plans to file a federal civil rights suit. Locklar said the shooting was not justified.
PHENIX CITY SLAYING-VERDICT
Jury convicts man of killing pregnant girlfriend
PHENIX CITY, Ala. (AP) - An east Alabama jury took just minutes to convict a man of beating and strangling his pregnant girlfriend to death.
The Russell County jury on Thursday found Curtis Durall Newsome guilty of murder in the June 2013 killing of Caneya "Candy" Webb.
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that Newsome has said he "snapped" after learning that another man had contacted his girlfriend on Facebook.
Authorities say Newsome punched her so hard in the back of her head that she lost consciousness, then strangled her until she was dead, bound her ankles and wrists with computer cord and left her face-down in the bathtub of her Phenix City apartment.
Circuit Judge Al Johnson set Newsome's sentencing for Aug. 22.
WORLD HORSESHOE COMPETITION
Alabama city to host world horseshoe competition
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama has a ringer in Montgomery, which has won its bid to host the World Horseshoe Tournament.
City officials on Thursday announced that the tournament will be held at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex in Montgomery in July 2016.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Montgomery was one of several cities vying for the competition, presented by the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association.
Kay McCreery, the city's special recreation programs director, said the final choice came down to Montgomery and Spokane, Washington, before Montgomery landed the event.
The 2014 tournament is taking place in Buffalo, New York.
Dawn Hathcock, vice president of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce's Visitors and Convention Bureau, said about 2,000 people are expected to visit for a two-week period around the time when the event is held.
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