Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content SUNRISE: I-70 open in Colorado after Kansas closure

Staff reports Updated: April 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

DENVER — The interstate highway from Denver through northeast Colorado remains closed after state highway officials decided blizzard conditions in Nebraska are still too dangerous for travel.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said Wednesday that there is no estimated time for Interstate 76 to reopen, according to the Associated Press.

Highway officials reopened Interstate 70 early Wednesday after it was closed because of severe weather in Kansas from a strong spring storm that brought blizzard conditions, snow and ice to the state on Tuesday.

DIA nearly back to normal

DENVER (AP) — Denver International Airport is downgrading its snow operations as a spring storm moves on, but travelers could still face deicing delays of 15 to 30 minutes.

DIAofficials say the storm prompted nearly 500 flight cancellations Tuesday, or close to 30 percent of the airport's daily flight schedule. Many of the cancellations were commuter flights.

The National Weather Service says the storm had dropped 6.5 inches of snow at the airport as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, which was within its forecast for 6 to 11 inches.

The airport downgraded its snow operations at 4 p.m. Tuesday, but it still has crews ready to clear the airfield and roads as needed.

      

WEATHER

The National Weather Service forecasts partly sunny skies and a high of 34 on Wednesday in Colorado Springs. Expect an overnight low of 23. On Thursday, the weather service forecasts a high of 52.

  

AROUND COLORADO

Colorado officials find more court errors

DENVER (AP) — Colorado court officials have found two more sentencing errors like the one that allowed Evan Ebel to walk out of prison four years early shortly before he was killed in a shootout in Texas.

Prison officials said Tuesday the new errors were uncovered during a review of five years' worth of assault cases ordered by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to the Denver Post (http://tinyurl.com/d8x4hpk ), neither mistake resulted in any inmates being improperly released.

Authorities believe Ebel killed pizza-delivery driver Nathan Leon on March 17 and shot Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements on March 19 before he was stopped and killed in Texas.

Fire burns pot-growing operation

FORT COLLINS (AP) — Sheriff's officials say a fire has destroyed about 60 marijuana plants in a garage being used to grow pot in Larimer County.

Sheriff's officials said Tuesday that it's unlikely any criminal charges will be filed.

Preliminary indications are that the fire Monday morning was caused by an overloaded electrical box that was providing power to grow the marijuana. Marijuana growing operations typically use a lot of electricity to power lights and fans.

Body found in Black Canyon of the Gunnison park

GUNNISON (AP) — Rangers looking for an overdue backpacker at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park have found a body about 1,000 feet below the canyon's South Rim.

The victim's name wasn't immediately released Tuesday. Rangers say it appears the person may have been injured in a significant fall.

Park rangers had been looking for a backpacker whose backcountry permit indicated a departure from the park Saturday. When rangers saw the backpacker's car still at the trailhead Sunday morning, they started searching the hiker's intended route.

Rangers found the body Tuesday.

University of Colorado regents OK tuition hikes

BOULDER (AP) — University of Colorado regents have approved a new tuition model that effectively raises in-state tuition by 8.7 percent on the campus in Boulder.

Regents voted 6-3 Tuesday to approve the new model, raising tuition for students in the College of Arts and Sciences to $8,760.

Under the new model, full-time students would be charged $365 per credit hour for 12 credit hours. Currently, full-time students pay $358 per credit hour for 11.25 credit hours per semester, though they can take several more credits.

Regents approved a 1.9 percent increase for first-year undergraduates from out-of-state on the Boulder campus, raising the incoming rate to $30,538.

They also approved a 3.1 percent increase in a merit-based compensation pool for faculty, plus 6 percent tuition hikes at CU's Denver and Colorado Springs campuses.

1 charge dropped, 1 remains for Texas businessman

MONTROSE (AP) — A judge has dismissed a first-degree murder charge against a Texas businessman accused in the drowning of his wife in Colorado, but he's allowing a charge of second-degree murder to proceed.

Lawyers for Frederick Mueller had sought for the first-degree murder charge to be dropped after a jury deadlocked on a verdict earlier this year.

Mueller has said Leslie Mueller died in a hiking accident in 2008 after falling into a creek in Hinsdale County. Investigators have questioned his story.

The Montrose Daily Press reports (http://bit.ly/YbyFaU ) that on Monday, a judge ruled there is no evidence from which it could be reasonably inferred that Mueller acted after reflection and judgment, as required for conviction of first-degree murder.

Court records show a trial on the remaining charge is scheduled in May.

Suspect arrested in fatal hit-and-run

DENVER (AP) — Denver police have arrested a 30-year-old Aurora man in connection with a fatal hit-and-run.

Police say that so far this year, four people have been killed in three hit-and-runs in Denver.

Nathan Beechley was arrested Tuesday in the latest case.

Authorities say 35-year-old Jonathan Daniel Lewis was struck by a vehicle near Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Denver early Tuesday morning and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Multiple tips led to Beechley's arrest. Police also found blue paint chips and part of a bumper at the scene. The Denver Post reports (http://bit.ly/XqWrCC) police found a dark blue Chevrolet Malibu with front-end damage at Beechley's apartment complex.

Area impacted by natural gas liquids leak grows

DENVER (AP) — State officials say liquid hydrocarbons that have been seeping into the ground at a western Colorado gas field have affected a larger area than initially believed.

Energy workers discovered contaminated soil and groundwater about a month ago near the Williams gas processing facility in Parachute. Liquid hydrocarbons, including cancer-causing benzene, were discovered within 10 feet of Parachute Creek, which runs into the Colorado River.

A spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources said Monday that tainted soil and groundwater has also been found on the south side of the creek, opposite the bank where the seep was initially discovered.

Officials insist the creek remains unaffected, though protective booms placed across the water revealed the presence of hydrocarbons known as diesel range organics. No benzene has been found in the water, and officials say it is not clear whether the underground leak is the source of the hydrocarbons in the creek.

The origin of the seep has not been pinpointed, though investigators are focusing on a 4-inch pipeline that carries natural gas liquids away from the processing plant.

State considers hemp regulation

DENVER (AP) — When Colorado voters legalized marijuana last year, they also legalized its industrial cousin, hemp. Since then, Colorado lawmakers have spent a lot of time reviewing marijuana, but they're just starting work on regulating hemp.

A legislative committee plans to start work Wednesday on a bill directing the state Agriculture Department to license hemp growers starting next year. Hemp plants look like marijuana, but it lacks most of the psychoactive properties of its better-known cousin. Finished hemp is legal under federal law, but growing it is not, so states that legalize hemp must regulate it themselves.

The bill before Colorado lawmakers would create a registry for farmers seeking to raise hemp. The crop can't be insured, so it's unclear how many plan to grow it.

Immigrant driver's license bill up for vote

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers are considering a proposal to provide driver's licenses for people who are in the country illegally.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected hear testimony and take a vote on the measure on Wednesday.

Supporters of the bill say everyone would benefit if drivers who are currently unlicensed learn the rules of the road and get insurance. County sheriffs support the bill.

Republicans argue the bill goes too far and that state lawmakers should wait for action by the federal government.

New Mexico, Illinois, and Washington currently allow driver's licenses for those illegally in the country. Utah grants immigrants a driving permit that can't be used for identification.

Taxpayers billed for witness travel in Holmes case

DENVER (AP) — Colorado taxpayers have spent about $1,900 in travel costs for a New York-based reporter to appear in an Arapahoe County courtroom as lawyers for theater shooting suspect James Holmes attempt to identify her confidential sources, the reporter's attorney said.

More taxpayer costs are likely for additional travel and for outside attorneys in New York state.

A judge has ordered Jana Winter of Fox News to attend a hearing Wednesday at which Holmes' lawyers plan to re-question a police investigator about whether he told anyone about the contents of a notebook Holmes mailed to a psychiatrist before the July 20 attack.

Holmes is charged with fatally shooting 12 people and injuring 70 in a packed Denver-area theater. The judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Winter wrote a story in July citing unnamed law enforcement officials as saying the notebook contained drawings depicting violence.

Holmes' lawyers want to know the names of the law enforcement officials who spoke to Winter. The defense argues the leak violated a gag order and could weaken the credibility of those officials if they are called to testify in a trial.

Man stabbed at bus transfer center dies

DENVER (AP) — Denver police say a man who was found stabbed at a bus transfer center has died from his injuries.

Police say the unidentified man had an apparent knife wound when they arrived Tuesday afternoon at the RTD Bus Park and Ride in Denver. They were called there to respond to a report of a stabbing.

Police say the man was pronounced dead at Denver Health Medical Center.

The death is being investigated as a homicide.

DA seeks death penalty in slaying of prison worker

DENVER (AP) — An inmate accused in the 2002 slaying of a prison worker will be placed on trial and prosecutors will seek the death penalty after a judge Tuesday allowed the suspect to withdraw his guilty plea.

Edward Montour Jr., already serving a life sentence in the 1997 death of his 11-month-old daughter, is accused of killing Eric Autobee, 23, by striking him in the head with a heavy kitchen ladle at Limon Correctional Facility. Montour represented himself in the case and in January 2003, barely three months after the slaying, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

He told his advisory attorneys that he wanted to die by execution, according to court documents.

The case has lingered in court for more than 10 years following a judge's imposition of the death penalty, which was later thrown out by the Colorado Supreme Court. The court ruled in 2007 that only a jury, not a judge, can hand down death sentences.

While prosecutors have been seeking a penalty phase trial so a jury can impose the death penalty, Montour's defense attorneys have been trying to strike a deal that would spare Montour's life.

    

TODAY IN HISTORY

In 1790, President George Washington signed into law the first United States Patent Act.

In 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was incorporated.

In 1912, the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

In 1925, the novel “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was first published.

In 1932, German president Paul Von Hindenburg was re-elected in a runoff, with Adolf Hitler coming in second.

In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey purchased the contract of Jackie Robinson from the Montreal Royals.

In 1953, the 3-D horror movie “House of Wax,” produced by Warner Bros. and starring Vincent Price, premiered in New York.

In 1957, Egypt reopened the Suez Canal to all shipping traffic. (The canal had been closed due to wreckage resulting from the Suez Crisis.)

In 1962, United States Steel Chairman Roger Blough informed President John F. Kennedy of his company’s decision to raise steel prices an average of $6 a ton. (Under pressure, Blough changed his mind.)

In 1963, the fast-attack nuclear submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593) sank during deep-diving tests east of Cape Cod, Mass., in a disaster that claimed 129 lives.

In 1974, Golda Meir told party leaders she was resigning as prime minister of Israel.

In 1998, the Northern Ireland peace talks concluded as negotiators reached a settlement to end 30 years of bitter rivalries and bloody attacks.

In 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, 60, was killed in a plane crash in Russia that also claimed the lives of his wife and top Polish political, military and church officials.

Ten years ago: Iraqi television aired videotaped greetings from President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Congress overwhelmingly passed a package of child safety protections, including a national Amber Alert network. A fire in a boarding school for the deaf in southern Russia killed 28 children.

Five years ago: The U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially renamed Squaw Peak in Phoenix Piestewa Peak, in honor of Army Spc. Lori Piestewa, who was killed in Iraq in 2003 and posthumously promoted from the rank of Private First Class. Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, suspected of killing a pregnant colleague, was arrested in Tacambaro, Mexico; Laurean was later sentenced to life in prison for murdering Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach in North Carolina.

One year ago: Rick Santorum quit the presidential race, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to claim the Republican nomination. Syrian troops defied a U.N.-brokered cease-fire plan, launching fresh attacks on rebellious areas.

  

HAPPENINGS

-- “Music at Midday,” 12:15 p.m., Colorado College, Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache La Poudre St., free.

-- Reception with J. Patrick Lewis, 4:30 p.m., Carnegie Reading Room, Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., free.

-- “Smart Water-Wise Landscape Design” class, 6:30-8 p.m., Colorado Springs Utilities Conservation and Environmental Center, 2855 Mesa Road, free.

-- Air Force Academy Falconaires Jazz Ensemble, 7 p.m., Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 Cresta Road, free.

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