WEDDING CAKE DISCRIMINATION
Judge orders Colo. cake maker to serve gay couples
DENVER (AP) — A Colorado judge says a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs.
Friday's order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer says Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver will face fines if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes for their wedding celebrations.
An attorney for Masterpiece Cakeshop did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Shop owner Jack Phillips had argued that making cakes for gay wedding ceremonies violates his Christian beliefs.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins. The couple was married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake to celebrate in Colorado.
Holmes defense wants sanity hearing held in secret
DENVER (AP) — Attorneys for Colorado theater shooting defendant James Holmes are asking the judge to bar the public and media from hearing pretrial testimony from the psychiatrist who evaluated Holmes' sanity.
A motion filed Friday says Holmes' right to an impartial jury would be harmed if the public hears the testimony.
The judge hasn't ruled on the request.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a suburban Denver movie theater in 2012. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes underwent a mandatory sanity evaluation last summer. The conclusions haven't been made public, but prosecutors are asking for further evaluation.
The two sides are scheduled to argue the request at a hearing later this month. The defense wants that hearing held in secret.
Party celebrates Washington pot anniversary
SEATTLE (AP) — Crowds of happy stoners bundled in winter coats are celebrating the anniversary of legal marijuana in Washington state by sparking up under Seattle's Space Needle.
Marijuana activist Ben Livingston says it took him three months to persuade city officials to grant him a permit for the party.
Friday's free event is in a haze-filled tent behind a double perimeter fence at Seattle Center, with the pot smoking blocked from public view.
The party is being held near Key Arena, where Pearl Jam is ending a North American tour. Livingston has extended an open invitation to the band's fans to swing by on their way to or from the show.
TRANSGENDER BATHROOM FIGHT
Teacher backlash over transgender comments
(Information in the following story is from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com)
DENVER (AP) — A western Colorado school board member says she has no regrets saying boys should be castrated if they want to use a girls' locker room.
The Denver Post also reported Friday that Delta School District 50J school board member Kathy Svenson said she doesn't believe there is such a thing as people who are transgender.
Svenson says she was flooded with criticism for her comments from activists, even though no transgender students have asked to use the girls locker room.
In Colorado, transgender people are allowed to access public or workplace restrooms designated for the gender that matches their self-identification.
That was affirmed in June when the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled that a 6-year-old transgender girl, who was born male, could use the facilities for girls in her Fountain school.
MISSING MONTANA TEACHER
After teacher's death, suspect's trial in doubt
SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — The killing of a high school teacher has weighed heavily in rural Montana. Hundreds of people helped search for Sherry Arnold, and calls for frontier-style justice greeted the arrest of the man accused in her death.
Today, the fate of 24-year-old Michael Keith Spell rests not with a jury but with experts evaluating whether he should be declared unfit for trial. The Colorado man's attorneys say he has intellectual disabilities dating to his elementary school days.
If he goes to trial, they say the death sentence sought by prosecutors should be barred under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forbids executions of the mentally disabled. Prosecutors are sending their own team to evaluate Spell.
A co-defendant has entered into a plea deal that calls on him to testify against Spell.
Reindeer escapes from Santa at Colorado mall
(Information in the following story is from: KYSL-FM, http://www.krystal93.com)
DILLON, Colo. (AP) — A runaway reindeer broke free from Santa Claus at a Colorado mall Thursday while the Big Man was inside visiting with children.
KYSL in Summit County reports that the reindeer escape happened outside the La Riva Mall in Dillon.
While Santa was inside listening to children's Christmas wish lists, the reindeer jumped over its enclosure, leading police officers on a healthy jog through town.
The reindeer was located on the other side of a nearby reservoir. The Summit County sheriff's office brought in another reindeer to lure the runaway and get it back into a trailer.
Colo. health exchange CEO drops raise request
DENVER (AP) — The head of Colorado's state health care exchange is backing off her request for a year-end raise and bonus.
Patty Fontneau said Friday that the attention on her pay has been a distraction at a time when the exchange is focused on getting people signed up for health insurance. She is currently paid more than $190,000 a year, a salary that is supported by Colorado taxpayers.
Enrollment figures through the exchange so far are short of expectations. Officials' high-end projection for how many people would enroll in an insurance plan through December was more than 61,000. But earlier this week, officials said just under 10,000 people had bought private health insurance plan.
SKATE PARK SHOOTING
2 arrested in Colorado Springs skate park shooting
(Information in the following story is from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Two Colorado Springs men accused of a skate park shooting face charges of attempted first-degree murder.
The Gazette reports that 20-year-old Jeritt Tardiff and 23-year-old Joaquin Soto were arrested Thursday.
The shooting happened Nov. 26 when an apparent argument over a girl became violent. A 22-year-old man was shot and seriously injured. He is expected to survive.
CHILD SEX ARRESTS
Mother enraged over pimp probation deal
DENVER (AP) — The mother of a teenager is enraged after a woman involved in a child sex ring was given probation instead of jail time on Thursday.
Denver District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport gave Angela Ryan a four-year suspended prison sentence with four years intensive supervised probation, followed by three years of parole, for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The girl was 16 at the time.
Ryan is one of 12 people who were indicted in December 2012 for using Internet ads to prostitute the girls, forcing them to walk the street and beating them when they didn't comply.
According to the Denver Post, Ryan was charged with pandering a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but one charge was dropped as part of the deal.
Police arrest 2 people in animal welfare dispute
CANON CITY, Colo. (AP) — Two men have been arrested following an altercation when police responded to an animal welfare complaint.
Canon City police officers were asked to check on a small dog that had been left out in the cold on Wednesday. A neighbor told police the dog was sitting on a leash outside the owner's home, whimpering because it was cold. Police found a snow-filled dog house and a frozen water bowl.
Police say the owner refused to bring his dog inside and scuffled with police when they tried to arrest him.
James Rowe is facing charges of assault on a police officer. Police also arrested Justin Pratt on similar charges when he tried to intervene.
Colorado clears teen treatment center to reopen
(Information in the following story is from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com)
PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — Adolescent treatment cottages in Pueblo that were shut down by the state after allegations of children being placed in solitary confinement will be allowed to reopen.
The Chieftain reports that El Pueblo's therapeutic intervention cottages were cleared for reopening Thursday by the Colorado Department of Human Services.
In April, the department shut down El Pueblo's therapeutic intervention cottages, also called reflections cottages. The Colorado chapter of the ACLU filed a complaint that included allegations El Pueblo was placing children in solitary confinement.
Over the course of the last eight months, El Pueblo has been working to improve the physical structure of the cottages as well as the way it tracks residents and provides service to them.
It's unclear how soon the cottages will be in use.
Alamosa theater reopens after Thanksgiving flood
(Information in the following story is from: Valley Courier, http://www.alamosanews.com/)
ALAMOSA, Colo. (AP) — People in Alamosa can finally catch up on their holiday movie watching.
The Valley Courier reports that the town's only movie theater is reopening Friday night after a devastating flood caused by broken water lines on Thanksgiving morning.
The San Luis Valley city often ranks as one of the coldest spots in the continental United States. The Disney movie "Frozen" is one of the films now showing at the Ski Hi 6 Theatre.