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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: December 14, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 14, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                RELIGION: BON SECOURS HOSPITAL'S HEALING MASS OFFERS COMFORT FREE INSIDE BUGS get 3 pitchers from Chi Sox for Ritchie, Curve alum Lee Evans How to avoid packing on f while you're unwrapping those gifts Altoona UKmir Copyright 2001 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2001 newsstand SHARI JACKSON MURDER CASE Doctor: Throat slashes accelerated victim's death Edmunds on Seilhamer BY PHII, RAY Staff Writer TYRONE A pathologist from Allentown testified Thursday that 20- year-old Shari Lee Jackson of Holli- daysburg died in May from at least two blows to the head. But while she was dying, her throat was slashed at least six times with a sharp object like a box-cutter knife. Dr. Sara Lee Funke said the cuts on the neck, which nearly decapitated Jackson, accelerated her death, even though death was certain had the neck injuries not been inflicted. Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman said Funke's testimony sup- ports his conclusion that Jackson was tortured and that Kristin Marie Ed- mundson, 20, of 3200 Old Sixth Avenue Road and Marie Louise Seilhamer, 19, of Ashville RD1 should face the death penalty. The death penalty can be imposed by a jury if there is an "aggravated cir- cumstance" involved in the death, Gorman said after a stormy two-hour hearing in District Justice John Greene's office in Tyrone. Please see A4 WHATSNEKT Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva already has approved separate trials for the defendants in the Shari Jackson mutder case. The cases will diverge from this point, with defense attorneys likely to file pretrial motions regarding the validity of evidence in the case and whether it will be heard in Blai; County or by an out- ot-county Jury. Jackson ALTOONA BUDGET Taxes could still be raised Elected council member considers reopening the books after he takes office. BY WILLIAM KIBLEB Staff Writer Altoona City Councilman-elect Brent Fisher may have the lever- age to reverse the council's no-tax- hike majority when he takes office in January. He's already thinking about it. Four council members voted this week to keep general-purpose millage at 27.5 mills, while three others voted in favor of raising taxes because they were uncomfort- able with a budget that projects a year-end surplus of zero. Because he's replacing a mem- ber of the majority, Fisher poten- tially could join the three dis- senters to reopen the budget and raise the property tax. "It's certainly an Fisher said. The Third-Class City Code allows councils to reopen budgets in January after municipal elec- tions to allow new voices, like Fisher's, to be heard. Fisher hasn't decided, and he plans to study the issues and con- sult with other council members. He ran for office on the prom-ise of reinvesting in the city, and a budget with absolutely no extra in it will make that hard, he said. "I campaigned on the fact that I wanted to do this and this and this, and all of a sudden, we're trying to find out where the next nickel is coming he said. The city can't depend on the state to help because the state also is beginning to struggle financially as part of an overall slowing econ- omy, he said. If the council doesn't raise taxes this year, it certainly will need to for 2003, Fisher said. Please see A7 Fisher LIKE MANNA FROM HEAVEN Mirror photo by Kelly Bennett Phyllis Smouse (left) of Altoona and Joyce Shaw of Hollidaysburg count cookies at the Fifty-Eighth Street United Methodist Church in Altoona Wednesday. Sweet sale raises money to build accessible rooms for disabled girl BY MARK LEBERFINGER Staff Writer DUNCANSVILLE It started out as a small cookie sale. It became a big cookie dozen, count 'em and is being called a Christmas miracle. The sale will help the Mary Emery family build a handicapped-accessible bathroom and bedroom onto their home for Emery's daugh- ter, Michelle Long, who has cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy. Volunteers from Fifty-Eighth Street United Methodist Church, where Emery and her fam- ily attend services, came up with the idea for the sale. The ladies of the church hoped to sell 500 to 700 dozen cookies, said Joyce Shaw, an organizer. But what happened next was amazing. Please see A12 WAR ON TERRORISM More on Pages C1, C4 Residents' videotape views split BY MICHAEL EMERY StqffWriter The videotape released by the Pentagon Thursday showing Osaina bin''-Laden celebrating the Sept. ll attacks against America might provide the proof that fence- sitters like Frederick E. Wert of Altoona need to convince them of the alleged terrorist mastermind's guilt. An Army Airborne Rangers Special Forces soldier who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, Wert said Thursday afternoon that he had not yet seen the tape, but he was eager to watch it because he had his doubts whether bin Laden planned the attacks. "I've got to have and I just haven't seen the hard proof against him Wert said. "Everybody says he's behind it, and he might be, but I don't know how involved he was in it That's why I'm inter- ested in seeing the tape." Others weren't so eager. "I don't think they should have Hunter Wert released the said Lucy Robinson, a Perm State Altoona business major from Altoona. "It's not necessary. There's enough other evidence against [bin I think the tape will pro-" mote more violence." Carolyn Hunter of Altoona was also upset with the release of the tape. "I'm fed up with the media and the way the same thing is shown or written about over and over she said. "I'm sure we'll see this tape on the hews repeatedly, and I would much rather not see it." Please see A10 Medicare HMOs deadline nearing BY TIMOTHY D. MAY The Associated Press HARRISBIJRG State health officials Thursday reminded senior citizens that the federal govern- ment's Dec. 31 deadline for joining a Medicare health maintenance orga- nization is approaching rapidly. "This year, the federal govern- ment has imposed some limits, and if you want to join an HMO, you have to do so by the end of the said Joe Martin, communi- cations director for the Pennsyl- vania Health Care Cost Contain- ment Council, a state agency that provides information about health- care policy to the public. Joining an HMO can have advan- tages and disadvantages, and seniors should consider a number of factors before deciding whether to stick with their traditional, fee- for-service Medicare coverage or switch to an HMO, Department'of Aging Secretary Richard BrowdJS said. About 1.5 million Pennsylvania seniors belong to the original Medicare program, and about belong to Medicare HMOs, which offer coverage in 48 of the state's 67 counties. One benefit of joining a Medi- care HMO is that it could cost less because monthly premiums and payments for visits to doctors or hospitals typically are the only charges for seniors who belong, state officials said. Please see A1O Subscription or home delivery questions; 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 I Lottery numbers, A2 Occasional rain, Forecast, A2 2002BPROWLERr HOLIDAY SAVINGS Chrysler Jeep 1549 Pleasant Valley Blvd. AKoona, M 943-6167 www.dartdmchryttor.com i Business Hosptels Obiluaries Opinion Scoreboard A9 A1J[ All A8 B4 IBS Classiiieds____C6-14 Movies C5 Comics Puzztes Television OS D2 M D4 IN NATION The government asked a" federal judge Thursday to' hold (tie American Red Cross in contempt of court for repealed violations of Wood safely regulations. FACE C1   

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