Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 14, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2001
SHARI JACKSON MURDER CASE
Doctor: Throat slashes accelerated victim’s death
By Phil Ray
TYRONE — A pathologist from Allentown testified Thursday that 20-year-old Shari Lee Jackson of Hollidaysburg 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 supports his conclusion that Jackson was tortured and that Kristin Marie Edmundson, 20, of3200 Old Sixth Avenue
Road and Marie Louise Seilhamer, 19, of Ashville RD I should face the death penalty.
The death penalty can be imposed by a jury if there is an “aggravated circumstance” involved in the death, Gorman said after a stormy two-hour hearing in District Justice John Greene’s office in Tyrone.
Please see Death/Page A4
Blair County Judge Jolene Koprtva already has approved separate trials for the defendants rn the Shari Jackson murder 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 Blair County or by an out-of-county jury,
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Taxes could still be raised
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Residents’ videotape views split
B Elected council
By Michael Emery
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
It UNCANSVILLE — It started out as a 11 small cookie sale.
lr It became a big cookie sale —1,900 dozen, count ’em — and is being called a Christmas
The sale will help the Mapr 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 family 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 Cookie/Page A12
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The government asked a federal judge Thursday to hold the American Red Cross in contempt of court for repeated violations of blood safety regulations.
member considers reopening the books
after he takes office.
Staff Writer The videotape released by the Pentagon Thursday showing Osama 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 proof, and I just haven’t seen the hard proof against him yet,” 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 interested in seeing the tape.”
Others weren’t so eager.
"I don’t think they should have
released the tape,” said Lucy Robinson, a Penn State Altoona business msgor from Altoona.
“It’s not necessary. There’s enough other evidence against [bin Ladenl. I think the tape will promote 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 again,” she said.
“I’m sure we’ll see this tape on the news repeatedly, and I would much rather not see it.”
Please see Tape/Page AIQ
By Timothy D. May
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG - State health officials Thursday reminded senior citizens that the federal government’s Dec. 31 deadline for joining a Medicare health maintenance organization is approaching rapidly.
“This year, the federal government has imposed some limits, and if you want to join an HMO, you have to do so by the end of the year,” said Joe Martin, communications director for the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, a state agency that provides information about healthcare policy to the public.
Joining an HMO can have advantages 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 Browdie said.
About 1.5 million Pennsylvania seniors belong to the original Medicare program, and about 508,000 belong to Medicare HMOs, which offer coverage in 48 of the state’s 67 counties.
One benefit of joining a Medicare 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 HMOs/Page AIQ
By William Kibler
Altoona City Councilman-elect Brent Fisher may have the leverage 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-Fisher able with a budget that projects a year-end surplus of zero.
Because he’s replacing a member of the majority, Fisher potentially could join the three dissenters to reopen the budget and raise the property tax.
“It’s certainly an option,” Fisher said.
The Third-Class City Code allows councils to reopen budgets in January after municipal elections to allow new voices, like Fisher’s, to be heard.
Fisher hasn’t decided, and he plans to study the issues and consult 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 from,” 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 economy, he said.
If the council doesn’t raise taxes this year, it certainly will need to for 2003, Fisher said.
Please see Taxes/Page A7