Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 12, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
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© Copyright 2001SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2001
Panda’s Bar extinct after deal
Owner Frank West can keep deli but must sell his liquor license
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Protesters hold picket signs in favor of Panda’s Bar outside the Blair County Courthouse in Hollidaysburg Friday.
By Phil Ray
HOLLIDAYSBURG - An agreement struck late Friday afternoon closed the controversial Panda’s Bar in downtown Altoona for good.
The agreement between Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman and bar owner Franklin J. West allows West to reopen his adjoining delicatessen, which has been closed since April 30.
On that day, President Judge Thomas G. Peoples granted a temporary injunction, padlocking West’s business at 1211 lith St.
The judge granted the unusual injunction after reading state
ments by Panda’s Bar neighbors and nearby businessmen complaining that the bar was a haven for violence, drug deals and perverse behavior.
Judge Jolene G. Kopriva listened to several hours of testimony Friday to determine if the injunction closing Panda’s Bar should be lifted.
After several residents and business people testified, the handwriting was on the wall, Gorman said.
The case against the bar was strong, and it seemed likely that the district attorney’s office and the Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Agency were well on their way to
proving the bar was a nuisance.
If a judge upheld that finding, Panda’s Bar would be closed for a full year, during which time West likely would lose his bid to renew his liquor license.
By late Friday, West, through his attorneys, Arthur and Sean Cohen, attempted to reach an agreement with Gorman, assistant prosecutor Brandi Hauck and state police attorney Stanley Wolowski.
The agreement closes Panda’s Bar and eliminates the possibility that the location would again be used as a bar.
West will be allowed to operate his deli and can sell Panda’s liquor license.
But the new owner cannot use it within a one-mile radius of Panda’s Bar.
West has a May 24 liquor license renewal hearing before the state Liquor Control Board, an agency separate from the state police bureau.
A recommendation will be made that West be allowed to retain his license in order to sell it.
The agreement doesn’t prohibit West from applying for another liquor license, but he will not be able to open a new bar within a one-mile radius of the Panda’s Bar location.
Please see Bar/Page AIQ
Baumhammers jury decides on death sentence
By Charles Sheehan
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — An unemployed immigration lawyer was sentenced to death Friday for killing five people in a racially motivated shooting spree in suburban Pittsburgh last year.
It took the jury less than three hours to sentence Richard Baumhammers, 35, two days after finding him guilty of five counts of murder in the series of shootings April 28, 2000.
Prosecutors maintained Baumhammers, who is white, selected his victims because of their ethnic backgrounds.
Baumhammers showed no expression as the verdict was read. He nodded slightly to his parents as he was led from Judge Jeffrey Manning’s courtroom.
Baumhammers’ lawyers, who lost an insanity defense at the trial, asked jurors to spare his life, saying his mental state made it impossible for him to control his actions. Under Pennsylvania law, the jury only could sentence Baum hammers to death or life in prison without parole.
Defense attorney James Wymard had asked the jury to consider whether Baumhammers’ condition mitigated his crimes.
“In our society, it is not your function to administer revenge. It is your function to administer justice,” Wymard said in his closing arguments Friday. “It is not justice to kill someone who is mentally ill.”
He said the jury was resorting to eye-for-an-eye justice.
■ Timothy McVeigh execution put on hold/ Page Cl
“I think it is sad. We will have to live with it until his appeal,” Wymard said. “I’ll tell him this is the end of Round I, and we will come back for Round 2.”
Baumhammers becomes the 241st person on Pennsylvania’s death row.
Borkowski called 15 witnesses dur-
phase of the trial,
friends or family Baumhammers of the people Baumhammers was convicted of murdering in the two-county rampage.
None of the witnesses was asked whether they believed Baumhammers should be executed but simply described their lost friends and relatives and the impact on their lives.
On Friday, Zetta Lee, whose 22-year-old son. Garry Lee, was killed outside a karate studio in Aliquippa, said she wasn’t necessarily in favor of the death penalty for Baumhammers but trusted in a higher power to decide.
“At first I thought about the death penalty, but then I wanted to go for life in prison,” she said. “I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to feel what we’re feeling.”
Mirror file photo by J.D. CavrichA place to reflectAs first anniversary nears, officials feel Vietnam wall has found its niche here
By William Kibler
Thursday was beautiful, a day to inspire little girls to gather flowers.
John Kotuk was on the grassy grounds of the Van Zandt VA Medical Center at The Wall That Heals, trying to regather from his memory of 30 years ago the names of fellow soldiers and sailors in Southeast Asia.
Among them, always the memory of a little girl with a basket of flowers walking toward him as he fingered an M-60 machine gun atop an armored personnel carrier.
In a few minutes, he’s going to walk from the Wall to the hospital to discuss post-traumatic stress disorder because he’s begun to think that might have been his problem all these years.
Please see Wall/Page A12
THE WALL THAT HEALS
Area residents flocked to The Wall That Heals when it first arrived in Altoona as a traveling exhibit in May 1999. One year after it made a permanent home on the grounds of the Van Zandt VA Medical Center, veterans officials say the memorial has become a place for people to remember and honor fallen heroes.
Voting methods vary among counties within 9th District
By Robert Igoe
The 2000 presidential election will long be remembered for proving how you vote can be as important as whom you vote for.
The results were delayed for a month while Florida election officials attempted to determine the legality of thousands of votes. George W. Bush held a lead that dropped at times to less than a thousand during recounts.
In dispute were punch card ballots in several counties. Some were determined to be marked improperly, which resulted in their
■ Tyrone voters picking nominees for mayor, council/ Page A 7
■ Antis to vote on bottle club issue in Tuesday’s election/ Page A7
disqualification. The majority of those votes were believed to be for Bush’s opponent, Al Gore.
In the end, a final recount determined that Bush was indeed the winner. But the election sent many states scrambling to evaluate their own election methods to avoid
Editor s note: Ifs one of the basic freedoms that our country was founded upon, yet ifs taken for granted to the point that many people don’t participate in this rite of democracy or fully understand the process. Ifs voting.
This series is intended to help educate all of us about the workings of our democracy.'
COMING SUNDAY: Election officials, voting officers
GOP race heating up for Logan supervisor
Please see Voting/Page A7
By Ray Stephens Staff Writer
An incumbent Logan Township supervisor is being challenged by a local businessman in Tuesday’s primary election for the GOF nomination to become supervisor for a six-year term.
Republican voters will have a choice between Frank J. Meloy, Altoona RD 5, an assistant superintendent with the Altoona Area School District, and Joseph P. Merilli, 350 Oriole Drive, Hollidaysburg RD, a vice
president with Link Computer Corp.
While Democratic voters have no choices for Logan Township supervisor on their ballots, any candidate receiving the greatest number of valid write-in votes of more than IO can be on the fall election ballot.
Please see Logan/Page A7
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