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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - October 25, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania DISTRICT 5-6 PREVIEW: BOSTON, HINISH DEFEND CROSS-COUNTRY TITLES ► PAGE Bl Ll Playoff feve L? iv SM District football goe ;s down to Altona Minot © Copyright 2001THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2001 SOC newsstand DA will appeal Spotz trial From Mirror staff and wire reports CLEARFIELD — The Clearfield County district attorney will appeal a state Superior court decision ordering a new trial for crossstate killer Mark Spotz in one of four slayings for which he was convicted. District Attorney Paul Cherry said Wednesday that an appeal will be filed with the state Supreme Court by Nov. 3, the last day of a 30-day period HHEn allotted to file Pf Spotz meals. Spotz of Chestnut Grove, Clearfield County, was tried in four sepa-i rate county courts for each of the slayings that took place in 1995 over a four-day period. He was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection for three counts of murder. He also was found guilty on one count of voluntary manslaughter in the death (rf his older brother, Dustin, in Clearfield County. Spotz was accompanied on his crime spree by his girlfriend, Christina Noland of Altoona. Attorneys for Spotz argued that he received inadequate counsel before being convicted of voluntary manslaughter in his brother’s death. “We don’t agree with the deei sion and feel the Superior Court was in error for deciding what they did,” the attorney said. “We are appealing the decision, and that goes without saying.” If file Supreme Court allows the j decision to stand, Cherry said he / will try Spotz again. Spotz received a sentence of up to 35 years in his brother’s death. Spotz, who is incarcerated at the state prison in Montgomery County, was sentenced to death for the subsequent murders of three women in three counties while fleeing police. Spotz had been sentenced to die by lethal injection Aug. 2 after then-Gov. Tom Ridge signed a death warrant, but a York County judge issued a stay of execution in June. Two other death warrants also were stayed by the courts. AMTRAK THREAT Mirror file photo by Gary M. Baranec Passengers board an Amtrak train at the Altoona Transportation Center in this file photo. Amtrak increased security after a New York City man was taken off the train for allegedly making a threat in a letter. HEIGHTENED SECURITY Amtrak tightens rules of the rail By Mark Leberfinger Staff Writer Amtrak police continue their investigation into an incident Tuesday morning at the Altoona Transportation Center when a New York City man was pulled off the train for allegedly making a threat. Meanwhile, Amtrak continues heightened security measures put into place before the incident. Altoona police said the 44-year-old man was connected to a threatening letter left on The Pennsylvanian train, which stated, “Pile dead bodies in mounds 6 deep starting with the rear car.” The train was en route to Chicago from New York, when it made its stop in Altoona, Amtrak spokeswoman Karen Dunn said Wednesday. “I can't comment on specifics because this is an ongoing investigation,” Dunn said. “But it doesn’t appear to be related to the Sept. ll attacks.” No charges had been filed as of Wednesday. The suspect was taken to the Community Crisis Center at Altoona Hospital. Altoona police said they sought a mental health commitment on the man but were denied. The Amtrak spokeswoman said after Sept. ll, the passenger rail company increased security in the train stations and on trains. “We are also working closely with other police departments who oversee freight lines like Union Pacific and CSX. It would also hold true in the Altoona area,” Dunn said. SECURITY MEASURES Amtrak implemented the following safety precautions after a threat by a New York City man Tuesday. ■ Extra police patrols at train stations and on trains. ■ All passengers must show valid photo identification to buy tickets or to check baggage. ■ Guests on the Boston to Washington corridor must have a ticket before boarding the train. Source: Amtrak Judicial choices on hold ■ GOR senators abandoned hope to get Bush nominees approved, including District Judge D. Brooks Smith of Altoona. From Mirror staff and wire reports Republican senators gave up hope this week of getting Democratic agreement to approve a specified number of President Bush’s judicial nominees this year, including a local judge. District Judge D. Brooks Smith of Altoona, who serves as the chief judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania, was nominated Sept. IO to serve as a judge in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Smith’s nomination is more recent than many of the nominations under consideration. Last week, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., accused Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., of attempting to delay the nominations of conservatives.    _ Smith has served as a U.S. district judge for more than a decade. Before his appointment to the federal bench, he was a judge of the Blair County Court of Common Pleas and a former Blair County district attorney. Smith had no comment Wednesday on reports that judgeship appointments in the Senate are being delayed because of political wrangling. A Senate GOP source said the party expects more nominations to be accepted, “but we don’t expect a grandiose agreement to move a large number of judges ” The Republican senators decided at their weekly luncheon to wait until January, the start of an election year, to pressure Democrats again to approve Bush’s nominees, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. That came as Republicans decided to end their blockade of the foreign aid appropriations bill in the name of bipartisan support for the war on international terrorism. “We’re going to go forward with the appropriations bills,” Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said. “We’re going to act in good faith,” he said. “We’re going to do what these times call for. We hope they will do the same when it comes to confirming federal judges.” Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., tried to force GOP senators to move forward with the foreign aid appropriations bill Tuesday but could not find the 60 votes necessary to do it. Democrats hold a 50-49-1 edge. Please see Judges/Page A4 SmithUNDER A BUCK Mirror photo by Jason Sipes Cars drive into Sunoco at Allegheny and Penn streets, Hollidaysburg, where regular unleaded fuel costs 99 cents per gallon, Wednesday. Gas prices fell an average of 9 cents per gallon in the past two weeks. wa Mw«bu Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7    22910    00050    a i SM FOUR ■ Lottery numbers, A2 Partly sunny, 56° ■ Forecast, A2 I Home Nursing Agency requests tax exemption By Ray Stephens Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County commissioners Wednesday started to review 90 appeals filed on real estate tax assessments, including the Home Nursing Agency’s request for tax exemptions on IO properties. In the first of four scheduled hearings to review tax appeals, representatives for the Home Nursing Agency of Altoona told commissioners their organization meets tax-exemption criteria. The agency’s request represents IO of the 51 Altoona properties whose owners have asked the county for The agency’s request represents 10 of the 51 Altoona properties whose owners have asked Blair County commissioners tor tax relief. tax relief. If commissioners grant Home Nursing’s request, the county, city of Altoona and Altoona Area School District jointly will lose about $31,000 in tax revenue. Commissioners made no decisions Wednesday and will con tinue hearing appeals today and next week. Some decisions will be made within five days of the appeal, but others will require more research. Blair County Chief Tax Assessor Bud McGrain wants to learn how other counties treat properties owned by the nursing agency. The agency asked for a tax exemption on its administrative building at 201 Chestnut Ave.; Community Health Center at 500-34 E. Chestnut Ave.; and other facilities, apartments and properties at 228-30 Sixth Ave., 300 Sixth Ave., 1901-11 12th Ave., 610-12 Third St., 1304-06 loth St; 909 Lexington Ave., 911-13 Lexington Ave. and on Juniata Gap Road. Home Nursing Agency Vice President Richard J. Lender wrote in a letter to the county that his agency meets a five-point criteria for tax exemption. That criteria allows a tax exemption if the owner advances a charitable purpose, operates free from private profit motive, donates or renders a substantial portion of services, benefits a substantial class of people who qualify for charity and relieves the government of some of its burden. Please see Exemption/Page A4 HOT ADS dom We're white-hot! Altoona iHtrror ll THE GREAT COMBINATION I Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 -  —j-- Q WIGAL J? Q NATION Business A9 Comics C4 Hospitals A11 Obituaries A11 Classifieds C5-12 Opinion A8 (•Jure I; I mmm% m Movies D3 That’s Racin’ B3 Dear Abby D5 Puzzles D5 Scoreboard B5 Television D5 IN WORLD An Israeli military operation to arrest the assassins of a Cabinet minister turned into a gunbattle Wednesday, killing six Palestinians. PAGE Cl ;

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