Former president George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday Thursday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in coastal Maine, fulfilling a goal he made five years ago after a similar jump even though he can no longer use his legs.
The 41st president jumped from a helicopter at about 6,000 feet while harnessed to retired Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a former member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team. Elliott also guided Bush to a safe landing on his 85th birthday.
The helicopter picked up Bush outside his Kennebunkport home. His family transported him from his wheelchair to the chopper. Bush landed on the lawn of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, where he was greeted with a kiss from his wife, Barbara, and a hug from his son, former president George W. Bush.
The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific. He marked his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays by sky-diving. Thursday was his eighth jump.
— Associated Press
A federal judge on Thursday granted a stay of execution for Missouri death-row inmate John Winfield, less than a week before the convicted killer was scheduled to be put to death, citing concerns that a prison worker had been intimidated into not writing a clemency letter on Winfield’s behalf.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the state planned to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry in St. Louis. A spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said the ruling was still under review.
Winfield, 43, was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing two St. Louis County women in 1996. His execution would have been among the first since late April, when the death of an Oklahoma inmate raised new concerns about lethal-injection drugs and the secretive process many states use to obtain them. Clayton Lockett’s vein collapsed on April 29, and he died 43 minutes later of a heart attack after he was injected with drugs.
Court documents show that Terry Cole, the laundry director at the Potosi Correctional Center, which houses death-row inmates in Missouri, told Winfield’s attorneys he supported Winfield’s clemency request and was willing to write a letter on Winfield’s behalf. But the judge said that on May 20, a corrections department investigator told Cole he was under investigation for alleged “over-familiarity” with Winfield. Cole eventually decided against writing the letter. The judge said evidence indicated he feared for his job.
— Associated Press
Jindal signs abortion law: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed new restrictions on abortion clinics into law Thursday, a move his critics have said will force three of the state’s five clinics to close. The measure requires physicians who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the place where the abortion is performed. Oklahoma’s governor signed a similar measure last month. Such laws have taken effect in five states: Kansas, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Texas.
Priest killed during break-in at Phoenix church: A 28-year-old priest was shot to death, and his pastor, 56, was badly beaten during what police described as a burglary at a Catholic church in Phoenix, authorities said Thursday. Police said officers were notified of a break-in late Wednesday at the Mother of Mercy Mission church, and the crime occurred in the living quarters attached to the church.
— From news services