Colo. Governor Calls Dead Child's Father 'Suspect'

BOULDER, Colo.--Gov. Bill Owens turned down offers by the parents of JonBenet Ramsey to meet while he was considering a special prosecutor in the girl's death because he was concerned about a "prime suspect" influencing the investigation.

Owens said it would have been wrong to meet with the Ramseys because John Ramsey would have wanted a hand in deciding whether a prosecutor should be named, and if so, who should be appointed.

"Mr. Ramsey is considered to be a prime suspect," Owens said Friday. "It would be very inappropriate to meet with him."

On Thursday, Ramsey attorney L. Lin Wood of Atlanta branded Owens a liar for having said the Ramseys were hiding behind their lawyers and failing to help solve the Dec. 26, 1996, slaying of their daughter. The Ramseys were willing to meet with the governor and testify before a grand jury, he said.

Owens dismissed Wood's accusation that he lied and slandered the couple. "He knows the truth is the ultimate defense against slander," Owens said. "Let's quit calling each other names."

Judge Calls for Security After Attack by Defendant

READING, Pa.--A judge who was beaten unconscious by an enraged defendant has called for a comprehensive study of courthouse security, saying the attack might have been prevented if there had been more guards.

Judge Linda K.M. Ludgate suffered a broken arm, nose and facial bone when she was punched and kicked in the head by Derrick J. Neidig, 38, of Reading on Oct. 19, after she said he could be committed to a mental health facility.

Instead of the usual four deputies, Ludgate's courtroom was guarded by two. As Ludgate lay unconscious, Neidig was subdued by probation officers and city police present for other cases. He is charged with assault.

Addenda

* DENVER--Anthony Sturniolo, a Christian and a lawyer who had represented a student injured in the Columbine High School shootings, sent a letter warning the boy's family against hiring Jewish lawyers. Michigan lawyer Geoffrey Feiger, who was cited by name, said such "blatant religious bigotry" should be investigated by the state bar association.

* COOS BAY, Ore.--Rough seas from the fall's first major storm have halted efforts to remove the beached 120-foot stern section of the freighter New Carissa until spring, and a salvage official said the wreck will "sit for the winter." The 639-foot ship drifted aground Feb. 4. After it was set afire with napalm to burn off as much heavy fuel oil as possible, the ship broke in two, leaking 70,000 gallons of oil, before the bow section was towed out to sea twice and finally sunk by a Navy torpedo.

* SEATTLE--Parking meters expire too quickly, according to a class-action lawsuit that asks a judge to bar Seattle from issuing overtime parking tickets until accuracy of the meters is established. Since the city estimates it could collect $13 million this year in parking fines and has acknowledged that 40 percent of its 9,000 meters don't work properly at any given time, Seattle could be collecting $5.2 million or more in unlawful fines each year, the suit said.

* MIAMI--An overzealous security guard intent on protecting parking spots for bank customers was sentenced to 20 years for killing a driver delivering frozen chickens next door. Carlos Valdes, 69, asked for leniency but at sentencing Friday faulted the unarmed victim, Abraham Oliden, 35, as the aggressor. Valdes claimed he acted in self-defense when Oliden reached toward his truck as if looking for a weapon, but police said they found only a cellular phone.

* POMONA, Calif.--The Great Western gun show, which gun control advocates had tried to thwart, drew thousands of patrons on the Los Angeles County fairgrounds after fighting off efforts by county supervisors to shut it down. After five people were wounded in a shooting rampage at a San Fernando Valley Jewish community center and a Filipino American postman was shot to death, county supervisors banned sales of weapons and ammunition on county property, but a judge blocked the ordinance two weeks ago, allowing the show to proceed.