KSYL Local News

News For Saturday 04/28/12


NEWS FOR SATURDAY 042812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

38 YEAR OLD KELLIE GEISEL OF PINEVILLE, WHO WAS DRUG-IMPAIRED WHEN SHE DROVE OFF COLISEUM BOULEVARD AND KILLED AN INMATE WORKER IN OCTOBER WAS SENTENCED FRIDAY TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR VEHICULAR HOMICIDE. GEISEL ALSO WAS SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS FOR INJURING A CITY OF ALEXANDRIA EMPLOYEE WHO WAS SITTING IN A CITY TRUCK ASSISTING THE PRISON ROADSIDE CLEANUP CREW. THE SENTENCES ARE TO RUN CONCURRENT. GEISEL PLEADED GUILTY TO VEHICULAR HOMICIDE AND VEHICULAR NEGLIGENT INJURY CHARGES ON APRIL 8. SHE HAD FACED A MAXIMUM JAIL SENTENCE OF 35 YEARS. GEISEL WAS HIGH ON FIVE DIFFERENT DRUGS AND USING HER CELLPHONE WHEN SHE VEERED OFF THE ROADWAY, STRIKING THE WORKERS.

STATE POLICE REPORT A 58-YEAR-OLD ROBERT WILLIS WAS KILLED FRIDAY AFTERNOON WHEN HIS MOTORCYCLE STRUCK ANOTHER VEHICLE WHILE HE WAS TRYING TO ELUDE POLICE. WILLIS WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE OF THE CRASH ON LA. HIGHWAY 112, THREE MILES EAST OF DERIDDER. TROOPERS REPORT THE DRIVER OF THE SUV THAT WAS STRUCK BY WILLIS WAS NOT PHYSICALLY INJURED. POLICE REPORT WILLIS WAS DRIVING A 2008 SUZUKI EAST ON LA. 112 AT A HIGH RATE OF SPEED WHEN HE STRUCK THE REAR OF AN SUV AND LOST CONTROL OF HIS MOTORCYCLE. AFTER IMPACT, THE MOTORCYCLE TRAVELED 616 FEET BEFORE COMING TO REST. WILLIS WAS ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE OFFICERS FROM THE DERIDDER POLICE DEPARTMENT.

AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY A 34-YEAR-OLD MAN SHOT AND KILLED A WOMAN HE WAS LIVING WITH AND THEN SHOT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD AND DIED. 27 YEAR OLD NIKI GARLINGTON AND 34 YEAR OLD BRANDON BONNETTE WERE FOUND DEAD IN THEIR HOME AFTER A FAMILY MEMBER ALERTED THE AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE. INVESTIGATORS SAID THE COUPLE FOUGHT AND THEN BONNETTE SHOT GARLINGTON IN THE TORSO WITH A .357 CALIBER REVOLVER. THEY SAID BONNETTE THEN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF. OFFICIALS SAY THE COUPLE HAD NOT BEEN SEEN IN DAYS, WHICH PROMPTED FAMILY MEMBERS TO GO TO THE HOME.

LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT JOHN LOMBARDI WAS FIRED FRIDAY BY THE SYSTEM'S GOVERNING BOARD, A MOVE LOMBARDI SUPPORTERS SAID WAS ORCHESTRATED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AFTER CONTINUED CLASHES BETWEEN LOMBARDI AND THE ADMINISTRATION OVER HIGHER EDUCATION POLICY. THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTED 12-4 TO REMOVE LOMBARDI, PUTTING HIM ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE UNTIL HIS CONTRACT ENDS AT THE START OF THE NEW YEAR. ALL OF JINDAL'S APPOINTEES, ALONG WITH FOUR OTHER BOARD MEMBERS, VOTED FOR LOMBARDI'S OUSTER. LOMBARDI WAS HIRED IN 2007 AFTER RECEIVING STRONG PRAISE FOR HIS YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION. BUT HIS TENURE IN LOUISIANA HAS BEEN MARKED WITH BUDGET STRUGGLES AND MANAGEMENT DISPUTES, AND HE'S RANKLED SOME FOR HIS OUTSPOKEN CANDOR. LOMBARDI'S CRITICIZED THE POLITICALLY POPULAR FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM CALLED TOPS, AND HE'S CLASHED WITH THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OVER BUDGET PLANS, CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW PUBLIC HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS AND HIGHER EDUCATION MANAGEMENT.

FIRST-TIME CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DROPPED BY MORE THAN 14 PERCENT LAST WEEK IN LOUISIANA. THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION REPORTS 3,076 INITIAL CLAIMS FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 21. THAT'S DOWN FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK'S TOTAL OF 3,606. INITIAL CLAIMS FOR THE COMPARABLE WEEK ENDING APRIL 23, 2011, TOTALED 3,388.

A GRAND JURY HAS DECLINED TO INDICT A BATON ROUGE MAN WHO WAS ARRESTED AND BOOKED ON A MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE LAST YEAR AFTER HE CHASED AN ALLEGED BURGLAR FROM HIS HOME AND FATALLY SHOT HIM IN THE DRIVEWAY. AN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH GRAND JURY CHOSE NOT TO CHARGE RICHARD ALEXANDER THURSDAY WITH MANSLAUGHTER IN THE KILLING OF KEITH BROWN. DISTRICT ATTORNEY HILLAR MOORE III SAID HE AGREED WITH THE GRAND JURY'S DECISION. POLICE SAY ALEXANDER WAS INSIDE HIS HOME JAN. 28, 2011, WHEN BROWN KICKED DOWN THE DOOR AND WENT INSIDE.
ALEXANDER CONFRONTED BROWN AND CHASED HIM THROUGH THE HOUSE, OUT THE BACK DOOR AND DOWN THE DRIVEWAY. ALEXANDER TOLD POLICE WHEN HE SAW BROWN PULL AT THE WAISTLINE OF HIS PANTS, HE BEGAN SHOOTING.

LOUISIANA'S REPUBLICAN PARTY IS HOLDING CAUCUSES TODAY, PART OF A PROCESS TO CHOOSE DELEGATES WHO WILL ATTEND THE GOP'S PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATING CONVENTION IN AUGUST. GOP VOTERS WHO PARTICIPATE IN THE CAUCUSES WILL ELECT DELEGATES TO THE LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN STATE CONVENTION, SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 2. THE DELEGATES TO THE STATE CONVENTION WILL CHOOSE DELEGATES WHO WILL ATTEND THE NATIONAL CONVENTION IN AUGUST. TWENTY-FIVE DELEGATES AND 12 ALTERNATES WILL BE SELECTED FROM EACH OF THE STATE'S SIX CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. MORE THAN 600 REPUBLICANS ARE RUNNING FOR THE SEATS.

THE RENOVATION OF NEW ORLEANS' MAJOR CONVENTION CENTER MAY BE DELAYED UNTIL THE TIME OF THE 2013 SUPER BOWL IN THE CITY. THE CENTER'S GOVERNING BOARD SAYS CONSTRUCTION COSTS ARE ABOUT $1.4 MILLION OVER THE INITIAL CONTRACT PRICE AND THE WORK IS ALREADY MORE THAN A MONTH BEHIND SCHEDULE. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE REPORTS THE PROJECTED COMPLETION DATE IS FEB. 2 — ONE DAY BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL AND WELL INTO THE WEEKLONG SERIES OF EVENTS THE CENTER WILL HOST FOR THE NFL. THE NFL HAS RESERVED THE BUILDING FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK. A NEARLY THREE-DECADES-OLD PORTION OF THE MEETING HALL THAT FIRST WAS USED AS THE GREAT HALL OF THE 1984 WORLD'S FAIR AND HOUSED ITS FIRST CONVENTION IN JANUARY 1985. IT HAS NOT BEEN RENOVATED SINCE.

ANN CARRUTH HAS BEEN NAMED DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF NURSING AND HEALTH SCIENCES AT SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA UNIVERSITY. HER APPOINTMENT WAS CONFIRMED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND IS EFFECTIVE ON MONDAY.
CARRUTH HAS BEEN A FACULTY MEMBER IN THE COLLEGE SINCE 1990. SHE HAD SERVED AS INTERIM DEAN SINCE JANUARY 2011.

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ARE BRINGING DEFENSIVE TACKLE AKIEM HICKS BACK TO LOUISIANA, THREE YEARS AFTER HIS CHANCE TO PLAY MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL FOR LSU FIZZLED BEFORE IT HAD EVEN BEGUN. THE SAINTS TOOK THE 6-FOOT-5, 318-POUND HICKS, IN FRIDAY NIGHT'S THIRD ROUND OF THE NFL DRAFT, ADDING DEPTH TO AN INTERIOR LINE THAT NEEDED IT. "HEIGHT, WEIGHT, SPEED — (HICKS IS) THE KIND OF GUY THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT IN OUR DEFENSIVE SYSTEM," SAID SAINTS ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT, WHO IS HANDLING HEAD COACHING DUTIES DURING SEAN PAYTON'S SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION IN CONNECTION WITH THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. "WE LOVE HIS TENACITY. WE KNOW HE'S RAW. HE'S GOT TO BE COACHED, BUT THAT'S THE FUN PART," VITT SAID. "HE FITS THE CHARACTER OF OUR FOOTBALL TEAM. HE'S GOT GOOD WORK HABITS. WE LOVE HIS RESILIENCY." TAKEN 89TH OVERALL, HICKS WAS THE FIRST PLAYER CHOSEN BY NEW ORLEANS, WHICH DID NOT HAVE A PICK IN THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS. THE SAINTS HAD NO FIRST-ROUND CHOICE BECAUSE IT WAS TRADED TO NEW ENGLAND LAST YEAR SO NEW ORLEANS COULD DRAFT MARK INGRAM. THEIR SECOND-ROUND PICK WAS ELIMINATED AS PART OF THE CLUB'S BOUNTY PUNISHMENT.

U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE PATRICIA MINALDI HAS SENTENCED A FEDERAL PRISON INMATE TO FIVE YEARS FOR WRITING A THREATENING LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA.
FEDERAL COURT DOCUMENTS SAY CARLTON NEIL NORAH WAS INCARCERATED AT THE OAKDALE CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX WHEN HE WROTE THE LETTER. THE AMERICAN PRESS REPORTS (HTTP://BIT.LY/QJFACS ) NORAH'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY ASKED THE COURT THURSDAY TO CONSIDER THE "BIZARRE" NATURE OF THE LETTER. SHE SAID NORAH IS MENTALLY ILL, AND WROTE THE LETTER KNOWING HE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ACT ON ANY OF THE THREATS SINCE HE WAS INCARCERATED. NORAH APOLOGIZED TO THE COURT FOR HIS ACTIONS, AND FOR "WASTING TIME". MINALDI ASKED WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO STOP NORAH, WHO HAS MADE SIMILAR THREATS BEFORE, FROM DOING IT AGAIN. HE SAID HE THINKS HE IS DONE, BUT HE DOESN'T "KNOW WHAT TOMORROW HOLDS". ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY JOHN WALKER SAID IT WAS THE MOST DISTURBING LETTER HE'S EVER READ.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLANS MORE THAN $208 MILLION IN BRIDGE REPLACEMENT AND REPAIRS, PROVIDED THE LEGISLATURE APPROVES THE MONEY. STATEWIDE, THE DEPARTMENT EXPECTS TO BEGIN 65 REPLACEMENTS AND REPAIRS. THE STATE'S WORST PROBLEM BRIDGE, ACCORDING TO STATE OFFICIALS, IS THE MILE AND A HALF STRETCH OF TWIN BRIDGES ON U.S. HIGHWAY 90 EAST OF MORGAN CITY. INSPECTORS RECENTLY FOUND CRACKS IN SUPPORT BEAMS.
AMONG BRIDGES IN OUACHITA PARISH EXPECTED TO SEE CHANGES ARE THE MISSOURI PACIFIC RAILROAD BRIDGE, AN OVERPASS ON U.S. HIGHWAY 80 AND THE INTERSTATE 20 BRIDGE OVER THE OUACHITA RIVER. WORK WILL BEGIN IN MAY ON REPAIRING THE U.S. HIGHWAY 190 MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE IN BATON ROUGE. THE PROJECT IS EXPECTED TO TAKE TWO YEARS. THE DEPARTMENT IS WORKING SEVERAL MAJOR PROJECTS, THE LARGEST BEING THE $1.2 BILLION WIDENING OF THE HUEY P. LONG BRIDGE IN JEFFERSON PARISH, WHICH IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED IN 2013. ANOTHER MAJOR PROJECT IS THE $82.9 MILLION REPLACEMENT OF THE FORT BUHLOW BRIDGE THAT CROSSES THE RED RIVER ON U.S. HIGHWAY 71 BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE. COMPLETION IS PROJECTED FOR JANUARY 2014.






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