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 KHRT ND News

KHRT ND NEWS - WEDNESDAY - 05/21/14 - MORNING EDITION

Prosecutors say they no longer will pursue the death penalty against a Colorado man suspected of killing a teacher in eastern Montana's oil patch....

     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Prosecutors say they no longer will pursue the death penalty against a Colorado man suspected of killing a teacher in eastern Montana's oil patch.
 
     Tuesday's move by Richland County Attorney Mike Weber comes after psychiatrists determined 25-year-old Michael Keith Spell is mentally disabled. Spell is charged with killing 43-year-old Sherry Arnold, who disappeared while jogging along a Sidney street in 2012.
 
     Weber cited a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said executing mentally disabled criminals constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  A state judge on Friday rejected attempts by Spell's attorneys to have him declared incompetent. That would have let him avoid trial.
 
     Spell now faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted on charges of attempted kidnapping and deliberate homicide.  An accomplice pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors.

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     JAMESTOWN, N.D. (AP) - Authorities have identified the two Idaho men believed to have drowned in a boating accident on Spiritwood Lake in southeastern North Dakota.
 
     KSJB-AM reports authorities on Tuesday said they recovered the bodies of 23-year-old Damian Calzadias of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and 24-year-old Alonso Martinez of Twin Falls, Idaho.  The bodies were recovered Monday. The state medical examiner will conduct autopsies.
 
     Authorities say 32-year-old Blake Roberts of Big Sky, Montana, was able to make it to shore after the men's canoe capsized about midnight Sunday.  Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser says the victims were contractors from Idaho who were remodeling a lakeside home.

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     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The oil industry is pushing back against tougher rules for rail cars after a string of fiery accidents, insisting that crude shipped from the Northern Plains is no more dangerous than some other cargoes.
 
     An industry-funded report released Tuesday said Bakken oil from North Dakota and Montana is similar to other light crudes. North Dakota Petroleum Council vice president Kari Cutting says that shows current rules for tank cars are sufficient.
 
     Oil trains in the U.S. and Canada were involved in at least eight major accidents during the last year, including an explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec that killed 47.
 
     Regulators in response have discouraged shippers from using older tank cars known to rupture during accidents.  A former senior federal railway safety official, Grady Cothen, says the accidents justify government intervention.
 
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     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A University of North Dakota researcher says that about 270 oil wells are responsible for 60 percent of all the natural gas flaring in the state.
 
     Chad Wocken is a senior research manager at UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center.  Wocken says there is no "silver bullet" to cut the amount of natural gas that oil drilling companies are burning and wasting instead of capturing. He says the center is exploring the efficiency of different methods to capture gas in remote sites.
 
     North Dakota wells currently flare more than 30 percent of the gas because development of pipelines and processing facilities to capture it hasn't kept pace with oil development. Around 1 percent of natural gas is flared from oil fields nationwide.
 
     Wocken on Tuesday spoke at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and Expo.

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     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota State University is planning a demographic survey to better understand the workforce in the state's western oil patch.  Nancy Hodur is an assistant research professor at NDSU. She says oil patch communities need to understand who lives and works there to better plan for the future.
 
     Hodur says research is essential to preventing these communities from turning into just outposts for workers. She says identifying lifestyle habits of the workforce will also help businesses know what kinds of goods and services workers need.
 
     The study will begin in June. Hodur says the survey will require creative methods of polling due to the somewhat transient nature, unconventional hours and living arrangements of the workers.
 
     Hodur on Tuesday spoke at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and Expo.

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     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A federal grand jury has indicted a Minnesota man for allegedly running an illegal gambling operation in North Dakota.  KFGO radio reports a newly unsealed indictment says 68-year-old Gerald Greenfield, of Bloomington, Minnesota, ran an illegal sports betting business for four years, beginning in 2007.

    Greenfield allegedly received about $10 million each year in wagers and made an annual profit of between $500,000 and $600,000, using computer servers located in Costa Rica.  Greenfield also is accused of illegally transmitting wager information and money laundering. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
 
     Greenfield previously was convicted in a mortgage fraud scheme in Minnesota's Twin Cities. He escaped from a minimum-security federal prison in Duluth last year while serving a 50-month sentence and was captured six days later.

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     WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. House has passed an infrastructure bill that authorizes spending up to $800 million for a Red River flood diversion project. The $12 billion bill has money for more than 30 water projects across the country. The Senate could vote on it before the end of the week.
 

   (Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

 

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