News, January 17th

PARACHUTE MAN’S MONTANA MURDER TRIAL PENDING

Billings, MT.—Michael Spell, the Parachute man charges with killing a Montana teacher is back in jail after a lengthy evaluation to see if he’s mentally fit for trial.  Spell has been at the Montana State Hospital undergoing psychiatric tests since November.  The 24 year old Spell along with Lester Van Waters, kidnapped Sherry Arnold while she was out for a morning jog and killed her on January 7th, 2012.  Her body was found two months later. Prosecutors want the death penalty for Spell but his attorneys say his mental disabilities prevent him from understanding the case against him.  Spell’s competency report has to be done by January 31st.  Van Waters has already pled guilty in the case and is waiting to be sentenced.

HIGH WINDS A FACTOR IN ASPEN PLANE CRASH

Aspen—There’s no doubt high winds were a factor in the deadly plane crash in Aspen according to the National Transportation Safety Board.  NTSB investigators released a preliminary report on the January 5th crash that claimed the life co-pilot Sergio Brabata. Officials say wind gusts between 21 and 28 miles per hour were recorded when the Canadair CL-600 landed that Sunday afternoon.  According to specs, the maximum tail wind for such jets is 10 knots or just over 11 miles per hour.  The plane was making a second landing approach when it briefly touched down, bounced up, crashed and burst into flames.  Two other men were on board the plane, both of them pilots from Mexico.  One man is still recovering from his injuries at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

GAMBLING IN DEBEQUE?

Debeque—Folks in the shrinking town of Debeque are rolling the dice to see if legalized gambling will revive the local economy.  The Debeque Wild Horse Gaming Committee would like to amend the state constitution to join Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek as a legal place for limited stakes gambling.  Committee co-chairman Ryan Rose says since the downturn of the oil and gas industry began, Debeque has withered into a ghost town.  He says adding slot machines, poker and blackjack may be worth the gamble to diversify the economy.  In the last census, Debeque’s population was 504.

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