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Tuesday Jan. 15, 2002


Home of Chiapas state human rights official attacked; government blamed

Associated Press

Gunmen fired repeatedly into the house of the Chiapas state human rights ombudsman yesterday and he accused the state government of responsibility for the attack.

Pedro Raul Lopez said men in a white pickup truck circled the block around his house several times, then opened fire at about 3 a.m.

No injuries were reported in the attack, which occurred in the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez, but Lopez said at least seven shell casings were recovered and bullets hit the bedroom of his daughter.

Lopez said responsibility fell on Gov. Pablo Salazar and his chief adviser, Cesar Chavez, noting that the attack occurred 36 hours after he issued a report accusing the government of human rights violations in the remote township of Marques de Comillas.

"They did not want me to make the recommendation on Marques de Comillas ... said that if I made the recommendation there would be problems," he said. "I made the recommendation on Saturday and that was the response of the government," added Lopez, who filed a complaint with federal rather than state officials.

State officials rejected any role in the attack and said they would make a thorough investigation.

Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state, is also one of its most violent, and a 1994 rebellion by the largely Indian Zapatista National Liberation Army remains unresolved.

Salazar took office in 2000 at the head of a reform coalition that ended 71 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which continues to control the state Legislature.


Couple argues for separate trials, exclusion of sex-related testimony, in dog- attack killing

Associated Press

A couple accused in the dog-mauling death of their neighbor went to court yesterday asking that sex-related testimony be excluded from their trial.

Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel also sought to be tried separately, given their damaging comments and actions in the case stemming from last year's killing of Diane Whipple.

But prosecutor Jim Hammer argued that Knoller and Noel "together actively encouraged the violent tendencies of these dogs.

"This game the defendants were playing was a dangerous one," Hammer said, "not only allowing the dogs to behave this way, but enjoying it."

It was unclear whether Judge James Warren would rule yesterday.

Whipple was killed on Jan. 26, 2001, by two enormous presa canarios that chased her down in the hallway of their luxurious Pacific Heights apartment building.

Sex-related testimony given to the grand jury has not been released to the public. A search warrant released last year said prosecutors were investigating whether the couple was having sex with dogs.

Knoller and Noel, both lawyers, face charges of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a vicious dog. Knoller also is charged with second-degree murder. Their trial has been set to begin Jan. 22 in Los Angeles.

Knoller argues that comments made by her husband to neighbors and the media, including calling Whipple a "timorous mousy blonde," will prejudice jurors against her.

Noel says he was not present during the attack and that it was his wife who failed to muzzle or control the dogs that day. She also failed to call paramedics and seemed calm throughout the incident, he said.

They also sought to exclude testimony regarding the couple's adoption of state prison inmate Paul "Cornfed" Schneider or Schneider's involvement in a prison gang. Schneider and Dale Bretches were accused of running a dog-breeding ring from prison. The two dogs that killed Whipple were among their dogs.

A tearful Sharon Smith, Whipple's domestic partner, said before the start of yesterday's hearing that Knoller and Noel never apologized for the fatal attack.

"They've said it themselves that they don't care," she said.


Name of Quayle museum changed to recognize vice presidency

Associated Press

A museum that honors former Vice President Dan Quayle has adopted a new name.

The Dan Quayle Center and Museum in his hometown will now be known as The Quayle Center, Home of the American Vice Presidency Museum.

Discussion about changing the name and logo began during a planning retreat board members attended last fall, said Daniel Johns, the center's executive director.

"We wanted to keep the emphasis on The Quayle Center because that's our heart and soul," he said.

Attendance at The Quayle Center was up in 2001, continuing a trend it has maintained since opening in the fall of 1993. In 2001, 4,400 people visited the center, up from the 4,250 in 2000.

"School group attendance continues to increase," Johns said. "That is very gratifying in light of the emphasis we have put on providing quality educational programs."

The Quayle Center provides educational programming and exhibits about Quayle, other Indiana vice presidents and the office of the vice president and all who have held it.

Quayle was a senator and congressman from Indiana before serving as vice president from 1989-93 under President George H.W. Bush. Quayle now lives in Arizona.

Huntington is about 20 miles southwest of Fort Wayne in northeastern Indiana.



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