Workman's compensation premiums decrease for '96

The Associated Press

PHOENIX Arizona's employers will save an estimated $83 million next year as a result of reduction of the workers' compensation premiums, the state Department of Insurance says.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, a rating bureau that annually files for department approval on workers' compensation rates, has cut rates by 11.5 percent in the first reduction in 11 years.

Gregory Y. Harris, executive assistant insurance director, said the number, severity and frequency of claims have fallen over the past five years, the period on which the council bases its rates.

Harris said it is up to individual companies to determine whether to pass savings along to workers in some form.

Teen may be tried as adult

The Associated Press

BISBEE A 15-year-old held in a Sierra Vista robbery will not be released pending a hearing to determine whether he'll be tried as an adult, a judge has ruled.

Judge Pro Tem James L. Conlogue of Cochise County Superior Court reached the decision Wednesday after police testified the Bisbee student's life and that of a 13-year-old also held in the Sept. 1 robbery would be in danger if they were released.

Both told police they participated in the armed robbery of Ken and Hazel Pitzlin because they were threatened by a Mexican man who allegedly led a quartet of border bandits.

Police records say the youths identified the man as Santos Javier Vasques-Urrea, 18, of Naco, Mexico. The county has posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

The 15-year-old is charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault, criminal trespassing and felony theft. A truck and other possessions valued at $20,000 were stolen.

Tucsonan wanted in shooting

The Associated Press

TUCSON Massachusetts has asked for extradition of a Tucson man wanted on a charge of attempted murder in a 1979 shooting.

Meanwhile, John Joseph Kalhauser, who was arrested here in September on fugitive and forgery charges, remains under suspicion in the Aug. 10 disappearance of his wife, Diane Van Reeth, police said Friday.

Van Reeth, who had filed for divorce in July and was seeking custody of their two sons, vanished after leaving the couple's suburban Winterhaven home for work, Kalhauser told investigators. Police say she may be dead.

Kalhauser, 41, has 10 days within which to respond to the extradition warrant Massachusetts served on Wednesday, said Joey McCormick of the Pima County Attorney's Office. If he doesn't fight it, Massachusetts then has 30 days within which to take him into custody.

Suspect admits to two crimes

The Associated Press

PHOENIX A suspect in the shooting death of an Ak-Chin tribal police officer has told police he killed the officer to avoid arrest for a previous drug-related murder, according to court documents.

Alberto Salazar Hernandez ''has confessed to both crimes,'' according to documents submitted by police Detective Randy Chapman at Hernandez's initial court appearance on Thursday.

Hernandez was arrested Wednesday and was being held without bail on charges stemming from the Monday night shooting death of Ak-Chin police Sgt. Ronald Kelley and the July 27 murder of an unidentified person who allegedly owed Hernandez money for drugs.

Investigators said they believed Kelley stopped Hernandez for speeding about one mile south of Maricopa at about 9:30 p.m. Monday. ''Thinking he was going to be arrested for murder, he shot and killed the Ak-Chin officer,'' said the court documents submitted by Chapman.

Kelley, 49, was still clutching a stolen driver's license taken from the killer when he was found. He had been shot in the face and neck and died on the way to a hospital.

Police said the driver's license helped lead them to Hernandez, who was arrested in Phoenix Wednesday afternoon.

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