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Suspect in Houston-area deputy's death had mental evaluation

Mourners gather at a gas station in Houston on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth who was shot and killed while filling his patrol car. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle via AP)

JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) — The man accused of shooting and killing a suburban Houston officer has a history of mental illness and once lived in a homeless shelter, authorities said Monday.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth was ambushed and shot 15 times, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a court hearing for Shannon J. Miles, who is charged with capital murder.

Miles, a 30-year-old Houston resident who said little in court, is being held without bond. His criminal history dates back to 2005 and includes an arrest in Austin in 2012 that led to Miles being sent to a state mental hospital for several months.

Anderson would not comment on a motive, saying investigators were still trying to figure that out. When asked if it might be connected to heightened tensions around the country between law enforcement and civilians, Anderson said, "I have no idea whether it does or not." This weekend, Sheriff Ron Hickman said the attack was "clearly unprovoked," that authorities believe the 47-year-old deputy was targeted because he was in uniform and there is no evidence Goforth knew Miles.

Anthony Osso, one of Miles' two court-appointed attorneys, told The Associated Press that his client intends to plead not guilty. "He had indicated to the investigating officers that he was not involved in the case," Osso said in a telephone interview.

In 2012, the Travis County District Attorney's Office charged Miles with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he got into a fight at a homeless shelter over a remote control, prosecutor Joe Frederick said. Miles was found to be mentally incompetent in October 2012 and he was sent to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, Texas.

"From this case, you could never tell what would happen" in the future, Frederick said, adding prosecutors treated the case as a "very serious offense" and had offered Miles a plea agreement of seven years in prison. Miles was declared mentally competent in February 2013, but the charge was dropped after the victim could not be located, Frederick said.

Jon Evans, Miles' attorney in the Austin case, said medical privacy laws prevent him from offering any details about Miles' mental illness history. But he was told by Miles' mother that her son had a lifelong history of mental illness.

At the time of the case in 2012, Miles "suffered from severe mental illness," Evans said.

Miles also has three convictions for resisting or evading arrest, as well as convictions for disorderly conduct with a firearm, criminal mischief and giving false information to police. Records show he was sentenced to several short stints in jail, anywhere from six to 10 days.

In court Monday, Anderson read the probable cause statement, which said police first received a call at 8:20 p.m. Friday. Responding officers found Goforth's body face-down at the gas station in the Houston suburb of Cypress.

Surveillance video from the gas station showed the 10-year law enforcement veteran had just come out of a convenience store when Miles got out of his red truck, she said. "He runs up behind Deputy Goforth and puts the gun to the back of his head and shoots. Deputy Goforth hits the ground and then he continues to unload his gun, shooting repeatedly into the back of Deputy Goforth," Anderson said.

Goforth was shot 15 times, Anderson said, and shell casings match the .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun found at Miles' home. Miles' next court date is Oct. 5.

The killing evoked strong emotions in the area's law enforcement community, with Hickman linking it to heightened tension over the treatment of African-Americans by police. Goforth was white and Miles is black.

The nationwide "Black Lives Matter" movement has sought sweeping reforms of policing. Related protests erupted in Texas recently after Sandra Bland, a black woman, was found dead in a county jail about 50 miles northwest of Houston three days after she was arrested on a traffic violation.

"We've heard Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Well, cops' lives matter, too," Hickman said Saturday.

President Barack Obama on Monday said targeting police is completely unacceptable and "an affront to civilized society." Obama spoke with Goforth's wife, Kathleen, conveying his condolences and telling her he will keep highlighting the uncommon bravery of police officers.

From fall 2003 to spring 2004, Miles attended Prairie View A&M University, which is the same school Bland went to, though the two didn't attend at the same time and there is no indication they knew each other. He also attended the University of Houston for a time.

Osso said Miles' defense team is distancing itself from the sentiments expressed by the sheriff, the district attorney and others.

"What I want to do is investigate the case and defend my client based on the facts of the case," Osso said.

Houston Police Lt. Roland De Los Santos, a childhood friend of Goforth's, called the deputy a "simple guy" who was focused on providing for his family, noting that Goforth's wife is a teacher and the couple has a 12-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son.

Goforth's funeral is scheduled for Friday.

___

Associated Press writers Seth Robbins in San Antonio and Alan Scher Zagier in St. Louis contributed to this report.

Lost California hiker survived 9 days with broken leg

In this Aug. 23, 2015 photo provided by the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, members of Fresno County Sheriff’s Department search and rescue team look at a map of a remote area of the Sierra National Forest, Calif., where Miyuki Harwood, 62-year-old, was found on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, after she used a whistle to get the attention of a search and rescue team looking for her. (Fresno County Sheriff's Office via AP)

SCOTT SMITH, Associated Press
KRISTIN BENDER, Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A 62-year-old hiker missing for nine days in California's rugged Sierra Nevada with a broken leg endured freezing nighttime temperatures and crawled two days for water before getting the attention of rescuers with a whistle she carried for moments of crisis, authorities said Monday.

Miyuki Harwood slipped and fell about six feet after she left her hiking group and headed back to camp alone because she was low on water.

After two days on the ground, she decided to crawl 150 yards down a rocky, shrub-covered ravine to a spot where she heard running water, Fresno County sheriff's Deputy Jason Vinogradoff said.

"'I can die here, or I can at least get to the water and survive,'" she told Vinogradoff, who talked with her Saturday, just moments after she sounded her whistle to alert rescuers.

She was shivering, pale and crying tears of joy when searchers found her, Vinogradoff said, adding that she asked about her family.

Vinogradoff described Harwood's survival as a miracle and said the avid hiker is a strong-willed person who did not complain of extreme pain. He believes the whistle saved her life.

Once she was secured in the helicopter, the group of 15 rescuers erupted in applause.

"Everybody was pretty happy that she got the outcome that she did," California Highway Patrol helicopter pilot Officer Riley Dixon said.

Harwood, a resident of Folsom, was flown to a hospital in Fresno about 100 miles away and underwent surgery to set broken bones. She has declined requests for interviews.

Harwood had been on an extended hiking trip organized by the Sierra Club. The group searched for her after she disappeared and reported her missing, prompting the search led by the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

The effort was joined by more than 50 people on foot, horseback and helicopter. Smoke from a massive wildfire several miles away hampered searchers in aircraft.

Harwood ate nothing during the nine days she was missing, but she had a water filter. Vinogradoff said she was wearing hiking pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a down jacket. She sought shelter under a tree.

With each passing day, fears grew among rescuers. After being notified that she was alive, Dixon set out from Fresno in his helicopter.

Wildfire smoke forced him to take a longer route. He landed on a granite slab at an elevation of 9,200 feet and watched rescuers carry Harwood on a stretcher toward him.

Survival instructor Cliff Hodges, founder of Adventure Out LLC, said that without the water from the stream, Harwood would not have survived for nine days. He said the whistle was also a lifesaver, and she was fortunate to be lost in the summer.

She could not have endured frigid winter temperatures without shelter, he said, adding that her will to survive undoubtedly played a role.

"Ms. Harwood is clearly a tenacious and courageous individual," Hodges said. "Many people, even in the summer, I'm afraid would not have fared as well."

_____

Bender reported from San Francisco.

Arrest in Medford Armed Robbery
By KTVL Staff/KTVL.com

MEDFORD-- A man has been arrested in connection to an armed robbery with a BB gun at the Post Office on Riverside Avenue in Medford, according to a Medford Police press release.

The armed robbery happened Monday morning around 9:54, when Scott Chitwood, 44, of Josephine County, approached a 23-year-old as she sat in her car in the Post Office parking lot. He allegedly pointed the BB gun at her and demanded her car keys. She complied, but began screaming and drew attention to the robbery.

Chitwood allegedly then left on foot and was followed by witnesses, who saw him as he went into Bear Creek.

The suspect was found around 10:00 a.m. underneath the footbridge at 9th street in Bear Creek and was taken into custody.

Chitwood was arrested on suspicion of robbery in the second degree, and on warrants for failure to appear- dangerous drugs and contempt of court.

His bail is set at $1.022 million.

Judge sides with anti-abortion group in birth control case

ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Monday sided with an anti-abortion group in its challenge of a key birth control provision of the Obama administration's health care overhaul.

The decision from U.S. District Judge Richard Leon adds to the legal debate surrounding the law's requirement that contraceptives for women be included among a range of cost-free, preventive benefits offered to employees.

The 29-page opinion held that March for Life could be exempt from the requirement, known as the contraceptive mandate, even though it is a non-religious organization that opposes abortion on ethical grounds rather than religious ones.

March for Life, which holds annual anti-abortion marches in Washington, was founded in 1973 following the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade opinion that established the legal right to abortion. The organization contends that life begins at conception and opposes coverage in its health insurance plans for methods of contraception that it likens to abortion.

It sued the Obama administration last year, calling the contraceptive mandate unconstitutional because it granted an exemption to churches, synagogues and other religious institutions but did not extend the same carve out for non-religious groups that raised ethical — and not religious — objections.

In his ruling, Leon agreed with that reasoning, saying the contraceptive requirement violated the Constitution by treating religious and nonreligious groups differently.

March for Life closely resembles religious groups in that its employees do not wish to use birth control, Leon wrote, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had nonetheless chosen to "accommodate this moral philosophy only when it is overtly tied to religious values." The government, he said, had created a framework of "regulatory favoritism.

"HHS provides no principled basis, other than the semantics of religious tolerance, for its distinction," Leon wrote. "If the purpose of the religious employer exemption is, as HHS states, to respect the anti-abortifacient tenets of an employment relationship, then it makes no rational sense — indeed, no sense whatsoever — to deny March (for) Life that same respect."

Alliance Defending Freedom, whose lawyers represented March for Life, said Leon's decision was the first to side with an organization that opposed the contraceptive mandate on moral rather than religious grounds.

"There's no reason the government should treat them negatively because their views on abortion are based on science instead of being based on religion," the alliance's senior legal counsel Matthew Bowman said in an interview.

He said Leon had recognized the "irrationality of forcing a pro-life organization to provide anti-life items in their health insurance."

Lawsuits over the contraceptive mandate are part of the lengthy political and legal battle over the health-care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010. There have been about 100 lawsuits from businesses and religiously affiliated colleges, hospitals and other not-for-profit organizations challenging the law's requirement on contraceptives.

Other religiously affiliated groups also do not have to comply, but have to tell the government they object. That requirement is at the heart of lawsuits over the contraceptive mandate.

Federal appeals courts have so far ruled that informing the government of a religious objection does not interfere with the groups' religious rights. Several appeals already are pending at the Supreme Court.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of family-controlled businesses with a religious objection to paying for some or all of the approved contraceptives. Their employees could still receive the birth control, but through an arrangement with the businesses' insurers or third-party insurance administrators. The government covers the cost of the contraceptives in those circumstances.

____

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report.

18-year-old charged in shooting death of Eugene teen
 EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- An 18-year-old has been charged with manslaughter and another person could be charged in connection with the shooting death of a Eugene teen at an apartment complex near Autzen Stadium.

18-year-old Zachary Aristotle Beauchamp was arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter Sunday night. Police say a review by the Lane County District Attorney's Office will determine if another suspected shooter will be charged in the case.

The victim has been identified as 17-year-old Justin Lee Gardner.  

Witnesses told police Beauchamp and another suspect were at the scene when the shooting occurred inside an apartment at the Stadium Park apartment complex early Sunday.

Police haven't yet determined a possible motive in the case. The shooting continues to be investigated.

In-home child care providers face unannounced inspections
(MGN Online)

BEND, Ore. (AP) -- Licensed child care providers operating out of their own homes in Oregon have been facing unannounced visits from the state under a rule change that was approved earlier this year.

Registered family child care, the licensing level affected by the change, has to be in the provider's home and can include up to 10 children.  

Kathleen Hynes, legal and compliance director for the state's Early Learning Division, says the state only began licensing registered family child care providers 15 years ago. There wasn't any inspection prior to that, only paperwork.

Hynes says the changes are necessary to ensure the safety of Oregon's children.

Some providers believe state rules like these have become increasingly strict over the years, while others say they're unaffected by the change.

Grant Pass Fire Rescue improves ISO rating
(MGN Online Photo)

By KTVL Staff/KTVL.com

GRANTS PASS, Ore.-- If you live in Grants Pass, you could have some money coming your way starting September 1.

The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety announced that the city of Grants Pass Insurance Services Office Public classification ratings has improved and it could help lower fire insurance premiums for the community.

The recent review pushed the city from a 3 to a 2. The lower the rating, the lower the insurance premiums are for the community. The fire departments are ranked from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.
According to the press release, improvements such as the construction of the Redwood and Parkway Public Safety facilities, fire apparatus replacement, staffing additions and improvement to dispatch services helped boost the rating.

Starting Sept. 1, Grants Pass residents and commercial property owners are encouraged to contact their insurance companies to see how the new rating could help them.

Of the 47,855 fire departments graded across the country, only 917 are Class 2.

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