Sunday, April 22, 2001

Kentucky News Briefs

Western Kentucky plays host to debaters

        BOWLING GREEN — About 1,500 students from schools around the country met at Western Kentucky University this weekend for the largest annual speech and debate competition in the nation.

        Students act out scenes from a play or debate a topic during the competition, formally known as forensics. The teams are judged on prose, poise and believability.

        The WKU students acted out scenes from a play about faith healing on Friday. The team recently won its third consecutive international championship in the subject, which is helping the university recruit students.

        Margaret Au, a freshman from Evansville, Ind., with a 4.0 grade-point average and a full-tuition scholarship, decided to attend the school because of the forensics team even though she had several opportunities.

        “It wasn't my first choice, actually,” said Ms. Au, who plans to be a genetic counselor. “But I'm glad I came.”

        Forensics teachers say its timeless skills are still necessary in today's world of sound bites, pagers and instant messaging.

        “Even with e-mail, you still need the oral communication,” said Larry Schnoor, president of the National Forensic Association, which sponsors the competition that ends Monday.

Mistrial declared for Lexington man

        LEXINGTON — The trial of a Lexington man charged with killing his stepfather and two friends ended in a mistrial during jury selection after lawyers learned that a potential juror suggested to others that Ricky Sherroan be “lynched,” an attorney said.

        Mr. Sherroan, 26, was expected to stand trial this week on three counts of murder. He is accused of the April 20, 1999, killings of Frank Reschke, Aaron Mills and Isaac “Ike” Davis. Mr. Reschke, Mr. Sherroan's stepfather, was found shot at his home, while Mr. Mills, 22, and Mr. Davis, 18, were found at Mr. Mills' apartment.

        But Mark Stanziano, one of Mr. Sherroan's attorneys, said Thursday that potential jurors not only discussed the case with one another this week, but that one made the lynching comment.

        Defense attorneys then asked for a mistrial, which Fayette Circuit Judge Gary Payne granted on Thursday, Mr. Stanziano said.

        The new trial date is Nov. 27.

Board lets students choose county schools

        PADUCAH — The McCracken County school board voted Thursday to waive tuition for students from outside the district and allow them to attend the county school of their choice.

        Chairman Randy Wright brought up dismissing the $400-per-student tuition fee at the board meeting, stating the district is losing 4 percent of its 6,500 students every year to other districts and home-schooling.

        Board member Glenda Collins said she could see where some parents could not afford the tuition.

        “As long as there is room at the schools and we can make up the funding difference, I don't see a problem with this,” she said.

        The board voted to rewrite the tuition policy and will approve it before this fall.

"Courier-Journal' staffer dies at 45

— Michael Joseph Quinlan, a journalist who worked for The Courier-Journal for 19 years, has died of brain cancer. He was 45.

        Mr. Quinlan died Friday at his home in Lawrenceburg.

        Known for his award-winning coverage of health-care and children's issues, Mr. Quinlan worked his way up from newsroom clerk to reporter in the state capital bureau in Frankfort. He had also worked as a reporter in Louisville and in southern Indiana and written music reviews.

        “What stands out to me about Mike was that he was genuine and didn't put on airs,” said Courier-Journal regional editor Gideon Gil, Mr. Quinlan's former boss. “He could get anyone to talk to him. He was a hardworking, regular guy, I think, in a profession that's becoming increasingly out-of-touch with ordinary people. He had the touch to talk to anyone. He was a blue-collar guy in what's become a white-collar profession.”

        He wrote about health-insurance problems faced by many Kentuckians, rules violations at child-care centers and shortcomings in the state's regulation of the centers; and inadequate services for people with mental retardation and mental illness.

Murder suspect was already on probation

        LEXINGTON — A man accused of killing a Lexington man and leaving him in a park was on probation, which should have been revoked when he pleaded guilty to a marijuana charge last month, his criminal record shows.

        Steven Darnell Chenault, 19, was charged with murder and evidence tampering and arraigned on Friday. He remained in jail.

        The records indicate he was on probation for a cocaine conviction last year and should have been jailed after pleading guilty to the marijuana charge March 22. However, court officials said they didn't realize Mr. Chenault was on probation at the time.

        State law requires judges to first consider probation as punishment instead of prison. But once criminals are on probation, in many cases, they're essentially left unwatched, Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said.

        “If we're going to let these people out of a prison sentence, the least we can do is keep up with them,” Mr. Larson said. “As a result of this problem, we now have a tragedy. Somebody is dead.”

Woman charged for not protecting babies

        PADUCAH — A Paducah woman was convicted on charges of failing to protect her 2-month-old twin daughters from child abuse by her husband. One daughter, Lauren, died from Chris Mercer's abuse.

        Clarissa Mercer, 23, was found guilty on Thursday of complicity to second-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree abuse.

        The jury recommended seven years for the manslaughter charge and four years for each of the abuse charges, to run consecutively for a total of 15 years.

        If the judge agrees with the jury's recommendation, Ms. Mercer, 23, would be eligible for parole after serving at least three years.

        Ms. Mercer was accused of not protecting her children from Mr. Mercer, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to wanton murder and two counts of first-degree criminal abuse. He will serve a minimum of 17 years before he is eligible for parole.

        Lauren died on May 6, 1999. The other twin now lives with Mr. Mercer's parents.

        Ms. Mercer said during her trial that she was unaware of any abuse and that she was innocent.


Strife takes toll on police
Findlay Market takes big step forward
Standard of sanity at issue
Metro bus crashes into a building
Student raises awareness of world slavery
BRONSON: The riots
PULFER: Everyday life
Great cities: Governance
Cities test: comparing governance
Actor lends voice to Derby event
Chao urges end to probe dispute
Clone scientist faced questions
Derby festival draws hundreds of thousands
Indian immigrants keeping traditions alive
New smoke detectors aid the deaf
Next two weeks are crucial for schools
Old-time graves restored
Program brings art to damaged market
Rodger on camera again
Two Silverton businesses expanding
Village gets ladder fire truck
What's in a name? History
- Kentucky News Briefs
Tristate A.M. Report