The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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October 31, 2012

Morning News Brief | Police search for Chinese-food eating burglar



Storm-related landslides hamper highway

WEST MIFFLIN — A busy highway near Pittsburgh has been hampered by overnight landslides being blamed on hillsides softened by rains from superstorm Sandy.

Route 837 was closed by a landslide late Tuesday, and again when a smaller slide blocked part of the highway in West Mifflin about 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Driver Daniel Bodner says he was driving his pickup when the dirt slid about 10 feet across the road in front of him. Bodner couldn't stop in time and hit the slide with his truck, which popped up into the air and blew a tire.

Bodner wasn't hurt and no other injuries have been reported. Crews have cleared the debris and the stretch of highway about 5 miles east of Pittsburgh has reopened.


Man on trial in ex-fiancee's 2008 killing

LEWISBURG — Closing arguments are set in the trial of a Pennsylvania man accused of killing the mother of his three young children following their breakup.

Prosecutors are seeking a second-degree murder conviction for 50-year-old Roderick Sims in the September 2008 killing of his estranged fiancée, Charity Spickler. They say he stalked her and gunned her down inside a friend's Lewisburg apartment.

Sims argued with his defense attorneys Tuesday during a recess in Union County Court over how they're handling his case. They're seeking a lesser charge saying he shot Spickler in a fit of rage after finding her in bed with another man.

The Daily Item of Sunbury reports Sims testified he accidentally killed Spickler while under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.


Judge extends ballot deadline due to storm

PITTSBURGH — A western Pennsylvania judge has extended the deadline for absentee ballots to be submitted in the Pittsburgh-area.

Attorneys for Allegheny County elections officials and the Democratic Party argued Tuesday that Friday's 5 p.m. deadline might prevent some votes from counting because of mail delays and other problems people may have had getting their ballots to the county offices in Pittsburgh.

An attorney for the county's Republican party argued against an extension, saying absentee ballots are more prone to being used fraudulently.

Allegheny County Judge Joseph James ruled the ballots can be turned in until the polls close at 8 p.m. on election day. County officials say they typically let people do that anyway during presidential election years.

Ballots accepted after the normal, state-mandated Friday deadline will be sequestered so their validity can be challenged, however.


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