Court OKs executionof mentally ill inmate
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- In the latest bizarre turn in a nearly 25-year-old death row case, a federal appeals court ruled that a mentally ill inmate can be put to death even though he would be too insane to qualify for execution without his medication.
A sharply divided 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay of execution Monday for Charles Singleton, saying his medically induced sanity makes him eligible for the death penalty.
Singleton's defense argued that the Arkansas inmate was in a precarious situation: taking anti-psychotic medication was in his interest -- but not if the resulting sanity puts him on the path to the death chamber.
Six of the 11 judges on the St. Louis-based panel said that because Singleton prefers to be medicated, and because Arkansas has an interest in having sane inmates, the side-effect of sanity should not affect his fate.
The four dissenting judges said it would be wrong to execute Singleton, who becomes paranoid and delusional when not medicated, and sometimes is still psychotic while medicated. One judge abstained.
Singleton was convicted of stabbing grocer Mary Lou York to death in a 1979 robbery. She identified him as her attacker before dying.
West Nile diagnosis
CHICAGO -- The condition of a patient's eyes may be one way to diagnose West Nile virus, doctors at Northwestern University say.
In the February issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, the doctors described a patient who complained of seeing dots -- known as floaters -- in one eye along with fatigue, a headache and a low fever. The 62-year-old Chicago woman had been suffering from the symptoms for two weeks.
The doctors found tiny lesions in her eyes and other abnormalities, and prescribed the standard treatment. When the patient's vision worsened and fever increased, doctors ran a series of blood tests and found the West Nile virus. Her eyesight returned to normal when she was cured of the virus.
The case suggests it may be possible to diagnose West Nile virus by examining the eyes of patients, the doctors wrote.
Virus prompts panic
BEIJING -- An unidentified virus that causes pneumonia has killed five people and left about 300 hospitalized in southern China. Rumors of a surging death toll prompted frightened residents to stock up on antibiotics, officials said today.
Shares in drug companies on Chinese stock markets rose in apparent response.
Health officials said the outbreak in Guangdong province near Hong Kong was under control. They said Health Ministry investigators were trying to find the source of the disease.
Three hundred people have been hospitalized -- one-third of them doctors, nurses and other health workers, said an official of the provincial Disease Prevention and Control Center. He said 59 of those had been treated and released.
Rumors of hundreds of deaths prompted residents to clear store shelves of antibiotics and pay higher prices for white vinegar to use as disinfectant, officials said. Photos in Hong Kong newspapers showed people in Guangdong wearing surgical masks to try to avoid infection.
Tequila in the sewers
LOUISVILLE, KY. -- More than 1,000 gallons of tequila spilled into the sewer system Monday after a worker tried to unload it from a truck into an already full storage tank at a distillery, officials said.
The tequila overflowed at a rate of 100 gallons per minute, resulting in 1,500 to 1,800 gallons entering the city sewer system, said Phil Lynch, a spokesman for the Brown-Forman Distillery.
Fire and sewer officials were called because of the flammability of the 80-proof liquor, he said. Water was used to dilute the spilled alcohol.
"It was a simple case of human error," Lynch said.