published Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Arson-sniffing dog Smokey dies and other news from areas around Chattanooga

Arson-sniffing dog Smokey dies

ATLANTA — Georgia's insurance commissioner says the state's arson-sniffing dog has died.

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said the dog, Smokey, died Tuesday morning after a brief illness. Smokey's final assignment was March 30 at the scene of a Catoosa County house fire that was determined to be arson.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the 11-year-old Labrador retriever began his Georgia career in October 2003 and was the state's fifth arson canine. Since 2003 Smokey and his handler, Investigator Ken Palmer, were involved in more than 700 fire investigations, Hudgens said.

Smokey was trained to determine if accelerants were used to start a fire.


Home brewing near in Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama is moving closer to ending its distinction of being the only state prohibiting home brewing of beer and wine.

The Senate Job Creation and Economic Development Committee voted 3-2 Wednesday for a bill to legalize home brewing. The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mac McCutheon, of Capshaw, passed the House 58-33 on April 2 and now goes to the Senate for a final vote.

Alabama and Mississippi used to be the only states that outlawed home brewing, but Mississippi recently changed its law to permit the practice. The Alabama legislation limits the amount home brewers can produce and prohibits them from selling their beer and wine.


Man convicted in fatal hit, run

KNOXVILLE — A Knox County, Tenn., jury has convicted a 23-year-old man in a hit-and-run accident that killed a young woman, her fetus and a man who was trying to refuel her vehicle.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported jurors returned guilty verdicts Wednesday against Curtis Scott Harper. He was found guilty on three counts of vehicular homicide, DUI, reckless endangerment, leaving the scene and tampering with evidence.

Chasity Elaine Thornell, 24, and Nelzon A. Soto, 45, were killed May 30, 2012.

Harper's lawyer said there was no proof his client was drunk. He conceded that Harper fled, but he said his client thought he had hit a disabled car.


Phone cord attack sentencing set

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — A sentencing date has been set for a North Alabama man who pleaded guilty to trying to strangle his estranged wife with a cellphone charger cord.

Adam Dale Williams was charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree assault charges Monday in the May 2010 attack.

WAFF-TV reported Williams is scheduled to be sentenced June 4.

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