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News briefs

Woman hit by pickup recovers GREAT FALLS - A Great Falls woman who was struck by a pickup while she was jogging was able to take a few steps Friday.

Patty Emanuel, 40, was struck from behind Tuesday evening and dragged by a pickup truck.

"I'm hanging in there," Emanuel said Friday from her hospital room. Emanuel's pelvis is fractured in four places, she has three broken ribs, a broken nose and six broken vertebrae.

Emanuel's sister, Gwen Jacobs, said doctors told Emanuel she would likely be able to walk again, after a long period of recovery.

Daniel Robbins, 16, faces attempted murder charges for allegedly deliberately striking Emanuel. He reportedly told his passenger he wanted to have sex with her corpse.

Merritt Robbins, Daniel's father, said his son came home after the incident as if nothing had happened.

"I am totally in shock," he said. "This totally came out of nowhere."

School for deaf, blind graduates 8 GREAT FALLS - The eight graduates of the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind were sent out into the world with the words of the shortest graduation speech: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's "Never give up!"

Then Secretary of State Bob Brown made a similar point in his graduation speech.

"If at first you don't succeed - welcome to the club," Brown said, noting several famous musicians, scholars and athletes failed early in their careers and later became huge successes.

MSDB's graduates already have learned the importance of tenacity. Five are blind or visually impaired and three are deaf.

The MSDB graduates were: Matt Castner of Great Falls; Desi Cady and Cindy Ferguson-Davis of Billings; Jennifer Franzen of Glasgow; Debra McCoy of Sidney; and Jonny McKessick, Cory Nette and Kenny Smith, all of Great Falls.

Residents fight range transfer MISSOULA - A group of Missoula and Mission Valley residents is organizing objections to the possibility that control of the National Bison Range might be turned over to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The bison range and the associated Ninepipe and Pablo national wildlife refuges are within the Flathead Indian Reservation. By law, the tribes can petition the U.S. government for management rights.

Susan Reneau, a member of the opposition group, said opponents have no issue with the tribes, but believe national refuges, forests and recreation areas should be managed by the federal government.

Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary of the agency, is the government's lead negotiator with the tribes. He has said he hopes to have a draft agreement outlining tribal management of the bison range and the refuges by June 30.

Bonner-area accident victim ID'd BONNER - The victim of a car-truck collision on Interstate 90 near here was identified Friday as 56-year-old Roberta Leno of Turah.

Leno's car was eastbound on Interstate 90 about 5 p.m. Thursday when she drifted out of the left-hand lane onto the shoulder, twice tried to correct her course, and then careened across the median into the path of a westbound tractor-trailer, the Montana Highway Patrol said. Her car was crushed and dragged for hundreds of feet along the highway.

Leno, who apparently was on her way home from work at the Missoulian, died at the scene.

3 held in slaying of Butte man BUTTE - Three people are being held on murder charges in the beating death of a Butte man, but court documents filed Friday are unclear as to who actually did the killing.

Richard Solwick, 41, was found bludgeoned to death March 4. An acquaintance told authorities he went to Solwick's residence that morning and went in when the man didn't answer the door.

Investigators believe Solwick was killed sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. March 4.

Charged in the case are Keith E. Doyle, 36; Cheren A. Day, 58; and Angelo Dean Maestas, 41.

Prosecutors know Solwick was beaten to death, but documents outlining the prosecution's case against the three suspects leave no clear idea of who swung the hammer or "rod-shaped instrument" at least 16 times to kill him.

Solwick's body was found in his bedroom, bruised and battered. Prosecutors say each of the suspects had Solwick's blood on them.

County takes West Nile precautions MISSOULA - West Nile virus will arrive in Missoula County this summer, public health officials say, and it will probably come to stay.

The mosquito-borne virus arrived in New York in 1999, moved west, then jumped to California. The Western states are the only empty strip on the American map.

It is too early to predict the behavior of the virus and the illness it causes in about 20 percent of people infected, said Missoula physician and infectious disease specialist George Risi.

Humans' first identification of West Nile virus was in 1937 in a healthy person in Uganda, which is in the West Nile (River) area. The virus was widely known in the world' s Eastern Hemisphere, especially Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

In 2002, there were 3,389 human cases, in 37 states and in the District of Columbia. The virus was present in 42 states in humans or animals.

The virus came to Montana in 2002, first detected in a horse in late August in Shepherd. Between August and November, it showed up in 134 horses in 26 counties. Montana had two human cases, both in people who got it locally. Both recovered.

Dog breeder testifies in retrial ANACONDA - A former president of the Kenai Peninsula Kennel Club in Alaska testified Friday that he and his wife could have had their collie dogs looking like Lassie had they been allowed to proceed into the United States last Halloween.

Jon Harman, 50, did not take the stand in his first animal-cruelty trial in Shelby, which ended in a mistrial when jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Harman and Athena Lethcoe-Harman, 40, of Nikiski, Alaska, are charged with 180 misdemeanor counts of abusing their dogs, mostly collies, and a few cats as the animals were transported in a tractor-trailer rig on a 2,240-mile trip to Woodruff, Ariz.

They were stopped by U.S. Customs inspectors at the Port of Sweet Grass on the international border and officials said they found the trailer filled with dehydrated, malnourished, diseased and shivering animals.

Harman testified that had they been allowed to continue the trip they could have cleaned the dogs and "made them look like Lassie" in about a month.

The Harmans could be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail and fined $500 on each count.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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