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NEWS FROM ACROSS THE NATION

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POSTED February 25, 2014 7:40 p.m.

• FIRST COLORADO COUNTY REPORTS POT TAXES: DENVER (AP) — A southern Colorado county with two recreational marijuana stores has become the first in the state to announce tax totals from the new industry.

Pueblo County finance authorities announced Monday that its two shops had about $1 million in total sales in January, producing about $56,000 in local sales taxes.

Pueblo County is the only place between Denver and the New Mexico state line that currently allows recreational pot stores. Its two shops were joined by three more that opened in February.

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz projected the marijuana industry will generate roughly $670,000 in new tax revenue for his county this year. The money is a combination of a 3.5 percent pot sales tax approved by county voters last year, as well as “share-backs” from the state on general and pot-specific sales taxes.

If Pueblo’s sales continue at the January pace, the county’s pot industry will make about $11.2 million in gross sales in 2014, 

Ortiz projected. The county’s total budget is about $165 million a year.

 

• MAN ACCUSED OF USING TODDLER AS SHIELD IN GREELEY: GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — An alleged gang member is accused of using toddler as a shield during a standoff with Greeley police, according to court documents.

The standoff happened Saturday at the apartment of Michael Mendez’s ex-wife. According to an arrest affidavit, the 31-year-old broke into the apartment through a balcony door on Feb. 7, punched her and grabbed a 10-inch kitchen knife, and said “...they will have to take me out before I go back to jail,” The Tribune reported Monday. Police went back to the apartment on Saturday to follow up with Maria Mendez, who first denied that her ex-husband was in the home but, after they asked her more questions, she told them he was in a bedroom where three children were sleeping.

As officers waited for backup, they said they heard what appeared to be the sound of glass breaking from the bedroom. When they entered, they found Mendez holding an 18-month-child in one hand and a window frame with broken glass in the other. According to the affidavit, Mendez demanded that police shoot and kill him and held the window frame near the child’s head.

 

• MISSOURI READIES FOR 4TH EXECUTION IN 4 MONTHS: ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man convicted of abducting, raping and killing a Kansas City teenager in 1989 will be executed using a lethal drug provided by a new supplier if last-minute appeals Tuesday don’t stay Missouri’s fourth execution in as many months.

Michael Taylor of Kansas City was scheduled to die by injection at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sought a reprieve, though Gov. Jay Nixon denied a clemency request for Taylor hours before the planned execution.

Taylor’s attorneys have questioned Missouri’s use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide the pentobarbital for his execution. They have also raised concerns that the state executes men before appeals are complete, and claim Taylor’s original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty to lessen her own workload.

After years of using a three-drug execution method, Missouri switched to pentobarbital as a single fatal drug late last year. State officials say there were no outward signs of distress in three recent executions that all relied on a single dose of pentobarbital.

 

• IRANIAN TEACHER BUILDS ROBOT TO TEACH PRAYER: TEHRAN (AP) — An Iranian schoolteacher has innovated an amusing way of encouraging young children to say their daily prayers — robotics.

Akbar Rezaie, 27, attended private robotics classes and learned to develop and assemble customized humanoid robots.

He teaches the Quran to boys and girls at Alborz elementary school in the town of Varamin, 35 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Tehran.

A Western dancing and singing doll first sparked in his mind the idea of building a local robot to present religious practice to his students.

“Once I was at a family gathering where there was a little girl playing with a doll that could dance and sing. I saw her watching the doll passionately and it made me contemplate on a making a device that can be used for both religious and entertaining purposes.”

 

• ASIANA AIRLINES PENALIZED OVER CRASH: LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the first penalty of its kind, federal transportation officials on Tuesday docked Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to promptly contact passengers’ families and keep them informed about their loved ones after a deadly crash last year at San Francisco International airport.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said it took the South Korean airline five days to contact the families of all 291 passengers.

Never before has the department concluded that an airline broke U.S. laws requiring prompt and generous assistance to the loved ones of crash victims.

Three people died and dozens were injured on July 6 when Asiana Flight 214 clipped a seawall while landing. One of the victims, a 16-year-old girl, apparently survived being ejected onto the tarmac, only to be run over by a fire truck in the post-crash confusion.

Many of the families live in South Korea or China, meaning the airline was their main source of information on the crash half a world away.

 

• CALIFORNIA COUPLE PLEAD NOT GUILTY IN CHILD DEATH: NAPA (AP) — A Northern California woman and her boyfriend have pleaded not guilty to charges that they beat the woman’s 3-year-old daughter to death.

Napa County prosecutors say 23-year-old Sarah Krueger and 26-year-old Ryan Warner entered the pleas in court on Tuesday. They are each charged with murder and assault on a child resulting in death in the slaying of Krueger’s daughter, Kayleigh Slusher.

Police found Kayleigh’s lifeless body in her bed during a welfare check at Krueger’s Napa apartment on Feb. 1. Warner and Kruger were arrested at a San Francisco Bay Area train station the next day.

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