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Last updated: Fri. Mar. 25, 2011 - 12:02 pm EDT

Police and local briefs

Fire damages house

A house fire at 4516 Standish Drive caused heavy smoke and moderate water damage to the structure Thursday morning.

According to a report from the Fort Wayne Fire Department, firefighters received the call at 7:20 a.m. They found heavy smoke coming from the rear of the home. The fire was in the laundry room and extended into the attic of the home.

The fire was quickly brought under control, and none of the three people in the home at the time of the fire was injured. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Sex charges filed

Somchanh Amphonephong, 48, of Wyandotte Drive, has been charged with three counts of Class C felony child molesting. According to a probable-cause affidavit, during a period between March 22, 2009, and June 6, 2010, the defendant had sexual intercourse with a child who was then under 14 years old. A warrant was issued for his arrest Wednesday. Bail has been set at $45,000.

1 molestation charge

Keith Payton, 47, of West Main Street, has been charged with one count of child molesting, a Class C felony.

According to a probable-cause affidavit, between Feb.13 and June 30, 2010, the defendant performed or submitted to fondling or touching of a child who was then under 14 years old, with the intent of arousing or satisfying sexual desires of the child or the defendant.

According to court documents, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the defendant Wednesday and bail has been fixed at $10,000.

Battery, resisting arrest charges

Lucas Williams, 34, of Steeplechase Court, has been charged with one count of battery and two counts of resisting arrest.

According to a probable-cause affidavit, on March 18, Fort Wayne Police Officer Donald L. Lewis responded to a call of a loud verbal disturbance. He knocked on the apartment door. The defendant opened the door, then stepped back. The officer took a step forward, and the defendant slammed the door, catching the officer’s foot under it. The defendant continued to push the door while the officer struggled to remove his foot. Williams called for friends in the apartment to help him shut the door. The officer freed himself and called for backup. The officer tried to arrest Williams, who retreated into the apartment. Eventually backup came and Williams was apprehended.

According to court documents, a warrant was issued for Williams’ arrest Thursday.

Coliseum congestion

Memorial Coliseum officials warn that two popular events there could cause traffic congestion the next two nights.

Large crowds are expected for the Fort Wayne Komets games at 8 tonight and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and the Thunderslam Monster Truck event at 7:30 p.m. both days. Traffic might be congested on Coliseum Boulevard and Parnell Avenue before the events.

Eastbound traffic on Coliseum is encouraged to remain in the middle lane, passing Parnell and entering the parking lot at the Paul Shaffer Drive entrance.

City earns award for engineering

The city of Fort Wayne has received an award for recent projects to increase the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant’s reliability. The project to replace the original 1930s-era pumps and electrical facilities with modern and more efficient equipment has been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies in Indiana for Engineering Excellence. ACEC also recognized the city’s design and construction partners – Donohue Associates, Schenkel Shultz Architecture, Hagerman Construction and Indiana Michigan Power – because of their ability to keep the plant online and producing top-quality water throughout a very complex construction project.

I&M to do aerial inspections

Indiana Michigan Power will conduct helicopter aerial inspections of its high-voltage lines in the next few weeks. Northeast Indiana inspections are planned for April 12-20. I&M will use a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter with a burgundy color scheme and silver stripes, which will fly about 50-100 feet above the lines up to 45 mph. Flights will take place 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Weather delays may alter flight schedules by a day or two, and helicopters may need to circle areas several times to check the lines. Customers with questions or concerns can call 1-800-311-4634.

Tougher focus on violent crimes

INDIANAPOLIS — Offenders who commit the most violent crimes in Indianapolis could be singled out for federal prosecution under a new initiative by the U.S. attorney’s office.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said Thursday he has asked police and prosecutors to help identify repeat violent offenders who could be prosecuted under federal laws that carry stiffer sentences for gun crimes.

Hogsett says the joint federal-local effort will focus on gun crime and drug trafficking, using court-authorized wiretaps and undercover operations to develop cases to take before the federal grand jury. He says officers will receive special training on the evidence necessary in federal cases.

He says a federal grand jury this week returned indictments in six cases charging 14 people with federal drug and gun crimes.

Doctors reattach girl’s bitten ear

SOUTH BEND — Doctors at a northern Indiana hospital were able to reattach a 5-year-old girl’s ear after it was bitten off by her grandfather’s pit bull.

Sarah Bailey was listed in good condition Thursday at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. Her grandfather, Troy Gladura, said Sarah was playing with the 80-pound dog named Spike on Wednesday morning when it suddenly attacked her.

He said he stepped in to stop the attack. Police say the dog bit through the girl’s ear, pulling it off her head.

Gladura said the 2-year-old dog was never aggressive before. He said he owned the dog since it was 6 months old.

Gladura said the dog was euthanized after the attack.

Man gets 65 years for stabbing

BEDFORD — A 21-year-old Bedford man has been sentenced to 65 years in the death of his aunt, who was stabbed more than 80 times.

Jeremiah Hancock will spend at least the next 32 1/2 years in prison. Indiana law allows a day of credit for a day served, meaning Hancock could be released when he’s in his mid-50s.

In December, he entered a guilty plea to murdering Diana Tabor.

Lawrence Superior Court Judge Michael Robbins found only aggravating circumstances Thursday before handing down the sentence.

Cancer patient’s family gets $13M

HAMMOND — A northern Indiana jury has awarded $13 million to relatives of a woman who died of cancer after surgery by a doctor who was a fugitive in Europe for five years until his capture on an Italian mountainside in 2009.

The Lake County jury reached its verdict Thursday on the sixth day of Mark Weinberger’s trial in a lawsuit filed by relatives of Phyllis Barnes. The 50-year-old Valparaiso woman died of laryngeal cancer three years after Weinberger performed sinus surgery on her.

Barnes’ attorney, Kenneth Allen, told jurors Weinberger and an assistant failed to discover the tumor that killed Barnes despite numerous “red flags” indicating she had a serious condition.

Jurors awarded $3 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

State Sen. Delph bruised in crash

CARMEL — State Sen. Mike Delph was left bruised but otherwise unhurt when his car collided with another vehicle as the Republican legislator was returning to his suburban Indianapolis home.

Delph was driving home Wednesday when his car was struck on the driver’s side door by a car whose 19-year-old driver swerved to avoid a slowing car. Delph said the accident could have been worse but afterward he was “really out of it for a while.”

Delph said he was examined at the hospital and declared in good shape but that his left side was still bruised and sore Thursday.

The Carmel Republican gained attention this year as the sponsor of a tough immigration bill that would give police authority to check on people’s immigration status.

–From staff, wire reports

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