Originally created 11/06/02

Across the southeast



Bomber's defender is found dead in car

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -Rodger Bass, an attorney who defended Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bomber Bobby Frank Cherry, died Sunday. He was 39.

Mr. Bass was found dead in his car near Lay Lake. Shelby County Coroner Doug Ballard said Mr. Bass apparently died of natural causes, although toxicology and microscopic reports have not been concluded.

"He had no obvious signs of injury," Mr. Ballard told The Birmingham News.

Mr. Bass was waiting for a friend when he died, Mr. Ballard said. The friend found him about 4 p.m. Sunday and called 911. Paramedics said Mr. Bass showed no signs of life.

Mr. Bass and law partner Mickey Johnson defended Mr. Cherry, 72, earlier this year in the 1963 church bombing that killed four girls. Mr. Cherry was convicted and is serving four life sentences.

Mr. Bass is survived by his wife and two children.

Kentucky spends big to clean mined land

McDOWELL, Ky. -Pollution from a mountainside covered with 10 million tons of coal waste causes a stream to run black after heavy rains. When it's dry, a buildup of iron and sulfur gives the water an orange tint.

"I haven't seen a minnow in there in better than 25 years," resident Roland Howell said. "Mining has ruined all the water around here."

Kentucky officials plan to spend $3.6 million over the next two years to undo the damage from at least two decades of mining and turn a black, barren moonscape back into a lush, green mountainside.

About 30 abandoned mine lands across Kentucky's coalfields are reclaimed every year, but state officials say the 68-acre site near the community of Spewing Camp Branch in Floyd County is one of the largest.

Examiner says girl was strangled, assaulted

MARION, N.C. -A 13-year-old girl found dead in her home was probably strangled and sexually assaulted, according to a medical examiner.

Investigators are awaiting toxicology results for Tiffany L. Freeman, said Dr. Donald Jason of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

Terry Freeman, Tiffany's father, found her body when he returned from work about 3 p.m. Friday. Police say she died between 6 and 8 a.m.

Investigators spent Monday morning stopping drivers near Tiffany's home, hoping to find a motorist who remembers a person or vehicle connected to the crime. The State Bureau of Investigations continues to assist police.

Officers have questioned several people about Tiffany's death, but Marion Police Sgt. Scott Spratt declined to comment on possible suspects, saying only that police "don't believe this is somebody just out on a killing spree."