Originally created 06/11/04

Across the Southeast



Religion leads lawyer to ask to leave case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A prosecutor raised religious objections to the death penalty in asking to step aside in the case of two men charged with killing a couple and setting their house on fire.

J. Stewart Schneider, the commonwealth's attorney in Boyd County in northeastern Kentucky, said Thursday that he filed his motion to withdraw from the case after spending last weekend at a religious retreat. Mr. Schneider also is a minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Mourners offer tribute to last Civil War widow

MONTGOMERY, ALA. - Three days of tributes to Alberta Martin, the last widow of a Civil War veteran, began Thursday with her body lying in repose at the First White House of the Confederacy as re-enactors in gray uniforms stood guard.

Gov. Bob Riley, first in the line of mourners, placed a wreath of magnolias beside her wooden casket. A Confederate battle flag covered the casket, as Ms. Martin had requested.

Ms. Martin died May 31, nearly 140 years after the Civil War ended. She was 97.

She was a 21-year-old widow with a young child when she met and married 81-year-old William Jasper Martin in 1927. He served as a private in the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment in the Civil War, and died in 1932.

Threat of ACLU suit ends ban on baptisms

RICHMOND, VA. - Park officials who tried to ban churchgoers from performing baptisms in the Rappahannock River are backing away from their stance after a civil liberties group threatened to sue.

The park's board unanimously approved a new policy Wednesday night that says the Falmouth Waterfront Park cannot discriminate against any group based on the nature of its activities.

In May, the Rev. Todd Pyle and members of his Cornerstone Baptist Church were told that baptisms in the river could offend others using the park, located outside Fredericksburg.

The American Civil Liberties Union had threatened to sue.

"We're gratified that the park authority recognized they were involved in religious discrimination and a violation of free speech," said the Rev. Pat Mahoney, the head of the Christian Defense Coalition.

The new policy says park officials can restrict access to groups whose activities interfere with the enjoyment of the park by the public.