May 16, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

Tanker's owners ask judge to dismiss states' lawsuit

The owners of the oil tanker that damaged a bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine are asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the two states seeking about $2.4 million in compensation.

The owners say costs to repair the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, which reopened Monday, "constitute an improvement or betterment of the bridge" with new parts, so there should be a reduction in claimed damages. They also say the two states are "guilty of negligence to such a degree" that the states should be barred from recovering any damages, or recover a reduced amount.

The 473-foot tanker MV Harbour Feature hit the bridge on April 1 after breaking away from a pier.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire, alleged the incident happened because the crew "failed to properly secure the vessel at her berth," resulting in the "parting of her mooring lines."

Court records show the states asked a judge to order the "maritime arrest" of the tanker that would have allowed them to keep the ship in port. That seizure was avoided when the tanker owners posted a "special bond" for $2.4 million, the amount of the estimated repairs, on April 5.

The Portuguese tanker MV Harbour Feature is owned by Sexhste Nordtank-Hamburg and operated by TB Marine Shipmanagement.

CAPE ELIZABETH

Plane crash that killed pilot blamed on 65-year-old part

Federal investigators say an aging part fractured and caused a vintage plane to crash into the ocean off Portland Head Light last summer, killing the doctor piloting the aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in its report released earlier this month that the 1946 Stinson Voyager suffered "a fatigue failure of the No. 3 piston skirt," causing a total loss of engine power.

The Sun Journal reported that the NTSB said although the piston was overhauled about five years before the accident, the part was more than 65 years old.

The plane crashed about 100 yards from shore June 24. The pilot, Dr. Louis Hanson, 60, of Durham, died.

GLENBURN

Mother: Missing girl, 15, had a date with Facebook friend

The Penobscot County Sheriff's Department is looking for a missing 15-year-old girl from Glenburn.

Authorities said Wednesday that Nichole Cable was last seen by her parents Sunday evening. They said 45 officers from different agencies were working to find her.

Law enforcement officials, joined by Cable's parents at a news conference, declined to say Monday if she's in danger or if she's run away before. No Amber alert was issued.

Her mother, Kristine Willey, told WABI-TV that she was scheduled to meet someone she had met on Facebook.

Cable has light brown hair and blue eyes and weighs 90 pounds. She is a student at Old Town High School.

PORTLAND

Lawyer insists DNA testing will clear client in 2 killings

The lawyer for a man who is serving two life sentences for the 1999 execution-style shooting deaths of his former girlfriend and the toddler she was baby-sitting says DNA tests could show that somebody else committed the killings.

Richard Hartley told Maine supreme court justices Wednesday that they should overturn a lower-court ruling denying his motion for DNA testing of clothes worn by another man who claimed responsibility for the killings, but later recanted.

Hartley said the tests could show the victims' DNA or blood on the clothes, which would benefit his client, Jeffrey Cookson, 49, who was convicted of killing 20-year-old Mindy Gould and 21-month-old Treven Cunningham in Dexter.

The lower-court judge ruled that Cookson couldn't show the clothes hadn't been contaminated in the two years they were buried in the ground.

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