Breaking news from around Missouri

Monday, September 3, 2001

Federal agents raid Courtney's pharmacy a second timeKANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Federal agents conducted another raid on a pharmacy owned by Robert R. Courtney, the pharmacist charged with diluting chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients.

The four-hour raid on Saturday involved about two dozen agents from the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations, FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said.

The agents raided Courtney's Research Medical Tower Pharmacy about noon, just as it was closing. Lanza declined to say what was found but said the search warrant, its supporting affidavit and a list of the confiscated material should be returned to the federal courts on Tuesday.

Lanza said that the new search warrant, which was issued Friday, was not based on the affidavit used to secure the warrant for the first search of the pharmacy on Aug. 13.

"We're not going back looking for stuff we missed in a previous search," he said.

Courtney is charged with 20 felony counts of tampering, misbranding and adulterating cancer medications he provided to Kansas City oncologist Verda Hunter.

He has pleaded innocent to the charges in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, though Courtney's lawyer has said his client has cooperated with investigators.

Courtney has been jailed without bond while awaiting trial. He was not present for the search of his business, Lanza said.

Federal authorities said last week that they were exploring whether medications other than the cancer drugs Gemzar and Taxol might have been diluted. Samples of other medications were sent to an FDA forensic laboratory in Cincinnati for testing.

Lanza declined to speak about the test results or whether they prompted the latest search of Courtney's pharmacy.

Hulshof disputes charges of misconduct against former death-row inmate granted new trialST. LOUIS (AP) -- A Missouri prosecutor-turned-congressman disputes charges he encouraged a witness to lie under oath against a man spared from death row last month after some college students found allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., said that in helping prosecute Richard Clay for a 1994 killing in the Bootheel, he never told witness Charles Sanders to testify falsely about the severity of his possible sentence to bolster his credibility to jurors, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday.

Attorney General Jay Nixon's office now admits it never responded to Sanders' claim because -- perhaps wrongly -- it didn't believe Clay could raise such issues at the time he did, Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said.

U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple of Kansas City last month ordered Clay retried, ruling that the state violated Clay's right to a fair trial by failing to disclose details of Sanders' "flexible or negotiable" plea deal.

Prosecutors had argued that they are required only to disclose existence of a plea deal, not its contents -- a claim Whipple said "defies Supreme Court authority and common sense."

"The state needed the jury to believe Sanders to convict Clay," Whipple wrote.

Clay has credited his new trial to a group of Webster University journalism students, who as part of a class assignment heard Sanders claim that Hulshof and a fellow prosecutor, H. Riley Bock, asked him to lie about punishment terms in his plea deal.

Bock, still New Madrid County's prosecutor, also rejects Sanders' claim and, like Hulshof, insists he made no secret deals with Sanders.

University of Missouri improving its research rankingCOLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- The University of Missouri-Columbia continues to improve its ranking among national universities in the amount of outside research funding it attracts.

The university's research spending has increased 51 percent in the past four years, and the more than $129 million spent on research in that time is a school record. Researchers have also received $174 million in grants in the same four years.

The amount of federal money spent on research by Missouri -- more than $76.4 million since 1997 -- was the largest single increase in research funding, growing 66 percent over the four-year period.

"Nobody in the nation is growing at the same rate," said Jack Burns, vice provost for research.

Despite the growth, Missouri still is nowhere near the top in terms of luring federal money.

But the four-year increase is "higher than many other universities across the nation," said Stephen Lehmkuhle, vice president for academic affairs for the University of Missouri system.

He said the primary reason for that is increased focus on life sciences research.

Homicide rate jumps sharply in St. LouisST. LOUIS (AP) -- When a couple was shot to death in a car late Saturday night, and a man was fatally wounded in an alley Sunday morning, it brought the city's murder total to 107 on the year.

Last year by this time, there were only 70.

That means that homicides in St. Louis have been more than 50 percent more frequent this year over 2000, and the reasons why aren't entirely clear.

In comparison, murders in Kansas City were up slightly. There had been 78 homicides in Kansas City by Sunday, compared with 73 by that time last year. That city tallied 117 by the end of the year.

Like most other places in the nation, the murder rate in St. Louis declined during the 1990s. After five years straight with 200-plus homicides, the number decreased for five years.

In 1998, the city hit a 32-year low with 113 murders. There were 130 in 1999, then 123 last year.

Police say the murder rate is never easy to explain. But the slowing economy is the most obvious factor, said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis who has studied homicides for years.

Off-duty police officer fatally shoots suspected robberST. LOUIS (AP) -- A St. Louis police officer was placed on administrative duty after fatally shooting a suspected robber Sunday evening.

At an open-air booth selling stuffed animals, a man approached with a gun, demanded money, and then began shooting, police said.

Two men working at the stand were wounded while people waiting in line hit the deck. The off-duty officer, who had been talking to someone behind the booth, identified himself and ordered the man to drop his weapon, police said.

Police said the man started to aim his gun, so the officer fired, killing him.

One of the wounded men was in critical but stable condition, and the other was in serious condition. The officer and other witnesses were not harmed.

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