News Briefs

February 20, 1996
Web posted at: 5 p.m. EST

Former congressman sworn in as NAACP chief


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Maryland congressman Kweisi Mfume was sworn in Tuesday as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. President Clinton was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, held at the Department of Justice's Great Hall.

Clinton praised Mfume for his work in Congress, where he recently chaired the Congressional Black Caucus, and lamented his departure. Mfume was a nine-year House veteran. The president said he had become almost "emotionally attached" to Mfume. But he said the NAACP could have no finer leader.

Mfume has vowed to get the civil rights organization out of debt and restore the prestige it held until the controversy that has surrounded some recent leaders.

Trial begins for customs agent accused of harassment

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Jury selection and pre-trial motions are under way in the aggravated stalking case against a U.S. Customs agent. Henry Blair is accused of making harassing phone calls for 21 years to the mother of Amy Bilig, a 17-year-old girl who disappeared in 1974.

He faces three counts of aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony, for three telephone conversations he had with the teen's mother, Susan Bilig. She recorded some of the telephone calls. If convicted, Blair faces up to five years in prison.

Blair's attorney, William Norris, told CNN his client did make the telephone calls but he said Blair is suffering from a compulsive sexual disorder. He said a combination of alcohol and the disorder prompted Blair to make the calls.

Man in coma-like state may have spoken last words


CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (CNN) - Doctors say they have no idea why a man in a coma-like state mysteriously began talking after a seven-and-a-half year silence, and they have no idea if he will do it again.

Gary Dockery, who had been in a coma-like state since being shot in the head in 1988, suddenly began talking last week. The 42-year-old former policeman inexplicably stopped speaking last Wednesday.

As he did before he began speaking a week ago, Dockery responds to commands by moving his extremities and is able to answer questions by blinking his eyes, doctors said.

Doctors said the same brain connections that allowed Dockery to suddenly begin speaking could turn on again spontaneously for unknown reasons.

Alibi offered for man charged with James Jordan's murder


LUMBERTON, North Carolina (CNN) -- The man charged with murdering the father of basketball star Michael Jordan was watching television after a party when James Jordan was murdered, a defense witness testified Monday .

Monica Hernandez, 16, stepped forward with the alibi for defendant Daniel Andre Green, 21, last month after the trial was under way. Green's childhood friend and alleged accomplice testified Green shot and killed Jordan in 1993.



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