Region briefs

July 7, 2014 

Alabama man gets mental treatment in school gun scare

COLUMBIANA, Ala. -- An Alabama man accused of holding five girls at gunpoint in a school locker room last year has been committed to a state mental institution by a judge.

Al.com reports a court order issued Monday places 22-year-old Ryan Matthew Sims in the custody of the Alabama Department of Mental Health until a judge approves his release. Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to the deal after an assessment found Sims suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

Sims had been charged with kidnapping after the February 2013 incident at Chelsea Middle School in Shelby County. The girls were held in a locker room for about 20 minutes, and the school was placed on lockdown. But nobody was harmed.

-- Associated Press

Louisiana refuses to disclose oil train records

BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana officials are refusing to disclose the details of crude oil shipments railroads haul through the state.

The state Department of Public Safety and Corrections says the information freight railroads are required to provide to Louisiana is considered confidential.

Louisiana was responding to a records request from The Associated Press.

Federal officials say they don't consider the information railroads provide to states sensitive information that must be withheld to protect the public.

This spring the Federal Railroad Administration ordered railroads to notify states about trains carrying at least 1 million gallons of crude oil.

-- Associated Press

Sheriff investigates shooting of pet horse

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Authorities in northern Alabama are investigating a family's report that someone shot its pet miniature horse.

WHNT-TV reports Jason Hudgins found the horse that lived in the pasture in front of his Marshall County home suffering from two gunshot wounds over the weekend. Hudgins says the shots didn't kill his children's pet, so he had to get his own gun to end its suffering.

The Marshall County Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting.

Hudgins says it's possible a passerby shot the horse after mistaking it for a deer. But he says he still wants to find out who's responsible and "let them explain to my 3-year-old son why I had to shoot his horse."

-- WHNT-TV

Ala. man appeals conviction in college shooting

OPELIKA, Ala. -- A man convicted of killing his mother-in-law and wounding his estranged wife at a community college in Opelika is appealing his case.

A Lee County jury convicted Thomas Franklin May III of capital murder and attempted murder in May. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The shootings occurred outside the main classroom building at Southern Union Community College in 2011 as May's estranged wife, Bethany Mitchell, was leaving class and getting into a van with her mother and other family members.

-- Associated Press

Audit: $2.7M in Medicaid paid to state inmates

NEW ORLEANS -- A state audit says Louisiana's health department made nearly $2.7 million in Medicaid payments for state prisoners, who are not eligible for the benefits.

The audit, released Monday, says the monthly Bayou Health and Louisiana Behavioral Health Program payments were made for 2,644 inmates over the 23 months ending Dec. 31, 2013.

Medicaid director J. Ruth Kennedy says in a response filed with the audit that the Department of Health and Hospitals expects to get back all of the money by the end of August.

She says the Department of Health and Hospitals has been getting a weekly file of prison inmates from the Department of Corrections since last September. The health department uses that information to remove inmates from both plans.

-- Associated Press

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