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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

Cause sought for fire at South Avenue home

NIAGARA FALLS -- Investigators are searching for the cause of a fire early Saturday that left a South Avenue man homeless.

Fire broke out on the first floor of 1636 South Ave. about 12:30 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the structure was engulfed in flames, officials said. The fire caused minor damage to a neighboring home at 1632 South.
Damage to 1636 South, owned by Russell Brown, was listed at $40,000 to the building and $5,000 to its contents.

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Suit against CNN, Grace moved to federal court

A wrongful death lawsuit claiming that CNN's Nancy Grace pushed the mother of a missing toddler to suicide through aggressive questioning has been moved to federal court.

The lawsuit filed by relatives of Melinda Duckett, formerly of Lockport, was moved from state court in Tavares, Fla., to federal court in Ocala, Fla., according to court documents.

Lawyers for Grace and Atlanta-based CNN asked that the case be transferred to federal court, a move allowed when opposing parties in a lawsuit live or are headquartered in different states. The provision ensures a state court will not be biased in favor of a party from its own state.

The lawsuit stems from the contentious Sept. 7 interview on Grace's CNN Headline News show, in which she interrogated Duckett about her whereabouts on the August day that 2-year-old Trenton Duckett was reported missing. The network aired the segment after Melinda Duckett shot herself to death. Investigators have since named Melinda Duckett as the prime suspect in his disappearance. The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and a court order preventing the show from being broadcast again.

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Co-worker attacked during argument in car

NIAGARA FALLS -- A nursing home employee suffered slash wounds to her hands and arms Friday afternoon when she was attacked by a co-worker as both were being driven home from work, police said.

Police said the 34-year-old victim, who was a front-seat passenger, was attacked by a woman in the back seat with a pair of scissors during an argument. Police said she suffered the injuries while trying to protect her face.

The victim, who got out of the the car at Lewiston Road and Maple Avenue, told police she has been harassed previously by her attacker.

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Armed with knife, man robs convenience store

NIAGARA FALLS -- A man wearing a hoodie and face mask used a knife to threaten a cashier about 7 a.m. Saturday while robbing the Wilson Farms store at 2620 Niagara St., police said. The bandit made off with about $150 in cash, police added.

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Worker at school faces child porn charges

LOCKPORT -- An employee of Starpoint Central School's food service company will be arraigned in Niagara County Court on Tuesday in a child pornography case, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said.

Jeffrey J. Klein, 27, of Wheatfield-Pendleton Townline Road, has been indicted, although the precise charges won't be disclosed until the arraignment. Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. will preside over the case.

Klein was arrested Sept. 22 after members of the Shawnee Volunteer Fire Company told sheriff's deputies of their suspicions that he had been viewing pornographic material on a computer in the fire hall. He was charged then with possessing a sexual performance by a child.

Klein was arrested at Starpoint Middle School, where he was a cafeteria monitor employed by Advanced Meals, the Syracuse company that holds Starpoint's food contract. He also worked as a substitute teacher.

He was suspended from the fire company and barred from school property after the arrest, deputies said.

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Three children held in vandalism of 2 cars

NIAGARA FALLS -- Three juveniles are accused of vandalizing two cars in the 1300 block of Whitney Avenue on Friday night.

Police said the three were observed about 9 p.m. scratching a 1995 Ford with a key and hurling rocks at it. The juveniles were detained by the owner until police arrived. Damage was estimated at $1,000, police said.

During the investigation, police discovered similar damage to a neighbor's 2006 Chevrolet. All three juveniles will be petitioned to Niagara County Family Court.

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One arrested, one flees after traffic stop

NIAGARA FALLS -- A 20th Street woman faces a variety of charges after police stopped her car at 2:16 a.m. Saturday in the 600 block of 20th Street.

Deniqua S. Ryan, 23, was charged with driving while intoxicated, criminal impersonation, unlicensed operation and having an insecure plate. Police said she gave a false name and date of birth while being questioned.

A man who fled from the back seat of the car eluded capture, police said.
Officers said they stopped the vehicle after noticing the rear license plate was not secure.

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