A flight instructor dies at the controls of a twin-engine plane.
We'll hear from those who knew the 31-year old pilot... and learn how it
Also coming up on NEWS 7 at SIX:
The first-hand account of a woman struggling with whether to tell her
parents she was getting an abortion at age 17.
Tonight in sports, the Peach Bowl champion Cavaliers are honored by Roanoke
Rodman is fined and suspended for head butting a referee.
And the VMI Keydets give both Bart Bellairs and Bill Stewart six year
We'll from them and athletic Director Davis Babb tonight in sports.
Nature will throw the whole kitchen sink at us this week. Spring will
definitely roar in Wednesday.
Dense fog overnight may have contributed to a plane crash that killed the
manager of the Mountain Empire Airport.
The aircraft crashed and burned on Interstate- 81 in Wythe County.
Tracy Altizer was on the scene early this morning.
IN Q=Just before one a-m
SUPER=04-Amateur Video; :00
SUPER=01-1st Sgt. D.A. Shaver/VA State Police; :16
SUPER=03-Wythe Co.; :24
SUPER=01-Brian Burkett/Asst. Airport Manager; :48
SUPER=03-Smyth Co.; 1:08
OUT Q=news 7 Smyth co.
(( Just before one a-m, a fireball split through the fog along the border of
Wythe and Smyth counties.
Minutes before, the pilot of a twin- engine Piper Aztec had radioed Atlanta
flight officials he had missed his first attempt to land at Mountain Empire
Airport and was going to try again.
((1ST SGT. D.A. SHAVER/VA STATE POLICE: HE HAD MADE A FLYBY, SO HE HAD MADE A
PASS AND WAS CIRCLING BACK AROUND, AND AT THAT TIME THEY LOST CONTACT WITH HIM.
State police say the plane burst into flames after it clipped some trees,
lost a wing, and crashed.
Firefighters recovered the body of 31 year- old James Preston Harris from
the debris, which littered northbound I-81.
An experienced pilot, Harris ran a charter operation and sometimes taught
He was returning home from Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise County, where he
had dropped off three passengers.
((BRIAN BURKETT/ASST. AIRPORT MANAGER: HE'S AN EXCELLENT PILOT, REALLY GOOD.
I'VE BEEN WITH HIM ON A LOT OF TRIPS, HE'S ACTUALLY TRAINED ME SOME TO FLY.
HE'S AN EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT PILOT. ))
No one on the ground was injured, but northbound I-81 between Groseclose and
Rural Retreat was closed for almost eight hours.
It reopened after the wreckage was taken in pieces to Mountain Empire
suOfficials believe dense fog played a role in the crash, but the Federal
Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will
investigate to determine if any mechanical problems were to blame. Tracy
Altizer, News 7 Smyth County.))
He'd been shot by the time he was nine; stabbed at age 14.
Today Thomas Arthur Burton got a life sentence for murder.
Burton had testified at trial that he wasn't there the night two men forced
their way into the home on Memorial Avenue.
Randall Carter was shot and killed over 190 dollars and a bag of marijuana.
At sentencing Burton still insisted he's innocent.
((I KNOW I'M NO ANGEL, SIR. I HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS AS A KID, AND SOME AS AN
ADULT, TOO. BUT I'M NO MURDERER. I'VE NEVER KILLED ANYBODY. AND I'M SORRY FOR
THAT FAMILY OVER THERE. I'M SORRY THAT YOU LOST YOUR HUSBAND AND YOUR SON, BUT
I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. I FEEL MORE SORRY FOR MY FAMILY. I JUST DON'T
UNDERSTAND HOW THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ME. I JUST FEEL IT'S A TRAVESTY FOR ME, FOR
MY WHOLE FAMILY. YOU HAVE MAINTAINED YOUR INNOCENCE, AS IS YOUR RIGHT. I DO NOT
ASK YOU TO ADMIT OR ACCEPT GUILT. HAVING HEARD THE EVIDENCE, I HAVE FOUND YOU
GUILTY OF MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE AND OF ROBBERY.))
SUPER=01-Thomas Arthur Burton/Convicted Killer; :00
SUPER=Judge Clifford Weckstein/Roanoke Circuit Court; :21
OUT Q=and of robbery
A life sentence for murder, plus 20 years for the robbery.
A shooting this morning in Henry County critically injured a Martinsville
Authorities say 26- year old Troy Lamont Pitzer was shot at least once in
The shooting happened around four- 30 at a home in Ridgeway.
Witnesses told investigators they did NOT see what happened, but heard
gunshots after Pitzer answered a knock at the door.
Witnesses say the shooter drove away in a white car.
Authorities don't have a motive, but do have suspects.
A Pittsylvania County inmate on death row will NOT have a second chance in
court anytime soon.
The U-S Supreme Court today refused to hear Ronald Fitzgerald's appeal.
Two years ago a Pittsylvania County jury found Fitzgerald guilty of robbing
and killing an acquaintance and a taxi driver.
He was also convicted of raping a 13- year old in her Chatham home and a
woman at an Altavista motel bathroom while the woman's two children were in the
During the trial, defense attorneys argued for "life in prison".
They described Fitzgerald as "mildly retarded".
HARD MUSIC UNDER
Still to come on News 7 at Six--a court appearance for a school principal
accusing of striking a student.
And a national television program tells the story of a woman missing and
feared kidnapped on a Virginia highway--state police say viewer response has
wx ad lib
MUSIC UP FULL
SUPER=#C-380; Weather Roll
A Roanoke School principal was in court today to answer charges he assaulted
one of his students.
35-year-old Michael McIntosh is principal at Noel C. Taylor Learning
Academy-- a school for troubled kids.
He's accused of striking a child last October on campus.
McIntosh says he is confident the outcome will be in his favor.
IN Q=We're looking forward
((JOHN P. FISHWICK/DEFENSE ATTORNEY: WE'RE LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR DAY IN COURT.
WE ASKED THE JUDGE TODAY FOR A QUICK TRIAL DATE OF APRIL 12TH. WE'RE LOOKING
FORWARD TO THE TRUTH COMING OUT IN THIS CASE. WE HAVE A NUMBER OF WITNESSES
WHO WILL BE TESTIFYING AND WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO HAVING OUR HEARING.))
SUPER=01-John P. Fishwick/Defense Attorney;
OUT Q=having our hearing.
McIntosh has been suspended from his job pending the outcome of the case.
Parental notification almost became law in Virginia this year. And the
Should a teenager who wants to have an abortion be required to tell her
Intern reporter Tracey Hoffman talked with both supporters and opponents.
IN Q= Parental notification
SUPER=03-David Nova/Planned Parenthood; :17
SUPER=03-Ruth Fielder/Crisis Pregnancy Center; :38
SUPER=19-Tracey Hoffman; :51
SUPER=00-"Sarah"; 1:07 (super on far right!)
OUT Q= Hoffman, News 7.
((Parental notification was one of the final topics deliberated this past
session and eventually killed in the General Assembly.
The bill laid out a procedure requiring parents or guardians to be notified
before an abortion was performed on a minor.
Opponents to the bill said that it could put young girls' lives in danger.
IN Q= There would be
((DAVID NOVA/PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF THE BLUE RIDGE; THERE WOULD BE MINORS WHO
WOULD DELAY GETTING AN ABORTION FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS. DELAY TELLING THEIR
PARENTS. HAVE DELAYS GOING TO A JUDGE. DELAYS TRYING TO FIND SOME PLACE TO GO
FOR A LEGAL ABORTION AND THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE AND MORE MINORS WHO WOULD
HAVE HAD SECOND TRI-MESTER ABORTIONS.))
OUT Q= second tri-mester abortions.
Supporters said that it would make minors answer to their parents.
((RUTH FIELDER/CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTER OF THE ROANOKE VALLEY, INC.; SO WE SEE
THIS PARTICULAR PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BILL AS BEING A WAY TO MAKE MINORS
ACCOUNTABLE TO THEIR PARENTS SO THEIR PARENTS CAN LOOK OUT FOR THEM.))
OUT Q=out for them.
Statistics say that one million teens become pregnant each year and that the
U-S is leading the industrialized world in teen pregnancy rates.
This woman who is twenty faced a difficult decision when she was
seventeen--by having an abortion and not telling her parents.
IN Q= People don't realize
(( PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE AND I DON'T THINK LEGISLATORS REALIZE THE KIND OF
TRAUMA THE GIRLS REALLY HAVE TO GO THROUGH, WOMEN REALLY HAVE TO GO THROUGH IN
MAKING A DECISION LIKE THIS AND FOR A GIRL TO WORRY ABOUT MAKING THAT DECISION
AND THEN ALSO WORRYING ABOUT HOW SHE IS GOING TO GO OUT OF STATE.))
OUT Q=out of state.
Though every young girls' situation is different--the main factor is the
same--they're pregnant and they have a lot of difficult decisions to make.
IN Q= I didn't tell
(( I DIDN'T TELL MY PARENTS. I FELT THAT I NEEDED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY
ACTIONS MYSELF AND EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THEY WOULD HAVE SUPPORTED ME, I DIDN'T
THINK THAT IT WAS MY RIGHT TO ASK FOR HELP. I WANTED TO TAKE CARE OF IT
OUT Q=of it myself.
The emotions young girls face when they find out they are pregnant can be
traumatic--and even more so if they have to go out of state for the abortion.
IN Q=The feeling I
((THE FEELINGS I HAD ARE JUST--THEY WERE JUST NOT KNOWING WHAT WAS GOING TO
COME NEXT. I MEAN THIS WAS DEVASTATING, JUST TO BE 17 YEARS OLD AND TO FIND
OUT I'M PREGNANT AND THEN TO BE FACED WITH GOING THROUGH AN ABORTION.))
OUT Q=through an abortion.
Even though parental notification was dismissed during this General Assembly
session--that does not mean that it's gone forever.
Tracey Hoffman, News 7.))
Fire forced evacuation of an apartment building in Salem this afternoon.
Fire officials say the cause appears to be faulty wiring from a stereo
The owner of the apartment was not at home at the time.
Police had to help evacuate this elderly man and his wife from their
apartment when smoke began pouring from an upstairs window.
IN Q=Officer Melvin Lutts
((SGT. D.H. GIARLA/SALEM POLICE: OFFICER MELVIN LUTTS HELPED HIM OUT. WE WENT
DOOR TO DOOR OF APARTMENTS AND WAS MAKING SURE EVERYBODY WAS OUT AND A FEW OF
THE APARTMENTS HAD PEOPLE IN IT. AND WHEN HE SAW THAT THIS GENTLEMAN NEEDED
HELP HE HELPED HIM OUT.))
BUTT, BUTT, BUTT
((HAZEL FRANCISCO/SALEM RESIDENT: I DIDN'T PANIC TOO BAD BECAUSE I KNEW MAYBE
THAT IT HAD A LITTLE TIME BEFORE IT REACHED IN THERE SO WE JUST GOT OUR THINGS
AND GOT OUT.))
SUPER=01-Sgt. D.H. Giarla/Salem Police;
SUPER=01-Hazel Francisco/Salem Resident;
No one was injured in the blaze.
Officials are still investigating.
More than 70 people have offered information about a man police believe
has been stalking women in Virginia after the case was profiled on national T-V
over the weekend.
State police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell says a 30-second segment on
"America's Most Wanted" Saturday prompted calls to the show's 800 number and to
Caldwell says authorities are following up on the tips as they search for
Alicia Reynolds and the suspect in her apparent abduction.
Mrs. Reynolds was last seen getting into a dark-colored pick-up on U-S 29
near Culpeper on March Second.
Her abandoned car was later found on route 29.
More than a dozen other women have told authorities they've been approached
by a man who matches the suspect's description. He reportedly got some of the
women to pull over by indicating to them that they were having car trouble.
One of Virginia's largest industries suffered another damaging setback
Government documents have surfaced in which former Philip Morris employees
say the tobacco firm manipulates nicotine levels in cigarettes, knowing the
substance acts like a drug.
That contradicts what the company told the federal government, which is
considering regulating tobacco as a drug.
In reaction, Philip Morris stock plunged sharply today.
Just last week, for the first time ever, one of the nation's five largest
cigarette companies agreed to settle a lawsuit over smoking.
A number of large employers in our area have made "The Business Week 1000".
The annual listing charts America's most valuable public companies.
Number one on the list: General Electric.
G-E employs more than two-thousand people at its Drive Systems plant in
Other large employers with high rankings include Wal-Mart, DuPont, Abbott
Laboratories, and Bell Atlantic.
On Wall Street the Dow soared 98 points, for a record close of 56 hundred
NASDAQ was up too, nearly 15 points. (//////////)
GRAPHIC=Roanoke City Sea;
Consideration of a ward system in Roanoke will soon be back on city
This afternoon, members voted to schedule a public hearing on the issue
Supporters of the idea say council would better represent the city's
neighborhoods, if some members are elected by district instead of at- large.
Though council rejected the idea last year, Councilman Bill White says
supporters of a modified ward system believe they did not receive a fair
IN Q=From the citizens that I hear
((BILL WHITE/ROANOKE CITY COUNCIL: FROM THE CITIZENS THAT I HEAR, THEY DON'T
FEEL THAT THEY HAVE HAD DUE PROCESS, SO THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO BRING IT BACK
AND LET'S GET IT DISCUSSED AND LET'S GET IT RESOLVED ONCE AND FOREVER.))
OUT Q=once and forever.
Also today, council endorsed the plan to build a new interchange on
Interstate 581 south of Hershberger road.
That project still requires federal and state approval.
And council members also decided on a name for the Pedestrian Bridge between
the Hotel Roanoke and downtown.
The new name? Market Square Walkway.
New River Valley Habitat for Humanity is breaking new ground.
Instead of building a NEW house, volunteers are renovating an existing
Bethel United Methodist Church was founded in 1869 by a group of freed
But thirteen years ago it was condemned.
The church was never torn down because it was considered an historical
Now, Habitat for Humanity officials believe they can transform the church
into a three bedroom house-- and at the same time, restore most of the
The renovation should be complete this fall.
Coming up tonight in sports, VMI's head football and basketball coaches get
some job security by inking six year contract extensions.
And bad boy Dennis Rodman gets slapped with a 6 game suspension and a $20
thousand dollar fine for using his head.
VMI's two big revenue producing athletic programs, which are long on
tradition, but occasionally short on stability, went a long way toward
remedying that problem earlier today.
IN Q=FIRST AUDIO
SUPER=03-Lexington/This Afternoon; :00
SUPER=01-Bill Stewart/VMI Head Football Coach; :00
SUPER=01-Bart Bellairs/VMI Head Basketball Coach; :23
SUPER=01-Davis Babb/VMI Athletic Director; :37
OUT Q=...TOUGH SITUATION."
(( With the Marshall museum and library as the backdrop, basketball boss Bart
Bellairs and head football coach Bill Stewart inked six-year contract
extensions that will keep them on the barracks into the next century.
((BILL STEWART/VMI HEAD FOOTBALL COACH:))
((BART BELLAIRS/VMI HEAD BASKETBALL COACH:))
((DAVIS BABB/VMI ATHLETIC DIRECTOR:))
Bellairs took VMI hoops to new levels this past season with 18 wins. He's
also found a way to put people in the stands at Cameron Hall and get big name
programs to play in Lexington.
For the 43 year old Stewart, the 6 year deal is a God Send. After spending
the past 16 years at 9 different programs, this is the stability he's wished
for for his wife and 18 month old son.))
Each coaches contract has a base salary of $70 thousand dollars for the first
Chicago Bulls forward Dennis Rodman has been suspended for 6 games and
fined 20 thousand dollars.
SUPER=03-East Rutherford, NJ; :00
The league fined Dennis the menace for head butting a referee after being
ejected from this past Saturday's Bulls/Nets game.
Michael Jordan will not have his top rebounder back until April 2nd.
IN Q="I'd rather
((MICHAEL JORDAN/BULLS GUARD:))
SUPER=01-Michael Jordan/Bulls Guard; :00
Weather problems and scheduling conflicts kept representatives from UVa from
making their way to city council earlier this year,
SUPER=03-Roanoke/This Afternoon; :00
UVa head football coach George Welsh was unable to make it again today but
his administrative assistant Phil Monahan did show up to accept a Jefferson
Cup, a proclamation and some kinds words for the Barber twins.
IN Q="The Roanoke Valley...
OUT Q=...CITED FOR THAT."
Weather conditions were less than ideal yesterday at Martinsville, but that
didn't keep Denton, North Carolina's Donnie Apple from winning the Miller 300.
Over 5000 fans braved the misty, cold conditions to watch 300 laps of Late
Model Stock car action.
And there was plenty of action to watch.
But for the most part the racing was clean, and no one was happier about that
((DONNIE APPLE/MILLER 300 WINNER:))
SUPER=01-Donnie Apple/Miller 300 Winner; :00
OUT Q=...WITH A CAR."
(toss to Jean)
The summer season means different things to different people.
For fire fighters, it means battling brush fires.
Double Boxes=Keith Jean
Jean Jadhon joins us in the newsroom with more on that.
Summer is still a few months away, but fire fighters are starting to get
Last year, nearly 750 firefighters battled flames in the mountains of Craig
When all was said and done, brush fires blackened nearly 5- thousand acres
of national forest.
We'll show you what precautions are going on now, in order to prevent a
repeat of last year.
Double Boxes=Jean Keith
on News 7 at 11.
Join us for that story plus all the latest news, weather, and sports tonight