In a phone interview from the Grayson County jail yesterday, convicted murderer Louis Ceparano said he did NOT kill Garnett G-P Johnson last summer-- that the two were friends.
Ceparano also expressed doubts over the plea agreement he signed three weeks ago.
Teresa Hamilton has more on their conversation in this report.
[IN Q=GP was]
[SUPER=03-Independence/File Tape; :15]
[SUPER=03-Grayson Co./File Tape; 1:00]
[OUT Q=Hamilton, NEWS 7.]
((LOUIS CEPARANO/CONVICTED MURDERER:GP WAS MY FRIEND AND EVEN THOUGH WE ALL MAY HAVE BEEN PRETTY WELL INTOXICATED I WOULD HAVE IN NO WAY WANT TO HURT HIM. ))
[OUT Q=hurt him.]
Ceparano declines to go into specifics about the crime saying he did NOT want to jeopardize the commonwealth's case against co-defendant, Emmett Cressell, Junior.
Ceparano, who'd been facing the death penalty, recently entered a plea that guaranteed him life in prison without parole after agreeing to testify against Cressell.
But Ceparano is adamant in wanting people to know he's NOT a racist.
[IN Q=I get along]
((I GET ALONG SOCIALLY CORRECT WITH EVERYBODY AND I THINK THE NEWSPAPERS HAVE LABELLED ME DIFFERENTLY AND I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT I'M NOT THIS BAD, MAD MAN TYPE PERSON THAT THEY HAVE MADE ME OUT TO BE. ))
[OUT Q=to be.]
Ceparano says he combined moonshine and whisky along with the prescription drugs Valium and Zanax in the hours leading up to the murder...
He remembers the three had been joking around and that he helped Cressell carry Johnson out of his house but says that's where his role in the crime ended.
And, while police say his clothes were covered in the victim's blood-- Ceparano denies dousing Johnson with gasoline or lighting the match-- or later beheading him.
((I DIDN'T KILL HIM, I KNOW I WOULDN'T HAVE, IT'S JUST NOT IN ME TO DO THAT. ))
[OUT Q=to do that.]
Ceparano has three teenage children and recently became a grandfather-- which he says prompted him to enter a plea agreement.
It's a decision he's now having second thoughts about.
His attorneys say it's understandable but still believe he made the right move and doubt anything can be done to reverse the decision.
Teresa Hamilton, NEWS 7.
[TAPE#=98-39 TC 1:06:49]
No new trial for convicted killer Tommy Strickler.
Last October a judge nullified Strickler's conviction in the abduction and murder of a 19 year old Roanoke woman in Augusta County.
The judge ruled prosecution evidence was improperly withheld from his lawyers.
But now a three judge panel of the Fourth U-S Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed that decision.
The appeals court judges said Strickler's lawyers had enough
The panel said by not raising the issue in state court, Strickler is barred from raising it now.
A 22-year old Dublin man is dead following an accident on route 6-72 in Pulaski County yesterday afternoon.
Police say David Dwight Perdue hit a tractor trailer head on.
Perdue died at the scene. No one else was injured.
[TAPE#98-42 TC 40:42]
For years, the Lynchburg Fire Department has had to constantly shift personnel to accomodate for manpower shortages, but now recent changes in federal law have made the problem worse.
Firefighters are worried that Hill City residents will soon be paying the price.
Steve Smalshaw reports.
[IN Q=Federal law now]
[SUPER=03-Lynchburg/File Tape; :00]
[SUPER=01-Mike Hagar/Lynchburg Firefighters Assoc.; :19]
[SUPER=01-Fred Mills/Lynchburg Fire Chief; :48]
[OUT Q=News7, Lynchburg.]
(( Federal law now requires at least two firefighters to be OUTSIDE a burning building before two others can go in and start extinguishing the blaze.
The problem is Lynchburg only puts THREE firefighters on each engine.. the first crew to arrive then has to wait for backup before making an interior attack.
[IN Q=Our job is]
((MIKE HAGAR/L'BURG FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION: OUR JOB IS BASED IN MINUTES. THE QUICKER WE CAN GET THERE, THE QUICKER WE CAN HELP PEOPLE AND MINIMIZE EITHER INJURY OR FIRE LOSS.))
[OUT Q=or fire loss.]
Another problem is city firefighters have amassed 16- thousand hours of comp time.. giving people the day off forces equipment like these squad trucks to be put out of service.
According to an outside consultant's report one solution would be the purchase of five "quints"... a combination of both a ladder and pumper truck.
But fire chief Fred Mills says unless you also add more people, quints may not be the answer.
[IN Q=In the city]
((FRED MILLS/LYNCHBURG FIRE CHIEF: IN THE CITY THE SIZE OF LYNCHBURG, IF WE HAD EIGHT QUINTS IN SERVICE FOR INSTANCE, ONE AT EACH FIRE STATION, A TYPICAL FIRST ALARM ASSIGNMENT WOULD TAKE HALF OF OUR ON-DUTY RESOURCES.))
[OUT Q=on-duty resources.]
[IN Q=The bottom line]
((The bottom line, according to the fire department, is they need more money and more manpower. The city appears willing to listen. A task force will be appointed to study the problem and hopefully come up with some solutions in the next few months. Steve Smallshaw, News7, Lynchburg.))
[OUT Q=News7, Lynchburg.]))
The former head of Virginia's Democratic Party says state lawmakers have violated the constitution to pad their pockets.
PaulGoldman this week asked the Attorney General to look into the lawmakers' doubling of their "per diem" allowance and increasing their office expense budgets.
The Virginia Constitution explicitly forbids the lawmakers from voting to raise their own "salaries" during their terms in office.
Goldman has now found a 1980 law that he thinks will make his point.
[IN Q=It just so]
((PAUL GOLDMAN/FORMER DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: IT JUST SO HAPPENED IN 1980, THE LEGISLATURE CALLED THE VERY THING THEY DID A SALARY. IT WASN'T AN ALLOWANCE IN 1980. IT WAS A SALARY. BUT NOW OF COURSE, IN ORDER TO GET AROUND THE CONSTITUTION, THESE THINGS ARE KNOWN AS ALLOWANCES. SECOND OF ALL, WHAT I'VE POINTED OUT, AND MANY PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THIS, IS THAT YOU AND I, THE TAXPAYERS OF VIRGINIA ARE PAYING FOR PENSIONS, OF COURSE FOR THE LEGISLATURE, AND THEIR PENSIONS ARE BASED ON THEIR EXPENSES!))
[SUPER=01-Paul Goldman/Former Democratic Chairman; ]
[OUT Q=their expenses.]
That means when the office expense budget goes up July first, so do the pensions.
[IN Q=You know]
((ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK EARLEY: YOU KNOW YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IF IT HAD BEEN A VERY STRONG CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE, SOMEONE WOULD HAVE RAISED IT ALONG THE WAY. I DON'T KNOW THAT THESE INDIVIDUALS RAISED IT DURING THE SESSION. BUT YOU KNOW, WE'LL CERTAINLY TAKE A LOOK AT IT. WE TAKE A LOOK AT EVERY LETTER FROM ANY CONSTITUENT IN VIRGINIA.))
[OUT Q=in Virginia.]
Goldman says Attorney General Mark Earley voted to base pensions on expenses himself-- when he was a state senator i
[TAPE#98-48 TC 16:13]
Negotiations over Virginia's newest abortion law have fallen through.
The Virginia Attorney General's office was negotiating toward a "temporary settlement" on the July first enactment of the ban on so-called partial birth abortions.
Neither the Attorney General's office or the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy will say what points of the law were negotiable.
In his last court filing, Attorney General Mark Earley blasted the challenge to the new law, writing:
"Defeated by the democratic process, they now conjure spurious constitutional claims as they press for a judicial veto of the new law..."
"...they feign an inability to understand the law, denigrating as vague language the American Medical Association has praised as clear."
Despite those words, Earley may fear the law leaves open a situation like what happened in Wisconsin.
In that state, prosecutors did NOT enforce the parts of the law they thought were vague.[11-Log-Cabin]
A log cabin in Roanokehas been granted a temporary repreive from the wrecking ball.
The city has condemned this two-story log cabin to be destroyed by July second.
But contractors are not tearing down the main building YET -- instead they are waiting for potential buyers to save it.
[IN Q=The guys that made]
((THE GUYS THAT MADE THESE ... THIS PARTICULAR CITY.))
[OUT Q=this particular city]
The cabin's owner, Paul Levi, found a postcard from the Fountain Inn, dated 1827, tucked between the logs.
Historians say the woodwork is one of a kind and are racing to save the cabin.
[ANCHOR=Steve 2 shot**]
[TAPE#=Wknd Diner TC]
(toss to Andrew for Diner)
For the first time on the weekend diner.
We're making candy-- we should do this more often.
[IN Q=nat sound]
[OUT Q=thank you]
[Dissolve to Chyron 7153]
If you drop us a self-addressed, stamped envelope, we'll send you this recipe.
You can see the address there on the screen. You can also check out our web site under the weekend mornings section.
And, don't forget if you'd like to be on the weekend diner, send us a note with your recipe, name, address and phone number.
And if we come to your house, you'll get a cool weekend diner apron.
[ANCHOR=Steve 2 shot]
Here's a look at today's top stories.
[SUPER=#4070;weekend headline banner]
Louis Ceperano says that he and murder victim Garnett G-P Johnson were friends.
In a phone interview from the Grayson County Jail yesterday, Ceperano denies dousing Johnson with gasoline, lighting the match, or beheading him.
Ceperano says he wants people to know that he is not a racist.
The former head of Virginia's Democratic Party wants the Attorney General to look into how lawmakers get allowances during their term in office.
Paul Goldman says that lawmakers can get around the law by saying they are getting allowances instead of a salary.
The Virginia Constitution forbid lawmakers from voting to raise their own salaries during their term.
The effects of the General Motors strike are being felt in Southwest Virginia.
180 employees at the Kingston - Warren plant in Wytheville have been laid off for more than ten days and do not know when they will be able to return.
The plant that makes rubber seals for car doors and windows for GM is still open but running with just 50 employees.
And that's what's making news on this Saturday June 20-th.
We'll be back in just a minute.
Over one hundred thousand GM employees have now been affected by the United Auto Workers strike in Flint Michigan.
Picketers are now entering their second and third weeks on the line.
The shortages caused by the strike have cut GM's productivity down to just 10% of normal.
With the ripple effects the strike is causing in the economy, even the president hopes the end is near.
[IN Q=They have some]
[OUT Q=timely fashion]
The resolution probably won't be as timely as he hopes.
GM plants were already scheduled to shut down for the next 2 weeks for Summer closings.
[TAPE#=98-46 TC 19:36]
Fallout from the strike is being felt in our area, especially in Wytheville.
Some 180 employees at the Kingston-Warren plant in Wythe County have been laid off for ten days now and a plant spokesman says he has no idea when they might be recalled.
The plant is still open, running with just 50 people.
The company makes rubber seals for car doors and windows and is a main supplier for GM.
Buena Vista may soon be getting a new high school.
The newest addition to the area's current high school-- Parry McCluer-- was built in 19-54.
[SOT 10.08.24 - 10.08.32]
[IN Q=It is one]
((IT IS ONE OF THE OLDEST HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE STATE AND IT STILL IS ROCK STEADY. IT JUST HAS OUTLIVED ITS USEFULNESS FOR A HIGH SCHOOL PURPOSE.))
[SUPER=01-D. Earl Downs/High School Principal]
[OUT Q=high school purpose.]
Plans for the new school have already been drawn up.
It will cost a total of eight million dollars.
School officials expect to break ground on the project in January and to have it up and running by the year 2001.
Officials have raised area taxes to help pay for the new high school.
Now, they say they're waiting for approval of state funds before beginning construction.
It's been said that Harrison Ford doesn't make a bad movie.
But Anna Wentworth says you may not want to make a reservation for "Six Days Seven Nights"
[OUT Q=stop animation]
[WIPE WIPE WIPE WIPE][Six-Days]
[WIPE WIPE WIPE WIPE]
[IN Q=six days, seven nights]
[SUPER=18-Anna Wentworth; :00]
[SUPER=18-"Six Days, Seven Nights"; :26]
[SUPER=18-Touchstone Pictures; ]
[SUPER=18-Anna's Grade "C"; 1:24]
[OUT Q=fun to watch]
(([10:09 Playback tape]
"Six Days, Seven Nights" is an OK escapist fantasy if you aren't very demanding and can accept a disappointingly unlikely Hollywood ending.
Heche is engaged to a wealthy young man (David Schwimmer) who whisks her off to an exotic weekend on an obscure island in the Pacific. Things are going well until her editor insists she return to Tahiti for a photo shoot.
[05:02 Clip Tape]
She hires seedy pilot Harrison Ford to fly her there and on the way bad weather causes their plane to crash on an uninhabited island.
[05:43 clip tape]
[IN Q=what's the problem?]
[OUT Q=all good questions]
They have to make the best of it, playing Robinson Crusoe and falling for each other. A band of murderous pirates complicates their situation.
[Anna on Camera]
"Six Days, Seven Nights" gets a C. The movie is ridiculously far-fetched but Harrison Ford and Anne Heche are attractive people who are fun to watch. ))
David (Doo-Cuv-nee) Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have taken their search for the truth to the silver screen--
as the X-Files movie opened at local theatres.
But, fans of the tv show had mixed reactions to the show's big screen debut.
[SOT 20.18.43 - 20.18.52]
[IN Q=It wasn't as]
((JOHN CARISTA/X-FILES TV FAN:IT WASN'T AS GOOD BUT IT WAS GOOD. IT WAS WORTH THE MONEY. Would you see it again? NAH. I WOULDN'T SEE IT AGAIN.))
((JOHN SMITH/X-FILES TV FAN: IF YOU LIKE SORT OF PARANOIA--FEAR OF THE GOVERNMENT, OR ANYTHING IT'S A FUN MOVIE TO SEE.
AND, EVEN IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE CHARACTERS. I THINK AFTER THE MOVIE YOU'LL WANT TO KNOW THE CHARACTERS FROM THE SHOW.))
[SUPER=01-John Carista/X-Files TV Fan;:00]
[SUPER=01-John Smith/X-Files TV Fan;:10]
[OUT Q=from the show.]
K-92 was on hand at Salem Valley Eight, providing music for movie-goers waiting their turn in the theaters.
But, some of them ended up having a longer wait than expected.
That's because the 9:45 showing there sold out an hour early.
The sci-fi flick is rated PG-13.
[GRAPHIC=Smith Mountain Lake]
A developer is betting a new waterpark will make a big splash at Smith Mountain Lake.
Craig Caron is taking one of his Nascar-model Go Karts for a spin.
By June 30th, he says everyone will be able to speed around the track -- or float boats in the bumper pool.
He has spent 700-thousand-dollars -- and five years -- building the park.
[IN Q=We had some difficulty]
((WE HAD SOME DIFFICULTY MAKING EVERYONE BELIEVE IT WAS GOING TO BE A NICE PORJECT AND WOULD BE GOOD FOR THE COMMUNITY.
PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY HAD CONCERNS AS TO WHAT EXACTLY WOULD BE GOING ON, HOW NOISY IT WOULD BE AND HOW IT WOULD AFFECT WHAT WAS ALREADY HERE.))
[OUT Q=ALREADY HERE]
To muffle noise -- Caron built the park below ground level with slopes as buffers.
Next year he plans to build two water slides and a 300 foot wave pool to draw in tourists.
Imagine spending your retirement years travelling around the country in an R-V, all while serving as a volunteer for the federal government?
That's what one couple is doing at the Rocky Knob Campground in Floyd County.
In this week's "Time Off", Kimberly McBroom profiles them AND this scenic area, in the third part of her Blue Ridge Parkway series.
[IN Q=Hal and Ellen Cubberley]
[SUPER=01-Hal Cubberley/Campground Host; :05]
[SUPER=03-Floyd Co.; :16]
[SUPER=00-Ellen Cubberley/Campground Host; :38]
[SUPER=01-Diane Garland/Park Ranger; 1:22]
[OUT Q=KM,News 7, Floyd County]
(( Hal and Ellen Cubberley are living out their retirement dream--
((HAL CUBBERLEY/CAMPGROUND HOST: A YEAR AGO IN APRIL, WE RETIRED AND SOLD OUR HOUSE AND ALL THE STUFF, AND MADE THIS FIFTH WHEEL OUR HOME.))
"Home" has been several stops across the country as campground hosts.
Their first volunteer gig was at Sequoia National Park in California, the next was in Arkansas, and finally, here at Rocky Knob campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Duties include greeting new campers, acting as watchdogs over the campground-- and mostly, answering questions.
[SOT 10:15:06 ]
((ELLEN CUBBERLEY/CAMPGROUND HOST: WELL, THE BIGGEST ONE IS "CAN WE USE THE BATHROOM?" BUT FOR THE ACTUAL CAMPERS THAT COME HERE, MOST OF THEM, IF THEY'VE COME FROM THE NORTH, WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW FAR IT IS TO MABRY MILL, WHAT ELSE THERE IS TO SEE IN THE AREA...))
There's a lot to see and DO at Rocky Knob, which includes 109 camp sites.
But campers do have to "rough it" a little, with NO water or electrical hook-ups.
In addition to camping, visitors can also enjoy picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and hiking trails.
[SOT 10:45:16 please B-roll some of this with gorge video]
((DIANE GARLAND/PARK RANGER: AND ONE OF THE NICEST ONES, I THINK, ON THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY IS RIGHT HERE AT ROCK CASTLE GORGE. IT'S A 10.8 MILE TRAIL. IT'S CONSIDERED STRENUOUS. YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOME GOOD HIKING BOOTS, CARRY YOUR WATER WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO. BUT IT GOES THROUGH SUCH A VARIETY OF AREAS. THERE'S AN OLD SETTLEMENT THAT WAS DOWN IN ROCK CASTLE GORGE THAT HAD STARTED IN THE LATE 1700'S AND PEOPLE LIVED THERE UNTIL THE MID 1930S, WHEN THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY CAME THROUGH.))
[SOT standup here 11:09:07]
((KIMBERLY MCBROOM/NEWS 7: IT'S ABOUT A 10- MINUTE HIKE UP A ROCKY HILL TO REACH A PIECE OF VIRGINIA'S HISTORY-- AN ORIGINAL APPALACHIAN TRAIL SHELTER.
The trails are open year- round, but the campground closes at the end of October.
Despite their nomadic lifestyle, the Cubberleys say they don't get homesick.
But they do plan to visit family in Ohio, when they hit the road again after Labor Day.
Kimberly McBroom, News 7, Floyd County.))
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer campground host, just fill out an application with the national park service.
[GRAPHIC=Did you see that?]
Finally this morning, did you see three men in recliners in the rain.
Maybe you saw them, if you were tooling along Hershberger Road anytime yesterday.
It was a publicity stunt by W-J-L-M, Roanoke's country music station.
All the contestants had to do was sit in recliners for 12 hours.
At the end of the day they get to take the chairs home ...just in time for Father's Day.
[IN Q=It got me]
((IT GOT ME OUT HERE. THE REST IS FUN WITH THE GUYS. BOOMER AND SLAM, MERLE AND DAVID, THEY'RE GOOD PEOPLE. WE'RE HAVING A GOOD TIME UP HERE. ))
[OUT Q=time up here.]
It was a cheap promotion.
The chairs came from a nearby store that's going out of business.
They borrowed the hydraulic lift.