Alabama News Sep 16

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OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) -- An Auburn man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.
Ramiro Delreal-Contreras was arraigned Friday and charged with capital murder in the death of Ava Zapata. He pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental defect.
Child welfare officials started an investigation into Zapata's injuries after emergency responders received a call about a sick child on May 2. Auburn police said Zapata died of blunt-force trauma injuries.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Kisha Abercrombie said prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty. The Opelika-Auburn News ( ) reports that a decision is expected soon.

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama leaders have started discussing how the state should use an estimated $1 billion it will receive as a result of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 10-member Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council discussed how it will operate during its first meeting Friday.
BP is expected to pay anywhere from $5 billion to $21 billion in penalties for the spill that sent oil flowing onto the state's shoreline. The Mobile Press-Register reports that Alabama will likely get a minimum of $1 billion.
Gov. Robert Bentley asked members to meet again in about a month. He said the council would seek public input before making final decisions on how to spend the money. He urged communities not to hire lobbyists to seek funding for local projects.

VINCENT, Ala. (AP) -- Federal officials have designated a former plant in Vincent as a priority for environmental cleanup.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it has added the former Alabama Plating site to the Superfund list.
That list is part of a federal program that investigates and cleans up complex hazardous waste sites in the county. Under the program, the EPA can try and compel those responsible for the plant to clean it up. If that fails, the EPA can clean the site itself.
Contamination from arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel and zinc at the six-acre site has migrated to a recreational fishery and ground water supplies. The Birmingham News reports that the agency is concerned the contamination could migrate to the water intake for the Vincent Water Works.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The University of Alabama fan charged with poisoning Auburn University's landmark oak trees will go on trial in just two weeks. But it's still unclear if that will happen in Opelika or another city.
Harvey Updyke has twice cited extensive publicity and news coverage in asking a judge to move his trial outside of Lee County. Updyke's first trial there ended abruptly during jury selection in June after the school's student newspaper quoted Updyke as admitting his guilt.
Updyke denied the student paper's report and says he is innocent. But a judge suspended the trial and said he would try again to hold a trial beginning Oct. 1.
The judge said he would consider the venue question later, indicating he may attempt a second time to begin jury selection and determine whether an impartial panel can be selected in Lee County.

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Volunteers are taking part in the 25th annual cleanup along Alabama's coast.
Individuals and groups have been participating in yearly cleanup days in Baldwin and Mobile counties since 1987.
This year's Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday, and organizers say volunteers will likely find marshes filled with large amounts of debris left by Hurricane Isaac. There's also trash like plastic drink bottles in drainage ditches because of the heavy rainfall earlier this summer.
Organizers say more than 65,000 volunteers picked up 1.2 million pounds of trash from waterways and the coast over the first 24 years of the event.