Alabama News June 17

By: AP
By: AP

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- About 600 members of the Alabama National Guard are getting ready to deploy for duty in Afghanistan.
Guard officials say the Talladega-based 1/167th Infantry Battalion will undergo extensive training before traveling to Afghanistan later this summer.
Departure ceremonies for six different battalion companies will be held next Friday in Valley, Pelham, Cullman, Sylacauga, Talladega and Oxford.
The 1/167th dates its military lineage back to the 4th Alabama, which fought in the Civil War. It has played a role in every major American war since then.
More than 18,000 members of the Alabama Guard have been called to active duty in the nearly 11 years since the 9/11 terror attacks.

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Defense lawyers for a University of Alabama fan accused of poisoning the iconic oaks at Toomer's Corner in Auburn say they plan to be ready for trial this week even though their client's poor health may affect his participation.
Harvey Updyke Jr.'s trial is expected to begin sometime after the planned Monday pre-trial deposition of an analyst who tests soil samples.
The Opelika-Auburn News reports that Updyke's lawyers on Thursday filed a notice saying that the doctor treating Updyke for his "poorly controlled" diabetes recommended that the 63-year-old get a neurological exam.
Lawyer Everett Wess says the defense still plans to be ready but wanted the court to know that Updyke's health could affect his ability to participate.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the notice.

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- A jury has found a man guilty in the killing of a man during a robbery attempt at a midtown Mobile home.
The Press-Register reports jurors reached their verdict Saturday, their second day of deliberations in the capital murder trial of 21-year-old Michael Lee. He was charged in the April 2010 death of 23-year-old Kyser Miree.
Prosecutors say Lee and three others knocked on Miree's door and barged into his home with three guns pointed at him. Prosecutors say the four demanded money and then Lee shot Miree in the head.
Prosecutors say the shooting was intentional. Defense lawyers cited testimony that the gun fired accidentally as Lee hit Miree in the head with it.
Miree, a Birmingham native, was an engineer at the Chevron Corp. refinery in Pascagoula.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- A hospital for veterans in Tuscaloosa has celebrated the opening of a women's wing within the residential rehabilitation treatment program.
The Tuscaloosa News reports that the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center held a ribbon-cutting and open house Friday for the newly renovated wing. U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby was the guest speaker at the event.
The medical center opened a primary care unit for female veterans about two years ago. The success of that unit led the mental health leadership to seek to establish a similar environment within its residential program for female veterans.
The renovation cost $300,000 and includes an eight-bed unit with a living room and lounge area, a laundry room, a spa with a whirlpool and a salon area, where women can receive beauty treatments.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History plans to retire Oct. 1 after a 30-year career.
Sixty-six-year-old Ed Bridges says he doesn't have the energy needed to continue. But before stepping down, he plans to raise the last $500,000 needed to reach a $7 million goal for adding a new gallery. The gallery will trace Alabama's history from 1700 to the present.
Former Gov. Bob Riley says Bridges has devoted his life to preserving the foundation that Alabama will use to build its future, which he calls a remarkable legacy.
Bridges says he plans to write a book about Alabama history after retiring.

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