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Originally published Saturday, July 2, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Nation Digest

Hate-crime suspect has history of violence

The white man jailed after a baseball-bat attack on a black man was also prosecuted in a bias incident outside a Sikh temple on ...

The white man jailed after a baseball-bat attack on a black man was also prosecuted in a bias incident outside a Sikh temple on Sept. 11, 2001, and was put on probation for a 2002 stabbing.

Nicholas Minucci was 15 when he and another young man allegedly shot paintballs at worshippers as they left the Sikh Cultural Center in Queens, hours after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, a law-enforcement source said.

Minucci was convicted as a juvenile but the verdict was overturned on appeal, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. In 2002, he got five years' probation after pleading guilty to assault in the stabbing of a 15-year-old, the source said.

Minucci, now 19, was charged with assault as a hate crime, robbery and weapon possession in Wednesday's attack in Howard Beach, the neighborhood where a black man died in 1986 while fleeing an attack by a gang of whites.

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The victim in this week's attack, Glenn Moore, 22, has a fractured skull and was in critical condition yesterday. Minucci's lawyer said Moore provoked the attack by holding a screwdriver to Minucci's neck. Police and prosecutors said that was not credible.

Phoenix

Mammoth wildfire within 3 miles of town

Firefighters used air power and intentional fires yesterday to try to block the progress of a mammoth wildfire that has been creeping toward a central Arizona community.

Crews used heavy air tankers to drop retardant to reinforce previously created fire lines. They then set fires inside the lines to burn vegetation in the path of the nearly 200,000-acre fire, one of the largest in the state's history.

The fire has moved out of mountain terrain and into flatter country east of Black Canyon City, a community of 4,500 north of Phoenix. It was burning about three miles east of the town yesterday.

The National Interagency Fire Center said yesterday that 23 large fires were burning across nearly 1 million acres in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

Boca Grande, Fla.

Austrian tourist latest victim of shark attack

A shark bit an Austrian tourist on the ankle yesterday while he stood in chest-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. It was the state's third shark attack in a week.

Armin Trojer, 19, of Baden, Austria, was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Fort Myers, where he was in fair condition, hospital spokeswoman Pat Dolce said. He had surgery last night to repair some ligaments, tendons and blood vessels on his right ankle.

The attack occurred near the lighthouse at Gasparilla Island Beach.

Two other young people have been bitten since last Saturday on Florida's Gulf Coast; one, a 14-year-old Louisiana girl, died.

Wichita, Kan.

BTK serial killer can talk with biographer

The so-called BTK serial killer will be allowed to receive letters from the media and talk to a woman who is writing a book about his life's story while in prison, a judge ruled yesterday.

Dennis Rader, 60, pleaded guilty Monday to killing 10 people in the Wichita area from 1974 to 1991 to satisfy his sexual fantasies. Sentencing is set for Aug. 17. He faces life in prison.

After his arrest earlier this year, a judge ordered that Rader's mail from media outlets be rerouted to his court-appointed attorneys. Rader's attorneys had argued that their client's guilty plea made the order no longer necessary. The attorneys also sought to allow him contact with Kristin Casarona, who plans to write a book about his life.

Brigham City, Utah

DNA from $1 bill may tie inmate to murder

DNA recovered from a bloodstained dollar bill led to murder and robbery charges against a prison inmate in the slaying of a convenience-store clerk 21 years ago.

"It's like giving birth to a baby," said Box Elder County sheriff's Detective Scott Cosgrove, who has worked on the case for 10 years. "... Finally it's out, and I'm really happy," he said.

Glenn Howard Griffin, an inmate at a federal prison in California, was charged Thursday with capital murder and aggravated robbery. DNA tests implicated him in the slaying of Bradley Perry in May 1984, according to court documents.

Perry, 22, was bludgeoned and stabbed to death while working the overnight shift at a convenience store.

Cosgrove said the investigation remains active. "We're looking at possibly other people that may be tied to this case," he said.

Compiled from The Associated Press

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