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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   STEELVILLE, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Missouri man is charged with second-degree murder, accused of shooting another man following an argument along the Meramec River.

   The shooting happened Saturday afternoon. The suspect, 59 year old James Crocker of Steelville, is jailed on $650,000 cash-only bond.

   Court records allege that Crocker, a property owner along the river, was angry that a man on a float trip stopped to urinate on a gravel bar. Crocker is accused of shooting the man's traveling companion, 48 year old Paul Dart, Jr. of Robertsville.

  Dart's widow, Loretta Dart says her husband had tried to intervene to keep the peace.

   "My husband was trying to solve the situation without anyone getting hurt," she said.  "And it wound up taking his life." 

   Dart was shot in the head. Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin says Crocker then went to a neighboring home and asked a woman to call 911.

   Dart's widow says he was on his annual float trip with about 50 others.

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A U.S. Supreme Court decision about federal benefits for gay couples has prompted the Missouri Supreme Court to take a second look at a pending case.

   The state's high court heard arguments in February on a challenge to a Missouri law that denied survivor benefits to the same-sex partner of a Highway Patrol officer who died in the line of duty.

   In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that that barred legally married same-sex couples from receiving benefits from the federal government.

   The Missouri Supreme Court has asked attorneys involved in the Highway Patrol officer's case to submit additional written arguments in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. That could further delay a decision in the Missouri case.

   

 

   Officials with the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts are hoping they can talk parents into keeping their kids enrolled as they try to rebuild the failing districts.  

   About 1,000 people gathered Monday night to listen to improvement plans from both districts' superintendents at a meeting at Shalom Church City of Peace in Florissant.  Both men took over leadership of their districts on July 1.  

   So far, more than 1,300 students have applied to transfer out of the unaccredited districts. Both superintendents admit that will hurt the districts financially.  

   Riverview superintendent Scott Spurgeon said, "Any student, even one child that wants to leave our district, certainly would have a financial impact on us."

   "I don't think it will bankrupt us, but it might put us in financial distress," Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols said. 

   Superintendents of Jennings, Hazelwood and Ferguson-Florissant school districts attended the meeting to show support for those charged with rebuilding the failing districts.  But also say they'll welcome any students who chose to transfer.

   The transfer application deadline is August 1.

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