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Oldest U.S. bank robber gets 12 years


Oldest U.S. bank robber gets 12 years


LUBBOCK, Texas (Reuters) -- The oldest bank robber in the United States, 92-year-old J.L. Hunter Rountree, was sentenced to over 12 years in prison Friday after he pleaded guilty to robbing $1,999 from a Texas bank last August.


Rountree, who goes by the nickname "Red", said he robbed his first bank when he was about 80 because he wanted revenge against banks for sending him into a financial crisis.


Rountree was sentenced to 151 months in a federal prison, which he will serve at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.


He appeared in court in a loose-fitting prison outfit and shackles on his ankles. He had a cane to help him walk. Rountree listened to the proceedings through headphones because he is hard of hearing.


Police said Rountree, who was not armed, handed two envelopes to a teller at a bank in Abilene, Texas. One envelope had the word "robbery" written in red ink. Rountree told the teller to stuff money into the other envelope, or else she would get hurt.


After asking Rountree twice if he was kidding, she put the money into the envelope and Rountree then made off in a 1996 Buick sedan, police said.


A bank employee noted the license plate of the vehicle and Rountree was pulled over by police on a highway about 20 miles (32 km) from the crime scene, 30 minutes after the robbery.


Rountree left a prison in Florida, where he was the oldest prisoner in the state, about a year and a half ago after serving a three-year sentence imposed on him for a 1999 bank robbery in Pensacola.


He was caught holding up a bank in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1998 when he was 87, and given three years' probation.


Federal officials said they had no records to prove it, but they are fairly certain Rountree was the oldest person ever to rob a bank in the United States.


In a prison interview with the Orlando Sentinel in 2001, Rountree said he had been a businessman in Texas but had fallen on hard times. He also told the paper that prison food was better than what was served at some nursing homes.


"A Corpus Christi (Texas) bank that I'd done business with had forced me into bankruptcy. I have never liked banks since," he told the paper. "I decided I would get even. And I have."

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Dominican baby born with second head scheduled for rare surgery






Dominican baby born with second head scheduled for rare surgery


SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- A Dominican infant born with a second head will undergo a risky operation Friday to remove the appendage, which has a partially formed brain, ears, eyes and lips.


The surgery is complicated because the two heads share arteries.


Led by a Los Angeles-based neurosurgeon who successfully separated Guatemalan twins, the medical team will spend about 13 hours removing Rebeca Martinez's second head.


The 18 surgeons, nurses and doctors will cut off the undeveloped tissue, clip the veins and arteries and close the skull of the 7-week-old baby using a bone graft from another part of her body.


"We know this is a delicate operation," Rebeca's father, Franklyn Martinez, 28, told The Associated Press. "But we have a positive attitude."


CURE International, a Lemoyne, Pa.-based charity that gives medical care to disabled children in developing countries, is paying for the surgery and follow-up care.


Dr. Jorge Lazareff, director of pediatric neurosurgery at the University of California at Los Angeles' Mattel Children's Hospital, will lead the operation along with Dr. Benjamin Rivera, a neurosurgeon at the Medical Center of Santo Domingo. Lazareff led a team that successfully separated Guatemalan twin girls in 2002.


Doctors say if the surgery goes well Rebeca won't need physical therapy and will develop as a normal child.


Rebeca was born on December 17 with the undeveloped head of her twin, a condition known as craniopagus parasiticus.


Twins born conjoined at the head are extremely rare, accounting for one of every 2.5 million births. Parasitic twins like Rebeca are even rarer.


Rebeca is the eighth documented case in the world of craniopagus parasiticus, said Dr. Santiago Hazim, medical director at CURE International's Center for Orthopedic Specialties in Santo Domingo, where the surgery will be performed.


All the other documented infants died before birth, making it the first known surgery of its kind, Lazareff and Hazim said.


Hazim said the surgery must be done now so the pressure of Rebeca's other brain doesn't prevent her from developing.


Rebeca shares blood vessels and arteries with her second head. Although only partially developed, the mouth on her second head moves when Rebeca is being breast-fed. Tests indicate some activity in her second brain.


Martinez and his 26-year-old wife, Maria Gisela Hiciano, say doctors told them before Rebeca was born that she would have a tumor on her head, but none of the prenatal tests showed a second head developing.


Martinez works at a tailor's shop. Hiciano is a supermarket cashier. Together they make about $200 a month. They have two other children, ages 4 and 1.


Lazareff says Rebeca's chances of survival are good. Still, he refuses to make a prognosis.


"We'll do everything we can to make this successful," he said.

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