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Metro: Beryllium case jury deliberates 3rd day

Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - Jefferson County jurors today begin their third day of deliberations in the case of ill Rocky Flats workers who have sued the Ohio-based maker of beryllium.

Jurors told the judge Monday evening they were still struggling to reach a verdict. Four Rocky Flats workers and their wives claim Brush Wellman Inc. caused employees at the former nuclear weapons plant to get chronic beryllium disease, a lung ailment that can be fatal.

The jury listened to 13 days of testimony about what Brush knew about the toxic metal it supplied to Rocky Flats.

The workers believe Brush covered up vital information about beryllium's hazards. The company countered that the workers were made ill through sloppy conditions at a poorly run plant.

Ecstasy suspect guilty in other case

The 20-year-old man accused of selling the Ecstasy that led to 16-year-old Brittney Chambers' death pleaded guilty Monday to unrelated drug charges in Denver.

Travis Schuerger pleaded guilty to felony possession of cocaine stemming from a November arrest. He had sold drugs to an undercover officer.

Schuerger faces two to six years in state prison when sentenced Aug. 17. He still faces four narcotics charges in Boulder in connection with the Chambers case.

In January, Schuerger supplied his girlfriend, now wife, Rebecca Sheffield, 18, with Ecstasy, authorities say. Sheffield allegedly sold the drug to Chambers' friends, who gave it to Chambers as a 16th birthday present.

Shortly after swallowing the drug, Chambers lapsed into a coma and was removed from life support a week later on Feb. 2.

Schuerger is due back in Boulder court July 25.

DPS plans checks on new managers

Denver Public Schools will begin security checks on new administrators, Superintendent Jerry Wartgow said Monday.

The new policy comes in the wake of a published report that Andre Pettigrew, whom Wartgow chose Thursday as his assistant superintendent for administrative services, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault for slapping his son's face in 1996.

Pettigrew still has his new job, which officially starts Sunday, Wartgow said. The family went to counseling and has lived peacefully since the 1996 episode, Wartgow said.

"I don't believe it's going to have any impact on his work with DPS," Wartgow said.

Pettigrew said the difficult start to his new job wouldn't prevent him from doing his utmost. "It's most unfortunate to the members of the DPS community because it really does distract from what we're all trying to achieve," he said.

Romanowski trial set to begin today

Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski is scheduled to go on trial today on charges he illegally obtained prescription drugs.

Romanowski is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, two counts of conspiracy and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and deceit.

Prosecutors allege Littleton doctor Randall Snook prescribed phentermine, an appetite suppressant and central nervous system stimulant, to Julie Romanowski and to a family friend, even though it was meant for Bill Romanowski's use.

District Judge Thomas Curry ruled in May that prosecutors cannot use the only statements made to investigators by the Romanowskis. Those are from an Aug. 21, 1999, interview in their home.

Jury selection is to begin at 8:30 a.m. Julie Romanowski is scheduled for trial Aug. 14.


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