Ella Mehring, 78, a grandmother whose five-year fight to...

Deaths Elsewhere

May 11, 2002

Ella Mehring, 78, a grandmother whose five-year fight to visit her granddaughter put her former daughter-in-law behind bars, died in Belleville, Ill., on Wednesday.

She died without getting permission to see her granddaughter, Jenna Mehring.

Julie Hill refused to grant Mrs. Mehring visitation rights after Ms. Hill's former husband, Michael Mehring, died in September 1997.

A Madison County judge and the 5th District Appellate Court ordered the visitation, but Ms. Hill refused, and she spent several weeks in jail for contempt of court. She was released in December 2000.

Ms. Hill has never said publicly why she didn't want her daughter to see her grandmother, but she argued in court that only parents should be able to say who can spend time with their children.

Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the state's grandparent visitation law that lets grandparents sue for the right to visit their grandchildren over the objections of their parents.

Albert F. Sabo, 81, the judge who presided over the 1982 trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal, died Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Judge Sabo, who also presided over the 1988 trial of Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, became the judge in whose courtroom more people were sentenced to death than any other in Pennsylvania.

After a chaotic trial, Mr. Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Later, Mr. Abu-Jamal's writings on the justice system gained him a worldwide following of celebrities, foreign politicians and death-penalty opponents.

Mr. Abu-Jamal's death sentence was overturned in December when a federal judge found errors in the sentencing phase of the original trial.

For 15 years, Judge Sabo was one of a dozen Philadelphia judges who heard only homicide cases. At least three other defendants in his courtroom were convicted of murdering police officers.

Judge Sabo presided over 31 cases that resulted in the death penalty, the most in the state, according to a 1992 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Eric Louis McKitrick, 82, a Columbia University historian who wrote about the evolution of the American republic, died April 24 in New York City.

Dr. McKitrick was best known for his book Andrew Jackson and Reconstruction and co-authored The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800. Both books are still in print.

Dr. McKitrick also wrote about slavery and the Old South, as well as the creation of the American party system.

In 1960, he joined the history faculty at Columbia. He retired as an emeritus professor of history in 1989.

Dale Hyldahl, 69, who trained dolphins that appeared in television shows and movies in the 1950s, died April 20 at a nursing home in Arlington, Wash.

A native of San Mateo, Calif., Mr. Hyldahl grew up with his father and a brother in the Seattle area after his parents divorced. He enlisted in the Navy after high school, then found work as assistant trainer at Marineland of Florida near St. Augustine for $1 an hour.

In three years of training dolphins at the popular marine park, he helped teach an animal named Flippy to jump through hoops, beg for food, kiss trainers and stand on its tail in the water.

Flippy and other dolphins he trained became the stars of the television series Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges and filmed at Marineland, and in the Flipper movie and TV show.

At his father's bidding, he returned to Seattle to help sell real estate. He left that industry during the "Boeing Bust" in the early 1970s to work as a transit bus driver and administrator.

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