Bus Owner Pleads Not Guilty

McALLEN, Texas (AP) - The owner of a tour company whose bus
filled with Hurricane Rita evacuees exploded near Dallas, killing
23, pleaded "not guilty" to charges related to the blast.
Global Limo president and director James H. Maples didn't
comment as he walked out of the McAllen federal court with his
daughter today after entering his pleas.
He's charged with conspiracy and safety violations within his
fleet that allegedly led to the nursing home residents' deaths.
Jury selection in his trial is set for April Fourth. The
65-year-old C-E-O of the Pharr company is free on 75-thousand
dollars bail. The more serious conspiracy charge is punishable by
five years in prison.
The bus erupted into flames September 23rd on Interstate 45,
south of Dallas, while carrying Rita evacuees from a Houston-area
nursing home. The 23 deaths accounted for almost a fourth of the
approximately 100 people who died because of Rita.