Agency to probe drug trial, foster children link

NEW YORK - A city agency that put more than 400 HIV-positive foster children into clinical trials for AIDS drugs has asked for an independent review of the program after children's rights advocates said it amounted to exploitation.

John Mattingly, commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services, said the inquiry would investigate whether the agency had the necessary permission from parents or guardians to include the children in the research from the late 1980s to 2001.

The agency stressed that it does not believe there were ethical lapses, but it wants to make sure the program's policies were proper.

Judge rules

killer competent

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Serial killer Michael Ross was relieved after a judge ruled that he is mentally competent to abandon his death row appeals, removing a major hurdle to New England's first execution in 45 years, his attorney said.

"He's hopeful that this time around maybe this will put an end to the court proceedings, so he can spend some time to get mentally and emotionally prepared for May 11," attorney T.R. Paulding said Friday.

Ross, 45, is scheduled to be die by injection May 11. He has admitted killing and raping eight young women in Connecticut and New York in the early 1980s.

Fla. passes bill cracking down on sex offenders

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a convicted sex offender was arrested in Georgia for killing a 9-year-old girl, the Florida Legislature has passed a bill that would strengthen punishments for sex offenders.

Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to sign the Jessica Lunsford Act, named for the young girl who was abducted, raped and killed in February.

The bill would set a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison for people convicted of molesting children under 12. If offenders serve less than life, they would be required to wear a global positioning system device after their release so authorities could monitor their whereabouts.

Police discover body in freezer

CAMPBELL, Wis. - A 15-hour standoff with a man suspected of shooting his neighbor ended Saturday when authorities coaxed him out of his house and made a grisly discovery: a body believed to be his mother's stashed in his freezer.

Philip Schuth, 52, was being questioned while authorities continued to inspect his home.

- From wire reports