Forest fire destroys homes, knocks out power in Wisconsin

BIG FLATS, Wis. - A fast-moving blaze that began as a grass fire destroyed 15 homes and forced dozens to flee as it spread to almost 4,000 acres before being contained overnight, officials said Friday.

Hot spots remained Friday, and more than 200 homes and businesses lost electricity as the flames consumed utility poles, damaged transformers and burned at least 25 miles of power lines. No major injuries were reported.

The pine-forest fire was the state's biggest in 20 years, Natural Resources Secretary Scott Hassett said.

Man pleads not guilty in 13-year-old Florida girl's death

TAMPA, Fla. - A sex offender charged in the slaying of a 13-year-old girl pleaded not guilty Friday, and prosecutors said they plan to seek the death penalty.

An attorney for David Lee Onstott entered the plea to charges of murder and attempted sexual battery.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Mark Ober filed court papers Friday saying he will seek the death penalty for Onstott if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

The massive, weeklong search for Sarah Lunde captured the nation's attention last month before her partially clothed body was found April 16 in an abandoned fish pond near her family's mobile home in Ruskin. She was last seen April 9 after returning home from a church trip.

Airline apologizes for 2003 commuter crash that killed 21

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For Doug and Tereasa Shepherd, the pain of losing their daughter in a commuter plane crash couldn't be eased in a courtroom and couldn't be soothed with a settlement check. They wanted an


It came Friday, when Air Midwest said it was sorry for the loss of 18-year-old Christiana Shepherd and the 20 others who died Jan. 8, 2003, when Flight 5481 stalled after takeoff and crashed into a hangar.

''Air Midwest and its maintenance provider, Vertex Aerospace, acknowledge deficiencies, which together with the wording of the aircraft maintenance manuals, contributed to this accident,'' Greg Stephens, Air Midwest's president, told about 20 family members and friends at a memorial service.

Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that a maintenance error combined with too much weight in the back of the plane led to the crash.

New York doctors accused of giving Viagra, drugs to mob

NEW YORK - Three physicians are accused of supplying Viagra and other prescription drugs so frequently to members of the Gambino crime family that one doctor joked he was part of the family.

Physicians Arlen Fleisher, Stephen Klass and George Shapiro, all of Westchester County, were charged Thursday with illegally peddling pills in exchange for favors ranging from construction work to auto repairs.

The men were led into U.S. District Court in Manhattan in handcuffs before being freed on $50,000 bail each. If convicted, each could face up to 10 years in prison.

All declined to comment.

Teacher sentenced for having sex with teenage student

ABINGDON, Va. - A middle school teacher who admitted to crossing state lines to have sex with a 13-year-old student was sentenced Friday to 14 months in federal prison.

Melissa Michelle Deel, 32, of Bristol, Tenn., entered her plea Feb. 17, but U.S. District Judge James P. Jones had deferred acceptance of the agreement.

Following her prison term, Deel also will serve five years of supervised release.

Mother testifies for defense, says estate a happy place

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A woman whose son repeatedly slept in Michael Jackson's bed at his Neverland ranch testified Friday that she thought of the estate as ''the happiest place on Earth'' and she never saw anything inappropriate happen there.

''When you are at Neverland, you forget all your problems,'' said Joy Robson, whose 22-year-old son, Wade, testified Thursday as the defense phase of the trial got under way.

The Robsons were among witnesses that Jackson's defense is calling to counter a part of the prosecution case that was intended to show that Jackson has a history of inappropriate behavior with boys. Wade Robson had testified Thursday that Jackson never molested him and directly contradicted a prosecution witness' account that he and Jackson once showered together.

- From wire reports