Mother charged with killing son by locking him in trunk

SYLVA, N.C. - A mother has been charged with killing her 8-year-old son by locking him in the trunk of her car while she went to work, but the woman's attorney said the boy was actually in the passenger area and never trapped.

''He could get out,'' said Randy Seago, attorney for Michelle Joyce Gibson. ''All this trunk stuff is sensationalism. It's a sufficiently horrible tragedy as it is.''

Investigators have said Gibson kept her son in the trunk of her Ford Escort for at least 16 hours over the weekend while she worked as a nursing assistant at Mountain Trace Nursing Center. Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe has said the woman apparently kept the child in the car because of ''a baby-sitting issue.''

A preliminary autopsy showed Devin Gibson died from hyperthermia as heat built up in the car.

Minnesota youth wins National Geographic Bee

WASHINGTON - A 13-year-old home schooled youth from Minnesota won the 2005 National Geographic Bee on Wednesday.

Nathaniel Cornelius topped young people from across the nation to win a $25,000 college scholarship.

The winning question: ''Lake Gatun, an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal system, was created by damming which river?''

The answer: Chagres River.

Lawyers fight over $3.7M policy for late Earnhardt

LEXINGTON, N.C. - A life insurance company cheated the widow of late race car driver Dale Earnhardt out of millions of dollars by refusing to pay up when he died, her lawyers told a state civil jury Wednesday.

The insurer, United of Omaha, argues the $3.7 million policy was never in effect because Earnhardt died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500 before taking a physical.

''We made a fair decision. We made a reasonable decision. There's no question we made an unpopular decision, but we did what we're supposed to do based on what occurred,'' company lawyer Stephen Coles said in his opening statement.

Afghan president tours Nebraska, thanks troops

OMAHA, Neb. - Fresh off visits to the White House and Boston University, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai was in Nebraska on Wednesday to personally thank U.S. troops and take in a bit of life on a farm.

''You're work, your service and your sacrifice has brought back Afghanistan to the Afghan people,'' Karzai, who took office after U.S. troops routed the Taliban regime in 2001, told a mostly military crowd of about 350 who gathered Wednesday morning at Offutt Air Force Base south of Bellevue.

''Afghanistan will remember your fight,'' he said to warm applause.

Said Airman James Goodman: ''It makes us feel like we've done something for a cause.''

Sniper Malvo transferred to Maryland for murder trial

CLARKSBURG, Md. - Convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo was transferred from Virginia to Maryland on Wednesday to be tried on charges of killing six people there during the Washington-area sniper shootings in 2002.

Malvo was removed from a prison in Virginia, where he is serving a life sentence for the shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin in Fairfax, Va., and flown to Maryland, officials said. He was placed in the Montgomery County jail.

Mail supervisor: Concerns over ballots were raised

WENATCHEE, Wash. - The mail ballot supervisor in Washington state's most populous county testified Wednesday that she had raised concerns about the county's inability to track ballots months before last year's disputed governor's race.

The supervisor, Nicole Way, said she repeatedly told her bosses as early as spring 2004 that the King County elections department couldn't tell how many ballots were being mailed out or received back. About two-thirds of the county's 900,000 votes in the November election were mail ballots.

Jackson defense rests

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The defense rested Wednesday in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial without putting the pop star on the stand, wrapping up after a three-week effort to portray the accuser and his mother as shakedown artists.

Prosecutors immediately began their rebuttal. The jury could get the case as early as the middle of next week and begin deciding whether Jackson molested a 13-year-old cancer patient at his Neverland ranch in 2003.

- From wire reports