Polygamist sect hearing in Texas turns chaotic

SAN ANGELO, Texas - A court hearing to decide the fate of the 416 children swept up in a raid on a West Texas polygamist sect descended into farce Thursday, with hundreds of lawyers in two packed buildings shouting objections and the judge struggling to maintain order.

The case - clearly one of the biggest, most convoluted child-custody hearings in U.S. history - presented an extraordinary spectacle: big-city lawyers in suits and mothers in 19th-century, pioneer-style dresses, all packed into a courtroom and a nearby auditorium connected by video.

At issue was an attempt by the state of Texas to strip the parents of custody and place the children in foster homes because of evidence they were being physically and sexually abused by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade Mormon splinter group suspected of forcing underage girls into marriage with older men.

Man pleads guilty to kidnapping, killing 8-year-old

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A man admitted Thursday that he strangled an 8-year-old neighbor after abducting the girl and sexually molesting her in the woods.

Joshua Davis, 22, apologized softly to the family of Savannah Smith after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping of a minor and child molestation. But he said he knew an apology wasn't good enough.

Davis faces a possible sentence of life in prison without parole - the toughest punishment available in Rhode Island, which does not have the death penalty.

Superior Court Judge Gilbert Indeglia set sentencing for June 5.

Davis was a neighbor of Smith's family in Woonsocket, and his girlfriend was an occasional baby sitter for them. Prosecutors say Davis took Smith from a park near her home on May 7, 2006, and strangled her.

Diplomat pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A former U.S. diplomat pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of child pornography in a case that also included allegations that he pressured visa applicants in Brazil for sex.

Gons Gutierrez Nachman, 42, admitted during a plea hearing in U.S. District Court that he had sex with 14- to 17-year-old girls while serving as a consular officer in Brazil and Congo, and that he documented the encounters in pictures and videos.

According to court documents, Nachman extensively documented his sexual activities from at least 2004 through 2006. One videotape was labeled '2004 Congo Sexual Adventures.'

Town vote a tie over letting restaurants sell beer and wine

TISBURY, Mass. - Tisbury voters, it seems, are split on whether to allow restaurants in town to put beer and wine on the menu.

Exactly split.

A ballot question on whether to allow sales of alcohol at restaurants and inns in the Martha's Vineyard community tied 690-690 in Tuesday's election.

If it's a tie, the place stays dry. So those favoring the change have already launched an effort to get a hand recount, town clerk Marion Mudge said.

Accused gunman pleads guilty to killing mob boss

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - A low-level Mafia member admitted Thursday that he shot and killed Springfield's regional mob boss in 2003 in exchange for $10,000 from the leader's rivals.

Frankie Roche, 35, pleaded guilty to a federal charge of murder in aid of racketeering Thursday in U.S. District Court in Springfield for the Nov. 23, 2003, shooting death of Adolfo 'Big Al' Bruno.

Roche, of Westfield, agreed to testify against other alleged mob members charged with planning the killing and to provide information about others involved in the 57-year-old Bruno's death.

Pregnant woman, shot in front of kids, dies from injuries

HARTFORD, Conn. - Officials say a pregnant woman died just days after her boyfriend was accused of shooting her in front of their two children.

A Hartford Hospital spokeswoman says 27-year-old Amanda Realie died Thursday morning. Doctors were not able to save her fetus.

State police Lt. J. Paul Vance says prosecutors will probably upgrade charges against 43-year-old Alfredo Ferrer. He has already been charged with attempted murder.

World War II ace fighting to get out of Florida jail

BARTOW, Fla. - A noted World War II flying ace from central Florida will find out next month whether he'll finally get out of jail.

A Polk County judge on Thursday set a hearing for May 21 to determine if 86-year-old Abner Aust should be freed after spending the past seven years behind bars for hiring someone to kill one of his ex-wives. - From wire reports