Former death row inmate pleads guilty to 1985 crime

DALLAS - A man who was on death row for nearly 20 years until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his verdict because of racial discrimination has pleaded guilty to the 1985 slaying for which he was originally sentenced to die.

Thomas Miller-El accepted a deal with prosecutors Wednesday that spares the 56-year-old from heading to death row for a second time but virtually assures he will never leave prison.

A judge sentenced Miller-El to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to capital murder and aggravated robbery in the killing of Holiday Inn clerk Douglas Walker during a robbery. Walker and co-worker Donald Ray Hall were bound, gagged and shot.

Woman shot dead while on phone with 911 dispatcher

WEST COVINA, Calif. - A woman was asking a 911 dispatcher for help when her pleas were interrupted by gunshots, then silence. She was shot to death.

The woman told the dispatcher someone was trying to break into her home in upscale West Covina, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Dan Rosenberg said. 'Deputies heard gunshots followed by silence and an open phone line,' he said.

Wis. real estate agent, 71, killed

JEFFERSON, Wis. - An Illinois man was charged Thursday with killing a 71-year-old real estate agent whose body was found near a smoldering mattress in a home she was showing him.

James A. Hole, 34, of Brookfield, Ill., was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, arson and burglary in the death of Ann B. Nelson of Cambridge, Wis.

Federal regulators approve of gas terminal for Long Island Sound

WASHINGTON - Federal energy regulators on Thursday approved a $700 million liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for Long Island Sound, a facility opposed by the state of Connecticut and other critics who say it would damage the environment and be vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted 5-0 to approve the terminal, which would be located 9 miles from Long Island and 10 miles from Connecticut. FERC says it would be the first floating terminal in the U.S. for storage and delivery of natural gas.

Feds probe S.C. Highway Patrol after videos show racial slur

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A federal investigation was launched into the South Carolina Highway Patrol after dashboard camera videos showed a trooper using a racial slur and two others ramming their cruisers into fleeing suspects, a prosecutor said Thursday.

'I've reviewed some of the videos, and based on that review, felt that it was appropriate to have our office involved,' said Kevin McDonald, acting U.S. attorney for South Carolina.

Man's sentence angers family of slain teenager

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - The family of a black man who fatally shot a white teenager during a racially charged confrontation was under police protection after the victim's father blasted the man's sentence as too mild and made what defense lawyers saw as a threat.

John White, 54, could have received up to 15 years in prison for his manslaughter conviction in the August 2006 killing. But a judge sentenced him Wednesday to two to four years, saying the carloads of angry white teens who accompanied victim Daniel Cicciaro Jr. to White's home shared some moral responsibility for his death.

Astronauts gear up for 4th space walk

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The astronauts on the orbiting shuttle-station complex geared up Thursday for the fourth spacewalk of their mission, a high-profile test of a repair technique they hope they never have to use.

Two of the crew members were to float outside Thursday night to squirt salmon-colored goo into the crevices of extra space shuttle thermal tiles that were deliberately damaged for the test. NASA wants to see how well the caulking gun and patching material work, in case they're ever needed for a real repair.

Man accused of killing 4 people

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The gunman who opened fire at an auto wrecking yard killed his father, who owned the business, and three others before dropping the weapon and trying to flee over a fence, police said Wednesday.

Panicked customers fled the busy yard Tuesday as the gunman shot his victims at close range, police said.