14 hospitalized after train derails
CHICAGO - A train operator apparently made two key errors in quick succession to cause a derailment that left passengers perched more than 20 feet above the ground and sent several to hospitals, the Chicago Transit Authority said Wednesday.
The operator failed to heed a red signal ordering him to stop, agency spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said. After the four-car train went through the signal, it automatically activated a trip, which stopped the train.
But the operator moved the train forward again at a spot where the tracks split before they were switched into proper position, causing the rear end of the front car and the second car to derail but remain standing, with the other two cars still on the tracks, Gaffney said.
Judge: Tenn. must retry or free inmate
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A federal judge has ordered prosecutors to retry or free a death row inmate who, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded, no juror would have found guilty based on evidence that emerged years after his trial.
Paul House, sentenced to die for the 1985 slaying of a young mother, has been in legal limbo while a prosecutor battled efforts to have him retried.
Now the state will have to do just that, following a ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. that says if the prosecution doesn't begin to retry House by June 17 then he must be released.
S.C. teen indicted on bomb charges
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Prosecutors have dropped the most serious federal charge against a South Carolina teen accused of plotting to blow up his high school.
Ryan Schallenberger, 18, still faces three federal explosives charges that carry a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, but prosecutors dropped a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction that could have sent him to prison for life. Acting U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald would not say why he dropped the charge.
'Having considered the circumstances of this matter, and having reviewed the evidence obtained to date, I believe the case is properly charged. The explosives charges that were issued by the grand jury today are very serious charges,' McDonald said Tuesday.
Calif.: Same-sex marriages OK
SAN FRANCISCO - Barring a stay of a historic California Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples will be able to wed in the state beginning June 17, according to a state directive issued Wednesday.
The state said it chose June 17 because the state Supreme Court has until the day before to decide whether to grant a stay of its May 15 ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Gay-rights advocates and some clerks initially thought couples would be able to wed as early as June 14. The court's decisions typically take effect 30 days after they are made.
Motivational speaker accused of attempted murder
MINNEAPOLIS - A convicted felon who became a motivational speaker - and used his life experiences to warn teens about the dangers of drugs and crime - is accused of going on a bender, threatening to kill his girlfriend and her son, and smashing a former prison buddy in the face with a statue of John Wayne.
Authorities said Russell Simon Jr. was jailed on attempted murder charges after the events following his relapse into drugs and booze. According to a criminal complaint, a night of drinking with the prison buddy on May 15 led to Simon stripping off his clothes, fighting with the friend and firing shots at him and Simon's girlfriend.
At one point Simon hit the man in the face with the John Wayne statue, according to the complaint.
Woman who spent life in iron lung dies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A woman who defied medical odds and spent nearly 60 years in an iron lung after being diagnosed with polio as a child died Wednesday after a power failure shut down the machine that kept her breathing, her family said.
Dianne Odell, 61, had been confined to the 7-foot-long metal tube since she was stricken by polio at 3 years old.
Family members were unable to get an emergency generator working after a power failure knocked out electricity to the Odell family's residence near Jackson, about 80 miles northeast of Memphis, brother-in-law Will Beyer said.
'We did everything we could do but we couldn't keep her breathing,' Beyer said. 'Dianne had gotten a lot weaker over the past several months and she just didn't have the strength to keep going.'
Maine town's jail up for sale for $200K
SKOWHEGAN, Maine - If you're in the market for a roomy brick-and-stone Victorian - complete with some pretty impressive security features - look no further.
The Somerset County Jail in downtown Skowhegan is for sale. It has a price tag of $200,000.
'It's an interesting building. It could be used for many, many things,' said Philip Roy, chairman of the Somerset County commissioners.
The 14,000-square-foot lockup will shut down later this year.