Blagojevich: I'm the victim of plot to raise taxes

CHICAGO - Launching an all-out media blitz as his impeachment trial draws near, Gov. Rod Blagojevich compared himself Friday to an honest, hardworking cowboy about to be lynched by a band of black-hatted political insiders eager to raise taxes.

After keeping mostly out of the public eye since his arrest on federal corruption charges, Blagojevich is reversing course with a series of interviews and public statements portraying himself as the victim of vengeful lawmakers eager to toss him out of office.

'The heart and soul of this has been a struggle of me against the system,' Blagojevich said at a news conference Friday.

Charges dismissed in girl's death

SHOSHONE, Idaho - An Idaho judge has dismissed charges against one of two men accused in the death of an 11-year-old girl who was allowed to walk 10 miles in the snow.

A judge agreed with a defense attorney Friday that Kenneth Quintana shouldn't be charged because he didn't have custody of Sage Aragon and her 12-year-old brother, Bear.

Quintana is their cousin.

Robert Aragon, the children's father, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony injury to a child. Quintana had faced the same counts.

Unreturned library book leads to arrest

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa - An Iowa woman has been arrested because she failed to return a library book.

Thirty-nine-year-old Shelly Koontz was arrested Thursday night on a fifth-degree theft charge. She is accused of keeping 'The Freedom Writers Diary,' which she checked out from the public library in nearby Jesup in April.

Killer to cops: Victims called me a lesbian

STAUNTON, Va. - Authorities say a Virginia woman who died earlier this week told investigators she killed two female co-workers at an ice cream parlor in 1967 because they teased her about being homosexual.

Staunton Police Chief Jim Williams and Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond C. Robertson say Friday that Sharron Diane Crawford Smith also claimed the lead detective helped her hide the murder weapon.

Judges: Ohio mom not guilty of daughters' drowning

CLEVELAND - A three-judge panel in Cleveland has ruled a mother is not guilty by reason of insanity in the drowning deaths of her two young daughters in a bathtub.

The judges returned the verdict Friday in the murder case against 23-year-old Amber Hill. The judges said evidence showed the woman didn't understand the wrongfulness of her actions.

Md. teen who killed family gets 4 life sentences

TOWSON, Md. - A judge on Friday ordered four life sentences for an honor student and former Boy Scout who shot his parents and brothers to death, then went to a friend's house to play video games.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas Bollinger ordered Nicholas Browning, 16, to serve two of the sentences consecutively and two concurrently. He could be eligible for parole in 23 years with good behavior.

Colombian cocaine lord pleads guilty in US case

MIAMI - A top lieutenant in Colombia's North Valley cocaine cartel pleaded guilty Friday to U.S. drug trafficking and obstruction of justice charges and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Eugenio Montoya Sanchez, 38, the brother of alleged North Valley mastermind Diego Montoya Sanchez, faces between 10 and 30 years in prison when he is sentenced April 3. The maximum life sentence is prohibited under Colombia's extradition agreement with the U.S.

Ark. school shooter gets six more years for theft, fraud

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - A man who as a teenager fired on his middle school classmates has been sentenced to an extra six years in prison for using a stolen debit card, this time to pay for a $7.99 Burger King breakfast.

Mitchell Johnson, 24, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Thursday for theft by receiving and financial identity fraud. It was his third sentencing since he was released from prison three years ago for his role in the school shooting.