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Atlanta Falcons fire head coach Mike Smith December 29, 2014

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NATION IN BRIEF: Lawyer: Gays denied right by marriage ban

Lawyer: Gays denied right by marriage ban

SAN FRANCISCO -- The landmark federal trial over the constitutionality of California's gay marriage ban resumed Wednesday, with a lawyer arguing that supporters of the ban were trying to deprive same-sex couples of a relationship the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized as a fundamental right.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson delivered the closing argument for the two same-sex couples who sued to overturn voter-approved Proposition 8, claiming it was a violation of their civil rights.

Olson told Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized marriage as a fundamental right -- one afforded to prisoners serving life sentences and child support scofflaws -- while refusing to make procreation a precondition of marriage, as evidenced by laws allowing divorces and contraception.

Ala. prof charged in brother's 1986 shooting death

CANTON, Mass. -- A biology professor charged with killing three of her colleagues at an Alabama university has been indicted in the 1986 shooting death of her brother in Massachusetts, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Authorities had originally ruled that the shooting of Amy Bishop's brother was an accident, but they reopened the case after Bishop was charged in February with gunning down six of her colleagues at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, killing three.

Bishop, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 18-year-old brother, Seth, Norfolk District Attorney William Keating said.

Keating said he did not understand why charges were never brought against Bishop.

''I can't give you any explanations, I can't give you excuses, because there are none,'' he said.

Police: NY jail guard killed uncle and ex-girlfriend

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- An off-duty jail guard shot and killed her former girlfriend outside a hospital, then went to a relative's nearby home, where she killed her uncle, wounded her 88-year-old grandfather and took a niece hostage, police said Wednesday.

Kim Wolfe, a longtime Nassau County correction officer, was scheduled to be arraigned today in connection with the shooting rampage. It was not immediately clear whether she had a lawyer; specific charges were to be announced at the arraignment.

Wolfe, 43, was also briefly hospitalized after she complained of difficulty breathing but was later released back into police custody.

Vermont man given 22 years for molestation

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A Vermont man convicted of drugging and then molesting a 13-year-old girl at his house for a sleepover with his daughter has been sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Fifty-one-year-old Robert Kolibas was convicted in March of assaulting his daughter's friend at his Williston house after serving her a spiked smoothie.

Vermont District Court Judge Michael Kupersmith called the crimes despicable at the Wednesday sentencing. He said Kolibas tried to blame others and that he has no reason to think Kolibas will ever be rehabilitated.

Kolibas maintains his innocence, and the defense plans to appeal the conviction. He also faces child pornography charges.

Senate approves extension of home tax credit

WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Wednesday approved a plan to give homebuyers an extra three months to finish qualifying for federal tax incentives that boosted home sales this spring.

The move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would give buyers until Sept. 30 to complete their purchases and qualify for tax credits of up to $8,000. Under the current terms, buyers had until April 30 to get a signed sales contract and until June 30 to complete the sale.

The proposal, approved by a 60-37 vote, would only allow people who already have signed contracts to finish at the later date. About 180,000 homebuyers who already signed purchase agreements would otherwise miss the deadline.

Man sentenced for making false mayday calls

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A California man accused of falsely claiming repeatedly to be stranded at sea has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

Prosecutors said 53-year-old Kurtis Thorsted broadcast more than four dozen hoax distress signals over six months in 2008, costing the Coast Guard more than $102,000 for attempted searches.