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NATION IN BRIEF: Prosecutor: Man killed 2 to avenge his mom

Photo by Peggy Peattie

Photo by Peggy Peattie

Prosecutor: Man killed 2 to avenge his mom

CORUNNA, Mich. -- A man who has his mother's name tattooed on his chest was out to avenge her when he killed an anti-abortion activist in a drive-by shooting and then gunned down her former boss in a small Michigan community, a prosecutor said Monday.

Jurors heard opening statements in the first-degree murder trial of Harlan Drake, 33, who has admitted shooting the men but claims he was insane last September and should not be found guilty.

James Pouillon, an aggressive activist, was shot four times while clutching a sign with a picture of a dead fetus near Owosso High School, 30 miles west of Flint. Gravel pit owner Mike Fuoss was shot 17 times in his office just outside Owosso.

Teen dumping garbage falls in sewage pit, dies

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. -- A snow plow might have jarred loose the cover of a sewage pit where a teenager doughnut shop worker fell and died while taking out the trash, investigators said Monday.

Amiri Zeqiri, 17, slipped into an open cesspool behind a Dunkin' Donuts Sunday night in Smithtown, about 40 miles east of New York City, police said. There usually was a manhole cover over the cesspool, a hole in the ground that collects waste from toilets and sinks, they said.

The teen's younger cousin, who was inside the doughnut shop, realized something was wrong when he didn't return and went to look for him. The cousin found Zeqiri in about 8 feet of water and ran to a nearby store for help, but when he returned the teen was no longer visible, police said.

Search spreads for Calif. teen; sex offender held

SAN DIEGO -- A registered sex offender arrested for investigation of murdering a missing 17-year-old San Diego County girl is refusing to cooperate with authorities who renewed their search Monday at the park where she vanished Thursday.

John Gardner III, 30, remained in custody without bail after his arrest Sunday for investigation of murder and rape. It was not immediately clear whether he had hired an attorney.

No criminal charges had been filed, but district attorney's spokesman Steve Walker said a decision would be made by Wednesday.

Chelsea King of Poway disappeared after going for a run near Lake Hodges at Rancho Bernardo Community Park in San Diego, a popular regional park full of trails.

Suspect in Smart case deemed competent

SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal judge on Monday ruled that the man charged in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart is competent to stand trial, paving the way for him to face charges nearly eight years after the girl was snatched from her bedroom.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball wrote in a 149-page ruling that Brian David Mitchell, 56, ''does not presently suffer from a mental disease or defect that impedes his rational and factual understanding'' of the proceedings against him.

Fort Hood suspect moving to county jail

FORT WORTH, Texas -- An attorney said the Army psychiatrist charged in the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military base will soon be moved to a county jail near Fort Hood after four months in a military hospital.

Defense attorney John Galligan said Maj. Nidal Hasan could be moved this week.

Bell County Jail administrator Bob Patterson said Hasan will be housed in a cell at the medical unit.

Patterson said Monday the facility is prepared to handle inmates with special medical needs.

Hasan was taken to a San Antonio military hospital shortly after the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shootings. Civilian police officers shot him during the attack, leaving him paralyzed below the chest.

S.C. judge rejecting Susan Smith's appeal

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A judge plans to throw out Susan Smith's request for a new trial unless the South Carolina mom convicted of leaving her two young sons in her car to drown in 1994 can come up with better arguments.

Smith filed a handwritten appeal earlier this year, claiming unspecified allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and said she was abused by her now ex-husband, David Smith.

She didn't detail the abuse and a prosecutor who tried her said an investigation did not find any wrongdoing by her ex-husband.