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NATION IN BRIEF: Trial ordered for man accused of drowning toddlers

Trial ordered for man accused of drowning toddlers

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — A judge on Monday ordered a Detroit-area man to stand trial on first-degree murder charges in the drowning of his two toddlers after a medical examiner said the deaths were not an accident.

Allen Park District Judge Richard Page said the standard for ordering trial simply is probable cause, not the higher threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt.

The bodies of 15-month-old Ella Stafford and 13-month-old Johnathan Sanderlin were discovered in Steven Nicholson’s apartment on Oct. 19 after he made a middle-of-the-night call to 911.

Wayne County’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Carl Schmidt, said it’s possible the children could have turned on the water and entered the bathtub but unlikely.

Court upholds in-state tuition for immigrants

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that some illegal immigrants are entitled to the same tuition breaks offered to in-state high school students to attend public colleges and universities.

While the ruling applies only to California, the case was closely watched nationally because nine other states including New York and Texas have similar laws.

A unanimous state Supreme Court, led by politically conservative Justice Ming Chin, said the California provision was constitutional because U.S. residents also had access to the reduce rates.

Court docs reveal disabled girl was dismembered

HICKORY, N.C. — Lawyers for the stepmother of a disabled North Carolina girl said in court documents that the girl was dismembered.

The court documents ask for a reduction in bail for Elisa Baker, saying she helped investigators by leading them to the remains of 10-year-old Zahra Baker.

Elisa Baker has been jailed since last month, accused of trying to throw off investigators by writing a fake ransom note for another child. The court documents filed by lawyers Lisa Dubs and Scott Reilly also say she led police to other evidence.

On Friday, police said they believed they had found Zahra’s remains but they have not said how she was killed.

Jurors in Smart kidnap trial see interview video

SALT LAKE CITY — The man charged in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart told investigators that heaven was his home and God had delivered him a young girl to become as his wife, according to recordings of a police interview after his arrest.

Brian David Mitchell, 57, told police his name was Immanuel David Isaiah. He referred to Smart by the religious name ‘‘Shear Jashub’’ but refused to say he had kidnapped her.

‘‘By the power of God she was delivered to us,’’ Mitchell said repeatedly to police.

The account came during a two-hour tape played for jurors Monday as Mitchell’s federal trial on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines entered its third week.

Calif. woman charged with terrorist aid

SAN DIEGO — A woman was charged in San Diego with providing money and personnel to a terrorist group in Somalia.

A federal prosecutor said Monday that Nima Ali Yusuf supported al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked militia trying to create an Islamic state in Somalia. She is the fourth person charged in the last month in San Diego with helping al-Shabab.

Federal prosecutor Sabrina Feve said Yusuf was arrested Friday in San Diego and appeared in federal court Monday. The indictment said Yusuf has been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and lying to a government agency.

Police suspect days of planning in stabbings

YALE, Mich. — A brutal knife attack that left a man dead and his wife seriously wounded may have been planned a week in advance, and the couple’s demand that their adopted daughter break up with her boyfriend was the likely motive, police said Monday.

Investigators were focusing on the relationship between Tia Marie-Mitchell Skinner, 17, and Jonathan Kurtz, 18 — both now charged in the stabbings — as the reason for the Friday morning attack, Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Pat Young told The Associated Press.