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NATION IN BRIEF: Witness: Jeffs ruled followers with heavy hand

The Associated Press. This photo shows conjoined twins Maria Teresa Alvarez, left and Maria de Jesus Alvarez playing in their hospital bed at UCLA Medical center in Los Angeles. The twins, separated in a successful operation, celebrated their 10th birthdays Saturday.

The Associated Press. This photo shows conjoined twins Maria Teresa Alvarez, left and Maria de Jesus Alvarez playing in their hospital bed at UCLA Medical center in Los Angeles. The twins, separated in a successful operation, celebrated their 10th birthdays Saturday.

Witness: Jeffs ruled followers with heavy hand

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- A polygamist sect leader convicted of sexually assaulting two underage girls ruled his followers with a heavy hand, banning parades, dancing, Sports Illustrated magazine and even the color red, a sect member testified Saturday at his sentencing.

Warren Jeffs, 55, is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. More than 10,000 followers consider him God's spokesman on Earth.

A jury convicted him Thursday of sexually assaulting two underage girls he had taken as brides and could sentence him to up to life in prison.

Prosecutors have been trying to show in the sentencing phase of the trial that Jeffs ruled the FLDS with a far heavier and crueler hand than his father, who Jeffs succeeded in 2002. Ezra Draper, who was raised in the FLDS, returned to the witness stand and testified that while Rulon Jeffs allowed fun activities such as parades and dances, his son put a stop to them after rising to power.

Friend: Man accused of butchering boy a social misfit

NEW YORK -- A close friend of a man charged with kidnapping and dismembering an 8-year-old New York City boy said the accused butcher is socially awkward and obsessed with karaoke, even though he has a terrible voice.

Levi Aron of Brooklyn was arrested last month after police found the missing boy's feet in his freezer.

In an interview with The Daily News, Aron's best friend, David Barsky, said his pal was awkward and had trouble making conversation.

Twins formerly conjoined turn 10 years old

LOS ANGELES -- Reaching that first double-digit age of 10 is a milestone for any kid, but for these Guatemalan twins born conjoined at the head, it's cause for joyous celebration -- they've repeatedly defied the odds against survival at all.

The girls, Maria de Jesus and Maria Teresa Quiej-Alvarez, garnered international attention when they were separated in 2002 in a 23-hour surgery that riveted the world as it unfolded at Mattel Children's Hospital at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center.

On Saturday, the sisters, known as Josie and Teresita, celebrated their 10th birthday at a private home in Malibu with a party complete with bounce house and a steel-drum band. Guests at the Hawaiian-themed bash included many members of the 50-person surgical team, as well as two dozen of the girls' school chums. Hula dancers adorned two birthday cakes.

Rangers find Yosemite fall victim's body

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. -- The body of a California man who died after being swept into a raging waterfall at Yosemite National Park nearly three weeks ago has been found, rangers said Saturday.

Hormiz David, of Modesto, Calif., and two other members of his church group crossed the safety barricade at the top of Vernal Fall to pose for photos and were swept in on July 20.

Friends said the victims likely did not understand that the swift-moving Merced River could be so treacherous. They watched in horror as David, Ramina Badal and Ninos Yacoub were pulled over the 317-foot cliff.

Recovery teams spotted David's body on Friday afternoon, pinned against a boulder about 240 feet below the base of the waterfall, Yosemite National Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

Tornado-delayed graduation held at Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- About 3,300 University of Alabama graduates are finally walking in caps and gowns, more than three months after a tornado hit Tuscaloosa and forced their commencement to be postponed.

The university held graduation exercises for its class of 2011 on Friday and Saturday night. The school said it's awarding 4,770 degrees in all during three ceremonies, and about 70 percent are for students who were supposed to graduate in May but had to wait because of the twister that struck near campus on April 27.

-- From wire reports