CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Thunderstorms threatened to delay the last space shuttle launch, set for today, and a lightning strike near the pad prompted NASA to convene an engineering panel to discuss any possible damage.
The lightning struck within a third of a mile from the spacecraft around midday Thursday. Technicians hurried out to check for any signs of electrical problems. No immediate damage was reported. But a review board was quickly assembled.
Over the years, lightning has struck on or near the launch pad occasionally, but no recent launches have been delayed by damage.
At the same time, the weather outlook for today looked dismal, with a 70 percent ''no-go'' forecast.
Appeals panel tosses Ariz. death sentence
PHOENIX -- An appeals panel has thrown out the death sentence of an Arizona man convicted in the 1992 attempted rape and killing of a librarian in the Phoenix suburb of Buckeye.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Thursday that the judge presiding over the trial and sentencing of Richard Hurles acted improperly and demonstrated potential bias.
Hurles was convicted of the attempted sexual assault and first-degree murder of Kay Blanton, who was stabbed 37 times at a Buckeye library in 1992.
Vegas police sorry for putting wrong man in jail
LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas police officials are apologizing for a DNA error that sent the wrong man to prison for four years.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said Thursday the department is working out a financial settlement with Dwayne Jackson after determining that a forensic scientist made a mistake while processing evidence following Jackson's 2001 arrest on kidnapping and robbery charges.
Lab chief Linda Krueger said authorities are reviewing as many as 250 cases handled by Terry Cook, who transferred out of the lab in 2004. Attempts to contact Cook were not successful.
US citizen guilty of supporting overseas terror
NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn-born man was convicted Thursday of terror charges for traveling to the Middle East to avenge abuse of Muslims in a trial that featured the testimony of a would-be terrorist and childhood friend of the defendant who became a government cooperator.
The jury deliberated less than four hours before finding Betim Kaziu guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization, conspiracy to commit murder and other charges. Kaziu had denied ever being a threat. He faces a maximum of life in prison at his Nov. 4 sentencing.
Unlike the cases of Najibullah Zazi, mastermind of a foiled suicide attack on New York City subways, or Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber, Kaziu's suspected exploits received little attention, in part because the plot didn't get far. But his case had many of the same themes of homegrown terrorism.
Yemeni man pleads guilty in yacht hijacking
NORFOLK, Va. -- A Yemeni man pleaded guilty to piracy on Thursday for his role in the hijacking of a yacht off the coast of Africa that left four Americans dead, taking a plea deal that he had rejected only weeks earlier.
Mounir Ali is now the 11th man to plead guilty in the February hijacking of the yacht Quest, although prosecutors don't believe any of those men fired the fatal shots aboard the sailing vessel.
The owners of the Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death several days after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.
Intoxicated men take dead gator off-roading
HOWELL, Mich. -- Authorities said three intoxicated men stole a 14-foot flattened and preserved alligator, strapped it to a pickup truck and took it off-roading.
The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported that 55-year-old Douglas Ward of Linden, 60-year-old Roy Griffith of Linden and 53-year-old John Sanborn of Harrison are charged with breaking and entering.
The charges stem from a June 25 theft from a barn in Hartland Township, about 40 miles northwest of Detroit. Sheriff Bob Bezotte said the alligator's owner found tire tracks near his barn and followed them to a party in Deerfield Township where the men were driving their vehicles around in the mud.