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NATION IN BRIEF: Ex-cop says he helped cover up Katrina shootings

Ex-cop says he helped cover up Katrina shootings

NEW ORLEANS -- A former police detective testified Monday that he participated in a plot to fabricate witnesses, falsify reports and plant a gun to make it seem police were justified in shooting unarmed residents on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

Jeffrey Lehrmann, a government witness in the federal trial of five current or former officers, said he saw Sgt. Arthur ''Archie'' Kaufman retrieve a gun from his home several weeks after the deadly shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Kaufman later turned the gun in as evidence, claiming he found it under the bridge a day after the 2005 shootings that left two people dead and four others wounded.

Lehrmann said Kaufman instructed him to fill out paperwork that claimed the gun belonged to Lance Madison, whose mentally disabled brother, Ronald, was shot and killed on the bridge. Lance Madison was arrested on attempted murder charges and held for more than three weeks before a judge freed him.

Trucker tried to stop before Maine train collision

NORTH BERWICK, Maine -- An Amtrak train smashed into a tractor-trailer Monday in a fiery collision that killed the truck driver, injured several others and sent flames more than three stories high, a witness and officials said.

Witnesses reported that safety lights were flashing and gates were down at the intersection when the tractor-trailer crossed into the path of Amtrak's Downeaster at about 11 a.m., said Police Chief Stephen Peasley. None of the train's 112 passengers or two crew members suffered life-threatening injuries.

One witness said the tractor-trailer driver slammed on the brakes, Peasley said. ''From what I've been told, it appears that it skidded through the intersection,'' he said.

Summer heat hits Midwest, South

DALLAS -- The temperature setting is stuck on broil across a swath of the Midwest and South, with Dallas and Oklahoma City suffering through 100-degree heat for 10 or more days in a row.

Temperatures are soaring from Louisiana to Illinois, where authorities said a 51-year-old man found dead Sunday suffered heat stroke in a mobile home without a working air conditioner.

National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro said even areas with temperatures in the 90s are feeling as hot as 115 degrees with the humidity.

Woman gets 20 years for kidnapping baby

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- An Alabama woman has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for kidnapping a 4-day-old boy while claiming to be an immigration agent.

Tammy Silas of Ardmore, Ala., was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell for her guilty plea to the 2009 kidnapping.

According to the plea agreement, Silas targeted Maria Gurrola, a native Mexican, at a food assistance office and went to her home. Officials said Silas then attacked the woman and took the baby, who was found unharmed three days later at Silas' home in Ardmore.

Last week, prosecutors had filed court documents asking for a 20-year sentence followed by five years of supervised probation.

Campbell said Monday that Silas had shown little or no remorse.

Family of 7 killed in Ala. plane crash

NICEVILLE, Fla. -- A Panhandle town is grieving the loss of a couple and their five young children who died in a western Alabama plane crash.

Friends of Fred and Terresa Teutenberg said the family was known throughout the town of Niceville through soccer, the Methodist church, their involvement in the church band and volunteer work.

They were flying back from a family reunion in St. Louis on Saturday when the Cessna C421 went down near Demopolis, Ala.

The children were ages 2 through 10.

Minn. shutdown stirs debate over who gets paid

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- While thousands of Minnesota employees go without paychecks because the state government is shut down, many lawmakers are still being paid. And the list of workers whose services are deemed ''essential'' includes the governor's housekeeper and his personal chef.

As the shutdown entered its second full week Monday, with no end in sight, politicians and public employees traded accusations over who's getting paid, who isn't and why.

''None of them should be getting paid,'' said Mike Lindholt, a Department of Transportation maintenance worker idled by the shutdown. ''If you don't do your job, you don't get paid. That's how it is for most people.''