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NATION IN BRIEF: Jury convicts Blagojevich at retrial in Chicago

Photo by M. Spencer Green

Photo by M. Spencer Green

Jury convicts Blagojevich at retrial in Chicago

CHICAGO -- Rod Blagojevich, who rode his talkative everyman image to two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him a national punchline, was convicted Monday of a wide range of corruption charges, including the incendiary allegation that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's Senate seat.

The verdict was a bitter defeat for Blagojevich, who had spent 21/2 years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand. His defense team had insisted that hours of FBI wiretap recordings were just the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud.

He faces up to 300 years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines are sure to significantly reduce his time behind bars.

Pittsburgh cop killer cries as widow testifies

PITTSBURGH -- A man facing the possible death penalty for murdering three Pittsburgh police officers cried as the widow of one officer testified about nightmares, suicidal thoughts and other problems her two young daughters have had.

Shandra Mayhle was the final witness to testify for the prosecution Monday in the penalty phase of the trial of 24-year-old Richard Poplawski. The same jury that convicted him Saturday of first-degree murder for killing Mayhle's husband, Stephen, and two other officers on April 4, 2009, must now decide if he deserves death or life in prison without parole for the murders.

Poplawski wiped his eyes with a tissue and shook his head as he rested it in his hand as Mayhle testified about her girls.

The defense will call witnesses today to testify about Poplawski's allegedly abusive childhood in hopes the jury will spare his life.

Driver killed in tour bus wreck

DONEGAL, Pa. -- A bus carrying Asian tourists rear-ended a flatbed tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Monday, killing the bus driver and injuring two dozen passengers, officials said.

Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth Bacha identified the driver as 39-year-old Bo Hua Tan from New York City.

One of the 35 passengers aboard the bus was taken by helicopter to Conemaugh Hospital in Johnstown. Sixteen others were taken by ambulances to Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant and seven more to Somerset Hospital.

Wildfire forces evacuation of Los Alamos

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. -- Authorities ordered Los Alamos evacuated Monday as a fast-growing and unpredictable wildfire bore down on the northern New Mexico town and its sprawling nuclear laboratory.

The blaze that began Sunday already had destroyed an unspecified number of houses south of the town, which is home to some 12,000 residents. It also forced the closure of the nation's pre-eminent nuclear lab while stirring memories of a devastating blaze more than a decade ago that destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings in the area.

Casey Anthony found competent; trial resumes

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A judge ruled Monday that Casey Anthony is competent to remain on trial for murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter after her own lawyers questioned her mental health.

Anthony's attorneys told the judge they did not believe she was competent. They said that assessment was based on their privileged communication with her but did not elaborate in a motion filed Saturday and sealed until the judge ruled Monday.

The motion halted what had been expected to be a full day of testimony Saturday by witnesses. After meeting with attorneys, Judge Belvin Perry told courtroom attorneys and spectators that a ''legal matter'' had come up that would delay proceedings.

Indiana teen fighting for life after plane crash

DETROIT -- An Indiana basketball standout fighting for his life after a plane crash that killed his father bounced back from a similar tragedy eight years ago and has established strong relationships with an extended family who are ready to support him, friends said Monday.

Austin Hatch, 16, was the lone survivor of the small plane crash Friday in Michigan that killed his father and stepmother. He and his father, Stephen, also survived a similar crash in 2003 in Indiana that killed his mother and two siblings.