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In a statement released before a court hearing yesterday, Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow said he decided not to pursue the remaining charges after “careful re-evaluation of the case” against Byron Halsey.

Mr. Halsey, 46, was released from prison on May 15 after prosecutors threw out his convictions. New DNA testing, not available when he was convicted, linked a neighbor to the crime.

However, until yesterday, Mr. Halsey still faced charges of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated manslaughter, felony murder, child abuse and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Mr. Halsey was convicted in 1988 of murdering and sexually assaulting Tyrone and Tina Urquhart, the children of his live-in girlfriend, at a Plainfield rooming house.


UNC president hits state lottery ads

CHAPEL HILL — University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles said state campuses shouldn’t allow ads for the state lottery at sporting events because they encourage gambling.

The contracts between the lottery and the universities for radio ads, signs and announcements during games expired last week, and the president asked chancellors not to renew contracts.


Mother Nature gives firefighters a hand

HOT SPRINGS — Overnight rain and lower temperatures slowed a wildfire that had raced out of a canyon, destroyed at least 30 houses and killed a homeowner who went back to try to save his belongings, a top fire official said yesterday.

The change in weather gave firefighters a chance to shore up their fire lines, though conditions could shift again for the worse, state wildland fire coordinator Joe Lowe told crews at a morning briefing held in light rain.

“This fire is not over yet,” he said. “This fire could come back to life again.”

The blaze was started by lightning on Saturday, and by yesterday, it had covered about 11 square miles just southwest of Hot Springs, on the southern side of the Black Hills. It was 20 percent contained, and crews expected to have it fully contained by Thursday. A state highway that cuts through the fire area remained closed.

Among the evacuees taking shelter at a Hot Springs community center was Mary Goulet, who said she and her husband didn’t realize the seriousness until it was almost too late. She said she called 911 when fire surrounded the house.

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