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CALIFORNIA

Plane lands safely despite malfunction

POINT MUGU — A twin-engine turboprop aircraft with malfunctioning landing gear skidded to a safe landing at a Navy air station yesterday, authorities said.

The Grumman G-159 carrying nine passengers and three crew members was on a military flight from San Nicolas Island to Point Mugu, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.

The Phoenix Air plane circled for about an hour to burn off excess fuel, said Vance Vasquez, spokesman for Naval Base Ventura County.

The airplane set down gently before skidding onto its left wing, then spun off the runway. Officials said its left main landing gear was stuck in the up position. The engine was off, but the propeller continued rotating in the wind.

Several persons jumped out as fire trucks sprayed the craft, according to televised reports.

San Nicolas Island is a Navy-owned island off Southern California.

FLORIDA

Man pleads guilty to killing campers

OCALA — A man accused of gunning down two campers with an AK-47 assault rifle pleaded guilty to murder yesterday and received two consecutive life terms.

Leo L. Boatman, 21, of Clearwater, changed his plea in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Prosecutor Brad King said he offered the deal after talking with the families of Amber M. Peck and John L. Parker, both 26-year-old Santa Fe Community College students whom Boatman apparently shot at random.

They two were camping in Ocala National Forest in January 2006 when Boatman attacked them.

“I can’t offer an explanation because there is none,” Boatman told Circuit Judge Willard Pope.

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