- - Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CALIFORNIA

Hand reattached after accident

LOS GATOS — A 6-year-old girl is recovering after surgeons reattached her left hand, severed when it was caught in a loop of jump rope that had snagged on the axle of her mother’s car.

Erica Rix underwent 10 hours of surgery after the accident in early September and spent nine days in intensive care before returning home.

Erica was playing with a jump rope in the back seat of her mother’s car and let one end of the rope out the window to flutter in the wind.

“I wanted to see it go up and down because I thought I was going to fly,” she said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.”

GEORGIA

Top court blocks inmate’s execution

ATLANTA — The U.S. Supreme Court gave a last-minute reprieve to a Georgia man less than two hours before he was to be executed for the 1989 slaying of an off-duty police officer.

Supporters of Troy Davis, 39, have called for a new trial as several witnesses have recanted their testimony. Protesters had arrived by the busload to protest the execution, carrying signs with slogans like “Justice for Troy Davis” and wearing blue T-shirts emblazoned with “I am Troy Davis.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton had accompanied members of Davis’ family to the protest, including Davis’ mother, Virginia.

HAWAII

Veterans’ cemetery to get improvements

HONOLULU — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is awarding a grant of more than $2.7 million for improvements to the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery in Kailua-Kona.

A news release issued Monday by Hawaii’s Democratic Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka said some of the grant money will be used to fund the cost of full casket and in-ground gravesites, columbaria and a storage facility with a fenced service yard.

There is also money for a road, landscaping, a memorial walk, an assembly area, a committal shelter and supporting infrastructure. In addition, the grant will fund development of three acres of the cemetery.

MASSACHUSETTS

Man pleads guilty in retail data breach

BOSTON — A Florida man who was one of 11 people indicted in a huge retail data theft has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Christopher Scott, 25, of Miami pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy, unauthorized access to computer systems, access device fraud and identity theft.

Prosecutors said Scott was an expert at hacking wireless networks, and helped the group’s purported leader, Albert Gonzalez, and others break into the computers of large retailers, including Massachusetts-based TJX Cos., between 2003 and 2007.

Prosecutors said the group scanned Miami shopping strips from their cars, looking for vulnerable wireless access they used to steal more than 41 million credit and debit card numbers.

NEW YORK

Afghan tribal leader guilty in smuggling

NEW YORK — A former Afghan tribal leader was convicted Tuesday of smuggling $50 million worth of heroin into the U.S.

Bashir Noorzai was convicted of narcotics conspiracy Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He could face life in prison at his Jan. 7 sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors had said Noorzai was so influential in his homeland that he formed his own army and teamed up with the Taliban.

The U.S. government said Noorzai was one of Afghanistan’s most powerful men before the U.S. invasion in October 2001.

PENNSYLVANIA

Mom admits she bought son rifle

NORRISTOWN — A woman admitted she helped her troubled, bullied 14-year-old son build a cache of weapons by buying him a rifle and gunpowder, but investigators still don’t know whether she was aware her son was planning a deadly school attack.

Michele Cossey, 46, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Norristown to one count of child endangerment. She admitted that she bought him a rifle with a laser scope and gunpowder, which investigators said he was using to build grenades.

TEXAS

Polygamist sect members indicted

ELDORADO — A West Texas grand jury investigating allegations that members of a polygamist sect sexually abused girls indicted three more people Tuesday, raising the number of defendants in the case to nine.

Each of the sect members indicted Tuesday by the Schleicher County grand jury was charged with sexual assault of a child, and two face an additional charge of bigamy, state Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

The names of those charged were not released, but none had been charged previously. The grand jury earlier had indicted six other members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including jailed sect leader Warren Jeffs.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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