- - Thursday, April 28, 2011

ALABAMA

Judge keeps charges in honeymoon death case

BIRMINGHAM | A judge declined Thursday to dismiss capital murder charges against a man accused of killing his wife during a 2003 honeymoon diving trip to Australia.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tommy Nail denied motions to dismiss the charges against Gabe Watson, 33, in the death of his wife, Tina, 26. Defense attorneys asked the judge to throw out the charges based on double jeopardy, saying Watson already had served 18 months in an Australian prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Deputy Attorney General Don Valeska said the charges against Watson are different in Alabama and are based on the theory that Watson planned the crime in Alabama in hopes of collecting on a life insurance policy on his wife.

But the defense attorney said his client is being charged with committing the same crime. Double jeopardy is the act of trying a person a second time for a crime for which he or she has been prosecuted.

ALASKA

Illegal immigrant was bus driver, police officer

ANCHORAGE | A police officer in Alaska accused of being an illegal immigrant who stole a U.S. citizen’s identity previously worked as a well-esteemed bus driver in the same city, maintaining an excellent driving record throughout his six-year employment.

The driver known as Rafael Espinoza left his job as an Anchorage city bus driver in 2005 to become a police officer here.

The Mexico-born officer’s real name is Rafael Mora-Lopez, a discovery made after he applied for a passport renewal at the same time the real Rafael Espinoza did, authorities said. The real Mr. Espinoza has a dual citizenship and lives outside of the U.S.

Mr. Mora-Lopez, 47, was arrested last week and is charged with federal passport fraud, which carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence. He has pleaded not guilty and is out on bail under home-confinement and electronic monitoring.

CALIFORNIA

Navy captain loses command over misconduct claims

SAN DIEGO | The commander of a guided-missile destroyer has been relieved of command while the Navy investigates allegations of misconduct.

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