American Scene

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COLUMBUS | A death-row inmate who could become the first U.S. prisoner to die from a single dose of a newly adopted barbiturate should be spared execution because his victim’s family never wanted a death sentence, his attorneys told the Ohio Parole Board on Thursday.

Johnnie Baston, who was convicted in the 1994 killing of a Toledo storekeeper, was abandoned as an infant, has never seen his mother and has had only sporadic contact with his father, said Robert Barnhart of the state public defender’s office. As a boy, he would wander the streets with his dog trying to find his mother, he said.

“It is not hard to understand how Johnnie turned from a boy searching for his mother with a dog in tow to a man trying to find family on the streets,” Baston’s attorneys wrote in documents filed with the parole board.

Baston has given differing accounts of the crime and has suggested at one point that he was present but didn’t do the killing. His attorneys say they don’t dispute his conviction.

A three-judge Lucas County panel sentenced Baston to die for shooting Chong Mah, 53, owner of Continental Wigs N’ Things in downtown Toledo.

TEXAS

Fallen Marine’s parents adopt his military dog

SAN ANTONIO | A bomb-sniffing Labrador whose handler was killed in combat has new owners: the family of the fallen U.S. Marine whom the dog loyally obeyed in Afghanistan.

Darrell and Kathy Rusk picked up Eli on Thursday. The 4-year-old military dog was discharged after his handler, Pfc. Colton Rusk, was fatally shot by a Taliban sniper in December.

Military officials say Eli is the second military dog to be adopted by the family of a slain handler.

Eli wagged his tail eagerly upon meeting his new family, who live in Orange Grove, Texas.

The Rusks say they wanted to adopt Eli because their 20-year-old son talked about his best friend constantly, making the dog seem like part of their family.

VIRGINIA

Another video hits Planned Parenthood

RICHMOND | An anti-abortion group has released a secretly recorded video that purports to show a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute receiving abortion and contraceptive counseling for underage sex workers at a Virginia Planned Parenthood clinic.

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