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American Scene: Racial tensions erupt into high school brawl

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CALIFORNIA

Racial tensions erupt into high school brawl

CARSON | Dozens of students battled one another at a high school Wednesday in a racially motivated brawl between black and Hispanic students that left two injured and three under arrest, authorities said.

At least 30 students traded punches and kicks in a series of fights that erupted in a Carson High School courtyard during the 10 a.m. recess, said Monica Carazo, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

School police and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies quelled the violence. Two students were sent to a hospital for treatment, but Ms. Carsazo said she did not know their conditions or the extent of their injuries.

Three students were arrested on suspicion of assault. Five other students were issued citations for fighting.

The school was placed on modified lockdown. Students were confined to classrooms except for lunch and to use restrooms.

MISSOURI

Charges in family sex case being dismissed

KANSAS CITY | A Missouri prosecutor said Wednesday that she was dismissing all charges against five men accused of sexually molesting young relatives on a western Missouri farm more than 20 years ago.

"This was a highly unusual series of cases, and the outcome should not deter other victims of crime from reporting those crimes," Lafayette County prosecutor Kellie Wingate Campbell told the Associated Press after notifying courts in three counties of her action.

Six members of the Mohler family - Burrell Sr.; his sons Burrell Jr., David, Jared and Roland; and his brother, Darrel - were arrested in November 2009 after several young family members told investigators about a series of bizarre sex crimes on a Lafayette County farm about 30 miles east of Kansas City.

Earlier Wednesday, one of the alleged victims told the AP that she was worried that Ms. Campbell didn't want to take the case to court. The woman, who is not being identified, said she and other family members were eager to take the stand and tell what happened to them starting in the early 1980s.

"She has no intention of taking this to court," the woman said. "Every action has been in that direction."

CALIFORNIA

Game chief gets support for killing mountain lion

RIVERSIDE | The president of the California Fish and Game Commission who was under fire for legally killing a mountain lion in Idaho received overwhelming support during a public meeting in Riverside.

Dozens of people spoke Wednesday at a commission meeting in favor of Dan Richards, who has been asked to resign by 40 Democrats in the California Assembly and by animal rights activists.

Mr. Richards, a Republican commercial real estate developer, appeared in a photo that shows him with a mountain lion he shot during a visit to Idaho. Mr. Richards has said he will not step down from his appointed position.

MASSACHUSETTS

Hockey dad faces charges for using laser pointer

WINTHROP | A Massachusetts man accused of aiming a laser pointer into the eyes of the opposing goalie at his daughter's high school hockey game is facing criminal charges.

Authorities announced Tuesday that Joseph Cordes, 42, will be summoned to East Boston District Court to face a charge of disturbing the peace.

Police say Mr. Cordes pointed the light at the Medway/Ashland goalie during a Feb. 29 tournament game in Winthrop, north of Boston. A school official ordered him out of the arena.

Winthrop won 3-1, prompting a protest from the Medway/Ashland parents who asked that the game be replayed. The governing body of high school sports in Massachusetts denied the appeal.

Mr. Cordes hasn't been arrested. He told WBZ-TV that he feels "like a complete jerk" and humiliated his daughter.

ALABAMA

Jury acquits all 6 charged in casino corruption case

MONTGOMERY | A federal jury in Alabama's gambling corruption trial has acquitted casino owner Milton McGregor and five other defendants on all counts.

The jury returned its verdict Wednesday in Montgomery after seven days of deliberations.

Mr. McGregor was accused of offering large campaign contributions to legislators for their votes for gambling legislation. State Sen. Harri Anne Smith and former Sens. Larry Means and Jim Preuitt were accused of agreeing to accept bribes in return for their votes.

COLORADO

Denver authorities: Dead inmate was serial killer

DENVER | Denver authorities say a man convicted of three murders who died in prison in 1996 killed four other women and might be responsible for as many as 20 homicides.

Vincent Groves was convicted of killing Tammy Sue Woodrum in 1982 and was paroled in 1987. In 1990, he got life in prison for killing Juanita "Becky" Lovato and 20 years for the death of Diane Montoya Mancera.

Authorities say that by using DNA from one of those cases, crime analysts linked Groves to the slayings of three other women who were strangled in 1979. A detective says strong circumstantial evidence also ties him to a 1988 slaying.

The Denver Post reports that some of the women Groves targeted in Denver were prostitutes, while others were acquaintances.

MICHIGAN

Town on Lake Michigan fears losing historic ferry

LUDINGTON | A Lake Michigan town with a proud maritime history fears losing a local icon.

The S.S. Badger is the nation's last steamship powered by coal. Federal regulators want the ferry to stop dumping waste ash into the lake during its May-to-October trips between its home port of Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis.

Operators plan a switch to natural gas but are asking the Environmental Protection Agency for more time. If the standoff isn't resolved this year, the Badger may be grounded.

Many in Ludington say the Badger is a big tourist draw and important to their history. A campaign called "Save our Ship" is rallying support.

Backers of a diesel-powered ferry in Muskegon say the Badger should have to play by the same rules as other vessels.

CALIFORNIA

Homemade cannon blast kills suspect's girlfriend

SAN DIEGO | A man arrested after a homemade cannon blasted through his mobile home, killing his girlfriend, "liked to live life on the edge," his brother told a San Diego newspaper.

Richard Fox, 39, was arrested for investigation of exploding a device resulting in death after the Tuesday blast in a mountain community near San Diego, sheriff's Sgt. David Martinez said.

Mr. Fox's 38-year-old girlfriend was found dead from shrapnel wounds when authorities arrived at the home. The San Diego County medical examiner's office identified her Wednesday as Jeanette Ogara.

Mr. Fox's brother, Jerry Fox, told U-T San Diego that he spoke with his anguished brother by phone moments after the blast.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. It should have been me," Jerry Fox said, recounting his brother's words.

Mr. Fox shot the cannon after loading it with fireworks powder, Sgt. Martinez said. He was treated at a hospital for shrapnel wounds to his right leg. Three other adults and a 4-year-old girl who were inside the home escaped injury.

Preliminary evidence suggested that Mr. Fox was under the influence of alcohol, Sgt. Martinez said. Investigators had not established a motive or determined whether the blast was accidental.

"He gave us his version of the story. We want to corroborate that based on the evidence we find at the scene," Sgt. Martinez said.

NEW YORK

Accused madam's attorney: Black book not relevant

NEW YORK | The attorney for a mother of four who is accused of operating a high-class Manhattan brothel says he never asked her about a so-called black book.

Peter J. Gleason told "Good Day New York" on Wednesday that "as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't exist."

If Anna Gristina is found guilty of the charges, he said, "it's irrelevant to me if there's a black book or not."

He said the prosecution has not shared with the defense team information about its allegations that the Monroe woman peddled underage girls and had police protection.

He said the accusation that she promoted sex with children was "a ploy" that police sometimes use "if they have a hostile client that they want to break."

Ms. Gristina has pleaded not guilty.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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