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American Scene: 5 dead in apparent family murder-suicide

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SALEM, Ore. — A mother and her three children were found dead in a burned house Tuesday in northwest Oregon, and the children's father was found dead later in a car, all victims of what police said appeared to be a murder-suicide.

The woman and children were discovered early Tuesday when Salem firefighters went to a house on fire in a working-class neighborhood of old homes, small apartment complexes and mature trees.

A neighbor reported awaking about 5:30 a.m. to the fire. About five hours later, the father was found dead in a vehicle about 75 miles south of Salem, in Cottage Grove.

Workers awarded $332K in on-site toilet case

PORTLAND — Two workers who claimed they were forced to urinate in a bucket have been awarded $332,000 after a jury found they were fired for complaining to Oregon regulators about the lack of an on-site toilet.

Douglas Eki and Xerxes "Jason" Doctolero told the state occupational safety and health division that they used the bucket because they couldn't get to a toilet fast enough.

They testified that their employer, Menzies Aviation, refused to provide them with a toilet and that using the restrooms of nearby businesses wasn't a solution because they were not welcome. The men performed mechanical work at Portland International Airport.

NEW JERSEY

Ex-student in webcam case explains not apologizing

NEW BRUNSWICK — The former Rutgers student sentenced this week to 30 days in jail for using a webcam to view his roommate kissing another man said he did not apologize largely because it would have been seen as insincere.

Dharun Ravi told the Star-Ledger in an interview conducted before Monday's sentencing, but published after it, that anything he would say "would sound rehearsed and empty."

Obama-threat suspect can get guns back

NEWARK — A New Jersey appeals court said a man accused of talking about shooting President Obama could get his gun collection back.

John Brek was working at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2009 when he was overheard talking about how easy it would be to shoot the president, who was scheduled to arrive the next day.

Mr. Brek was charged with making terroristic threats but pleaded guilty to harassment and served 30 days in jail. A judge denied him the return of more than 70 weapons that had been seized from his house during the investigation.

In a ruling published Tuesday, the three-judge appeals panel ordered the state to return the guns. It cited reports by two mental health professionals that found Mr. Brek was not a threat.

OHIO

State law ends labeling of pit bulls as 'vicious'

COLUMBUS — Pit bulls will no longer be labeled as "vicious" dogs under a new Ohio law.

The measure that took effect Tuesday changed current law that defined a vicious dog as one that had seriously hurt or killed a person, killed another dog or was among those commonly known as pit bulls. The new measure removes the reference to pit bulls from the definition and requires evidence to prove pit bulls are actually vicious.

Family hopes for return of stolen swine statue

CINCINNATI — A life-size swine statue has disappeared in the city once dubbed "Porkopolis," and its owners are hoping the thief will have a change of heart and return their beloved concrete pig.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Maggie Gieseke and her family had kept the heavy, 2-foot-tall statue for a decade in their front yard in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood. Sometimes they dressed it up, giving it a white beard and red hat for Christmas, a bow for Valentine's Day or bunny ears at Easter.

HAWAII

Group sues for protection of rare dolphin population

HONOLULU — An environmental group on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service to force a decision on whether it will put a population of rare dolphins living near Hawaii on the endangered species list.

Its species - called "false killer whale" even though it's a dolphin and doesn't look like a whale - is found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide. But scientists estimate only about 150 or 170 live in waters less than 90 miles off Hawaii.

NORTH CAROLINA

Edwards trial jury ends third day of deliberation

GREENSBORO — The jury deciding the fate of former presidential candidate John Edwards finished a third day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.

Mr. Edwards faces 30 years in prison after pleading not guilty to six campaign finance corruption charges. The jury began considering its decision Friday, after nearly four weeks of testimony.

The jurors ended their talks Tuesday shortly after requesting access to notes from Alex Forger, the lawyer for Rachel "Bunny" Mellon. The 101-year-old heiress provided most of the nearly $1 million in secret payments prosecutors say Mr. Edwards used to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Mr. Edwards also faces up to $1.5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.

MONTANA

'Mountain man' arrested after extended search

HELENA — Police arrested notorious "mountain man" Dan Nichols Tuesday on drug charges after a months-long search that came nearly three decades after he and his father kidnapped a world-class athlete.

Nichols was taken into custody after phoning the U.S. Marshals Service and saying he would be in a Walmart parking lot in Butte.

Nichols, wanted on drug charges in connection with a marijauna-growing operation, was paroled in 1991 after serving several years for helping his father, Don Nichols, in the kidnapping of biathlete Kari Swenson.

CALIFORNIA

Silicon Valley executive accused in Lego thefts

SAN JOSE — A Silicon Valley software executive put fake bar codes on Lego sets at various Target stores, bought the toys at a steep discount, then sold them online for thousands of dollars, authorities said.

Authorities said Thomas Langenbach, 47, bought Lego sets at Target stores but covered their original bar codes with his own bar-code stickers to get a cheaper price.

A search of the man's posh home south of San Francisco uncovered hundreds of sets of the colorful toy bricks. Eight bags of bar code stickers were found in his car, police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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