- - Sunday, March 6, 2011


Giffords suspect faces capital charges

TUCSON | A federal grand jury Friday returned a 49-count superseding indictment against Jared Lee Loughner in the killing of a federal judge and a congressional staff member, as well as for causing the deaths of four others during an attempt to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Mr. Loughner, 22, is charged in the death of U.S. District Judge John M. Roll and Gabriel M. Zimmerman, staff member and director of community outreach for Ms. Giffords.

He also is accused in the deaths of Dorothy J. Morris, Phyllis C. Schneck, Dorwan C. Stoddard and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. They were shot while waiting to see Mrs. Giffords at the neighborhood event.

Prosecutors indicated that the death penalty could apply in the case. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. must personally approve a death penalty effort.

Mr. Loughner will be arraigned on the new charges at a hearing Wednesday in Tucson before U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns. He has been held in federal custody since Jan. 8.


‘East Coast Rapist’ suspect due in court

NEW HAVEN | The man suspected of terrorizing women with sexual assaults from Virginia to Rhode Island over 12 years is scheduled to appear in New Haven Superior Court.

Aaron Thomas was returned to jail after a brief hospital stay Saturday after he tried to hang himself. New Haven police spokesman Joe Avery said Sunday that the court hearing is still set for Monday.

Police say DNA confirmed that the unemployed truck driver is the East Coast Rapist, suspected in attacks on at least 17 women since 1997 in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia. The cases were linked by DNA.


Crew bids farewell to space shuttle

CAPE CANAVERAL | The space shuttle and space station crews hugged goodbye Sunday after more than a week together but saved their most heartfelt farewell for Discovery.

On its final voyage after nearly three decades, Discovery, the most traveled rocket ship ever, will be retired after this week’s return to Earth.

The hatches between Discovery and the International Space Station were sealed Sunday afternoon, setting the stage for the shuttle’s departure first thing Monday.

“We’re going to miss you,” the space station’s commander, Scott Kelly, told the six shuttle astronauts. “But most of all we’re going to miss Discovery.”

Shuttle skipper Steven Lindsey nodded in agreement, then shook hands with Mr. Kelly. Mr. Lindsey noted that all the mission objectives had been accomplished: The new storage unit carried up by Discovery was installed and unloaded, leaving behind an empty, pristine compartment ready to serve its purpose.


ROTC, Harvard sign return deal

BOSTON | Harvard University officially welcomed the ROTC back to the nation’s oldest college Friday as other elite campuses considered whether to lift their decades-old bans now that Congress has voted to allow gays to serve openly in the military.

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed an agreement that establishes the Naval ROTC’s formal presence on campus for the first time since the Vietnam War era. Other schools, including Columbia, Yale and Brown, are discussing whether to follow suit.

“Both the American military and higher education have been engines of inclusion and wellsprings of service,” Mrs. Faust said during the ceremony. “The relationship we renew today marks progress in that common pursuit.”


Fugitive-surrender program dropped

CLEVELAND | A nationwide program that allows fugitives accused of nonviolent crimes to surrender safely at churches has been eliminated by the U.S. Marshals Service because it didn’t fit the service’s mission of catching violent fugitives, a spokesman said.

More than 34,000 people in 20 cities have turned themselves in through Fugitive Safe Surrender, which got its start in Cleveland in 2005 in response to the killing of a police officer by a fugitive during a traffic stop.

Spokesman Jeff Carter told the Cleveland Plain Dealer for Sunday’s editions that the program cost $250,000 annually. Funding was dropped this year after a review of programs aimed at reducing violent crime.

The program paired the marshals with other law enforcement agents and churches. It set a record in Cleveland in September when more than 7,400 fugitives surrendered in a four-day event. Safe Surrender events have been held in Maryland, 13 other states and Washington, D.C.

About 10 percent of those surrendering have faced felony charges, including rape, robbery, child abductions and murder, the newspaper reported.


Firefighter accused of DUI, joy riding

HAMILTON | Authorities say a volunteer firefighter is accused of taking a firetruck on a drunken joy ride and nearly smashing into a deputy’s patrol car.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that 27-year-old Sean Richard Swanson, a volunteer firefighter in Hamilton, was speeding down a road early Saturday morning in the firetruck. The sheriff’s office said four other volunteer firefighters who also had been drinking were in the truck with Mr. Swanson.

The release said a deputy had to veer into a ditch to avoid hitting the truck; the deputy then turned around and pulled over the truck. Mr. Swanson was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and unauthorized use of a vehicle. A phone message left at a listing for Mr. Swanson was not immediately returned Sunday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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