Monday, April 1, 2013

Published:

Colorado court: Error led to release of prison chief slaying suspect about 4 years early

DENVER (AP) -- Because of a paperwork error, the suspect in last month's killing of Colorado's corrections chief was freed from prison in January -- four years earlier than authorities intended.

Judicial officials acknowledged Monday that Evan Spencer Ebel's previous felony conviction had been inaccurately recorded and his release was a mistake.

In 2008, Ebel pleaded guilty in rural Fremont County to assaulting a prison officer. In the plea deal, Ebel was to be sentenced to up to four additional years in prison, to be served after he completed the eight-year sentence that put him behind bars in 2005, according to a statement from Colorado's 11th Judicial District.

However, the judge did not say the sentence was meant to be "consecutive," or in addition to, Ebel's current one. So the court clerk recorded it as one to be served "concurrently," or at the same time. That's the information that went to the state prisons, the statement said.

So on Jan. 28, prisons officials saw that Ebel had finished his court-ordered sentence and released him. They said they had no way of knowing the plea deal was intended to keep Ebel behind bars for years longer.

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In slayings of Texas district attorney and wife, suspicion shifts to white supremacist gang

KAUFMAN, Texas (AP) -- Suspicion in the slayings of a Texas district attorney and his wife shifted Monday to a violent white supremacist prison gang that was the focus of a December law enforcement bulletin warning that its members might try to attack police or prosecutors.

The weekend deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, who were found fatally shot in their home, were especially jarring because they happened just a couple of months after one of the county's assistant district attorneys, Mark Hasse, was killed near his courthouse office.

And less than two weeks ago, Colorado's prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by a white supremacist ex-convict who died in a shootout with deputies after fleeing to Texas.

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been in the state's prison system since the 1980s, when it began as a white supremacist gang that protected its members and ran illegal activities, including drug distribution, according to Terry Pelz, a former Texas prison warden and expert on the gang.

The group, which has a long history of violence and retribution, is now believed to have more than 4,000 members in and out of prison who deal in a variety of criminal enterprises, including prostitution, robbery and murder.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

1. SUSPICION FALLS ON WHITE SUPREMACIST IN DA SLAYING

Authorities had issued a bulletin warning that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas might try to retaliate against law enforcement.

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Marco Rubio, possible GOP presidential contender, claims high-risk pivot point on immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Whatever immigration deal might be claimed by labor and business, or by Democrats and Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is serving notice it has to go through him.

The tea party favorite made it clear over the weekend he has a make-or-break role for the most sweeping immigration changes in decades. It's a high-risk strategy that also puts his presidential ambitions on the line.

Four Republican senators are involved with Democrats in crafting a bipartisan bill to secure the nation's borders, improve legal immigration and offer eventual citizenship to millions now in the U.S. illegally. But only Rubio has the conservative bona fides plus life-story credibility to help steer the bill through the Senate with strong support from the GOP, and give it a chance in the House, where conservative Republicans hold more sway.

More than anyone else, Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, could have the clout to hold off rebellion from conservative talk show hosts and a Republican base whose opposition helped kill immigration changes last time around, in 2007. And perhaps only Rubio could sink the entire effort just by walking away.

If the first-term senator decides against the bill, "that just takes all the oxygen out of the room," said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union. "It may pass the Senate with Democrats' support ... but that's not the kind of support you want out of the Senate if you expect passage out of the House."

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Conn. lawmakers reach deal on 'strongest and most comprehensive' gun laws in US after Newtown

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut lawmakers announced a deal Monday on what they called some of the toughest gun laws in the country that were proposed after the December mass shooting in the state, including a ban on new high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the massacre that left 20 children and six educators dead.

The proposal includes new registration requirements for existing magazines that carry 10 or more bullets, something of a disappointment for some family members of Newtown victims who wanted an outright ban on the possession of all high-capacity magazines and traveled to the state Capitol on Monday to ask lawmakers for it.

The package also creates what lawmakers said is the nation's first statewide dangerous weapon offender registry, creates a new "ammunition eligibility certificate," imposes immediate universal background checks for all firearms sales, and extends the state's assault weapons ban to 100 new types of firearms and requires that a weapon have only one of several features in order to be banned.

The newly banned weapons could no longer be bought or sold in Connecticut, and those legally owned already would have to be registered with the state, just like the high-capacity magazines.

"No gun owner will lose their gun," said House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., a Norwalk Republican. "No gun owner will lose their magazines."

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Syrian activist group says more than 6,000 killed in March, deadliest month yet in civil war

BEIRUT (AP) -- March was the bloodiest month yet in Syria's 2-year-old conflict with more than 6,000 documented deaths, a leading anti-regime activist group said Monday, blaming the increase on heavier shelling and more violent clashes.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the increased toll is likely incomplete because both the Syrian army and the rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad's government often underreport their dead in the civil war.

"Both sides are hiding information," Abdul-Rahman said by phone from Britain, where his group is based. "It is very difficult to get correct info on the fighters because they don't want the information to hurt morale."

The numbers, while provided by only one group, support the appraisal of the conflict offered by many Syria watchers: The civil war is largely a military stalemate that is destroying the country's social fabric and taking a huge toll on civilians.

The increase also reflects the continuing spread of major hostilities to new parts of Syria. While clashes continue in Aleppo, Damascus and Homs, Syria's three largest cities, rebels have launched an offensive in recent weeks to seize towns and army bases in the southern province of Daraa, largely with the help of an influx of foreign-funded weapons.

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Court ruling makes Stockton, Calif., the most populous city in nation to enter bankruptcy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The people of Stockton will feel financial fallout for years after a federal judge ruled Monday to let the city become the most populous in the nation to enter bankruptcy.

But the case is also being watched closely because it could answer the significant question of who gets paid first by financially strapped cities -- retirement funds or creditors.

"I don't know whether spiked pensions can be reeled back in," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein said while making the ruling. "There are very complex and difficult questions of law that I can see out there on the horizon."

The potential constitutional question in the Stockton case is whether federal bankruptcy law trumps a California law that says money owed to the state pension fund must be paid.

In making his ruling, Klein disagreed with creditors who argued that Stockton failed to pursue all avenues for straightening out its financial affairs.

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MTV 'BUCKWILD' reality star, 2 others found dead in W.Va. day after being reported missing

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) -- Shain Gandee lived for the outdoors, often going on muddy, off-road thrill rides in the hills near his West Virginia home. A recent late-night escapade ended in tragedy for the MTV reality show cast member and two others.

The popular "BUCKWILD" cast member was found dead Monday inside a sport utility vehicle belonging to his family that was found partially submerged in a deep mud pit about a mile from his home near Sissonville, authorities said. Also inside were the bodies of his uncle and another man.

Kanawha County Sheriff's Cpl. B.D. Humphreys said the red-and-white 1984 Ford Bronco's muffler was below the surface and that mud covered the passenger side. No foul play is suspected.

Authorities said the cause of the deaths was still under investigation and they refused to speculate on what happened. If the muffler was submerged and the engine kept running, it's possible the cabin of the vehicle could have filled with fatal carbon monoxide from the exhaust.

Shain, nicknamed "Gandee Candy" by fans, was a breakout star of the show that followed the antics of a group of young friends enjoying their wild country lifestyle. It was filmed last year, mostly around Sissonville and Charleston. Many of its rowdy exploits were his idea. In one episode, he turned a dump truck into a swimming pool.

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CBS says it wouldn't change how it covered injury in Louisville game

NEW YORK (AP) -- The chairman of CBS Sports had no regrets about banning further replays of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware's gruesome broken leg and says if anyone wants to watch it on the Internet, that's fine with him.

CBS aired two quick replays Sunday from a wide enough distance for viewers to see the leg land awkwardly, but not any blood or bone. It hasn't been shown since on CBS.

"In today's world, if you want to see a piece of video instantaneously that you just saw on television, there are a million ways to do that," Sean McManus said Monday. "I've seen statistics on the millions of views this piece of footage has had on YouTube and I have no problem with that."

Ware was injured after attempting to block a shot in the Cardinals' regional final victory over Duke. The sight of his tibia bone protruding from his skin left coach Rick Pitino and his teammates in tears. Ware was operated on later Sunday and is expected to watch Louisville's Final Four appearance Saturday from the bench in Atlanta.

The network received praise for restraint, although McManus said he knew people would say CBS should have shown it more because the network was in a position to document history.

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Opening day: Harper's home runs in DC, chills in Minnesota, Newtown salute all across majors

Josh Hamilton jumped into a cab, headed to Great American Ball Park and got all nostalgic.

The Los Angeles Angels newcomer saw Cincinnati fans packed downtown and remembered making his big league debut in the same spot a while ago.

"People are lined up in the streets, there's the parade," he said. "It's just an awesome feeling. It never gets old -- opening day -- especially when you're where you started."

All across the majors, baseball was in full swing Monday.

Bryce Harper put on quite a show in Washington. The 20-year-old star hit home runs his first two times up and earned a few "M-V-P!" chants during a 2-0 win over Miami.