Snipers face $25 million lawsuit from Alabama

Friday, May 2, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The family of a liquor store worker who was shot and killed during an apparent robbery filed a wrongful death lawsuit against sniper suspects John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

Muhammad, 42, and Malvo, 18, face capital murder charges for the Sept. 21 slaying of Claudine Parker. The woman's family seeks $25 million and wants to ensure the two men don't profit from the crimes they allegedly committed, said attorney Kenny Mendelsohn. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Attorneys for Muhammad and Malvo did not immediately return messages left for them Thursday afternoon.

Parker, 52, was locking up the store with a co-worker when she was killed. The other employee, 24-year-old Kellie Adams, is recovering from a gunshot wound to the neck.

Muhammad and Malvo allegedly were linked to the shooting by a fingerprint found on a magazine and ballistics tests on a pistol that was found outside the liquor store. The gun was found on the route that the suspects are thought to have run while fleeing police who arrived after the shooting.

Shuttle re-entry hopeless, states report by NASA

HOUSTON -- No changes in the way the space shuttle Columbia returned to Earth would have saved it, an internal NASA report concludes.

Even dumping nearly 16 tons of nonessential items, including science experiments, water and equipment, would not have protected the spacecraft from breaking apart on re-entry, according to the report released by NASA Thursday. Dumping those items would also have required two spacewalks.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said the analysis was ordered after questions arose from the board investigating the Columbia accident.

The report, he said, was "looking at just the very narrow question of what de-orbit re-entry options could be pursued that might have been different from the one that was taken. And would that materially have made a difference?"

Scientists offer quake alert system proposal

LOS ANGELES -- Scientists working in Southern California have proposed a way of interpreting feeble tremors that herald a large earthquake, a step that could help in providing advance warning.

The system theoretically could give anywhere from seconds to tens of seconds of advance notice -- enough time to send school children diving below their desks or to cut the flow of gas through pipelines vulnerable to rupture, scientists said. Details appear Friday in the journal Science.

Similar systems already are used in California and Japan on a smaller scale. The latest system would not predict or forecast earthquakes, but rather interpret the staggered way in which a quake's energy travels to the surface.

The first indication at the surface that a large earthquake has occurred is typically the jolt caused by the arrival of a fast-moving but low-energy wave called the primary or P wave.

It is followed by the more energetic but slower-moving S or shear wave that causes far more violent shaking.

Study: Old brains able to be made young again

WASHINGTON -- Aging brains may be sharpened and, in effect, made young again briefly by increasing the levels of a neurochemical called GABA, a study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Utah found that GABA appears to help extremely old Rhesus monkeys focus their vision and thinking processes by silencing the interfering static from other neurons.

GABA screens out the stray brain signals that may make thinking and seeing difficult in older brains, said Audie G. Leventhal, a professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

"It eliminates the garbage signals," said Leventhal, first author of the study appearing today in the journal Science.

--From wire reports

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