Nation briefs 5/31

Friday, May 31, 2002

Two dead as gunman opens fire inside grocery

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- A gunman opened fire inside a grocery store Thursday, killing two people and wounding four others before he was shot by police, authorities said.

Officers responding to a call of shots fired at a Top Valu Market near the downtown marina found the gunman inside, said police spokeswoman Nancy Tabing. The officers opened fire, striking the gunman.

Two victims died at the scene; the others were hospitalized in stable condition. The gunman was hospitalized in critical condition, Tabing said.

Prosecutors withdraw request in murder trial

NORWALK, Conn. -- Prosecutors in the murder trial of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel proposed and then abruptly withdrew a request that could have reduced the penalty if Skakel is convicted in the 1975 slaying of Martha Moxley.

Skakel, 41, is charged with beating Moxley to death with a golf club when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich. Skakel is a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy.

During a hearing Thursday outside the presence of the jury, prosecutors dropped their request that if jurors decided Skakel is guilty, they could also consider whether he acted under extreme emotional disturbance. If so, the judge would reduce the verdict of murder to manslaughter.

Murder is punishable by 25 years to life in prison, manslaughter by up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said they withdrew the motion because they feared it might create grounds for an appeal.

Airman pleads guilty in slaying and sex attacks

PHILADELPHIA -- An Air Force airman who terrorized women in a Colorado college town was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole for strangling a Philadelphia graduate student and committing a string of rapes in a downtown neighborhood.

In a deal with prosecutors, Troy Graves, 30, pleaded guilty to the slaying and the Philadelphia rapes. Besides the life sentence for the murder, he was sentenced to six consecutive 10- to 20-year terms for the rapes.

Earlier this month, Graves pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison for sex attacks on seven women near Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. DNA evidence linked him also to the Philadelphia crimes.

Widow of slain reporter gives birth to son

NEW YORK -- The widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has given birth to a baby boy in Paris.

The baby, Adam D. Pearl, was born Tuesday, said Ashley McCown, a Boston-based spokeswoman for the family. The baby and his mother, Mariane Pearl, "are doing fine," McCown said Thursday.

Adam weighs about 6 pounds, said a Dow Jones & Co. spokesman in New York. The Wall Street Journal is published by Dow Jones.

Pearl, 38, the newspaper's South Asia bureau chief, disappeared Jan. 23 in the violent port city of Karachi, Pakistan, while researching a story on Pakistani militants. Pakistan has charged four Islamic militants in his kidnapping and murder.

-- From wire reports

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