Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Published:

Oklahoma inmate dies after his execution using new drug combination is botched

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- A botched execution using a disputed new drug combination left an Oklahoma inmate writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney on Tuesday, leading prison officials to halt the proceedings before the inmate's eventual death from a heart attack.

Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of the state's new three-drug combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.

The blinds were eventually lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state's top prison official eventually called a halt to the proceedings, although it didn't save Lockett.

"It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched," said Lockett's attorney, David Autry.

"They should have anticipated possible problems with an untried execution protocol. Obviously the whole thing was gummed up and botched from beginning to end. Halting the execution obviously did Lockett no good," Autry said.

___

Counting NBA votes: Majority of owners reached by AP will vote against Clippers' Sterling

MIAMI (AP) -- A majority of NBA ownership groups reached Tuesday by The Associated Press say they will vote to force embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell his club.

The teams were then contacted by The Associated Press on the specific question of whether Sterling should be forced to sell, and 16 ownership groups said yes, while another eight declined to reveal their stance.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants Sterling to sell as part of the extremely stiff series of sanctions brought against the league's longest-tenured owner in response to racist comments. Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and said he will press the other teams in the NBA to support his desire to make Sterling sell.

Within minutes of Silver announcing the sanctions in New York, most of the clubs in the league -- including the Clippers -- put out statements supporting the league's moves.

Five ownership groups, not including the Clippers themselves, could not be reached Tuesday. None of the teams contacted by AP said they would vote in favor of Sterling retaining his ownership, and most teams requested that their stance be kept private.

___

10 Things to Know for Wednesday

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

1. BOTCHED EXECUTION IN OKLAHOMA

A condemned man succumbs of a heart attack after the delivery of a new drug combination fails to go as planned.

___

Death toll hits 35; forecasters downplay dire predictions for 3rd day of severe storms

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Ruth Bennett died clutching the last child left at her day care center as a tornado wiped the building off its foundation. A firefighter who came upon the body gently pulled the toddler from her arms.

"It makes you just take a breath now," said next-door neighbor Kenneth Billingsley, who witnessed the scene at what was left of Ruth's Child Care Center in this logging town of 6,600. "It makes you pay attention to life."

Bennett, 53, was among at least 35 people killed in a two-day outbreak of twisters and other violent weather that pulverized homes from the Midwest to the Deep South. The child, whose name was not released, was alive when she was pulled from Bennett's arms and was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not known.

As crews in Mississippi and Alabama turned from search-and-rescue efforts to cleanup, forecasters began to downplay their initially dire predictions of a third round of deadly twisters Tuesday. Meterologists said the storm system had weakened substantially by evening, although some tornado watches and warnings were still in effect for isolated areas.

In North Carolina, the National Weather Service reported tornado touchdowns in five counties Tuesday, but the twisters caused only moderate structural damage to homes and toppled some trees. Two cities in the state reported extensive flooding from the storm system. No injuries were reported.

___

AP PHOTOS: Recovery underway from tornadoes as more strong storms tear across the South

As crews in Mississippi and Alabama turned from search-and-rescue efforts to cleanup, the South braced for another round of potentially deadly weather on Tuesday night. The overall death toll from the storms that began Sunday in the Midwest has reached 35.

Here is a gallery of images from this severe weather system.

___

Follow AP photographers on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6johttp://apne.ws/15Oo6jo

___

Italian court: Amanda Knox struck mortal blow, victim's wounds indicate multiple aggressors

MILAN (AP) -- The Italian appeals court that reinstated the conviction against Amanda Knox in her British roommate's 2007 murder said in a lengthy reasoning made public Tuesday that Knox herself delivered the fatal blow out of a desire to "overpower and humiliate" the victim.

Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini concluded in a 337-page document that the evidence "inevitably leads to the upholding of the criminal responsibility" against Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in a hillside villa occupied by students in the university town of Perugia.

The judge said the nature of Kercher's wounds, which he said were inflicted by two knives, and the absence of defensive wounds indicated multiple aggressors were to blame, also including Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivorian man convicted separately and serving a 16-year sentence.

Nencini presided over the Florence-based panel that reinstated the first trial guilty verdicts against Knox and Sollecito in January, handing Knox a 28 ½ year sentence including the additional conviction on a slander charge for wrongly accusing a Congolese bar owner. Sollecito faces 25 years.

The release of the court's reasoning opens the verdict to an appeal back to the supreme Court of Cassation. If it confirms the convictions, a long extradition fight for Knox is expected.

___

Insurgent leader emerges, bolstering evidence of Russian hand in eastern Ukraine's turmoil

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) -- When shadowy commander Igor Strelkov appeared before the cameras recently in green combat fatigues and a clipped mustache, he did more than reveal the face of the insurgency rocking eastern Ukraine. He strengthened the case that Russia is behind the turmoil.

The commander did not address Ukraine and European Union assertions that he is a Russian intelligence officer. But he told journalists that he and his men entered Ukraine from Crimea, which Russia annexed in March after an insurgency that Russian President Vladimir Putin now admits involved Russian troops. Strelkov's assertion that many of the insurgents are not locals undermines rebel claims that the insurgency is a spontaneous uprising, rather than a coordinated operation backed by outside forces.

"The militia is of course strongly sprinkled with volunteers from other regions," Strelkov said in a taped interview with Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda. He estimated that a third of the fighters are not Ukrainian. He backtracked Tuesday in an interview with Russian TV, claiming 90 percent of the militiamen were Ukrainian.

The EU on Tuesday included Strelkov among 15 new people targeted by sanctions. EU documents identify him as a member of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, as do Ukrainian authorities. The commander himself was cryptic about his origins in the weekend interview.

In Moscow, a flurry of drama surrounded Strelkov's emergence, as camera crews swarmed around an apartment building that Ukrainian TV reported to be home to his mother. Neighbors told The Associated Press that a "fancy black car" had turned up Tuesday morning to whisk the woman away.

___

FedEx employee opens fire at package-sorting center, wounds 6 before committing suicide

KENNESAW, Ga. (AP) -- A FedEx employee wearing ammunition draped across his chest "like Rambo" opened fire Tuesday at a package-sorting center outside Atlanta, wounding six people before committing suicide, police and witnesses said.

In addition to a shotgun, the gunman also had an undisclosed number of Molotov cocktails, but he did not use them in the attack, police said.

The suspect, identified by police as 19-year-old Geddy Kramer of Acworth, was found dead inside. He worked as a package handler at the sprawling facility, Cobb County police Sgt. Dana Pierce said.

Investigators have an idea of what his motive may have been, but they were not prepared to disclose it yet, Pierce said.

Three of the victims were critically wounded, though only one remained in critical condition by late afternoon. Police say three were in stable condition, and two others were treated and released.

___

Fla. Mega Millions winners collect $207M prize; plan to go to plenty of Notre Dame games

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A central Florida man and woman who have come forward to claim their half of a Mega Millions jackpot of $414 million say the money will allow them to do all sorts of things including investing, traveling and going to as many Notre Dame football games as they can.

Raymond Moyer and Robyn Collier, both 35, have claimed their $207 million prize, the Florida Lottery announced Tuesday. A one-time, lump-sum payment of nearly $115.5 million was made to the Cobie and Seamus Trust, dated April 21, 2014. Moyer and Collier are members of the trust. The jackpot was the third largest in the game's history.

The winning Quick Pick ticket for the March 18 drawing was purchased at a Publix grocery store on Merritt Island, Lottery officials said. The retailer received a $100,000 bonus commission.

Collier said in a lottery news release that she and Moyer didn't know they had won until the morning after the drawing when the numbers were on the news.

"I paused the TV and ran to get the ticket to double-check the numbers," Collier said. "And when I realized they all matched, I jumped off the couch in excitement and told Raymond we had won."

___

Woman admits killing neighbor's dog by throwing it into traffic during parking space dispute

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey woman has admitted killing her neighbor's small dog by throwing it into traffic during an argument over a parking space.

The Star-Ledger of Newark (http://bit.ly/1m7Jfwn) reports that 27-year-old Haniyyah Barnes, of Newark, pleaded guilty Tuesday to breaking into her neighbor's home in August 2011, grabbing the 2-year-old Shih Tzu named Honey Bey and throwing her into oncoming traffic. The dog was struck by a vehicle and killed.

She pleaded guilty to burglary, animal cruelty and theft charges and Essex County prosecutors will recommend that she receive a six-year state prison term when she's sentenced July 14. Barnes also would have to pay up to $2,600 in restitution and would be barred from owning, buying or living with animals for 10 years.

Barnes also will have to participate in anger management and drug and alcohol counseling.

Authorities said Barnes initially grabbed the dog after it came rushing into the room barking at her when she broke into the house.