U.S., France near dealon suspect's extradition
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department has agreed not to seek the death penalty against a fugitive wanted in the slaying of an abortion doctor in an effort to clear the way for his extradition to the United States from France, a law enforcement official said Friday.
The official, discussing the case on grounds of anonymity, said Attorney General John Ashcroft was finalizing an agreement with French authorities for the return of James Charles Kopp.
Kopp, who is on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list of fugitives, was captured March 29 in France after a two-year manhunt. He has been charged with the 1998 killing of Dr. Bernard Slepian, a Buffalo, N.Y., obstetrician who performed abortions.
Kopp faces state and federal charges of murder and violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by using deadly force against an abortion doctor. Both charges carry sentences of up to life in prison, and the federal charge could bring the death penalty.
France, which abolished capital punishment in 1981, has refused to extradite suspects who face the death penalty in their homelands.
Jurors hear accountof 5-year-old's slaying
CHICAGO -- A 5-year-old boy screamed for his mother as two other youngsters dangled him from a 14th-story window and then purposely dropped him to his death, a jury was told Friday.
The dramatic account of how Eric Morse was killed seven years ago was read to Cook County Circuit Court jurors as a wrongful death civil trial in the case completed its fifth week.
"He was screaming, 'Mama, Mama,"' Derrick Lemon, the victim's brother, said in a deposition read to the jurors.
The court bowed to the advice of psychologists in not requiring Derrick to be present. He is 14, doing poorly in school, has nightmares and other troubles since witnessing his little brother's death.
But the trial has reopened many old wounds. Judge James S. Quinlan sent the jury from the courtroom at a recent session when Eric's mother, Toni Morse, broke down in tears on seeing an autopsy photo of her son.
On Oct. 13, 1994, two boys, ages 10 and 11, dropped Eric from a window in a high-rise building within the crumbling and crime-ridden Ida B. Wells public housing project on Chicago's South Side.
Toni Morse and Derrick are suing the Chicago Housing Authority and two contractors, Diversified Realty Inc. and Digby's Detectives and Security Agency Inc., saying they failed to ensure building safety. The lawsuit asks for unspecified monetary damages.
Prosecutors drop caseagainst centenarian
MIAMI -- Prosecutors dropped a case Friday against a 100-year-old man accused of dousing his 38-year-old girlfriend with gasoline because she had paid attention to other men.
The state couldn't find the girlfriend to testify, said Ed Griffith, spokesman for the prosecutor's office.
Hermenergildo Rojas maintained he did nothing wrong, saying he had simply poured water on Janet Ali.
Ali had told police she and Rojas were an on-and-off couple for six years. She was not injured by the gasoline but suffered minor cuts when she tried to flee through a window in their trailer, police said.
Rojas, who spent three days in jail at age 98 after an argument with a bus driver, said he plans to stop seeing Ali and move out. "It's a bad area," he said.
BOSTON -- Even after doctors gave him only months to live, Joe Moakley flashed his trademark humor, playfully grousing about the preparations and paying little heed to the leukemia that was killing him.
"I don't know how anyone dies without three months' notice," the 15-term congressman told his friend, former state Senate President William Bulger.
Bulger's recollections brought smiles and tears to the thousands of relatives and colleagues who gathered Friday at a funeral Mass for Moakley. The former top Democrat in the powerful House Rules Committee died Monday at age 74.
The Washington delegation was led by President Bush, who joined former President Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, acting Gov. Jane Swift and dozens of past and present lawmakers.
Bush, Clinton and Gore sat together in the first pew at St. Brigid's Church. It was the first time the presidents had seen each other since they walked off the front steps of the Capitol on Jan. 20.