Gulf War veteran askspresident for clemency
LUBBOCK, Texas -- A decorated Army veteran who blames childhood abuse and exposure to nerve gas during the Gulf War for his killing of a female soldier has asked President Bush to spare his life.
As the president considers sending thousands of Americans into another war against Iraq, Louis Jones Jr. is scheduled to die by lethal injection March 18 at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. He has exhausted his appeals.
Jones, 52, admitted killing Pvt. Tracie McBride in 1995 after kidnapping her from Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo and raping her.
During his 1995 trial in Lubbock, defense experts testified that he suffered from brain damage from abuse as a child and post-traumatic stress from his combat tours in Grenada and the Gulf. Prosecutors brought in their own experts to dispute the claims.
After the trial, a Dallas researcher who has studied veterans of the 1991 war against Iraq concluded that Jones suffered from a severe form of Gulf War Syndrome from exposure to sarin nerve gas and other toxins.
Jones' attorney filed a clemency request with Bush in December, seeking a life sentence without parole. Jones has also written personally to the president, admitting his crime and expressing remorse.
The Justice Department is consulting with the White House on how to respond to the clemency request. Prosecutors oppose the request.
Bus with wedding partycrashes, killing 23
LUCKNOW, India -- A bus carrying a wedding party fell into a gorge, killing 23 people and injuring 31 others in India's mountainous northern state of Uttaranchal, police said today.
"At least 20 more passengers are still missing," S.K. Gunjyal, the police chief of the nearby town of Pauri, told The Associated Press.
The Himalayan area is so remote that the police and rescue teams received information of the accident nine hours after it occurred, local police officer S.K. Negi said by telephone.
The wooded region near the upper reaches of the Ganges River is popular for Hindu weddings and holidays because of its many prominent temples.
Negi said it was not immediately clear how many passengers were on the bus. Press Trust of India reported that it carried 100 passengers and was heading to the state's Dhansi village when it plunged off a narrow road.
Former priest foundguilty in assault case
SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- A former priest was convicted of assaulting a newspaper photographer outside the courtroom where the cleric was on trial for child molestation.
A Sonoma County jury found Donald Kimball, 59, guilty Tuesday of felony assault, vandalism and battery.
Sentenced to seven years in the molestation case, Kimball faces a possible additional four years on the assault conviction. A sentencing hearing was set for Thursday.
The assault occurred April 9 when San Francisco Chronicle photographer Penni Gladstone, 49, tried to take Kimball's picture outside the courtroom. Witnesses said he thrust the camera into her face, breaking her glasses and gashing her below the eye.
Kimball testified he was trying to avoid getting hit in the face by the camera.
A week later, Kimball was convicted of molesting a 13-year-old girl in 1981; he was acquitted of raping a 14-year-old girl in 1977. Kimball has not been defrocked, but he is not allowed to serve as a priest.
"We'll let the court speak," Chronicle spokesman Joe Brown said of the assault verdict.
Rescuers find bodyburied by avalanche
GEORGETOWN, Colo. -- Dogs led rescuers Tuesday to the body of a Colorado man buried by an avalanche.
About 30 rescuers had been searching for the 47-year-old snowshoer who was caught in the snow slide Monday afternoon.
His body was found after searchers probed an area pointed out by search dogs, said Bill Barwick of the Alpine Rescue Team.
The man had been snowshoeing with another man in single file down a slope in a recreational area when the slide broke loose in two places at an elevation of 11,000 to 12,000 feet. Neither had an avalanche beacon, which transmits a homing signal. The second man survived and contacted authorities.
The avalanche pushed 4 to 6 feet of snow down 600 vertical feet, said avalanche forecaster Dale Atkins of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Barwick said snow on the mountain was 15 to 20 feet deep.