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Blake’s civil case goes to the jury

Burbank, Calif. Jurors began deliberations Friday in the wrongful-death lawsuit that claims “Baretta” star Robert Blake is liable for killing his wife Bonny Lee Bakley 4 1/2 years ago.

Blake, 72, was acquitted of murder in March after a criminal trial, but the lawsuit brought on behalf of Bakley’s four children seeks to hold him civilly responsible and to win monetary damages.

Jurors put in just over two hours of work before recessing for the weekend. They began deliberations after Los Angeles County Judge David Schacter instructed them on the questions they must answer to reach verdicts.

The judge said they must decide whether Blake intentionally caused Bakley’s death or plotted to cause it. They also must decide whether there was a conspiracy between Blake and co-defendant Earle Caldwell, his former handyman, to cause Bakley’s death.

Verdicts require agreement by nine of the 12 jurors rather than a unanimous decision. The burden of proof also is lower than in a criminal case. A criminal conviction requires a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To determine liability in a civil case, jurors must find that a claim is more likely to be true than not.

Soldier cleared in Afghan detainee case

Fort Bliss, Texas A military jury cleared an Army sergeant Friday of charges he abused a mentally retarded detainee at a U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan.

The jury took a half-hour to find Sgt. Duane M. Grubb not guilty. He is the third soldier from the Cincinnati-based 377th Military Police Company to be acquitted of striking and otherwise abusing detainees at the Bagram prison.

Grubb, 30, fought back tears and hugged his crying wife after hearing the verdict.

“I’m just glad that it is over,” said his wife, Violeta.

Six soldiers from the company have been charged in an abuse investigation prompted by the deaths of two other detainees at the facility in 2002.

Grubb was accused of striking Zarif Khan, an inmate soldiers mockingly called “Timmy,” after a disabled character on the cartoon “South Park.”

Playing it safe, police destroy science project

Perryopolis, Pa. A bomb squad blew up a metal pipe that had a battery, wires, rope and an electrical switch, only to realize it was an eighth-grade science project.

“An electromagnetic fishing pole,” Allegheny County Bomb Squad Sgt. Robert Clark said, holding the contraption with the battery blown off.

A clerk found the device — made from three feet of half-inch metal pipe — near the greeting cards display at a drugstore Thursday.

Police Chief Roger Beadling said he got within six feet and decided not to take any chances. “It definitely appeared to be some kind of explosive device,” he said.

The bomb squad used a robot to examine the device, then destroyed it.

A 10th-grader at Frazier High School said the science project is something eighth-graders do every year. “You have to make it so it can pick up metal paper clips, but you can’t use magnets,” Tiffany Burton said. “I hated that project.”

Jim Shahan, owner of a pizza shop a few doors away, said had he seen the device, he might have saved everyone a few anxious hours.

“I just helped make one for my daughter,” he said.


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