October 22, 2005 in Nation/World

Not guilty plea in S.F. drowning case

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

San Francisco The mother who authorities say tossed her three small sons to their deaths in frigid San Francisco Bay pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and assault charges with a special circumstance of multiple homicide that could make her eligible for the death penalty.

Lashaun Harris, 23, of Oakland shuffled into San Francisco Superior Court, held her hand to her face throughout the proceeding and uttered only a drawling “yes” when asked if she agreed to waive her right to a speedy trial.

San Francisco Public Defender Chief Attorney Teresa Caffese later confirmed that Harris is on suicide watch in a security cell and under medical treatment for her mental condition.

Family members of Harris say she is a diagnosed schizophrenic who had not been taking her medication recently. She said Wednesday that she would feed the children “to the sharks” but relatives did not believe she would harm the kids, on whom she doted.

Bomb worry clogs traffic near Capitol

Washington A young man was taken for a psychiatric examination Friday after telling police there was a bomb in his car in front of the Capitol. Police exploded a package inside the vehicle as a precaution.

The unidentified driver and a passenger parked near the corner of First Street and Constitution Avenue. The heavily traveled area was sealed off shortly before 11 a.m. after the driver told police he had a bomb. A bomb squad member used a mirror to examine the underside of the car. Later, police blew up whatever was inside, causing a flash and loud noise and blowing open a back door.

“We were able to go in and safely examine the package in question, and it contained inert materials, nothing of any danger,” said Assistant U.S. Capitol Police Chief James Rohan.

The driver was taken to a Washington hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, while the other man, who said he was a hitchhiker, was questioned and released.

China’s president to visit North Korea

Beijing President Hu Jintao will visit North Korea next week amid U.S. pressure for Beijing to do more to convince its communist ally to stop developing nuclear weapons, China said Friday.

Hu’s visit to North Korea on Oct. 28 would be the first by a top Chinese leader since 2001.

It comes as China is trying to organize a new round of six-nation talks in November on the North Korea nuclear issue – talks that include the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Russia.

Talks held last month in Beijing ended with a promise by Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and a security guarantee. But the North also has demanded a nuclear reactor for power generation before it dismantles its atomic projects.

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