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Nation in brief: Snowmobilers killed in avalanche

Two snowmobile drivers were killed Friday when they triggered an avalanche and were buried in the snow for nearly an hour, Alaska State Troopers said.

The two were driving their snowmobiles in the backcountry near Turnagain Pass, about 70 miles south of Anchorage, when the avalanche occurred.

They were buried for about 45 minutes before being located. A third person was recovered, evaluated by medical professionals at the scene and released.

Canton, Ohio

Ex-cop convicted of woman’s murder

The toddler’s words to investigators were chilling: “Mommy’s crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy’s in the rug,” and, later, “Daddy’s mad.”

The statements by the 2 1/2 -year-old son of former police officer Bobby Cutts Jr. and his pregnant lover, Jessie Davis, were investigators’ first clues that Cutts may have had something to do with her disappearance.

A jury decided on Friday that he did. Cutts was convicted of killing Davis and her fetus, a verdict that could land him a death sentence. Cutts sat with his hands on his lap and held his head erect without emotion as the verdicts were read.

Davis’ mother found the couple’s son, Blake, home alone on June 14 and called police. Bedroom furniture was toppled, and there was a pool of bleach on her floor.

After denying knowledge of Davis’ whereabouts for more than a week as thousands searched for Davis, Cutts, then an officer on the Canton police force, led investigators to her body, wrapped in a comforter and dumped in a park about 20 miles from her home.

Faced with mounting evidence at his trial implicating him in Davis’ death, Cutts took the stand and tearfully explained that he accidentally killed Davis, 26, at her Lake Township home by putting an elbow to her throat when she tried to prevent him from leaving. He said he panicked and got rid of her body.

Cutts, 30, was convicted of aggravated murder in the death of the nearly full-term female fetus, which carries the possible death penalty. The jury found him not guilty of aggravated murder in Davis’ death, a count that includes intent to kill with prior calculation. But they convicted him of a lesser charge of murder in her death.


Obama wins SEIU’s backing

Sen. Barack Obama won the support Friday of the 1.9-million member Service Employees International Union, his second endorsement in as many days from large labor organizations.

The politically active union represents workers in health care, building services and other industries. It has donated more than $25 million to candidates in the past two decades, most of it to Democrats.

On Thursday, Obama collected the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers.


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Explosion rocks Wisconsin refinery, forcing evacuations

UPDATED: 1:41 p.m.

updated  A tank containing crude oil or asphalt exploded at a large refinery in Wisconsin on Thursday, injuring several people and prompting fire officials to urge people living near the still-burning plant to evacuate their homes.