In brief: Fort Hood suspect to represent self
FORT HOOD, Texas – The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood rampage hinted Monday that he would try to justify the attack, revealing for the first time his defense strategy after a military judge said he could represent himself – and question the soldiers he is accused of shooting – during his upcoming trial.
Maj. Nidal Hasan did not elaborate when announcing he would use a “defense of others” strategy, which requires defendants to prove they were protecting other people from imminent danger. Military experts speculated that Hasan may argue he was protecting fellow Muslims in Afghanistan because soldiers were preparing to deploy from the Texas Army post.
Hasan also asked the military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, for a three-month delay to prepare his defense. The judge said she would decide that issue today.
Hasan, 42, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. If convicted, he faces the death penalty or life without parole.
Mississippi man indicted in ricin case
JACKSON, Miss. – A Mississippi man suspected of sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and two other officials was charged in a five-count federal indictment made public Monday that could send him to prison for life if he’s convicted.
The indictment charges 41-year-old James Everett Dutschke with developing, producing and stockpiling the poison ricin, threatening the president and others and attempting to impede the investigation. The indictment also alleges that Dutschke mailed the letter in part to retaliate against a rival, who briefly became a suspect in the investigation.
The indictment was made public Monday, but it was dated May 31.
Dutschke has been jailed without bond since his arrest.
His lawyer, George Lucas, told the Associated Press in an email Monday that his client will plead not guilty to each of the five charges.
Storms’ remnants head out to sea
PORTLAND, Maine – The remnants of violent storms that killed more than a dozen people in Oklahoma moved out to sea with a whimper Monday, but not before sending punishing winds and torrential downpours to New England and spawning a tornado in South Carolina.
Sunday’s storms sheared off trees and utility poles in parts of northern New England and dropped table tennis ball-size hail in New York state.
On Monday, the storm blew out to the Atlantic with only isolated thunderstorms and localized heavy rain as a cold front began moving in and clearing the region.
The storms swept through the Plains on Friday with tornadoes and flooding, resulting in the deaths of at least 18 people, officials said Monday.
Socialite sues over Petraeus scandal
WASHINGTON – A Tampa, Fla., socialite and her husband claimed in a lawsuit Monday that the government willfully leaked false and defamatory information about them in the scandal that led to the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director.
Jill and Scott Kelley filed the lawsuit in federal court against the FBI, Pentagon and unidentified officials in the government, claiming the couple’s privacy was violated.
Jill Kelley became the focus of national media attention last year after it was revealed she received anonymous emails from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer and mistress. Broadwell allegedly told Kelley to stay away from Petraeus.
The Petraeus scandal widened when the Pentagon announced it was looking into emails between Kelley and Gen. John Allen, searching for possible evidence of an inappropriate relationship between the two married people. Officials later conceded that only a handful of the emails between Kelley and Allen had been of a flirtatious or questionable nature.
Statue visitors’ screening moved
NEW YORK – Security screening for visitors to the Statue of Liberty will be held in lower Manhattan instead of on Ellis Island when the site reopens July 4 after cleanup from Superstorm Sandy.
The National Park Service originally had planned for visitors to board cruise ships in Manhattan or in Liberty State Park, N.J., and stop at Ellis Island for security, but New York officials criticized the plan. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and police Commissioner Raymond Kelly urged federal authorities to reverse the policy, saying it could leave visitors vulnerable.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Monday that establishing a temporary screening facility at lower Manhattan’s Battery Park would address security concerns while security procedures are further reviewed. Plans for screenings at Liberty State Park are being developed.
Crews gaining control of blaze
PALMDALE, Calif. – All mandatory evacuations have been lifted for nearly 3,000 residents threatened by a massive Southern California wildfire.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said firefighters have contained 60 percent of the 50-square-mile Powerhouse Fire.