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In brief: Plea offer rejected in theater shooting

DENVER – Prosecutors in the Colorado theater shooting on Thursday rejected an offer from suspect James Holmes to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and accused defense lawyers of a serious breach of court rules by making the offer public.

In a scathing court document, prosecutors said the defense has repeatedly refused to give them the information they need to evaluate the plea offer, so the offer can’t be considered genuine.

No plea agreement exists, prosecutors said, and one “is extremely unlikely based on the present information available to the prosecution.”

Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the July 20 shootings in a packed theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 70 were injured.

Holmes’ attorneys disclosed in a court filing Wednesday that their client has offered to plead guilty, but only if he wouldn’t be executed.

Dad pleads guilty to killing 3 daughters

HUDSON, Wis. – Jessica Schaffhausen sat in a courtroom and quietly cried as her ex-husband softly delivered the words that many had been waiting to hear: “Guilty … Guilty … Guilty.”

One after another Thursday, Aaron Schaffhausen admitted to killing their three daughters, 11-year old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia, in their River Falls home in July. It was a case one county prosecutor called the worst he’d ever seen.

Aaron Schaffhausen is still arguing that he should not be held responsible for the crimes, though, because of mental illness. His attorneys will attempt to prove that to a jury starting next week.

Prosecutors had been poised to show a jury a stream of evidence that Aaron Schaffhausen cut his daughters’ throats, tried to set fire to the house where the girls lived with his ex-wife and phoned his ex-wife, saying he had killed their daughters on the afternoon of July 10.

Along with the murder pleas, Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to attempted arson.

Arms trade treaty blocked in U.N.

UNITED NATIONS – Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked adoption Thursday of a U.N. treaty that would regulate the multibillion-dollar international arms trade which required agreement by all 193 U.N. member states.

In an unexpected twist, Mexico proposed that the conference go ahead and adopt the treaty Thursday without the support of the three countries, saying there was no definition of “consensus.” Delegates then started debating whether this should be done and several countries supported Mexico, but the Russian delegation called the proposal “a manipulation of consensus” and objected.

Kenya said “the will of the overwhelming majority is clear” and when the meeting closes a letter will be sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a draft resolution asking the U.N. chief to bring the treaty before the General Assembly for adoption as soon as possible.

Both Iran and North Korea are under U.N. arms embargoes over their nuclear programs, while the Syrian government is now in the third year of a civil war.

IAAF clears Pistorius to run

PRETORIA, South Africa – International athletics body the IAAF says Oscar Pistorius would be allowed to run at this year’s world championships, if he qualifies, after the double-amputee runner was cleared by a court to leave South Africa to compete in track meets.

The Olympic athlete had appealed against some of his bail conditions, and a judge ruled Thursday that Pistorius can travel outside of South Africa to run, but with certain conditions. Pistorius is charged with murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

IAAF spokesman Yannis Nikolau says in a statement that there would be no objection from the world body to Pistorius competing at the worlds, saying “on the basis of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ principle he would be free to run.”


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