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In brief: High court stays Missouri execution

From Wire Reports

ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday halted the execution of a Missouri man who killed a woman and her two children, citing concerns that his legal counsel was ineffective.

Mark Christeson, 35, was scheduled to die by injection at 12:01 a.m. today at the state prison in Bonne Terre before the late stay of execution was issued. Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O’Connell said it wasn’t clear what will happen next for Christeson.

The appeal to the Supreme Court raised several concerns about legal counsel Christeson has received over the years, including the failure of some of his attorneys to meet a 2005 deadline to file for an appeal hearing before a federal court. It is uncommon for someone to be executed without a federal court appeal hearing.

White House responds to network threat

WASHINGTON – The White House said it has taken steps to address suspicious activity detected on its unclassified computer network.

No details were released on who may have been responsible or when the activity occurred.

A White House official said “activity of concern” was detected while assessing possible cyberthreats that the Executive Office of the President is made aware of daily.

The situation was dealt with immediately and work continues, although the new measures have led to temporary outages and loss of connectivity for some White House employees.

The official was not authorized to discuss White House computer security and spoke on condition of anonymity. The White House declined to comment on a Washington Post report that Russia is thought to be behind the breach.

U.S. bolsters security at federal buildings

WASHINGTON –The U.S. government has increased security at federal buildings in Washington and across the country in response to last week’s terrorist attack outside the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa that killed one soldier, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Tuesday.

The ongoing threats against American targets by Islamic State militants and other terrorist organizations were also a factor, Johnson said.

The Federal Protective Service, which guards more than 9,500 federal buildings nationwide, will “enhance its presence and security,” Johnson said.

The enhanced security posture is not in response to a specific threat to government officials or personnel, said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments.

Bombing suspect’s friend convicted of lying

BOSTON – A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted Tuesday of lying during the investigation into the 2013 attack.

Robel Phillipos, 21, of Cambridge, was convicted of two counts for lying about being in Tsarnaev’s dorm room while two other friends removed a backpack containing fireworks and other potential evidence three days after the bombing, while an intense manhunt was underway for the suspected bombers.

FBI agents testified that Phillipos told them a string of lies about the night of April 18, 2013, before finally acknowledging he had been in Tsarnaev’s room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth with the two men who removed Tsarnaev’s backpack and computer.

Phillipos’ sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 29, and he faces a maximum sentence of eight years on each count of lying during a terrorism investigation. Phillipos will remain under house arrest.

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