US soldier charged in Afghan shooting rampage
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. military says Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been officially charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in a shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan.
Premeditated murder is a capital offense and if convicted, Bales could be sentenced to death.
Col. Gary Kolb, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says Bales was also charged Friday with six counts of attempted murder and six counts of assault.
The 38-year-old father of two from Lake Tapps, Washington, is accused of leaving a U.S. military post on March 11, killing nine Afghan children and eight adults and burning some of the bodies in Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Six other Afghan civilians were wounded in the attack.
Wife, accused soldier spoke briefly on the phone
SEATTLE (AP) — An attorney for the wife of an Army staff sergeant charged with killing 17 Afghan civilians says the couple has been able to talk twice since he was detained.
Attorney Lance Rosen says Staff Sgt. Robert Bales called his wife, Karilyn Bales, first from overseas shortly after the March 11 massacre, then from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., on Wednesday.
Rosen says Bales and his wife were warned the call was monitored, and they would only have 10 minutes to talk. He says that on Wednesday's call the couple talked about family matters and "re-affirmed their love for each other."
Rosen also says the family has set up a defense fund to help pay Bales' legal fees.
The military charged Bales on Friday with 17 counts of murder.
Obama, GOP candidates weigh in on teen's death
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is using unusually personal terms to speak about the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Florida.
Speaking to reporters at the White House today, Obama said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, the teen killed by a neighborhood watch member in an Orlando suburb last month.
The Justice Department and FBI have opened a civil rights investigation into the case and local authorities have convened a grand jury to determine whether to charge the shooter, George Zimmerman. Obama called the incident a "tragedy" and said Martin's parents are right to expect that "every aspect" of the case will be investigated.
The Republican presidential candidates are also weighing in.
Referring to the Florida law that gives people latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat during a fight, Rick Santorum says: "Stand your ground is not doing what this man did."
Newt Gingrich says people should have a right to self-defense, but the question in this case is whether Zimmerman was the instigator.
Mitt Romney calls the shooting a "tragedy," and echoed the president's call for a thorough investigation.
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH-JEB BUSH
Jeb Bush: Self-defense doesn't cover teen's death
(Information in the following story is from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com)
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says the "Stand Your Ground" law he signed shouldn't protect a neighborhood watch captain who hasn't been arrested in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.
Bush spoke Friday at the University of Texas at Arlington, just outside Dallas. He told reporters afterward that the Florida law doesn't apply in the incident that left 17-year-old Trayvon Martin dead.
He said, "Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back."
The Dallas Morning News reported (http://dallasne.ws/GWMtOK ) that Bush, who signed the law in 2005, called Martin's death a tragedy.
George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Sanford, Fla., in February. Martin was walking back to the home of his father's fiancée.
Zimmerman says he acted in self-defense.
Fla watch captain attorney: Client not a racist
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — An attorney for a neighborhood watch captain who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager last month in Florida says his client is not racist and that the facts will show he acted in self-defense.
Orlando criminal defense attorney Craig Sonner said Friday on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 that he has advised 28-year-old George Zimmerman to cooperate in the investigation into the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman told Sanford police that he shot Martin after a fight Feb. 26 and that it was in self-defense.
The lack of an arrest has brought outrage in the Orlando suburb and across the country. Some have suggested racism as the motive. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Hispanic.
However, Sonner says he doesn't believe Zimmerman's actions were motivated by dislike of African-Americans.
POLICE OFFICER TARGETED
NEW: Arrest in shooting of Atlanta policeman from roof
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta police say a man has been arrested in the shooting of a city officer who they say was targeted from a nearby rooftop.
The officer was shot in the leg as he left a restaurant on Thursday night in Little Five Points, a busy dining and entertainment district.
Police said Friday they arrested 19-year-old Cameron Christian Maddox. He is being held on an aggravated assault charge.
Investigators believe the shooter waited for the Officer Dexter Toomer to come out of the restaurant, then fired six to seven shots.
An officer nearby heard the gunfire, rushed over to the fallen officer and radioed for help, police said.
Toomer was treated at a hospital and released. Police say they were not releasing a motive.
Santorum says supporter's anti-Obama remark was 'horrible'
WEST MONROE, La. (AP) — Rick Santorum says he didn't hear a remark from a supporter today at a police gun range in Louisiana -- and he says he's glad he didn't hear it.
As he fired a .45 caliber semiautomatic Colt pistol, a woman shouted, "Pretend it's Obama."
Santorum was wearing protective ear muffs. When told of the remark later, he denounced it as "very terrible and horrible."
The Secret Service, which provides security for Santorum, was trying to identify the woman. A spokesman says, "People have a right to free speech but we have a right and an obligation to determine what their intent is."
NEW: Space junk threatens station astronauts
WASHINGTON (AP) — A discarded chunk of a Russian rocket is forcing six space station astronauts to seek shelter in escape capsules early Saturday.
NASA spokesman Rob Navias (NAVE-e-us) says the space junk will barely be close enough to be a threat. But if it hits the station it could be dangerous, so the astronauts — two Americans, three Russians and a Dutchman — will wake early and climb into two Soyuz vehicles ready to rocket back to Earth just in case.
The debris is supposed to come closest at 2:38 a.m. EDT. It was not noticed until Friday, too late to move the International Space Station out of the way.
This is the third time in 12 years that astronauts have had to seek shelter from space junk.
DNA EXONERATION-NEW SUSPECT
Man gets 60 years for 1986 Connecticut murder
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for a 1986 killing in Connecticut, where another man served 20 years for the murder before he was exonerated by new DNA tests and freed.
Forty-seven-year-old Kevin Benefield was sentenced Friday in New Haven for the beating death of Barbara Pelkey, a 30-year-old mother of four who police say was also sexually assaulted. The former New York City resident was convicted in January of murder and felony murder.
Another man, Kenneth Ireland, had been convicted of killing Pelkey and served two decades behind bars before being released in August 2009 based on new DNA testing.
Ireland's attorney, William Bloss, confirmed the sentence.
Pelkey's nude body was found at a manufacturing company where she worked in her hometown of Wallingford.
Pa. church conducts mock kidnapping on youth group
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A central Pennsylvania church has subjected members of a youth group to a mock kidnapping and interrogations without telling them it was staged. The mother of one 14-year-old girl has filed a complaint with police.
The pastor of the Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Middletown says the church is "so saddened" the girl was traumatized on Wednesday. Pastor John Lanza said Friday there have been emails of support from other students because the intent of the raid was to prepare them for what they might encounter as missionaries overseas. He says the mock kidnappers included an off-duty police officer and a retired Army captain.
The mock kidnappers covered the students' heads, put them in a van and questioned them.
Police are investigating and have declined to comment.Tags: