NATION IN BRIEF

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sex Offender Convicted Of Killing Florida Girl

MIAMI -- Convicted sex offender John Evander Couey was found guilty Wednesday of kidnapping, raping and murdering 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford by burying her alive inside trash bags in February 2005.

Jurors deliberated four hours before returning guilty verdicts on all charges. During the sentencing phase, which will begin Tuesday, the jury must decide whether Couey, 48, should be sentenced to death. As the verdicts were read, Couey stood, staring straight ahead. Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, showed no emotion, nor did her grandparents Ruth and Archie Lunsford.

Russian Diplomat Guilty Of Money-Laundering

UNITED NATIONS -- A federal jury in New York found a Russian diplomat guilty of conspiring with a U.N. official to launder more than $300,000 in bribes for U.N. contracts.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, a Russian Foreign Ministry official who chaired a powerful U.N. General Assembly budget committee before his arrest in 2005, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. He will remain under house arrest until his sentencing June 25.

Kuznetsov, 49, is the fourth U.N.-based official or diplomat implicated in an ongoing investigation into corruption at the United Nations. Alexander Yakovlev, a Russian U.N. procurement officer, pleaded guilty in 2005 to receiving more than $1 million in bribes from companies for help in securing U.N. contracts.

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· MIDLAND, Mich. -- A teenager shot his former girlfriend four times outside her high school, then killed himself in one of two fatal school shootings, police said. David Turner, 17, of Coleman had gone to H.H. Dow High School to try to talk to Jessica Forsyth but was turned away by school officials, Midland Police Chief James St. Louis said. The boy then called her and asked her to meet him outside the building. In Greenville, Tex., a 16-year-old student fatally shot himself inside the band hall at Greenville High School.

· DALTON, Ga. -- Georgia truck driver Ed Nabors, 52, of Rocky Face claimed half of a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot, the richest lottery prize in U.S. history. He elected to take his winnings in a lump sum and will get $116.5 million before taxes. The other winning ticket was sold in New Jersey, and the holder has not claimed that share.

· BRADENTON, Fla. -- A Mexican man, Vicente Igancio Beltran-Moreno, surrendered on charges that he kidnapped Clay Moore, 13, last month and left him tied up in the woods, officials said.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services


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