More Damage Suits Are Being Planned Against Gun Industry

At least 12 more municipalities are planning to sue gun makers this year, and the first class action against the firearms industry is expected to be filed in the next few months, lawyers said.

Their comments were made at a gun litigation conference here sponsored by the American Bar Association with participants from the gun and insurance industries, city and county governments and the personal injury bar.

Among the participants was Jack Maistros, one of several lawyers in a 1994 class action suit against tobacco companies that eventually was thrown out by an appeals court. Maistros told the seminar that he expects at least a dozen more municipalities will sue the gun industry this year, with two of those suits expected to be filed as soon as next week.

Law Officers Cleared In Death Row Case

WHEATON, Ill. -- Four sheriff's officers and a former prosecutor were acquitted Friday of charges that they conspired to wrongly send Rolando Cruz to death row for the killing of a 10-year-old girl. The lawmen were charged with obstructing justice, perjury and conspiracy.

Legal experts said they knew of no other case in which law enforcement officials were prosecuted for carrying out their official duties.

Cruz was twice convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl in the Chicago suburb of Naperville and spent nearly a decade on death row before he was acquitted in 1995. Charges against a fellow defendant, Alejandro Hernandez, were later dropped.

Murder Counts Planned In Death of 2 Students

BAVINGTON, Pa. -- Prosecutors said they plan to seek murder charges against two of three suspects jailed over the disappearance of two college students, now that the victims' bodies have been found.

The bodies of Aaron Land, 20, and Brian Muha, 18, were discovered in the woods Friday after a three-day search through swamps and waist-high grass along a highway.

The victims were students at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Police believe they were kidnapped Monday from their apartment during a burglary, robbed and shot to death.

Ohio authorities have charged Terrell Rhaim Yarbrough, 18, of Pittsburgh and Nathan D. Herring, 18, of Steubenville with kidnapping, burglary and robbery. A third suspect, a 16-year-old, was charged in juvenile court with receiving stolen property.

Overdose Kills Scientist; Grants Used for Drugs

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A University of Minnesota dental-pain researcher Keith Kajander, 38, died of a drug overdose after ordering 140 grams of cocaine over seven years with federal grant money, a university audit has found.

Kajander died April 28 from a self-administered cocaine overdose, according to the Hennepin County medical examiner.

From April 1992 to April 1999, the neuroscientist logged in 28 shipments of medical-grade cocaine hydrochloride for research. The audit shows that the amount of cocaine he logged in and the amount used for research do not match. The size of the discrepancy is unknown because the bookkeeping was imprecise, said Dick Bianco, vice president for the university's Academic Health Center.

The university will return $11,000 to the National Institutes of Health for the cocaine Kajander ordered using NIH money. Millions of dollars go to the university for medical research purposes, Bianco said.

Addenda

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Police believe a serial killer may be responsible for strangling three women whose bodies have been found in Forest Park in the past several weeks. The latest victim, identified as Alexandria Nicole Ison, 17, was found Wednesday a quarter-mile from where the other victims were found. That, along with the women's similar drug-related pasts, led police to believe the killings were the work of the same person.

SAN DIEGO -- Daniel A. Goodrum, 37, a former U.S. immigration inspector, was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday on fraud and conspiracy charges in the alleged theft and sale of immigration documents in Mexico that were used at least twice by drug smugglers.

OGLALA, S.D. -- A tornado ripped through a small town Friday evening on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, killing at least one person and destroying about 30 homes, said Gene Abdallah, superintendent of the state Highway Patrol.