2 Dozen Cubans Reach Fla. Island

MIAMI -- About two dozen Cuban migrants landed on an uninhabited island off Miami yesterday and were turned over to U.S. Border Patrol agents to pursue asylum claims, the Coast Guard said.

The group maneuvered a homemade boat to Sands Key, an islet about 15 miles southeast of Miami in Biscayne National Park, Coast Guard Petty Officer Stephen Baker said.

Under U.S. immigration policy, Cuban migrants who reach shore are allowed to stay. But those intercepted at sea generally are returned to their communist-ruled homeland.

Fifty-four Cubans have been halted at sea in the last five days. Four were brought ashore for humanitarian reasons and allowed to stay -- a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy and her husband and son, and a woman believed to be suffering from meningitis. The others were aboard Coast Guard vessels undergoing interviews by immigration agents.

On Monday, Cuba said it had arrested two suspected U.S.-based migrant smugglers after their speedboat carrying 14 Cubans to the United States capsized, drowning one of the passengers. A Cuban Coast Guard patrol vessel rescued the surviving 13 passengers and detained the two crew members.


SACRAMENTO -- A group of neighbors formed a human shield to try to stop a suspect in a fatal hit-and-run, then chased him in their cars and held him until police arrived. Authorities said the car driven by Gerald Weirton, 36, allegedly struck 13-year-old Gabriel Allen Swenor as he was playing Sunday with friends on a dead-end street. The boy was thrown 20 to 30 feet and died.

ORLANDO -- The man found dead, nude and draped across the back of a SeaWorld killer whale was identified as Daniel P. Dukes, 27, a drifter who lived briefly at the Hare Krishna temple in Miami. The Orange County medical examiner's office ruled that Dukes drowned in the SeaWorld tank inhabited by Tillikum, an 11,000-pound killer whale. There was one bite mark on his body -- in his groin area -- that occurred sometime after death, the medical examiner said, when the whale used its razor-sharp teeth to rip off Dukes's green shorts.

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. -- Two 13-year-old boys were charged with making a bomb in a pop bottle from a recipe they said they found on the Internet. The bottle exploded Friday, injuring 5-year-old twin girls.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- In the case of a child beaten to death, New York's highest court has ruled that a stepparent is responsible for protecting stepchildren even against biological parents. The Court of Appeals said Lisa Carroll can be charged in the 1996 death of Shanaya Jones, 3, because she was aware of abuse by the girl's father and did nothing to stop it.

TOPSHAM, Maine -- A Missouri man who came to Maine to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met over the Internet died after cutting his neck with a chain saw on her front lawn to prove his love. James Dinardi, 44, of Columbia, Mo., died at a hospital Monday.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Lane County sheriff's office taped jailhouse conversations between a school-shooting suspect and his pastor, despite having been found in violation of the Constitution in a similar case three years ago. Prosecutors said the tapes of three conversations between pastor Albert Gaines and Kip Kinkel, 16, who is charged with shooting to death his parents and then opening fire at his high school -- killing two and wounding two dozen other people -- will not be used against Kinkel.

CAPTION: Buddy Meekins, left, and Ralph Lane remove pipe in path of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse in Buxton, N.C. It is being moved 2,900 feet from the advancing ocean.