Life Sentence for Gay's Killer

ROCKFORD, Ala. -- A man accused of helping to kill a homosexual because of an unwanted advance was convicted yesterday of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole.

Charles M. Butler Jr., 21, a former construction worker, was convicted in the slaying of Billy Jack Gaither, 39, who had his throat slashed and was beaten to death; his body was burned on a pile of old tires.

The victim's father, Marion Gaither, had asked that Butler not be sentenced to death.

The case drew national attention after authorities said Gaither was killed because of his sexual orientation.

President Clinton compared the Gaither slaying to the dragging death of a black man in Texas and the fatal beating of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual college student in Wyoming who was lashed to a fence.

The man who committed the murder, Steven Mullins, 25, pleaded guilty earlier and testified against Butler. He was scheduled to be sentenced today, and prosecutors said they will recommend he get life without parole.

Quadriplegic Wants to Die

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- William White, a 50-year-old man who doctors believe is among the longest-living quadriplegics in the United States, has decided to end his life after 32 years on a ventilator, hospital officials said.

He was paralyzed from the jaw down in a high school gymnastics accident in 1967, and although his condition has remained stable, White's friends said that he has felt depressed and in more pain recently.

White had asked hospital officials to administer a dose of morphine and then remove his breathing tube today, but Monroe County District Attorney Howard Relin requested that the hospital delay that action while his office reviews the law.


FRESNO, Calif. -- A motel handyman who has reportedly confessed to brutally killing four women around Yosemite National Park was indicted for one of the crimes -- beheading a 26-year-old naturalist. Cary Stayner, 37, was charged with murder after a federal grand jury in Fresno indicted him for the July 21 death of Joie Ruth Armstrong, officials said.

RENO, Nev. -- Reinforcements were sent to help fight dozens of lightning-sparked fires that have burned more than 500 square miles of northern Nevada range land. The fires had threatened ranches and forced authorities to close sections of Interstate 80, police said.

ANCHORAGE -- A flotilla of 14 skiffs carrying Russian Eskimos home from a visit to Alaska ran into a storm that flipped and sank one boat, drowning two people. Three more boats and six people remained missing.

BOSTON -- An Irish wolfhound freed itself from a kennel in the cargo hold of a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Boston last month and chewed into wires for the Boeing 767's landing gear, flaps and cockpit warning lights. Airline officials said the pilot landed the plane safely but faster than usual because of the impaired flaps.