Cuban Hostage-Takers Want to Leave U.S.

ST. MARTINVILLE, La.--A growing group of Cuban inmates frustrated with their incarceration held three hostages for a second day yesterday and threatened to kill their captives if they aren't freed.

St. Martin's Parish jail warden Todd Louvierre and deputies Jolie Sonnier and Brandon Boudreaux have been held at knifepoint since Monday, when they were grabbed as five inmates left an exercise area. A deputy sheriff was released.

"We want to be released and sent back to our country or any other country. We don't care," said Jonne Ponte, one of the Cubans who telephoned television station KLFY in nearby Lafayette. Ponte claimed to have been in detention for 13 years.

Authorities said as many as four inmates have joined the original group of five. The recruits apparently came from a group of about 70 other Cubans who had control of a section of the jail adjacent to the area with the hostages.

Sheriff's Capt. Audrey Thibodaux said the large group is outside the control of guards but unable to get out of the building.

State Department spokesman James Foley said the Cubans cannot be freed because of their past. Cuba will not accept them and the United States does not want them on the streets.

Four of the five Cubans in the original group were among 60 being held in the jail for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, pending deportation or other action. The fifth man was being held on state charges, the INS said.

St. Martinville, in south-central Louisiana, is about 50 miles from Oakdale, where a federal deportation center was burned by 1,000 rioting Cuban inmates in 1987.

Teacher Ignored Girl About Mom's Death

PEABODY, Mass.--A 7-year-old girl spent a night sleeping in her dead mother's arms after a teacher apparently ignored the girl when she claimed her mother had died.

"From what Lydia told me, the teacher said, 'You shouldn't talk like that,' and sent her back to her seat," said Richard Tucker, the girl's grandfather.

Lydia Hanson went through the rest of the day on Thursday at the Kiley School, went home on the bus and then spent the night with her mother, Kimberly Hanson.

Hanson, 33, had diabetes and most likely died of natural causes, Peabody police Sgt. William Caico told the Salem Evening News. Tucker discovered the body on Friday, when he visited because he hadn't heard from his daughter since Wednesday, when she had told him she was feeling ill. Lydia had not gone back to school.

Lydia didn't know how to use the phone in her house, Tucker said. She told her grandparents that she finished her homework and microwaved leftover spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. She also made popcorn because it was something Lydia and her mother did every night.

Peabody Schools Superintendent Louis Perullo called the incident a tragedy.

"The school made a mistake," Perullo said in a written statement. "I wish we had done otherwise. This has never happened before."

Meanwhile in Memphis, a nine-year-old boy who lived alone with his dead mother's body for a month attended her funeral and was given the U.S. flag that covered her coffin.

Family friends dropping by for a visit on Dec. 6 found Travis Butler alone with the corpse at the Memphis apartment where he lived with his mother, Crystal Wells, 30. Wells had apparently died of natural causes Nov. 3, though autopsy results are incomplete.

Wells, who had served in the Army, was buried at the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. Travis sat silent and stern during the brief service, looking up occasionally at his maternal grandparents, Shirley and H.P. Wilder, who each kept an arm around his shoulders.

Jury Awards $66,400 For Stroller Incident

NEW YORK--A Danish mother arrested for leaving her baby in a stroller outside a restaurant for more than an hour while she and the child's father drank margaritas was awarded $66,400 in her $20 million lawsuit against the city.

A federal jury rejected most of the claims by Anette Sorensen, 32, who had argued that she was falsely arrested and that leaving babies outside is a common practice in Denmark.

The jury concluded only that she should not have been strip-searched and that the city commonly failed to advise arrested foreigners of their right to notify their consulates.

Sorensen said she was disappointed by the verdict. "I wanted to be cleansed in this way," she said. "That didn't happen."

Sgt. Gregory Ajose said he was grateful that the jury realized "we acted in good faith that evening to protect the interests of a 14-month-old child."

Youth Pleads Guilty In Columbine Case

GOLDEN, Colo.--A 17-year-old acquaintance of Columbine High School killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold pleaded guilty to two minor charges arising from a threat to "finish the job" the gunmen started.

The boy was ordered to participate in a juvenile diversion program for one year, said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. She said the boy had seen a therapist who reported that he was no threat to himself or others.

The teen, whose name was withheld because of his age, pleaded guilty to one count of theft and one count of interfering with staff, faculty or students in an educational facility.

Harris and Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 23 others before killing themselves on April 20.