Soldier Pleads Guilty In Barracks Killing

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky.--A soldier pleaded guilty to a reduced charge yesterday in the beating death of a barracks mate who had been rumored to be gay.

Army Spc. Justin R. Fisher, 26, was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for lying to military investigators and obstructing the investigation when he wiped blood from a baseball bat that Pvt. Calvin Glover used to kill Pfc. Barry Winchell as Winchell slept on his cot at Fort Campbell.

Under a plea agreement, the Army dropped other charges, including participating as a principal to premeditated murder and acting as an accessory after the fact.

Rumors had circulated on the post that Winchell, 21, was gay, and prosecutors said Glover, who was convicted last month of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison, was driven by hatred of homosexuals.

The killing led to criticism by gay rights groups and by Winchell's parents of the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military.

* COLUMBIA, S.C.--An estimated 6,000 people rallied under fluttering red Confederate flags to defend the banner that supporters say stands for defiant defense of freedom and southern heritage but that the NAACP says is a symbol of slavery and hopes through a boycott to remove from the Statehouse's dome and its legislative chambers. State Sen. Arthur Ravenel (R) said lawmakers cannot cave in to the pressure of "that organization known as the National Association for Retarded People." Lonnie Randolph, who is leading the NAACP boycott, said, "We don't dignify ignorant comments and ignorant statements with a response."

* There are too few "talented, dedicated" teachers, and an estimated "250,000 teachers are working without proper preparation in course content, or without any kind of training in how to teach," Education Secretary Richard W. Riley said in remarks prepared for delivery today to his department's National Conference on Teacher Quality. "The challenge is to make sure that there is a talented, dedicated teacher in every classroom. We are falling short of that goal."

* BOSTON--A convicted killer who says he is a woman trapped in a man's body has filed a federal lawsuit to force the state to pay for a sex change. Robert Kosilek, who is serving a life sentence for killing his wife in 1990, claims it is cruel and unusual punishment to prevent him from becoming a woman.

* BRUNSWICK, Ga.--A Florida man who swallowed 55 small glass pipes used to smoke cocaine was recovering after he went to an emergency room with abdominal pain and surgeons removed the paraphernalia from his stomach. He apparently swallowed the pipes while high on crack over a period of two months and said he had ingested the last one three months ago, police said.

* TINNIE, N.M.--A tractor-trailer rig hauling produce slammed into a church van preparing to enter a cemetery for a funeral, killing three people in the van and injuring 10 other people, state police said.

* ST. LOUIS--Dennis Rabbitt, 43, pleaded guilty Friday to charges in 14 rape cases that had puzzled police for nearly a decade. A DNA sample Rabbitt gave when he was arrested for attepted burglary in 1997 linked him to attacks on 20 women, authorities said.

* MIAMI--Nicholas Acosta, 12, was killed when he leaned out of school bus to talk to a girl and struck his head on a light pole as the bus pulled away from a stop, police said.

* DALLAS--Steven Matthew Cutler, 27, of Lewisville, Tex., was charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass descruction by mailing to "Postmaster" a vial of water that was labeled as containing anthrax. The FBI said he is the first person charged with allegedly mailing something purported to be anthrax and could be imprisoned 30 years and fined $1 million if convicted.