Nichols Defense Team Rests

In Oklahoma Bombing Trial

McALESTER, Okla. -- Defense attorneys rested their case Thursday at the trial of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry L. Nichols, who faces state murder charges that could carry the death penalty.

Nichols's attorneys questioned 96 witnesses over 11 days in a case that was shortened when Judge Steven Taylor limited the defense's ability to offer evidence of alternative suspects in the bombing, which killed 168 people.

Prosecutors rested their case on April 30 after questioning 151 witnesses over 29 days. They plan to question at least a dozen more witnesses to rebut defense testimony.

Closing arguments are tentatively scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.

Nichols, 49, is serving a life sentence after a federal jury in 1997 convicted him of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal law enforcement agents in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

After Mass. Grace Period,

Gay Couples Throng to Altar

BOSTON -- Dozens of gay couples rushed to tie the knot at chapels, parks and beaches across Massachusetts as the end of the three-day waiting period under state matrimonial law led to a marathon of same-sex weddings.

The new round of nuptials came as Gov. Mitt Romney took the first steps toward blocking town clerks from issuing licenses to out-of-state gay couples, which the Republican says is prohibited by state law.

Romney referred the applications of 10 out-of-state couples to Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly (D). Reilly would not say whether he plans to prosecute the couples or the clerks.

* DEARBORN, Mich. -- After nearly six years as a fugitive, one of the first men charged under a 1996 anti-terrorism law voluntarily returned to the United States to face trial. Fawzi Mustapha Assi, 44, was arrested in July 1998 after being stopped at Detroit Metropolitan Airport with night-vision goggles and other equipment that the FBI said was meant for the Hezbollah guerrilla group. He was charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization, but he denied the charge and fled to Lebanon after he was released on bond.

* NEW ORLEANS -- A 1913 Liberty Head nickel that was minted under mysterious circumstances, owned by royalty and celebrated in an episode of TV's "Hawaii Five-O" was sold for $3 million. Neither the buyer, described as a collector and an investor, nor the seller was identified. At least two other coins have sold for more, both at auction.

* PHOENIX -- Hopi voters rejected plans to build a casino in northeastern Arizona, choosing cultural customs over cash. The referendum, which called for up to 500 slot machines on tribal trust land near Winslow, was defeated 1,051 to 784 Wednesday.

* MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vermont will become the ninth state to let very sick patients use marijuana to alleviate pain, nausea and other symptoms without fear of state prosecution.

-- From News Services