Soldier Confessed to Killing Officers, Witness Testifies

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A prosecution witness testified Monday that a soldier charged with killing two officers in a grenade attack during the Iraq war confessed to the crimes after his arrest, saying he feared the wartime deaths of Muslims.

Sgt. Hasan Akbar, 32, of the 101st Airborne Division, faces the death penalty if convicted in the attack during a court-martial that begins July 12.

Sgt. Eric Tanner, a brigade legal assistant, testified that Akbar told a major he attacked his fellow soldiers " 'because I'm Muslim. They were going to kill Muslims and rape Muslim women.' "

Akbar's lawyers have said there were no witnesses to the crime and that Akbar was accused because he is Muslim. They want Akbar's statements kept out of evidence.

* BOSTON -- A woman's body wrapped in a trash bag and bound with video cable was found on the shore of a reservoir, and police who went to the home of her ex-boyfriend found the body of their 2-year-old son, who had been tossed from a window. James Beneche, 20, and his girlfriend, Jessica Deane, 20, pleaded not guilty to charges related to the death of Kayla Ravenell, 21. Authorities did not give a motive, but neighbors said Beneche and Ravenell had argued over child support.

* KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Barbara Heasley Weimer, 69, was killed when a 10-pound rock dropped from a highway overpass smashed into the SUV in which she was a passenger, authorities said.

* SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A new city law in Brunswick, Ga., gives police the power to halt protests during the Group of Eight summit now that Gov. Sonny Perdue has declared a preemptive state of emergency in coastal Georgia through June 20. Activists said the change allows authorities to squelch lawful dissent without reason when President Bush meets with world leaders June 8-10 at nearby Sea Island.

* HUDSON, Fla. -- Two men and three boys were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 14 hours after their fishing boat sank Saturday evening but were rescued by throwing small coolers into the air to get the attention of boaters on a passing vessel.

* KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's Supreme Court was asked to resolve a political fight over the scheduling of a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Missouri's secretary of state and fellow Republicans want the referendum on the November ballot during the presidential election, when large numbers of Republicans are likely to go to the polls. Democrats opposed to the ban, including Gov. Bob Holden, want the issue on the ballot for the Aug. 3 primary elections.

* CHICAGO -- Two men cleared in the 1976 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl sued the city of Chicago and more than a dozen current and former police officials, saying they framed the men for the crime. Michael Evans and Paul Terry served 27 years in prison before DNA exonerated them last year.

* ATLANTA -- Jamil Al-Amin, the former 1960s black militant once known as H. Rap Brown, lost a bid in the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn his conviction for the shooting death of a sheriff's deputy four years ago. In a unanimous decision, the court said it found no reversible error in the trial that led to his conviction.

-- From News Services