Conspiracy Charge Against Youths Dropped

WINDER, Ga. -- Two youths accused of plotting a "Columbine-style" attack on their school were convicted Tuesday of juvenile charges of making terroristic threats but cleared of the more serious charge of conspiracy to kill a teacher at Russell Middle School last month.

The youths, both 14, hugged their parents and each other after Barrow County Juvenile Court Judge Kevin Guidry made his ruling.

He ordered them confined to house arrest with ankle monitors until the state can complete social history reports, which will be used to determine punishment. Attorneys for the boys said that could range from continued house arrest with counseling to juvenile detention.

The youths, identified only as Adam and Joseph, had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder at their rural school about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta. Police arrested them on May 14 after classmates told a resource officer the two planned to kill a teacher and anyone else who got in their way on the last day of school.

Peterson's Stepfather Says He Went Fishing

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- Although prosecutors in Scott Peterson's double-murder trial have said his Christmas Eve morning fishing trip seemed unusual and was simply a cover-up to dispose of his wife's body, Laci Peterson's stepfather acknowledged that he, too, went fishing that morning.

"Almost exactly the time that Scott Peterson went, correct?" defense lawyer Mark Geragos asked.

"That is correct. Ninety miles closer," Ron Grantski testified.

Scott Peterson, whose trial is in its second week of testimony, said he went fishing at the Berkeley Marina the morning of Dec. 24, 2002, then came home to find his wife missing. Her body washed ashore about four months later, not far from where he said he was fishing.

* HOUSTON -- A woman convicted of starving her two horses was sentenced to 30 days in jail -- the first three days on bread and water. "She's going to get more than her horses got," Judge Mike Peters said of Melissa Dawn Sweeney, 28.

* CLEVELAND -- A terrorist group's manifesto and other items seized by the FBI in a search of an Islamic cleric's home were taken in an illegal search and cannot be used at his trial, U.S. District Judge James Gwin ruled. Fawaz Mohammed Damra, 41, is accused of concealing ties to terrorist organizations when he applied for citizenship, which he received in 1994.

* DALLAS -- Yencey Ayala, 3, suffocated after her neck became caught in the power window of her parents' pickup truck, police said. The girl was reaching out the window Sunday and accidentally hit the window button with her knee or foot, authorities said.

* AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The only cadet to face a court-martial after last year's rape scandal pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. Douglas L. Meester of Marco Island, Fla., was accused of assaulting a fellow cadet in October 2002 during a night of heavy drinking in a dorm room. He was originally charged with rape, sodomy, indecent assault and providing alcohol to minors. Meester had faced a life sentence, but received a reprimand and was fined $2,000.

-- From News Services