Defense rests case
in Ft. Hood rampage

U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who faces the possibility of a death sentence for the November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., rested his case without making a statement Tuesday in the sentencing phase of his trial.

“The defense rests,” said Hasan, who was convicted of killing 13 people and wounding 31 others, most of them unarmed soldiers, at the central Texas military base.

The jury of 13 military officers was instructed to return to court Wednesday, when they will likely begin deliberating Hasan’s sentence.

— Reuters

Brown proposes private-prison plan

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday responded to a federal court order to significantly reduce California’s prison population by proposing a $315 million plan to send inmates to private prisons and empty county jail cells.

The cost could reach $700 million over two years, with much of the money likely to come from a $1 billion reserve fund in the state budget.

During a news conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento, Brown (D) bristled at the court’s suggestion that the state could continue its early release of certain inmates to meet the federal judges’ population cap. He noted that California has already released some 46,000 inmates to comply with the court’s orders and said only the most dangerous felons remain in state prison.

The court has found that lowering the inmate population is the best way to improve medical and mental health treatment within the prison system.

— Associated Press

Wildfire grows bigger in Yosemite

One of the largest wildfires in California history roared deeper into Yosemite National Park on Tuesday, while flames of the sprawling blaze crept closer toward thousands of homes outside the park, fire officials said.

The blaze, which has burned for 11 days mainly in the Stanislaus National Forest adjacent to Yosemite, nearly doubled its imprint in the park overnight after encroaching on a reservoir that serves as the primary water supply for San Francisco some 200 miles to the west. Officials said some ash from the fire had drifted onto the surface of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, but testing of samples showed that water quality remained healthy.

Meanwhile, a firefighting force of some 3,700 personnel, backed by teams of bulldozers and water-dropping helicopters, continued to make headway in their drive to encircle and suppress the flames. By late Monday, containment lines had been established around 20 percent of the fire’s perimeter, nearly triple Sunday’s figure, though the overall footprint of the blaze continued to grow.

— Reuters

Zimmerman seeks
to recoup some costs

George Zimmerman’s attorney said Tuesday that he is going to ask Florida to pay for some of his client’s non-lawyer legal bills, including for experts, printing and court reporters, and that the price tag could reach $300,000.

Zimmerman was acquitted last month of all charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of Miami teenager Trayvon Martin. The decision in the nationally televised trial touched off protests across the country.

Since he was found not guilty, Zimmerman is entitled under a Florida law to recoup the defense costs, minus private attorney fees, said his lawyer Mark O’Mara. The law also says that any costs already paid can be refunded with the approval of a judge, he said.

To receive trial expenses, Zimmerman’s attorneys must submit them with the Judicial Administrative Commission, which is the state’s agency that reviews them and decides what expenses are reimbursable.

When Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder in the death of her daughter in 2011, the JAC paid more than $100,000 of the expenses incurred during her defense. But it refused to pay about $12,000 of submitted costs.

— Associated Press

Judge asked to hold stop-and-frisk ruling

New York City’s lawyers on Tuesday asked a federal judge to hold her ruling ordering major changes to the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy until an appeal can be heard.

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled earlier this month that the New York Police Department violated the civil rights of minorities with the policy. She ordered an outside monitor to oversee major changes.

The city is appealing the decision. On Tuesday, the city asked the judge to hold off on implementing her ruling until the appeal is decided. If the judge refuses, the city can ask a federal appeals court to freeze the ruling. The city’s filing says the judge should hold her ruling because it was erroneous and the prescribed changes could cause harm to public safety.

— Associated Press

Two more N.M. counties to issue gay-marriage licenses: Two more New Mexico counties said Tuesday they will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The decisions by San Miguel and Valencia counties come a day after a state district judge in Albuquerque declared gay marriage legal, and ordered the Bernalillo County clerk to join Santa Fe and Dona Ana counties in issuing the licenses. More than 100 people were lined up for the licenses in Albuquerque Tuesday morning, and a mass wedding was planned at noon at Civic Plaza.

Girl who received lung transplant goes home: A Pennsylvania girl whose need for new lungs sparked a national debate on how transplant recipients are prioritized returned home to her family Tuesday after six months in the hospital. Sarah Murnaghan, who turned 11 this month, left the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and was carried into her family’s Newtown Square home, which was festooned with balloons and signs that welcomed her home and thanked the donors whose lungs she received after her parents sued to change national transplant policy. Sarah received two sets of lungs this summer as she struggled with the effects of end-stage cystic fibrosis. She still has the disease, but it will not infiltrate her new lungs, which her parents said were working well.

— From news services