GOP’s Hastings to retire from House

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced Thursday that he won’t seek reelection in 2014.

Hastings joined Congress after winning in the GOP wave election in 1994. He is the latest of several close allies of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to call it quits.

His seat is considered likely to remain in GOP hands. The district went 60-38 for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Hastings’s exit leaves his committee chairmanship open. Next in line would appear to be Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), the committee’s third-ranking Republican.

The second-ranking Republican, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), has already served the maximum six years as chairman of the committee.

Hastings is the 11th House Republican, and the 18th House member overall, to opt for retirement in the current Congress.

— Aaron Blake

Man convicted in fantasy game murder

A fantasy game enthusiast was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for beating a former Pensacola newspaper reporter to death with a hammer and burying his body in a concrete-covered pit in Georgia.

William Cormier III was so desperate for money that he killed Sean Dugas in the fall of 2012 so he could steal his $100,000 collection of fantasy role-playing cards for the game “Magic: The Gathering,” prosecutors said.

Jurors convicted Cormier of first-degree murder after a little more than an hour of deliberations. Prosecutors said Cormier used money from selling the cards to pay for the plastic storage container that became Dugas’ concrete-encased coffin.

— Associated Press

Pediatrician convicted of waterboarding: A Delaware jury has convicted a pediatrician of waterboarding his companion’s daughter by holding the child’s head under a faucet. The jury returned the verdict Friday against Melvin Morse, 60. He will be sentenced April 11. Morse, who has researched near-death experiences involving children, denied police claims that he may have been experimenting on the girl.

Gas pipeline explodes in Kentucky: An underground transmission pipeline carrying natural gas exploded early Thursday in southern Kentucky, sending two people to the hospital, destroying two homes and alarming residents of Knifley, Ky., who saw flames from miles away.

— From news services