Accused family killer collapses in court

A man accused of killing six members of his ex-wife’s family, including four children, after forcing his way into their suburban Houston home collapsed in court twice Friday as a prosecutor read details of the crime aloud.

A shackled Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, was standing before a state district judge during a probable cause hearing when he fell to the ground. Deputies lifted him to his feet and he stood for about another minute before collapsing again.

He was then lifted into a chair and wheeled from the courtroom. “He’s scared. I think he has a limited mental capacity of what’s going on,” said Haskell’s attorney, Doug Durham.

Before the collapses, Haskell had answered, “Yes,” to a couple of questions by State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis about his legal rights. Ellis ordered Haskell held without bond.

“Maybe reality is finally setting in,” said Tammy Thomas, the lead Harris County assistant district attorney in the case.

Thomas said she expected a grand jury to issue a capital murder indictment in Wednesday’s fatal shootings of Stephen and Katie Stay and four of their children, ranging in age from 4 to 14. Authorities have said Haskell was searching for his ex-wife, Katie Stay’s sister, when he came to the home in Spring, Tex. The family had refused to give any information.

— Associated Press

District of Columbia
Risk from fibroid surgery reiterated

Federal health advisers say there is little to no evidence that a popular technique for removing fibroids can be performed without the risk of spreading undetected cancers to other parts of the body.

The panel of Food and Drug Administration experts also said Friday that women who do undergo the procedure should sign a written consent form stating they understand the serious risks of power morcellation, in which electronic tools are used to grind tissue and remove it through a small incision in the abdomen.

Surgeons developed the technique as an alternative to traditional surgery, which requires a larger incision that often results in more bleeding and longer hospital stays. But the FDA convened a two-day meeting this week after concluding that the risk of spreading undetected cancer to other organs may be far more common than previously thought.

— Associated Press

N.Y. man who threatened Bush sentenced: A New York man arrested for threatening to kill former President George W. Bush was sentenced on Friday to six months of home confinement. Former teacher Benjamin Smith, 45, who pleaded guilty in April to a gun possession charged, was arrested in January after Secret Service investigators found him in a parked car in Manhattan with a loaded rifle, a machete and a container of gasoline. Prosecutors said Smith screamed, “ ‘Bush will get his’ ” when he was taken into custody.

Mormon activist at center of Va. disciplinary hearing sparks new debate: When Mormon leaders excommunicated women’s ordination activist Kate Kelly last month, church officials said her liberal views and criticism of the church weren’t the issues: It was her “aggressive” style. Now, a small movement of dissenters — the Strangers in Zion -- is pushing the question of how modern Mormonism will deal with growing public debate.

— From news services