By Amanda Orr ANGLETON Texas (Reuters) - A Texas jury on Wednesday found a father not guilty of shooting dead a suspected drunk driver who hit and killed his two sons while they pushed a truck down a country road late at night. David Barajas, 32, had been charged with murdering Jose Banda, 20, in December 2012, after he plowed into Barajas' sons David Jr., 12, and Caleb, 11, in a small town south of Houston after a night of drinking. Samuel Cammack, Barajas' attorney, told jurors there was no evidence linking his client to the crime and said the father did not leave his dying children by the side of a road to hunt down Banda.
The eldest daughter of former Gov. Bob McDonnell testified Wednesday that her parents' marriage had been troubled for many years and her mom developed "a mild obsession" with the Virginia businessman whose gifts to the family are at the heart of the McDonnells' corruption trial.
By Tim Reid LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Officials in Villa Park are considering pulling the tiny California city from Calpers, saying the monthly costs of the state's giant public pension system are crippling the municipal budget. Calpers, America's biggest public pension fund with assets of $300 billion, last provided the city with a hypothetical termination fee of nearly $3.6 million as of June 2012. "Getting out of Calpers is like getting out of jail," said Rick Barnett, mayor of Villa Park, population 5,800.
Barajas was accused of fatally shooting the man who police say was driving drunk when he caused a wreck that killed the defendant's sons
By Zachary Fagenson MIAMI (Reuters) - Two South Florida men have been sentenced to decades in prison for their role in a month-long string of armed bank robberies that crisscrossed the state, netting an undisclosed sum. District Judge Jose E. Martinez on Tuesday sentenced Anthony Isaac Johnson, 25, and Allen Demetrius Bradford, 23, to 35 years and more than 40 years, respectively. Bradford, Johnson, and six others robbed five PNC Bank locations during early summer 2013. The team used getaway drivers in stolen cars, one of which was found abandoned in Central Florida during an investigation into the group's earlier robberies.
By Edward McAllister ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Authorities on Wednesday disbanded what had been a command center in Ferguson, Missouri, for law enforcement responding to sometimes violent protests over the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who has led the response, told a news conference the Highway Patrol and St. Louis County police officers would continue to patrol, but the force had been substantially reduced. "People are communicating with each other and it is already leading to change, not just in Ferguson but across our whole region," Johnson said. Boarded-up stores were the only sign of the turmoil along West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, which had been the site of clashes between demonstrators and police that led to scores of arrests after the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9.
NEW YORK (AP) — An accused ringleader of a sprawling disabilities fraud scheme admitted Wednesday he helped coach retired police officers and others to fake mental-health problems to get Social Security benefits.
Two people are hospitalized after a small plane crash in Berks County.
STRATFORD, N.J. (AP) — A man shot and killed his hospitalized wife on Wednesday and then tried to kill himself, prompting investigators to search their home, where their son was found fatally shot, authorities said.
By Kim Palmer CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A federal appeals court in Ohio on Wednesday overturned the hate crime convictions of an Amish sect leader and 15 of his followers in beard- and hair-cutting attacks on fellow members of their religious faith. Circuit Court of Appeals found that jurors in the 2012 case received incorrect instructions on how to consider the role of religion in the attacks. Prosecutors contended the crimes were motivated by religious disputes between Samuel Mullet Sr., leader of a Bergholz, Ohio, sect, and other Amish religious leaders who had accepted into their communities people Mullet had excommunicated from his. The majority of the three-judge panel found that "considerable evidence supported the defendants' theory that interpersonal and intra-family agreements, not the victims' religious beliefs, sparked the attacks." Jurors heard testimony that Mullet's followers had restrained the victims and forcibly cut their hair and beards, using scissors, clippers, shears and battery-operated razors.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The youth baseball team whose star 13-year-old female pitcher and performance in the Little League World Series drew a wide following received a champion's treatment in a parade Wednesday in downtown Philadelphia.
(Reuters) - A southern New Jersey man shot and killed his wife in her hospital room on Wednesday before shooting and critically wounding himself, authorities said, adding the body of their son was found at their home shortly afterward. Raymond Wychowanec, 63, visited his wife, Denise, 62, on Wednesday morning at Kennedy Hospital in Stratford, New Jersey, where witnesses reported he shot her several times, said Camden County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Jason Laughlin. Police later went to the couple's home in Glendora, where they discovered that their son, Ryan Wychowanec, 35, had been fatally shot, Laughlin said.
By Alex Dobuzinskis and Dana Feldman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Waves up to about 20 feet (6 meters) high crashed along the Southern California coast on Wednesday, as heavy and potentially dangerous surf from a Pacific cyclone drew crowds of surfers and spectators to Los Angeles-area beaches, officials said. Large swells generated by Hurricane Marie began hitting the Southern California shore on Tuesday, causing coastal flooding in the Orange County town of Seal Beach after dark that inundated garages of 30 coastal homes. Marie was downgraded on Wednesday to a tropical storm as it moved north some 900 miles off Mexico's Baja Peninsula, veering away from the West Coast but still causing extreme surf, National Weather Service weather specialist Stuart Ceto said. Waves from the storm were the largest seen in Southern California since a pair of hurricanes swept through the Pacific within weeks of each other in 1997, he said.
By Katie Knapp Schubert OMAHA Neb. (Reuters) - Omaha police accidentally shot and killed an audio technician for the long-running reality television show "Cops" while he was recording officers responding to an armed robbery, police said on Wednesday. Sound technician Bryce Dion, 38, from the "Cops" crew was wearing a bulletproof vest, but was stuck by a bullet that went through a gap in the protective shielding under his arm, Omaha police spokesman Michael Pecha said. The "Cops" crew travels across the United States documenting the work of law enforcement for its television show.
The mother of an American freelance journalist held hostage and threatened with death by Islamic militants pleaded for his release Wednesday in a video message aimed directly at his captors.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — South Korea's Kia Motors Corp. said Wednesday it will invest more than $1 billion to build a car factory in northern Mexico that is expected to begin production in 2016.
Groups of mostly former FedEx drivers in California and Oregon can move forward with lawsuits alleging they are owed unpaid wages and benefits under state and federal labor laws after a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Portland, Oregon, reversed a lower court's ruling, noting that FedEx drivers wear company uniforms, drive company-approved vehicles and are told where and when to deliver packages. The appeals court noted that the claims brought by the California and Oregon drivers are among similar cases filed against FedEx in approximately 40 states. Other courts have sided with FedEx, finding that drivers are independent contractors.
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - Strict regulations on how law enforcement and other government agencies can use drones won passage by California lawmakers on Wednesday, a move supporters said would protect privacy and prevent warrantless surveillance. The bill, which heads to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown after passing 51-0 in the state Assembly, would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before using an unmanned aircraft, or drone, except in emergencies such as a fire or a hostage-taking. “Over the next decade drone technology will become much more common in California’s airspace,” said Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, the bill's author. “There are tremendous benefits that can be realized from these tools, but only if we first pass the legislation that will protect our civil and privacy rights from abuses of the technology." Other public agencies would be able to use drones, or contract for their use, to achieve their "core mission," so long as that mission is not to gather criminal intelligence.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A labor organization opposed to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez caused traffic jams and disrupted life for many in the capital Wednesday at the start of a 36-hour strike.
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Police in Virginia say the ambassador of Equatorial Guinea is suspected of beating his daughter with a wooden chair leg but won't be arrested because he has diplomatic immunity.