National briefs (8/21/12)

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Insanity key to defense

CHARDON, Ohio -- An Ohio judge on Monday gave defense attorneys until the beginning of October to file a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on behalf of a teenager accused of shooting five people, three fatally, inside a high school cafeteria this winter.

The Oct. 1 cut-off represented a compromise between deadlines the defense and prosecutors had previously suggested.

The trial for Thomas "T.J." Lane, 17, is expected to hinge upon his mental state at the time of the February shootings at Chardon High School. Prosecutors have said T.J. confessed when a sheriff's deputy found him on the side of a road about an hour after the shootings.

"There is no secret in this case that ours will be one of sanity or insanity at the time of the act," defense attorney Mark DeVan said during a pretrial court appearance, which was broadcast live on multiple media outlets.

Mr. DeVan said T.J. has undergone several mental health evaluations since the shooting but that his attorneys need more time to conduct neuropsychological exams and obtain an MRI to determine whether T.J. has "organic brain problems" that might explain a history of migraines and hallucinations.

Prosecutors have argued that there is little documentation that these problems existed before the shooting and that the victims' families deserve to see a speedy trial.

GOP outraises Democrats

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney's cash advantage over President Barack Obama and the Democrats more than doubled in July, as intense Republican fundraising and heavy spending by Mr. Obama and his allies left Mr. Romney and the Republican National Committee with $62 million more in the bank than the Democrats at the end of last month.

Mr. Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee spent $91 million in July, significantly more than the $75 million the Democrats raised, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed Monday, compared with $101 million Mr. Romney and the Republicans raised.

Fire forces evacuation

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thousands of people were told to leave their homes Sunday as a growing wildfire burning out of control in thick forest threatened rural communities in far Northern California.

The fire that started Saturday has destroyed seven homes and consumed nearly 19 square miles near the towns of Manton, Shingletown and Viola, fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

The fire's cause had not been determined, but officials said it started after a series of lightning strikes in the area. Nearly 1,000 firefighters were battling the flames.

Autopsy on cuffed man

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A man police say shot himself in the head while his hands were cuffed behind him in the back of an Arkansas patrol car tested positive for methamphetamine, anti-anxiety medication and other drugs, according to an autopsy report released Monday that listed his death as a suicide.

The state crime lab report said the muzzle of a handgun that Chavis Carter apparently concealed from arresting officers was placed against his right temple when it was fired.

The report, signed by three medical examiners, said Mr. Carter's death was ruled a suicide based on autopsy findings and investigative conclusions from the Jonesboro Police Department, which has faced questions from Mr. Carter's family and community members about the circumstances surrounding the July 28 shooting.



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