National Briefs: Infants killed in 'exorcism'

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WASHINGTON -- A Germantown, Md., mother and another woman accused of killing two toddlers and trying to kill two other children believed that they were releasing demonic spirits that had possessed the siblings, Montgomery County police said Saturday.

The two dead children -- a boy, Norell Harris, 1, and a girl, Zyana Harris, 2 -- were found Friday morning on their mother's bed in a Germantown townhouse. Both had been stabbed repeatedly, police said. A sister, Taniya Harris, 5, and a brother, Martello Harris, 8, were seriously injured but are expected to survive.

Police said the women thought that they were performing an exorcism, although it did not appear they had followed any ritual.

"This was all about what was in their minds," said Capt. Marcus Jones, commander of the county's major crimes unit. "They felt like there was something bad going on with the children," said Capt. Marcus Jones, commander of the county's major crimes unit, "and they were trying to release it."

Police identified the women as Zakieya Avery, 28, the mother, and Monifa Sanford, 21, who lived with the family. Each has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Ms. Avery, who has received mental health counseling, moved twice in recent years -- from Western Maryland to Ohio and then to Montgomery County, Md., according to a minister whose church she attended. A relative said she had separated from her husband.

Aviation biofuels project

SEATTLE -- Aircraft maker Boeing Co., Etihad Airways, the oil company Total and others said they will work together on a program to develop an aviation biofuel industry in the United Arab Emirates.

Boeing said in a news release Sunday that the program will involve research and development and investments in production of fuels derived from plants that can power aircraft.

Etihad is based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The other participants are Takreer, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, located in Abu Dhabi.

Boeing says Etihad ran a 45-minute demonstration flight Saturday in a Boeing 777 partially powered by aviation biofuel produced in the UAE.

Hit man on way out

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- The self-admitted hit man who said he was hired to kill the wife of a prominent southern New Jersey rabbi in 1994 will likely be freed from prison next week after spending about 14 years in custody, according to state officials.

The 68-year-old Len Jenoff has been serving a 23-year sentence for his part in the murder-for-hire death of Carol Neulander, the wife of Cherry Hill Rabbi Fred Neulander. She was found beaten to death in their home in 1994.

Carbon nanotubes tested

NEW YORK -- Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are seeking to increase the efficiency of solar cells by helping them take advantage of more of the sun's rays.

MIT scientists are testing solar cells with a layer of carbon nanotubes that "make it possible to take advantage of wavelengths of light that ordinarily go to waste," according to a statement Sunday from the university.

Standard polysilicon photovoltaic cells don't "respond" to the entire spectrum of sunlight, limiting the amount of photons they're able to convert into electricity.

-- Compiled from news services

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