National briefs: Texas executes female killer

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- A woman convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage was put to death Wednesday evening in a rare execution of a female prisoner.

The lethal injection of Suzanne Basso, 59, made the New York City native only the 14th woman executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. Almost 1,400 men have been put to death during that time.

Before being put to death, Basso told a warden who stood near her, "No sir," when asked to make a final statement. She appeared to be holding back tears, then smiled at two friends watching through a window. She mouthed a brief word to them and nodded.

As the lethal dose of pentobarbital took effect, Basso, dressed in a white prison uniform, began to snore. Her deep snoring became less audible and eventually stopped.

She was pronounced dead 11 minutes after the drug was administered.

Theater-shooting hearing

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- Family and friends of a retired Tampa police captain accused of fatally shooting a man at a movie theater told a judge Wednesday that the former officer is an honorable, even-tempered man who should be released on bail.

Curtis Reeves, 71, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Chad Oulson, 43. On Wednesday, he formally entered a plea of not guilty.

Police said Mr. Reeves became upset when Mr. Oulson was texting during the movie previews. The two men got into a verbal argument and witnesses told officers that Mr. Oulson threw popcorn at Mr. Reeves, authorities have said.

The eight-hour hearing was supposed to determine whether Judge Pat Siracusa would grant bail for Mr. Reeves, who has been in jail since the Jan. 13 shooting. But prosecutors and defense attorneys called so many witnesses -- and asked so many questions of those people -- that the hearing was continued until Friday.

Hoffman heroin case

NEW YORK -- At least one of three people taken into custody on drug charges during an investigation of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's suspected fatal heroin overdose had the actor's cell phone number, two law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Investigators zeroed in on the suspects after a tipster, responding to publicity about Mr. Hoffman's death, told police he had seen Mr. Hoffman at the lower Manhattan apartment building where they were arrested Tuesday and he believed that's where Mr. Hoffman got the heroin, the officials said.

After obtaining search warrants for two apartments in the building, police found about 350 packets of heroin in one of them, the officials said. They also learned from phone records that one of the suspects had Mr. Hoffman's number, strengthening the theory that they may have supplied him with drugs, the officials said.

Police were still waiting for a cause of death for the Oscar-winning actor from the medical examiner's office, which said on Wednesday that more tests were needed.

Gitmo detainee's case

MIAMI -- The Pentagon has decided to go forward with a war crimes case against a Saudi man accused of planning the suicide bombing of an oil tanker off Yemen that took place two months after he was already imprisoned at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Ahmed Darbi, 39, will face charges at a military commission within 30 days of being read the charges at Guantanamo, the Pentagon said in a brief announcement Wednesday.

Gym-mat death suit

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The parents of a south Georgia teenager found dead last year at school inside a rolled-up gym mat have sued the funeral home that handled his body, saying its owner and his employees wrongfully disposed of their son's internal organs and replaced them with wadded newspaper.

Attorneys for the family of Kendrick Johnson, 17, of Valdosta accuse Harrington Funeral Home of fraud, negligence and intentional mishandling of a corpse in the civil lawsuit filed last Friday in Lowndes County State Court. They are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The Johnson boy was found dead Jan. 11, 2013, inside a rolled up mat in the corner of a gymnasium at his high school.

Also in the nation ...

Armed with a decades-old mugshot, police officers in San Diego on Monday arrested Judy Lynn Hayman, 60, a woman convicted of attempted larceny who escaped from a Michigan prison 37 years ago. ... Roads were closed, transit was thrown into turmoil, a store awning collapsed and thousands of people were without power Wednesday as the second storm this week dumped heavy snow across the Northeast and left streets coated with ice. ... Singer Clay Aiken officially announced his campaign for Congress on Wednesday, injecting a nationally known personality into what has been a quiet Democratic primary to produce a challenger to U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers.


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