National briefs: 2/24/12
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland's Senate passed a measure Thursday making same-sex marriage legal, a move supported by Gov. Martin O'Malley, putting the state on the brink of becoming the eighth in the U.S. to permit the practice.
The 25-22 vote marks the last legislative hurdle for the bill. The House of Delegates, which last year prevented the measure from advancing, passed it last week. The bill now goes to Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat who sponsored it.
A similar measure was enacted Feb. 13 by Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat. Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed a gay-marriage bill passed by the Legislature.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A man who spent 18 months in an Australian jail for the drowning death of his wife during a diving trip in that country was acquitted of murder in Alabama on Thursday.
Circuit Judge Tommy Nail ended the trial with his acquittal ruling before the defense had even presented its case, saying prosecutors lacked evidence to prove Gabe Watson intentionally killed his wife.
Prosecutor Don Valeska, head of the violent crimes division for the state attorney general's office, said he never before had a trial end in a judge's acquittal in 41 years of trying cases, though that does sometimes happen, legal experts say.
Mr. Watson, 34, had faced life in prison without parole if convicted of murdering his wife of 11 days, Tina Thomas Watson, in 2003. The couple was diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Mr. Watson pleaded guilty in Australia to a manslaughter charge involving negligence.
HOUSTON -- A former KBR Inc. chief executive was sentenced to 21/2 years in prison and three years of probation Thursday for his role in a scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in return for $6 billion in engineering and construction contracts.
Albert "Jack" Stanley, 69, pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiring in the decade-long scheme related to the company's natural gas operations in Nigeria from 1995 to 2004.
KBR, a worldwide engineering and construction services firm, was split off as a separate public company from Halliburton in 2007. It was formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- An Alabama woman is under guard at a hospital after she gave birth following her arrest in the death of her 9-year-old stepdaughter, who authorities say was forced to run for three hours as punishment for lying about eating a candy bar.
Jessica Mae Hardin, 27, was transferred from the Etowah County Detention Center to a hospital on Wednesday, sheriff's office spokeswoman Natalie Barton said. Ms. Hardin and her mother-in-law, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, were arrested and charged with murder on Wednesday in the death of Savannah Hardin.
FORT MEADE, Md. -- The court martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning came to a halt Thursday as the soldier delayed entering a plea to charges he leaked classified information published on the WikiLeaks website.
Pvt. Manning, 24, deferred a plea and a decision on whether to be tried by a military judge or jury in a hearing, according to Col. Michelle Roberts, an Army spokeswoman. The court set a tentative date of March 15 to March 16 for the next session in the case, Col. Roberts said.
First Published February 24, 2012 12:00 am