National briefs: Open carrying of rifles banned
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Assembly voted final legislative approval Wednesday to a ban on carrying unloaded rifles and shotguns openly in public in California cities, with supporters citing recent mass shootings in other states and concern by police officers.
The Assembly voted, 43-30, to send the legislation to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has said he owns three firearms but has not taken a public position on the bill.
The measure is a follow-up to a bill signed last year by Mr. Brown that prohibited people from openly carrying unloaded handguns in public. Some have carried guns in public in a demonstration of a right to bear firearms.
The new measure makes it a misdemeanor, subject to jail time and fines, to carry unloaded long guns openly in incorporated cities.
ATLANTA -- West Nile virus cases are up 40 percent since last week and may rival the record years of 2002 and 2003, federal health officials said Wednesday.
So far this year, 1,590 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 66 deaths.
About half of the cases are serious illnesses, and the CDC considers those the best indicator of West Nile activity because many mild cases do not get reported and their symptoms may not even be recognized.
LIBERTY, Texas -- One of the men accused in a series of repeated sexual assaults of a young Texas girl disappeared from his trial Wednesday on a day of emotional testimony from the now 13-year-old girl who cried as a video of one of the encounters was played for jurors.
Testimony continued despite the absence of Eric McGowen, 20, who is one of 14 adults accused of having sex with the girl during a nearly three-month span two years ago. Six boys also are charged in the case.
Mr. McGowen failed to return to the courtroom following an afternoon break. District Judge Mark Morefield then told jurors the trial would go on without him.
Judge Morefield later said a bench warrant had been issued, and Mr. McGowen's bond was increased from $35,000 to $250,000. The judge denied a defense motion for a continuance in the case and said the trial would resume this morning.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Florida appeals court ruled Wednesday that George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer accused of killing Trayvon Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, should get a new judge.
A three-judge panel concluded that Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. in Sanford, Fla., went too far when he wrote that Mr. Zimmerman is a manipulator and made a veiled threat to hold him in contempt of court in the future.
NEW YORK -- A hardware store clerk was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping, killing and dismembering a lost 8-year-old boy, bringing an end to a gruesome crime that horrified a tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.
Levi Aron had pleaded guilty this month to lesser charges in a deal that spared him a criminal trial and the possibility of life in prison without parole. When asked Wednesday if he wanted to speak at his sentencing hearing, the 37-year old whispered "no." He will be eligible for parole in 40 years.
First Published August 30, 2012 12:35 am