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FLORIDA
Teen accused of poisoning his teacher’s drink

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida teenager is accused of trying to poison his teacher by putting hand sanitizer in her Diet Coke.

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that the 15-year-old was arrested Tuesday and charged with poisoning his teacher’s drink. The charge is a first-degree felony.

Walton County Superintendent of Schools Carlene Anderson told the paper that the teacher is fine, though she became physically ill and went to the hospital after drinking the tainted soda.

Anderson says South Walton High School officials told her the boy is a prankster who didn’t intend for the teacher get sick.

In addition to his arrest, the teen has been suspended from school and faces an expulsion hearing.


LOUSIANA
Mom charged in death of Down syndrome son


BELLE CHASSE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana woman has been arrested on a charge of first-degree murder after police say she injected alcohol-based hand sanitizer into the feeding tube of her 17-month-old son, who had Down syndrome.

Twenty-year-old Erika Wigstrom was being held without bond after her arrest Tuesday. Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Commander Eric Becnel says she told police she wanted to end Lucas Ruiz’s suffering. NOLA.com The Times-Picayune reports that Wigstrom broke down in tears during an afternoon court appearance Wednesday.

Lucas died Jan. 24. Becnel said the child also had been poisoned with alcohol in October 2012 while hospitalized for treatment of a heart defect. Becnel says the child’s father, Cesar Ruiz, confessed in that instance, but that Wigstrom has now confessed to poisoning the child both times.


CALIFORNIA
Ex-Manson cult member gets possible parole


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — A California board once again approved parole Wednesday for former Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis, but before he’s released he’ll have to get past Gov. Jerry Brown — who chose to keep him in prison under the same circumstances just last year.

Davis, 71, made his 28th appearance before a Department of Corrections Board of Parole Hearings at the California Men’s Colony near San Luis Obispo.

He has been in prison for nearly 43 years, sentenced with Manson and others for the 1969 murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea. He long maintained that he was a bystander in the killings, but in recent years he has acknowledged his shared responsibility.

Davis was granted parole by the same board in 2012, but Brown rejected it last March, saying he was convinced Davis still hadn’t revealed all he knew about the Manson Family.

Brown said in his written decision that after four decades “it is encouraging that Davis is beginning to reveal the actual details of what happened. But it is clear that he continues to withhold information about these events.”

And just three years before Brown’s rejection, Davis got the same treatment from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who refused his release on parole in 2010.

Wednesday’s decision now triggers a 120-day review period for the board. The governor then has 30 days to approve, reverse, change or decline to review the decision.

Davis’ attorney, Michael Beckman, said last year that Davis was the most rehabilitated of the hundreds of parole candidates he’s represented, calling the governor’s decision “horrible” and contrary to the findings of parole commissioners who found him eminently suitable. He said Davis has told everything he knows.

Davis was not involved in the notorious slayings of Sharon Tate and six others, making him a more likely candidate for parole than many of the better-known Manson family members.

He became a born-again Christian in prison, earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion and ministered to other inmates.

He married a woman he met through the prison ministry, and has a grown daughter. The couple recently divorced.

Davis would be only the second Manson-related murder defendant to be granted parole since the killing spree began in 1969.

Manson and three of his followers, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson, remain in prison for life in the Tate killings. Their co-defendant, Susan Atkins, died of cancer behind bars in 2009.


OKLAHOMA
Teens face trial in Australian player ‘boredom’ death


DUNCAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma judge ruled Wednesday that two teenagers charged with first-degree murder must face a trial in the shooting death of an Australian baseball player.

Prosecutors say a third suspect will testify against them.

Police and prosecutors say the boys targeted Christopher Lane, 22, last August as a way to overcome a boring summer afternoon. Chancey Luna, 16, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 18, were ordered to stand trial, while prosecutors said James Francis Edwards Jr., 16, will testify against them and be charged with a lesser crime.

The preliminary hearing for Luna and Jones had been delayed last month after a witness asked to be represented by an attorney.

Edwards testified at the earlier hearing that he was rolling marijuana cigarettes in the front passenger seat when Luna fired the fatal shot from the back while Jones drove. Edwards testified that Luna and Jones both said they had believed the gun used in the killing held blanks, not a live round.

Prosecutors last month charged Edwards as an accessory after the fact. According to court documents, Edwards made a phone call from the Stephens County Jail between Aug. 16 and Dec. 31, 2013, and asked someone to dispose of the weapon. Edwards testified last month that he later learned the gun was disposed of but said he does not know where the weapon is. He is due back in court in May for a preliminary hearing for that charge.

Prosecutors have said they will drop the first-degree murder charge in exchange for him continuing to testify against the other two teenagers through trial.

In other testimony Wednesday, another teenager took the stand but repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to keep silent when asked about his conversations with the suspects.

Also, a Stephens County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher who said she overheard Jones while he was in custody say that they tried to “kill others and kept missing.” Heather George corrected her testimony when a lawyer for Jones pointed out that a typed statement she made immediately after the alleged incident read “shoot others but we kept missing.”

A gag order prevents lawyers and others from discussing the case outside of court, and two lawyers for Luna were charged with contempt of court shortly after Wednesday’s hearing.

Prosecutors say Jim Berry and Howard Berry broke the gag order last month when they spoke with media outside the courtroom. They have both pleaded not guilty.

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