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Lawyers argue life or death for Colorado movie gunman

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Defense attorneys said the Colorado movie massacre gunman was schizophrenic and they urged jurors on Thursday to spare his life, while prosecutors said James Holmes must not be able to use mental illness as a shield.

Californians exceed water conservation target in June

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians reduced their water use by more than 27 percent in June, exceeding the amount ordered by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in the state’s first-ever mandatory conservation rules amid an ongoing catastrophic drought, authorities said.

U.S. agency investigates violation in lion killing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating whether the killing of a beloved lion by an American dentist in Zimbabwe was part of a conspiracy to violate a U.S. law against illegal wildlife trading, a source close to the case told Reuters on Thursday.

U.S. imposes further sanctions on Russian

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States imposed further Russia and Ukraine-related sanctions on Thursday, including on associates of a billionaire Russian gas trader, Crimean port operators, and former Ukrainian officials.

Obama opposes defunding Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House said on Thursday that President Barack Obama would oppose any efforts by Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, a health organization that performs abortions at its clinics.

Campus officer charged with murder of black man

CINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man has been charged with murder after a grand jury investigation, the Hamilton County prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Dentist who killed lion draws threats, protests

MINNEAPOLIS — Police in Minnesota are investigating reports of a threat against a dentist who killed Zimbabwe’s most famous lion just outside a national wildlife preserve, sparking a global firestorm of hate messages on social media.

Seamstress who aided escapees pleads guilty

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — A prison seamstress pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping two murderers escape from a maximum security prison in upstate New York last month.

Seven dead in separate small airplane crashes

WISCONSIN/MINNESOTA — Seven people have been killed in two crashes of small airplanes in western Wisconsin and southwestern Minnesota, officials said on Tuesday.

Second suspect in 10 days dies in custody of Houston police

HOUSTON — Police are investigating the deaths of two suspects in their custody in the past 10 days, incidents that have come as national attention has been focused on Texas police after a black woman was found hanged in a jail cell in a nearby county.

Teen arrested after body of missing California girl found

SANTA CRUZ, California — Authorities have arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with the death of an 8-year-old girl missing since Sunday whose body was discovered in a recycling bin at a residential complex in Santa Cruz, California, police said.

Maine farm boy turns up safe after night lost in woods

AUGUSTA, Maine — A 7-year-old Maine farm boy was found safe on Tuesday after spending a night alone in the woods in the state’s rural northeast when he lost his way looking for the family dog, authorities said.

No protests at services for Louisiana theater shooting victims

FRANKLIN, Lousiana — Members of a Kansas-based fundamentalist Christian church who threatened to stage protests at the funerals of two women fatally shot in a Louisiana movie theater failed to show up on Monday as the first of the services got underway, according to local news reports and social media.

Boy Scouts end blanket ban on gay adult leaders

DALLAS — The Boy Scouts of America have ended a blanket ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion because of their faith.

Murder charge in fatal church stabbing

MARYLAND — A Virginia man was charged with first-degree murder on Monday in connection with a knife attack at a Maryland church service in which a man was killed and his wife critically injured, police said.

Outside attorneys to aid with Texas jail death

CHICAGO — The county prosecutor investigating the death of a black woman at a Texas jail days after her arrest during a traffic stop said on Monday outside attorneys will help with the probe, which likely will go to a county grand jury in August.