Originally created 08/31/02

Across the Southeast

Man faces charges in six shooting deaths

RUTLEDGE, Ala. -An unemployed man who had been hiding out with his 16-year-old girlfriend was charged with capital murder Friday in the shooting deaths of six members of her family at their rural home.

Authorities said Westley Devone Harris, 22, was charged with killing his girlfriend's three teenage brothers along with her mother, father and grandmother.

Capt. Hugh McCall of the Alabama Department of Public Safety announced the filing of six counts of capital murder, which carry a possible death sentence if convicted.

Train hits, kills girl on her way to school

NEW ORLEANS -An Amtrak train struck and killed a 15-year-old girl Friday as she attempted to walk across tracks while on her way to school, authorities said.

April Jefferson was walking with two younger male cousins along tracks that run beside Lake Pontchartrain. The three had crossed the tracks earlier so they could walk along the edge of Lake Pontchartrain in eastern New Orleans, a police spokesman said.

When they saw the train approaching, they tried to rush back to the other side of the tracks so they could proceed to school without having to wait for the train to pass, the spokesman said.

Fire leaves 6 families homeless, kills 40 pets

NEW ORLEANS -An eight-alarm fire in a block of New Orleans' lower garden district damaged eight buildings, leaving several apartment dwellers homeless and killing an estimated 40 pets.

An American Red Cross worker on the scene estimated that at least six families lost their homes in the fire, which was reported around 6:30 a.m. Friday and raged out of control until late morning, damaging eight 19th-century buildings.

Passport scheme gets state official arrested

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -State Rep. Ronnie Davis was arrested Friday on federal conspiracy charges in an alleged scheme to get diplomatic passports for people who did not qualify for them.

Mr. Davis, 58, was arrested Friday at his home in Newport and was later released after posting $25,000 bond.

Mr. Davis and Diana Dorothy Burton of Murfreesboro are charged with conspiracy to defraud two Beaumont, Texas, residents by giving them regular U.S. passports that had been altered to look like diplomatic passports in exchange for $100,000.


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