Across the Southeast

New Orleans remains bloodiest city in U.S.

NEW ORLEANS --- The bloodiest city in the country in 2006, reeling from crime in its struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina, got even worse in 2007.

New Orleans registered 209 homicides last year, a nearly 30 percent increase from the 161 recorded in 2006.

The FBI's rankings for 2007 won't be out until much later in the year, but New Orleans' population is thought to be 295,450, which would mean a rate of about 71 homicides per 100,000 people.

Even the most generous population estimate in 2006 put the number of people in the city that year at 255,000. That meant a real homicide rate of 63.5 per 100,000 residents. To compare that number with some other notoriously bloody cities, the rate for Gary, Ind., was 48.3 and Detroit's was 47.1.

The killings were drug-related or retaliatory for the most part, police have said. The upswing comes despite continued patrols by the National Guard and state police and the addition of two new classes of police recruits in the past year.

Ex-governor seeking release from prison

MONTGOMERY, ALA. --- Attorneys for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman are trying to get a federal court to release him from prison based on delays in the court hearing an appeal of his conviction.

Mr. Siegelman's attorneys filed the request Monday with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. They cited delays in preparing a transcript of his trial in U.S. District Court in Montgomery.

Mr. Siegelman's appeal of his 2006 conviction on bribery and obstruction of justice charges can't proceed without a transcript of the 10-week trial where he was convicted along with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

Mr. Siegelman's attorneys also cited a Nov. 4 ruling by the 11th Circuit that sought a more detailed explanation from the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, on why he refused to let Mr. Siegelman remain free on bond while appealing his conviction. Judge Fuller has not submitted a response to the appeals court.

-- Associated Press