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Nation In Brief

Blackwater guards promised immunity

WASHINGTON — The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.

The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

“Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,” said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

Suspect assumes cellmate’s identity

SAN ANTONIO — A slaying suspect escaped from jail by assuming the identity of another inmate and was on the loose for more than six hours before authorities realized he was gone, officials said. He was still at large Monday.

The man who escaped, David Sauceda, 27, walked out of jail early Sunday morning when he recited the personal information of his cellmate, Michael Garcia, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

W. Virginia searches for African lion

LEWISBURG, W.Va. — Using a video camera and raw chicken, state officials hope to learn whether the king of the jungle is prowling the woods of West Virginia.

Bow hunter Jim Shortridge believes he saw a full-grown, male African lion weighing between 250 and 300 pounds at the foot of Cold Knob Mountain earlier this month. The state Division of Natural Resources confirmed that at least one other person has reported seeing the lion.

3rd man takes plea in Simpson case

LAS VEGAS — A man whose lawyer says he can testify that O.J. Simpson asked him to bring guns to a confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers told a judge Monday that he’ll accept a plea deal and testify against Simpson and two other men.

Michael McClinton, 49, of Las Vegas became the third man to agree to plead guilty to reduced charges in return for his testimony.

He told Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure he will plead guilty to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. He could receive probation or up to 11 years in prison.

Mafia girlfriend: FBI used mob muscle

NEW YORK — The FBI used mob muscle to solve the 1964 disappearance of three civil rights volunteers in Mississippi, a gangster’s ex-girlfriend testified Monday, becoming the first witness to repeat in open court a story that has been underworld lore for years.

Linda Schiro said her boyfriend, Mafia tough guy
Gregory Scarpa Sr., was recruited by the FBI to help find the volunteers’ bodies. She said Scarpa later told her he put
a gun in a Ku Klux Klansman’s mouth and forced him to
reveal the whereabouts of the victims.

The FBI has never acknowledged that Scarpa, nicknamed “The Grim Reaper,” was involved in the case.

Chemical plant fire, explosion in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — An explosion and fire Monday at a chemical plant northeast of Des Moines sent plumes of thick smoke into the sky and forced firefighters to pull back for fears of more blasts.

Fire departments from throughout the Des Moines area responded to the fire. One worker suffered slight burns and was treated at the scene.

The explosion at the Barton Solvents plant was reported at 1:15 p.m., and nearly three hours later was continuing to burn, said A.J. Mumm, coordinator for the Polk County Emergency Management Agency.

Compiled From Wire Reports

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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