Judge moves 'affluenza' teen's case to adult court
FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge on Friday sent the case of a Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense in a fatal drunken driving wreck to adult court, raising the possibility that he could get jail time for the 2013 crash that killed four people.
Ethan Couch was 16 at the time of the crash. Friday's ruling means the now 18-year-old Couch could face up to 120 days in jail, then finish his 10-year probation.
But if he violates his probation during that time, he could get up to 10 years in prison for each of the four people who were killed.
The judge ordered that the case be transferred before Couch turns 19 in April. He remains in the county's maximum-security jail and in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day. —AP
Last of 'Angola Three' inmates is released
ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. — The last inmate of a group known as the "Angola Three" pleaded no contest Friday to manslaughter in the 1972 death of a prison guard and was released after more than four decades in prison, raising a clenched fist as he walked free.
Albert Woodfox and two other men became known as the "Angola Three" for their decades long stays in isolation at the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola and other prisons.
Their cases drew condemnation from human rights groups and focused attention on the use of solitary confinement in American prisons.
Woodfox, 69, was awaiting a third trial in the guard's death after earlier convictions were thrown out by federal courts for reasons including racial bias in selecting a grand jury foreman.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the plea deal was "in the best interest of justice," and was reached with the cooperation of the guard's family. —AP
St. Louis archbishop questions ties to Girl Scouts
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is urging priests to sever ties with the Girl Scouts, saying the organization promotes values "incompatible" with Catholic teachings.
His open letter to priests, scout leaders and other Catholics was posted Thursday on the archdiocese website. It urges parishes that host Girl Scout meetings to consider alternative programs for girls that are more Catholic or Christian-based.
"We must stop and ask ourselves — is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?" Carlson wrote.
The letter stops short of demanding an end to Girl Scout meetings at parishes, a common gathering site in the heavily Catholic St. Louis region.
Carlson worries that contraception and abortion rights are being promoted to Girl Scouts. —AP
NASA gets record number of astronaut applicants
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space travel never looked so good.
NASA announced Friday that it received a record number of applicants — some 18,300 — for its next astronaut class.
That's more than double the previous record of 8,000 for the first space shuttle astronaut class in 1978.
The odds of getting picked are small; only eight to 14 Americans will be chosen. NASA expects it will take 1 1/2 years to whittle down the list. Candidates need to be U.S. citizens with a bachelor's degree in science, math or engineering.
The first astronaut class was the Mercury 7 chosen in 1959. —AP
Senate bill would block mandatory GMO labels
WASHINGTON — A Senate committee is moving forward on legislation that would prevent states from requiring labels on genetically modified foods.
Vermont is set to require such labels this summer. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas released draft legislation late Friday that would block that law and create new voluntary labels for companies that want to use them on food packages that contain genetically modified ingredients. The Senate panel is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday.
The bill is similar to legislation the House passed last year. The food industry has argued that genetically modified organisms are safe and that a patchwork of state laws isn't practical. Labeling advocates have been fighting state by state to enact the labeling, with the eventual goal of a national standard. —AP