Zimmerman jury given option of convicting on manslaughter charge
SANFORD, Fla. — In an unmistakable setback for George Zimmerman, the jury at the neighborhood watch captain’s second-degree murder trial was given the option Thursday of convicting him on the lesser charge of manslaughter in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Judge Debra Nelson issued her ruling over the objections of Zimmerman’s lawyers just before a prosecutor delivered a closing argument in which he portrayed the defendant as an aspiring police officer who assumed Martin was up to no good and took the law into his own hands.
“A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the jurors. “He is dead because a man made assumptions. … Because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks this Earth.”
Zimmerman’s lawyers are expected to deliver their closing arguments this morning.
First victim identified in fiery train derailment
LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec — The first victim of a train’s explosive derailment was identified Thursday, more than five days since the disaster, which left behind a scorched scene so dangerous that it slowed the search for 50 people presumed dead.
The first victim to be identified by the coroner’s office was 93-year-old Eliane Parenteau, who lived in the disaster zone in downtown Lac-Megantic.
Singer Randy Travis undergoes brain surgery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country music star Randy Travis underwent brain surgery following a stroke at a Texas hospital.
Travis, 54, was in critical condition Thursday after surgery to relieve pressure on his brain Wednesday, publicist Kirt Webster said. He had been improving while being treated for heart failure caused by a viral infection when he had the stroke.
His doctors said Wednesday in a video statement that his heart problem stemmed from an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus, but they have not released any information since.
911 calls reveal chaos after plane crash
SAN FRANCISCO — Stunned and bleeding after a Boeing 777 crash-landed at the San Francisco airport, hundreds of passengers staggered across the debris-strewn tarmac, some trying to help the critically injured, others desperately calling 911 and begging for more ambulances.
“There’s not enough medics out here,” a caller said in a 911 call released by the California Highway Patrol. “There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway, who is pretty much burned very severely on the head and we don’t know what to do.”
Two people died and 180 of the 307 people were hurt Saturday when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 slammed into a seawall at the end of the runway.
Passengers were told over the jet’s public-address system to stay in their seats for another 90 seconds while the cockpit consulted with the control tower, a safety procedure to prevent people from evacuating into life-threatening fires or machinery. As it was, it appears one of the two Chinese teens who died may have been run over by a fire truck rushing to the scene.
Saudi princess appears on trafficking charges
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Dressed in a jail jumpsuit, a woman described by authorities as a Saudi royal princess appeared in an Orange County courtroom Thursday to face human trafficking charges that accuse her of forcing a Kenyan woman to work as a domestic servant.
Meshael Alayban answered the judge’s question in a Santa Ana courtroom, where her arraignment was continued until July 29.
Alayban was arrested early Wednesday by police at her home in a gated community in Irvine, Calif., where they say she forced the woman to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for $220 a month. She was unable to leave because Alayban kept the woman’s passport, police say.
By wire sources