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Nation in brief

Sniper defense team rests after 2 hours

By Wire services
Published November 13, 2003

Lawyers for John Allen Muhammad, the older suspect in the sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area last fall, wrapped up their defense on Wednesday afternoon two hours after they had begun.

The defense called five witnesses, essentially to try to poke holes in the prosecution's witness accounts that placed Muhammad and an accomplice at the scene of one of the murders. Closing arguments are to begin today.

Before Muhammad's lawyers could begin their defense on Wednesday, Judge LeRoy Millette Jr. rejected their motion to strike the death penalty from the jury's consideration.

Also Wednesday, jury selection was completed in the murder trial of the man accused of being Muhammad's accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo. Lawyers settled on 16 jurors and alternates that included nine women and seven men. Opening arguments are to begin today.

Judicial hearing held for Commandments judge

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Prosecutors urged a judicial panel to oust suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore on Wednesday for disobeying a federal judge's order to move his Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse rotunda - a defiant stand that Moore said was moral and lawful.

Moore argued he was upholding his oath of office and promises to Alabama voters when he refused to move the 5,300-pound granite monument.

The Court of the Judiciary is hearing six charges that Moore violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics when he ignored the order to move the monument, which eventually was rolled to a storage room on instructions from his fellow justices.

It would take a unanimous vote from the court to remove Moore from office halfway into his six-year elected term. A decision is expected today.

Supreme Court takes up age discrimination case

WASHINGTON - U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled Wednesday they would be reluctant to allow younger workers to sue under a federal law banning age discrimination.

Several justices observed during oral arguments that Congress designed the law to protect older workers from discrimination and that allowing the suit by younger workers would prevent employers from offering benefits such as flexible schedules and retirement packages only to senior employees.

Employees from ages 40 to 49 sued their employer, General Dynamics Land Systems, when the company began offering certain health care benefits to workers who were 50 and older.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she "had a hard time believing that Congress would have wanted the law to prevent employers from offering those benefits to older workers."

Elsewhere . . .

LACI PETERSON CASE CONTINUES: An FBI scientist Wednesday denied a DNA sample used to link Laci Peterson to a hair on her husband's boat was contaminated. Bruce Budowle was called by prosecutors to rebut testimony from a defense expert who had criticized the DNA techniques used to analyze the hair, found in pliers in the boat Scott Peterson said he took fishing the day his wife disappeared.

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