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Nation in brief

3 counts dropped in spy case

By wire services
Published December 21, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Air Force has dropped three counts in an espionage case against a Syrian-born airman who worked as a translator at the Guantanamo Bay camp for terrorism suspects.

The lawyer for Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, a supply clerk detailed to the prison, said Saturday that once those charges were removed, "simply the gut of the case was gone."

Dropped was the count that accused al-Halabi of "aiding the enemy," a capital offense.

Also dropped were counts that dealt with e-mailing information about detainees and committing espionage by transmitting information to unauthorized recipients.

Al-Halabi still faces 17 of the 30 charges filed against him following his arrest in July.

Georgia beauty queen turns herself in

SAVANNAH, Ga. - A beauty queen turned herself in to police Saturday to face a murder charge in the death of her boyfriend.

Sharron Nicole Redmond, who holds the title of Miss Savannah, was being held without bail in the death of Kevin Shorter.

Redmond, 21, was initially charged with aggravated assault in the Tuesday shooting, but the charge was upgraded to murder after Shorter died Friday.

"She's having a very difficult time with everything that's happened, especially with his death," said Michael Schiavone said, Redmond's lawyer.

Redmond assumed the Miss Savannah title when Andrea Bailey won the title of Miss Georgia.

Oregon Boy Scout group fined after cannon death

PORTLAND, Ore. - A Boy Scout group has been fined $11,500 for safety violations after a teenage camp counselor died from injuries he suffered when a ceremonial cannon exploded.

Christopher Kroker, 16, was trying to fire the cannon when part of it flew back and hit him in the head, said Peter DeLuca, administrator of the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division. Kroker died four days later.

Investigators concluded that Kroker overloaded the cannon.

Elsewhere . . .

SUICIDE IN SHERIFF'S OFFICE: A man arrested for shooting a deputy committed suicide at sheriff's headquarters with a gun he had in his pants pocket. Ricardo Alfonso Cerna, 47, of San Bernardino was alone in an interview room Friday when he shot himself in the head, officials said. Deputy Michael Parham, who was shot when he pulled Cerna over for a traffic violation, was listed in critical but stable condition after surgery.

AGENT'S BODY FOUND: The body of missing Border Patrol agent James Epling, 24, was found in the Colorado River near Yuma, Ariz., near the spot where he had rescued a suspected illegal immigrant four days earlier.

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