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Nation in brief

Residents flee from Colorado flooding

By wire services
Published May 26, 2005

HESPERUS, Colo. - The La Plata River in southwestern Colorado spilled over its banks Wednesday, sending fast-moving water into a mobile home park and forcing families to scramble through thigh-deep water to protect their belongings.

Several rivers in southwestern Colorado are cresting this week after days of hot weather and melting snow. Water levels are expected to remain high through the Memorial Day weekend, the National Weather Service said.

In neighboring Utah, a missing elderly woman was found dead Wednesday in a flooded creek. In Hesperus, 240 miles southwest of Denver, dead trees and other debris forced the La Plata over its banks and into the Pinewind Trailer Park. Residents slogged through the water to dig diversion ditches, hoping to steer the water away from propane tanks and electrical wiring.

In southwestern Colorado, water levels are at their highest point since the regional drought began about six years ago.

Former Clinton fundraiser denies lying about gifts

LOS ANGELES - David Rosen, former national finance director for Sen. Hillary Clinton, testified Wednesday that he may have used bad judgment when he failed to report that a campaign donor paid his $10,000 Beverly Hills hotel bill and let him use a Porsche.

Rosen is charged with making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, which oversees campaign contributions. The defense rested after he testified; closing statements were expected to conclude today.

Federal prosecutors say Rosen lied to regulators by claiming that "in-kind" contributions for a lavish Hollywood fundraiser he helped organize totaled $401,000. They say Rosen knew the contributions were worth more than $1.1-million; he says he relied on other people to document the costs.

Prosecutors say Rose was trying to duck federal financing rules so Clinton's campaign would have more money to spend on her 2000 U.S. Senate race.

Woman released after two decades in N.Y. prison

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A woman convicted of participating in the 1983 murder of her husband was freed from prison Wednesday after prosecutors agreed she would have been eligible for a battered wife defense if such laws had been on the books at the time.

Marie La Pinta, 69, left the Suffolk County jail beaming and gripping a bouquet of roses sent by her three grandchildren.

Last month, her son, Anthony La Pinta, persuaded a judge to overturn her conviction and grant her a new trial.

Instead of a new second-degree murder trial, however, prosecutors allowed La Pinta to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter. She has served more than the 8 years that a conviction on that charge carries, so she was set free.

She admitted hitting her husband, Michael La Pinta, with a baseball bat during a dispute that ended when her brother, Leonardo Crociata, shot him to death. Both of La Pinta's sons said their mother endured years of abuse at the hands of their father.

Driver who decapitated friend sent to prison

MARIETTA, Ga. - A drunken driver who veered off the road and decapitated a friend who had leaned his head out the window was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday.

John Kemper Hutcherson, 21, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death last August of Frankie Brohm, 23, whose head was severed when the car grazed a telephone pole support wire.

The two men were on their way home after a night of drinking when Brohm stuck his head out the window, authorities said.

Police said Hutcherson was unaware of the decapitation and drove to his parents' home, went inside and fell asleep with the headless body still in his truck.

Investigators said Hutcherson's blood-alcohol level was probably more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

[Last modified May 26, 2005, 01:18:13]

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