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World and nation briefs

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 10:00 am

Homeless man turns in money-filled backpack

BOSTON — Boston police say a homeless man who found a backpack containing tens of thousands of dollars in cash and traveler's checks turned it over to authorities.

The man, whose name was not made public, found the backpack at the South Bay Mall in the city's Dorchester neighborhood at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

He flagged down patrolling officers and handed it over.

The backpack contained $2,400 in U.S. currency, almost $40,000 in traveler's checks, Chinese passports and other personal papers.

Meanwhile, the man who lost the backpack informed workers at the Best Buy store at the mall.

The man was taken to the police station, where he was confirmed as the rightful owner.

Former music exec held hostage, stabbed

LOS ANGELES — A former music industry executive was in critical condition Monday in Los Angeles after authorities say his girlfriend's suicidal ex-husband held him and the woman hostage for more than five hours and cut him with a machete.

The hostage situation unfolded early Sunday at the woman's Woodland Hills home, police Sgt. Alex Kim told City News Service.

The victim, Jerry Sharell, was cut several times on the neck, Kim said. Sharell worked with the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Motley Crue during a career as music executive dating back to the 1970s.

The woman eventually was able to get away and call police.

Arriving officers ordered the suspect to drop the machete. By the time he did, he had slit his own wrists.

Accused White House shooter to accept deal

WASHINGTON — An Idaho man charged with trying to assassinate President Obama by shooting an assault rifle at the White House will accept a plea deal.

Court records show a Wednesday plea agreement hearing has been scheduled for Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez. One of Ortega-Hernandez's lawyers, Robert Feitel, also confirmed Monday that he anticipated the case would be resolved by a plea.

Ortega-Hernandez was scheduled to be tried later this month for the 2011 shooting. It didn't injure anyone but left more than five bullet marks on the executive mansion.

Prosecutors say Ortega-Hernandez told acquaintances before the shooting that Obama was the Antichrist and “the devil” and that he needed to kill him.

Falling light pole hit by vehicle kills man

PHOENIX — A freak accident in Phoenix has claimed the life of a 25-year-old man.

Police say the man was killed instantly Sunday evening when he was struck by a falling light pole. It fell after being hit by one of two vehicles involved in a collision at a midtown intersection.

Police say the pedestrian was walking away from the intersection and might not have seen the pole falling.

The victim's identity wasn't immediately released.

Injuries to people in the vehicles involved in the collision were not life-threatening.

1st solo balloonist supported quest

CARIBOU, Maine — The first balloonist to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean says he didn't have any safety concerns about a North Carolina man's attempt to repeat the accomplishment with a cluster of helium-filled balloons.

Jonathan Trappe set out Thursday from Caribou, Maine. He ended far short of his goal 12 hours later in Newfoundland after experiencing problems.

One of Trappe's advisers was Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force officer who once set a record for jumping from a balloon 19.5 miles up. He later became the first solo trans-Atlantic balloonist.

Kittinger said Monday that he and Trappe were inspired by the same thing — adventure. He said he had no qualms with Trappe's unusual setup and that if Trappe stepped aside, in his words, “I would've flown it.”

More than 1,000 attend NC prayer rally

SALISBURY, N.C. – More than 1,000 people attended a prayer rally before the Rowan County Commission meeting in Salisbury.

The group sang patriotic songs and hymns before the meeting Monday night.

The American Civil Liberates Union sued the commission in March on behalf of three people who complained commissioners were alienating members of the community by opening their meeting with a prayer for a specific religion.

Commissioner Mike Caskey opened Monday's meeting with a prayer that ended with the words; “I ask this in his name, who is above all other names.” Caskey did not use Jesus' name in the prayer.

Dr. Ron Baity with the Return America group of Winston-Salem says he told the commission that if the right to pray is lost in public, people will next attack prayer in churches.

Man dies when rig runs off bridge

ANDERSON, S.C. – A Seneca man died when the tractor-trailer rig he was driving blew a tire and ran off a bridge over Lake Hartwell in Anderson County.

Coroner Greg Shore said 49-year-old David Ray Wright was underwater for about half an hour Monday night before divers got to him. He was taken to AnMed Health Medical Center in Anderson where he was pronounced dead. Wright was also a volunteer fire chief in Oconee County.

Shore said Wright was helping his father, who delivers mobile homes. Wright was driving the rig when it ran off the state highway bridge. Another man in the truck suffered only minor injuries.

Hearing set for NC officer in death of unarmed man

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Charlotte police officer accused of shooting an unarmed man 10 times after he was in a car crash over the weekend is scheduled for appearance in court on voluntary manslaughter charges this afternoon.

Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 times at Jonathan A. Ferrell early Saturday after the 24-year-old was in a single-car wreck and sought help at a nearby house, police said. Kerrick's first court appearance had been scheduled for Monday but was delayed. Officials did not say why.

On Monday, Ferrell's family said in their first public remarks in the case that the former Florida A&M University football player moved to Charlotte about a year ago to be with his fiancee and was working two jobs.

Also Monday, a family attorney and representatives of the NAACP questioned whether race played a role in the shooting of the black man by a white officer. Though there was praise for police for quickly filing charges, some said the shooting didn't surprise them, considering portrayals of black men in popular culture and previous instances of racially inflected violence.

UMass worker who died stole $3.4M

WORCESTER, Mass. – Officials at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have discovered a $3.4 million theft by an employee who died in a December car accident.

School leaders told The Boston Globe an internal investigation found that for five years financial analyst Leo Villani siphoned funds from payments intended for the state Medicaid insurance program. It may be the biggest theft by a state employee in more than a decade.

Officials at the Worcester school say Villani made $46,000 a year but drove a Porsche, collected Salvador Dali paintings and built a large home in Uxbridge. They say he claimed he inherited money. The school has dismissed one supervisor and disciplined several other workers in response to the theft. It also has called in an outside auditor.

— From wire reports