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Nation briefs

ALABAMACondemned 30 years, he'll go free

After nearly 30 years on death row, a man will go free today after prosecutors told a judge there is not enough evidence to link him to the 1985 murders he was convicted of committing. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Laura Petro dismissed the case against Anthony Ray Hinton yesterday at the request of the district attorney's office. Prosecutors said forensic experts couldn't determine whether six crime scene bullets, the crux of the evidence against Hinton, came from a gun investigators took from his home. Hinton was convicted of two 1985 murders during separate robberies of fast-food restaurants in Birmingham. Hinton, now 58, wept last night on learning he would finally go free, lawyer Bryan Stevenson said.

WASHINGTON15 states argue against gay nuptials

Eight states where same-sex couples can marry are among 15 urging the Supreme Court to uphold gay marriage bans and leave the matter to voters and lawmakers. Louisiana and 14 other states are telling the justices in a brief filed yesterday that the court would do "incalculable damage to our civic life" if it decides same-sex couples must be allowed to marry everywhere in the United States. Plaintiffs from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are asking the court to declare that the Constitution forbids states to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The justices are to hear arguments April 28.


Fears over depleted groundwater

Most signs of California's unrelenting drought are easy to spot, with mountaintops that at this time of year should be snow-peaked stained brown and reservoirs already half-empty. But the most alarming feature of the state's water shortage remains hidden from view, scientists say. California is running low on groundwater, the vast pools stored in underground aquifers that took thousands of years to fill up but are now being drained to irrigate farm fields and run sink taps. Groundwater use has surged as the state's drought has dragged on. Said Jay Famiglietti, a NASA senior water scientist who uses satellites to study the problem: "It's more scary than people realize."


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