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Nation briefs

PENNSYLVANIAVideo in cop's murder trial

Video played at a police officer's murder trial yesterday shows the 15-year veteran shocking a fleeing suspect with a stun gun, then shooting him twice in the back as he lay face down in the snow. Officer Lisa Mearkle was charged with third-degree murder in the shooting of David Kassick, 59, after he fled a Feb. 2 traffic stop in Hummelstown, a Harrisburg suburb. The video, captured by a camera attached to her stun gun, shows Kassick's hands repeatedly disappearing under his body as Mearkle screams at him to keep them where she can see them, a key point of contention between the defense, which says Mearkle fired in self-defense, and the prosecution, which called the shooting unjustified. Mearkle, 37, gave CPR after shooting Kassick, but he died. He was unarmed. She was to testify today.

FLORIDAInflux of Cubans on way here

More Cubans were stopped at sea while trying to reach the U.S. in the past year than at any time since the chaotic rafter crisis of 1994, according to the Coast Guard. The 4,462 Cubans picked up on the ocean, heading to South Florida in makeshift vessels and returned to the island is more than twice the number stopped last year. Experts say the migration surge began in December, when the U.S. announced efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. They say many fear that America's renewed relationship with Cuba will make getting a visa more difficult, or end the favorable treatment granted to Cuban immigrants. Under the "wet foot-dry foot" policy, outlined in a 1995 accord, any Cuban intercepted at sea is sent back; those who make it to U.S. soil are allowed to stay.


Fleeing flood, all the way West

The owners of a pit bull that disappeared over Memorial Day are puzzled as to how he ended up more than 2,000 miles away. Eddie Hurtado says Thor ran away after his family evacuated their flooded San Marcos home. Police found Thor wandering in Crescent City, California, near the Oregon border, in September. Animal shelter workers used his microchip to identify him. Hurtado says it would cost $1,500 to ship the dog home. A trucker has volunteered to drive Thor back to San Marcos.

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