TexasFamily seeks justice for burned boy
Nearly every part of Robert Middleton's body was etched by fire after he was doused with gasoline and set aflame on his eighth birthday in 1998. He died in 2011 from skin cancer that his family believes developed from cells in some of the skin grafts. Authorities last month filed a murder charge against the suspect whom Robert had long accused, Don Willburn Collins, who was 13 at the time. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison. But pursuing a murder charge against Collins, who is now 28, might be a difficult task for prosecutors, who would first have to get the case transferred from juvenile court to district court so Collins can be tried as an adult. If that hurdle is overcome, legal experts say, the greatest challenge would be convincing jurors that Robert's cancer resulted directly from the severe burns.
NationwideFood stamp outage hits 17 states
People in New Jersey and 16 other states found themselves unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards yesterday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. "While the electronic benefits system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon," a Xerox spokeswoman said. A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman underscored that the outage is not related to the government shutdown.
North CarolinaGroups criticize officer's arrest
Hours after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fatally shot an unarmed man, the department made a rare move: It charged the officer with voluntary manslaughter. The decision to quickly charge Randall Kerrick is now drawing sharp criticism from police groups and being followed closely by law enforcement departments across the country. Critics call the move a rush to judgment and say it will have a chilling effect on officers in the field. Police shootings are generally high-profile stories in local communities. And when race is involved they often attract national attention. Kerrick is white; Jonathan Ferrell, the man who was shot and a former Florida A&M football player, is black. Police Chief Rodney Monroe said that while Ferrell did advance on Kerrick, the shooting was excessive. Monroe said the department's investigation showed the officer didn't have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during the encounter. Kerrick's attorneys said the shooting was justified because Ferrell didn't obey verbal commands to stop.