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ILLINOIS: Blagojevich jury asks for help

After more than a week of silence, jurors in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich threw the Chicago courtroom into confusion Wednesday when they sent a note to the judge suggesting they may be deadlocked on some counts. In their 11th day of deliberations, they told Judge James B. Zagel they had made "a reasonable attempt," but asked for guidance if they can't reach a unanimous decision on any given count. Zagel said he would ask jurors to be clearer about what they meant so that he could advise them. Michael Ettinger, attorney for brother co-defendant Robert Blagojevich, said he believes the jury is hung. "A hung jury is better than a conviction," he said.


GUANTÁNAMO BAY: Sentencing for al-Qaida cook

A jury of 10 U.S. military officers recommended a 14-year sentence Wednesday for an al-Qaida cook, though he could be released sooner under a plea bargain that will limit his prison time. Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi of Sudan pleaded guilty last month to supporting terrorism, making him only the fourth Guantánamo detainee to be convicted since the prison, which has held nearly 800 men, was opened in 2002. Critics said the case's handling dashed hopes that the offshore tribunal system would be more transparent under President Barack Obama. "To find out that the first conviction under the Obama administration is accompanied by a secret plea agreement, coupled with a dummy sentence, it's really troubling," said Andrea Prasow, observing the hearings for Human Rights Watch. Opening arguments were expected today in another trial, that for Omar Khadr, a Canadian accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002.


LOUISIANA: 'Granddad bandit' suspect held

A man dubbed the "Granddad Bandit" by the FBI and suspected in 25 bank robberies in 13 states was captured Wednesday at his Baton Rouge home after a six-hour standoff, authorities said. Police and FBI agents walked out with Michael Francis Mara, 52, a stocky, balding man with graying hair and glasses. A warrant charges him with a robbery in Richmond, Va.

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