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FLORIDA: Whale's attack described

A killer whale that dragged a trainer to her death eluded SeaWorld workers who furiously unfurled nets while it swam pool-to-pool during the attack last week, according to witness statements released Monday. After minutes of frenzied work to save Dawn Brancheau, the whale was finally corralled but still refused to unclench its teeth and let go of her body, according to the investigative reports released by the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Jan Topoleski, whose job is to monitor trainers' safety, said he saw Brancheau lying on the deck face-to-face with the 22-foot, 12,000-pound whale and communicating with him right before the attack. He said the whale, Tilikum, bit Brancheau's hair and pulled her into the pool in a span of about two seconds.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Mother's appeal rebutted

A judge plans to throw out Susan Smith's request for a new trial unless the woman convicted of leaving her two young sons in her car to drown in 1994 can come up with better arguments. Smith filed a handwritten appeal earlier this year, claiming unspecified allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and said she was abused by her now ex-husband, David Smith. Circuit Judge Lee Alford has given Smith 20 days to give better reasons to allow her appeal to continue. Smith, representing herself, was convicted in 1995 of leaving Michael, 3, and 14-month-old Alex strapped in their car seats as she rolled her car into a lake in the northwestern part of the state.

TEXAS: Three vie in GOP primary

With the clock ticking in a rough Republican primary, Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison swept through urban areas of Texas Monday seeking votes in their gubernatorial showdown. GOP activist Debra Medina, a favorite of many tea party voters, is also in Tuesday's contest, which could result in a runoff if no one wins a majority. Perry wants a third full four-year term; Hutchison argues that he's trying to stay too long; and Medina says she's the best alternative to the establishment candidates.

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