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Court hears about man who wouldn't give ID

Arguments got underway yesterday before the US Supreme Court in a case that examines the issue of whether people have to tell police their name. The first-of-its kind case asks whether people can be punished for refusing to identify themselves. The court took up the appeal of a Nevada cattle rancher who was arrested four years after he told a deputy that he had done nothing wrong and didn't have to reveal his name or show an ID. Speaking outside the court yesterday, 59-year-old Larry Hiibel said that one of his fundamental rights as an American citizen is to remain silent. But Nevada's senior deputy attorney general said that "identifying yourself is a neutral act" that helps police in their investigations and doesn't, by itself, incriminate anyone. (AP)

Utah

Firing squad banned as form of execution

After May 3, Utah inmates condemned to death will no longer be able to choose how to die. The Republican governor, Olene Walker, signed legislation last week doing away with firing squads, leaving lethal injection as the only method for executing the state's condemned murderers. The firing squads had long been criticized for being an outdated and grisly tie to the state's Wild West past. Victims' rights groups balked at the idea of allowing the convicts to take the attention away from victims' families. Forty of the state's 50 executions have been carried out by firing squads composed of Utah police officers who volunteer for the duty. Idaho and Oklahoma are the only remaining states with the squads, but they have not been used in modern times. (Washington Post)

California

Mars rover makes its way out of crater

LOS ANGELES -- NASA's Mars rover Opportunity managed yesterday to climb up and out of the crater that it explored for nearly two months, overcoming a slippery slope that left the vehicle spinning its wheels during an earlier attempt. The short drive across the sandy inner rim of Eagle Crater placed the rover outside the shallow depression for the first time since it landed Jan. 24. "The good news is we successfully charged up the rim," mission manager Matt Wallace said. Once out, the rover rolled about 16 1/2 feet before coming to a stop. An initial attempt to get out of the crater ended in failure on Sunday, so yesterday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent Opportunity on a diagonal course across the inner rim. (AP)

Ohio

Prosecutor: No case against police in fight

CINCINNATI -- Police committed no crimes during a videotaped fight with a black man who died after lunging at officers as they took him into custody, a prosecutor said yesterday. "It is my decision that this case is now closed and will not be presented to a grand jury," Hamilton County Prosecutor Michael Allen said. A police cruiser camera videotape showed that 350-pound Nathaniel Jones knocked over one officer in the Nov. 30 fight before police jabbed or struck him at least a dozen times with metal nightsticks for several minutes until he was handcuffed. Jones, 41, died shortly after the struggle. The coroner said Jones suffered from an enlarged heart and obesity, and had intoxicating levels of cocaine, PCP, and methanol in his blood. (AP)

Sniper suspect stays jailed after hearing

COLUMBUS -- A 28-year-old man charged in connection with the sniper-style shootings in Ohio skipped his first court appearance in Columbus yesterday, and his lawyers declined to ask for his release on bond. Charles McCoy Jr. did not have to appear for the brief bond hearing in Franklin County Municipal Court, and Judge Ted Barrows set March 30 for a preliminary hearing. McCoy has been charged with felonious assault over shots fired at a house in December, but a grand jury hearing evidence could indict him on additional charges related to the two dozen shootings since May that also targeted cars, buses, and a school. One shot in November killed 62-year-old Gail Knisley as she rode in a car on a busy highway along which many of the random attacks took place. (Reuters)

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