man acquitted of killing five teens in 1978
One of the nation's most baffling cold cases remains unresolved after a jury on Wednesday acquitted a New Jersey man of locking five teenagers in a vacant home in 1978 and burning them alive in retaliation for stealing his marijuana. No bodies were ever found, and Lee Evans, who represented himself against 10 murder-related charges, was able to poke holes in the testimony of the star prosecution witness. Prosecutors sought to prove that Evans had planned to kill the teenagers as payback for breaking into his apartment and stealing a pound of marijuana.
Noriega being sent back to Panama
A French court ruled Wednesday that former dictator Manuel Noriega can be extradited to Panama to serve time for past crimes, more than 20 years after being ousted and arrested in a U.S. invasion. Noriega has since been behind bars in Florida on drug charges, and in France, for money laundering. His lawyer said he could be in Panama as soon as today. Noriega was convicted and sentenced in absentia for embezzlement, corruption and murder. Because he's in his 70s, he may get to serve out his time under house arrest.
Medicare head out in political impasse
President Barack Obama's top Medicare official is resigning amid Republican pledges to block his confirmation in the Senate. Donald Berwick notified colleagues Wednesday that he will step down Dec. 2, nearly a month before his recess appointment expires. The White House will nominate Marilyn Tavenner, his principal deputy, as his replacement. Berwick, a Harvard professor, is widely respected for his ideas on how to improve the health care system.
Signal arrives from Russian spacecraft
The European Space Agency has received the first signal from an unmanned Russian spacecraft bound for a moon of Mars since it got stuck in Earth's orbit two weeks ago, officials said. Russia's space agency said an ESA tracking facility in Australia got the signal from the Phobos-Ground probe early Wednesday. The initial contact raises hopes of preventing the probe from crashing back to Earth.