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Murder trial in clinic slayings starts today

A former minister plans no defense when he is tried for murder this week in the shotgun slayings of an abortion doctor and his volunteer escort, and the prosecution will seek the death penalty. Paul Hill will be tried on the same evidence used to convict him in U.S. District Court on Oct. 5 of violating federal clinic protection and firearms laws in the July 29 shootings outside a Pensacola abortion clinic. As in the federal case, a judge has barred Hill, who again is representing himself, from claiming the slayings were justifiable homicides necessary to save the lives of fetuses. Circuit Judge Frank Bell expects the trial, which begins today with jury selection, to take less than a week. The federal trial took three days. Hill is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Dr. John Bayard Britton, 69, of Fernandina Beach, and retired Air Force Lt. Col. James H. Barrett, 74, of Pensacola. He also is accused of attempting to murder Barrett's wife, June, 68, who was wounded, and shooting into an occupied vehicle. The victims were hit by multiple shotgun blasts as they arrived at the Ladies Center, a Pensacola abortion clinic, in the Barretts' pickup truck.

Prison AIDS center could save millions

ORLANDO _ A nearly $1-million, 133-bed AIDS treatment center to open next year will save the state prison system millions of dollars, corrections officials say. But others question how the Department of Corrections will use the facility, which is designed to deal more efficiently with the disease that has become the biggest killer of Florida prison inmates. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome has claimed 392 Florida prison inmates' lives in the past six years. In the 1993-94 fiscal year ending June 30, when the prison population averaged 53,512 inmates, 103 died of AIDS. Corrections Secretary Harry Singletary said the center would be a cost-effective and humane approach to treating AIDS sufferers. "It really does make good correctional sense," he said. "If this problem, which is already serious, is not effectively addressed, it could have serious consequences for the public health in the community," said Edward Harrison, president of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, a Chicago-based non-profit consortium that issues standards for inmate health care. John Burke, chief of health services administration for the Department of Corrections, said the center, scheduled to open late next summer, would offer care for only 10 percent to 15 percent of the 530 inmates already suffering from AIDS.

Grand jury to look into child's death

FORT LAUDERDALE _ Prosecutors plan to present evidence of first-degree murder to a grand jury today against Walter John Zile, accused of killing stepdaughter Christina Holt and burying her behind a Tequesta shopping center. A steady stream of mourners continued to wear a path Sunday to the burial site, a growing shrine of flowers, signs and stuffed animals left on the former grave, now just a sandy mound. No charges have been filed against Pauline Zile, 24, who told police she watched as her husband beat and smothered her 7-year-old daughter on Sept. 16. John Zile, 32, told police he hid Christina's body in a bedroom closet for four days until he found a suitable burial spot behind a Kmart. Mike Edmondson, spokesman for Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer, said Sunday that Pauline Zile has not been granted immunity from prosecution and could still be charged. Riviera Beach police had said Friday that she was granted limited immunity. Also on Sunday, Pauline Zile went to Miami to meet with flamboyant South Florida lawyer Ellis Rubin. The meeting apparently was arranged by a freelance tabloid TV producer who said he was trying to sell her story.

Man fleeing police shoots himself

COLUMBIA, S.C. _ Sumter police say a man who was wanted in Florida robbed a gas station early Sunday morning and then shot himself when he was caught after a brief car chase. James Lesene Jr., 36, address unknown, was in critical condition at Richland Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to his head. A woman who was a passenger in his car is being held in the county jail while the investigation continues, said Sumter Police Chief Harold Johnson. Lesene was wanted for the theft of a car in Jackson County, Fla., where a woman and her child were put out on the road.