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Saturday, June 7, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Nation Digest

Laci Peterson autopsy results to stay sealed

MODESTO, Calif. — A judge ruled yesterday that autopsy results for Laci Peterson and her unborn son would remain sealed. He declined to issue a gag order on the lawyers involved.

After extensive news leaks of the autopsy results, prosecutors had asked that they be unsealed. Among the details reported were that loops of plastic were found around the fetus' neck.

Peterson's husband, Scott Peterson, 30, has pleaded innocent to two counts of murder for allegedly killing his pregnant wife and their unborn child.

Superior Court Judge Al Girolami also set a June 26 date to rule on defense motions regarding wiretaps of Scott Peterson's phone calls.

Peterson's lawyers want the judge to toss out the results of two court-approved wiretaps that monitored thousands of his calls after his wife's disappearance.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Peterson's former girlfriend criticized efforts to sell nude photos of her client.

"She did the right thing and this is the price she has to pay," said Gloria Allred, a lawyer for Amber Frey.

Frey, 29, has said Peterson told her he was single when they began dating last year. She contacted police after news stories reported that he was married and his wife was missing.

New Air Force sexual assault policy denies confidentiality

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force Academy yesterday released a new policy that creates a team to handle sexual-assault cases but denies confidentiality to cadets who lodge complaints.

The policy was rewritten as part of a probe into the academy's treatment of female cadets who said they were punished or ostracized after reporting sexual assaults.

Air Force Secretary James Roche promised earlier to protect the privacy of those cadets.

Brig. Gen. John Weida said information from complaints will be disclosed on a need-to-know basis, although every effort will be made to protect victims' privacy.

The policy is consistent with Air Force criminal practices, which differ from procedures used in civilian law enforcement because of the importance the military places on following the chain of command, Weida said.

Earthquake shakes parts of Mississippi River Valley

BARDWELL, Ky. — An earthquake shook part of the Mississippi River Valley early yesterday, cracking sidewalks in western Kentucky and rattling pictures off walls, authorities said. There were no reports of injuries.

The magnitude-4.5 quake hit shortly before 7:30 a.m. near Blandville, about 25 miles southwest of Paducah, and was felt in towns from Illinois to Arkansas.

The temblor struck within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, where scientists say some of the largest quakes in North America struck in 1811 and 1812.

Man to return Lotto prize for buying ticket with drug money

HOUSTON — A Texas man who won $5.5 million in the state lottery has been ordered to give it up because he bought the ticket with money made selling cocaine, federal officials said yesterday.

Lawyers for Jose Luis Betancourt argued the ticket was purchased with cash from selling old clothes, but a federal jury in Brownsville, Texas, disagreed and ruled Wednesday that he had to forfeit the cash to the federal government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Herrera said.

Betancourt, 52, was arrested Jan. 17, three days after collecting the $5.5 million, for selling 36 grams of cocaine to an undercover agent.

Court rules man can order removal of wife's life support

TAMPA, Fla. — A state appeals court ruled yesterday that a husband can order the removal of a feeding tube that has been keeping his comatose wife alive for more than a decade, as a legal battle has continued.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals agreed with Michael Schiavo that his wife, Terri Marie Schiavo, has no chance of recovering and ordered a judge to schedule the tube removal.

Shiavo, 39, has been hospitalized or in a hospice since a 1990 heart attack temporarily cut off oxygen to her brain. Parents Bob and Mary Schindler have fought removal of the feeding tube because they believe she can be rehabilitated.

Copyright © 2003 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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