Mom Wants Sons Away From Killer Stepmom

NEW YORK, Aug. 2 (UPI) — An Oregon woman is trying to get custody of her two sons, arguing they are unsafe with her ex-husband, now remarried to a wife who killed their two daughters.

Trish Conlon of Silverton, Ore., told NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday that for several years her ex-husband, John Cushing of Vashon Island, Wash., deceived her about the presence of his first wife in his home. She said her sons, now 13 and 14, when they spent time with her, were told to lie about Kristine Cushing, calling her by a different name.

Conlon had to return the boys to their father Sunday after a court found Kristine Cushing did not pose a threat to them. She plans to continue to fight for custody.

“I am not willing to risk my kids’ lives on speculation,” Conlon said. “When a person is capable, they’re capable.”

Kristine Cushing was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity after she shot her young daughters in their sleep in 1991. John Cushing, then a Marine fighter pilot, was not home at the time his daughters died.

She was hospitalized for four years and spent 10 more under psychiatric monitoring before being granted an unconditional release in 2005.

Conlon married John Cushing in 1995, but they divorced in 2004.

Colombian Minister Responds To Extradition

BOGOTA, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Colombia’s Minister of Defense Rodrigo Rivera said Venezuela is not a sanctuary for members of guerrilla groups who are hiding in the neighboring country.

Rivera said Venezuelan and Colombian authorities have been working together to detain and extradite captured guerrilla members of the National Liberation Army and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better knows by its Spanish acronym FARC, Caracol Radio reported Tuesday.

He said the relationship between the two countries is on the right track after they both signed a bilateral agreement to combat drug trafficking in April.

“We’re talking about a resilient border where we have to act together to face the challenge of transnational crime,” said Rivera.

Rivera compared the recent arrest of the guerrilla group FARC’s right hand man, Julian Conrado, to the relationship between the two countries.

Conrado was captured in Venezuela in June of last year and is waiting for the proper procedures and protocols to be extradited to Colombia.

Moscow Opposing Syrian Sanctions

MOSCOW, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Despite warnings from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russia said Tuesday that U.N. Security Council action on Syria wouldn’t stop violence there.

The European Union hit members of the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad with new punitive measures in response for a brutal crackdown on demonstrations against the government.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague in a statement said EU sanctions sent a strong message to Assad that he was losing face in the international community.

“The message is clear and unambiguous. Those responsible for the repression will be singled out and held accountable,” he said.

The international community condemned Assad’s government for a bloody response to opposition protests in the city of Hama on Monday, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A statement from the French Embassy in Washington said Paris hoped the Security Council would speak out “loud and clear” against the violence in Syria.

Clinton had said that members of the international community needed a united stance against Damascus.

“We call on those members of the United Nations Security Council who have opposed any Security Council action that would call on Assad to stop the killing to reconsider their positions,” she said in a statement.

But Sergei Vershinin, a top diplomat in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North African division, said any Security Council action wouldn’t be effective.

“It is wrong to exert pressure on Syria with U.N. sanctions,” he was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying. “That will bring no result.”

Blood Sample In Homicide Case Missing

NEW YORK, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A blood sample from a New York woman who allegedly gave her son a fatal drug overdose is missing and charges against her should be dismissed, her lawyers say.

The sample was taken from pharmaceutical millionaire Gigi Jordan in the hours after her autistic son Jude, 8, died at New York’s Peninsula Hotel last year, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

The blood sample could have shown Jordan had also ingested hydrocodone and benzodiazepines, her lawyers said, bolstering her defense that she intended both herself and her son to die.

Jordan, 50, has said she stuffed both herself and Jordan with fatal quantities of drugs to escape from her son’s alleged sexual abuse and death threats at the hands of both his biological and adoptive fathers.

Jordan has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

Prosecutors have blamed Jordan’s missing blood sample on Bellevue Hospital, where it had been drawn and stored, the Post reported.

The unexplained blood loss is “just a symptom of the anemic state of the prosecution’s case,” Jordan’s lawyer Ron Kuby said Monday.

Judge Rejects Virginia Execution Stay

ROANOKE, Va., Aug. 2 (UPI) — A Virginia death row inmate is closer to execution for a murder for hire after a federal judge rejected a stay.

U.S. District Judge James Jones in Roanoke, Va., Monday denied the stay request of Ivan Teleguz, 32, who was convicted and sentenced to death in Rockingham County Circuit Court in 2006 for killing Stephanie Sipe.

In June 2010, Jones gave Teleguz a stay days before he was scheduled to die, but he found no merit in his petition this time.

Sipe was found with her throat cut in her Harrisonburg apartment in 2001. Prosecutors said Teleguz was hired to kill Sipe by someone who had to pay her child support, the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record reported.

Teleguz’s lawyers say he got an inadequate defense and prosecutors used witnesses who have admitted perjury.

The Virginia Attorney General’s Office says Teleguz can now appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If that fails, an execution date will be set.

Woman Fined $535 Over Woodpecker Rescue

FREDERICKSBURG, Va., Aug. 2 (UPI) — A Virginia woman said she feels “harassed and angry” after being slapped with a $535 fine after her daughter rescued a baby woodpecker from a cat.

Alison Capo of Fredericksburg said her daughter, Skylar, 11, saved the bird from a cat in her father’s backyard and she agreed to take the bird home to make sure it was not seriously injured, WUSA-TV, Washington, reported Tuesday.

Capo said she and Skylar stopped at a Lowe’s on the way home and brought the bird into the home improvement store because of the heat. She said a woman inside the store confronted her and identified herself as an officer with the Virginia Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Capo said the woman told her taking or transporting the baby woodpecker is illegal because the species is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act.

The mother said she released the bird as soon as she arrived home and reported the incident to the department, but she encountered the same woman about two weeks later when she showed up at her front door with a Virginia State Police trooper.

Capo said she was fined $535 and cited for unlawfully taking a migratory bird, which can carry a jail sentence of up to a year.

“I feel harassed and I feel angry,” Capo said.

Fla. Man Dies From Snorting Unknown Matter

MIAMI, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Police say a Florida man has died from ingesting an unknown substance, possibly cocaine, from a brick he found floating off the Florida Keys.

Police said Thomas Swindal, 53, of Merrit Island was fishing with his brother Kenneth Swindal last week when they found what they believed to be a kilo of cocaine.

Kenneth Swindal told police his brother opened the package and ingested some of the substance, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a release.

Some time later Thomas Swindal began to act strangely, his brother told police, running around the boat throwing things overboard and damaging the boat’s engine so it wouldn’t start.

He also threw the package of the unknown substance overboard. It was not recovered.

Kenneth Swindal signaled for help, and a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat responded and took the two brothers to shore where paramedics met them.

Thomas Swindal was taken to South Miami Hospital where he died, police said.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death, authorities said.

Expert Says Jeffs Never Legally Wed Girls

SAN ANGELO, Texas, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A Texas family law expert testified Tuesday that polygamist Warren Jeffs was not legally married to his underage so-called wives.

Jack Sampson, a University of Texas professor, testified in San Angelo that Jeffs, 55, was not married “under any stretch of the imagination” to the girls, ages 12 and 15.

Judge Barbara Walther ordered a recess after Jeffs, who has fired his lawyers and is representing himself, repeatedly objected to testimony from a Texas Ranger who was reading statements from Jeffs on his ranch property, The Salt Lake Tribune of Utah reported.

“The court is allowing open use of the Lord’s name for religious deceit,” Jeffs shouted before Walther halted proceedings and sent the jury out.

On Monday, prosecutors submitted a photograph of a girl, then 15, holding a baby in her arms that a DNA expert said Jeffs had fathered. Other photos of Jeffs with the girls were also entered.

Later Tuesday, prosecutors were expected to play an audio recording they say features Jeffs having sex with the 12-year-old.

Washington Stands By Libya’s TNC

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Despite reports of infighting among rebel forces in Libya, Washington has confidence that transitional groups were functioning properly, a spokesman said.

Members of the international community involved in NATO operations over Libya have thrown support behind the rebel-backed Transitional National Council.

London in July recognized the TNC as the sole governmental authority in Libya and kicked members of the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi out of the country.

Mustafa el-Sogezly, deputy interior minister of the rebel government in Benghazi, told the Financial Times that a rival faction, calling itself the Shakir Brigade, was involved in killing TNC Gen. Abdel Fattah Younis and freeing Gadhafi loyalists from prison during fighting last week.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington welcomed commitments from the TNC to investigate the incident. He said the situation on the ground in Libya was fluid but any indication of a transparent message was indicative of the positive work of the TNC.

“We believe this is the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people during this transition period,” he said. “As I said, this is an extremely challenging period for Libya, and they are dealing with these challenges as they come but we have confidence that they can weather this.”

FBI Files Show Threats Against Ted Kennedy

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — The FBI has released records on reports of threats to assassinate Edward M. Kennedy during his decades in the U.S. Senate.

Kennedy, D-Mass., unlike his three older brothers, died of natural causes, a brain tumor that killed him in 2009. The FBI records show threats against him took off after the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-N.Y., in 1968, The Boston Globe reported.

The Globe and other newspapers obtained the files under a Freedom of Information Act request.

They include a call from a Florida man who said Sonny Capone, son of Chicago mobster Al Capone, had been overheard making a drunken threat against Kennedy at a Coral Gables, Fla., restaurant. A woman with a Hispanic accent called the office of William F. Buckley, founder of the conservative National Review, and said Cuba was planning an assassination designed to look like it was the work of American right-wingers.

The FBI never substantiated any of the threats.

Kennedy’s oldest brother, Joseph, was a bomber pilot during World War II and was killed in a 1944 plane crash. Jean Kennedy Smith, 83, is the only survivor among Kennedy’s eight siblings.