Girl, 13, Dies; Her Warning Saved Friends

NEW YORK, Aug. 1 (UPI) — A 13-year-old girl killed by a vehicle that crashed into her home warned other children to get out of the way before she was struck, New York City police said.

Investigators were still trying to determine the sequence of events that left Kira Goddard and the driver of the sport utility vehicle dead Saturday in the borough of Brooklyn, The New York Times reported.

Police said Kira and a group of friends were hanging out about 10 p.m. in front of the four-story building where they lived when a Range Rover sideswiped a row of double-parked cars. The driver, Sean Lewis, then put the vehicle in reverse and it overturned, crashing into the building where the children were playing.

“She said, ‘It’s reversing back — run, run!'” said Alexia Joseph, 12, one of the children with Kira when the accident occurred. “That’s when we ran back inside [the building], but she didn’t because she was shocked.”

Kira was crushed when the vehicle pinned her against the building, police said.

When police arrived, they discovered that Lewis had been stabbed and was apparently driving himself to a hospital when the accident occurred, the New York Daily News reported. Police were trying to find out the circumstances surrounding Lewis’ injury.

Lewis, who was dead on arrival at Brookdale Hospital, had a string of petty-crime arrests, the New York Post reported. Lewis reportedly had an argument with someone over a debt a short time before the accident.

“[They] had been arguing over money the past couple of weeks,” one neighbor said.

Acosta Says 1,500 Killed On His Command

JUAREZ, Mexico, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Antonio Acosta Hernandez, a reputed Juarez, Mexico, drug kingpin in police custody, confessed to ordering the killings of about 1,500 people, authorities said.

Among the violence Acosta admitted involvement in was a 2010 car bombing in downtown Juarez in which three people died, the deaths of three people affiliated with the U.S. Consulate in Juarez and the slaughter of 15 partygoers, the El Paso (Texas) Times reported Monday.

Acosta, the reputed La Linea drug cartel leader and one of the most wanted men in Mexico, was arrested Friday after a shootout with authorities in Chihuahua City.

Police said Acosta confessed to ordering 1,500 killings as the head of La Línea, The New York Times reported.

The FBI announced earlier this year Acosta was indicted in the slayings of U.S. Consulate employee Lesley Enriquez Redelfs and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, an El Paso County sheriff’s detention officer. The Redelfs were killed along with Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, whose wife worked at the U.S. Consulate.

Mexican authorities, who presented Acosta in a bulletproof vest to the media Sunday as proof of his capture, said local, state and federal police officers, members of rival cartels and members of his own organization who lost his trust were among those whose deaths he ordered, the El Paso Times reported.

Intelligence reports indicate Acosta began his criminal activity in 2008, making public threats against Chihuahua state officials, Mexican authorities said.

Officials said Acosta’s capture was due to the sharing of information between Mexican federal police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The El Paso Times said it was unknown if Acosta would be extradited to the United States for the Redelfs killings.

Federal Judge Matthew J. Perry Dies

COLUMBIA, S.C., Aug. 1 (UPI) — U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Perry, known for his civil rights work, died at his home in Columbia, S.C., officials said. He was 89.

Perry, who would have turned 90 this week, was found dead Sunday, apparently of natural causes, The State newspaper in Columbia reported Monday.

His body was found by a family member who each Sunday went to the judge’s home to prepare a meal for Perry and his wife Hallie, who is in poor health, said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts.

Perry was at work Friday at the courthouse that bears his name and he regularly worked a full schedule.

“He was a shining example of unflinching courage and leadership,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Simply put, he was a giant and this world will be a lesser place without him.”

Flags in Columbia will be flown at half-staff in the coming days, Benjamin said.

“Matthew Perry — an iron fist in a velvet glove — courteous, polite, even jocular … but unshakably determined,” said South Carolina historian Walter Edgar.

Perry was one of the first black men from the South appointed to a federal court. He was still serving as a senior U.S. District Court judge for South Carolina at the time of his death.

“I would like to see an improved quality of life for citizens around the state,” Perry said last week. “I am very much concerned about those who remain uneducated and who are impoverished, living at the edge of society. “

Information about arrangements wasn’t immediately available.

Coast Guard Finds 25 Bodies On Boat

ROME, Aug. 1 (UPI) — The Italian coast guard Monday found 25 bodies in the hold of a boat transporting migrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa near Tunisia, officials said.

Pietro Bartolo, a doctor accompanying a boarding team, said the victims, all male, likely died of asphyxiation from breathing noxious motor fumes.

“They were dead for at least 48 hours,” Bartolo told Adnkronos International. “The heat and the place [where] they were packed together accelerated the bodies’ decomposition.”

Police said witness statements indicate the men tried to exit the hold as soon as the ship left Libya but could not because the deck was too crowded, ANSA reported. Officials said the vessel was traveling with 271 people, including six women and 21 children.

Police ordered that autopsies be performed.

“We’re going to carry out an autopsy on the bodies to establish exactly the cause of death, even though the first signs are that it was from asphyxiation,” Agrigento Chief Prosecutor Renato Di Natale said.

He said migrants would be questioned about a report that man was thrown overboard after an argument.

Sentencing Phase Begins For Serial Killer

CLEVELAND, Aug. 1 (UPI) — A jury in Cleveland decides this week if convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell gets the death penalty.

Jurors return to the Cuyahoga County Justice Center courtroom Monday to determine Sowell’s sentence for killing 11 women whose remains were found in and around his home in 2009, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Sowell was convicted July 22 of aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and attempted murder.

During the sentencing portion, or mitigation phase, of the trial, defense attorneys are expected to call an array of witnesses as they argue against the death penalty. Cuyahoga Judge Dick Ambrose ruled last week Sowell could offer an informal statement in a question-and-answer format with his attorneys.

The Plain Dealer said the sentencing portion could last a week.

Japanese Lawmakers Denied S. Korea Entry

SEOUL, Aug. 1 (UPI) — South Korea denied entry to three Japanese lawmakers upon their arrival in Seoul, apparently to visit an island near two islets claimed by both countries.

Earlier, South Korea had informed Japan it would ban a planned visit by the lawmakers to Ulleung Island near the Dokdo islets.

After being denied entry at Seoul airport Monday, the lawmakers from Japan’s opposition Liberal Democratic Party refused to return home, even after being kept at an airport waiting room for more than 5 hours, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

The lawmakers were identified as Yoshitaka Shindo, Tomomi Inada and Masahisa Sato.

The three were expected to return to Japan on a later flight but details were not yet available, CNN reported.

The Japanese are claiming their country’s sovereignty over the disputed islets. Ulleung is about 56 miles west of the islets.

South Korea calls the islets Dokdo and Japan calls them Takeshima. The islets, in the Sea of Japan or the East Sea to the Koreans, are administered by South Korea.

Shindo told reporters the islets belong to Japan.

“However,” Shindo said, “we must discuss this issue as there is a difference in opinion between Japan and South Korea,” Yonhap reported.

He warned the denial of entry may provoke a diplomatic row between the nations.

“We’re not terrorists. I don’t understand on what basis they are claiming that we are a threat to South Korea’s safety. They should first hear the purpose of our trip,” Shindo was quoted as saying.

South Korea rejects Japanese claims, saying it regained control over all of the territory at the end of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea, a part of history that still evokes bitter memories among South Koreans.

South Korea’s Justice Ministry justified the entry ban, citing concerns about the lawmakers’ safety in the event of angry clashes.

About 400 people from local civic groups reportedly protested the lawmakers’ visit at the airport, with some burning photos of the legislators and tearing up the Japanese flag.

Tropical Storm Eugene Gets Stronger

MIAMI, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Eugene was strengthening off western Mexico, about 700 miles west-northwest of Zihuatanejo, the National Hurricane Center said Monday.

Eugene was expected to intensify during the next couple of days and could become a hurricane by Tuesday, the Miami-based center said in its 5 a.m. Eastern time advisory.

No watches or warnings were in effect.

Eugene, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, was traveling west-northwest at about 12 mph, the center said, and was expected to maintain that track for the next two days.

Netanyahu Ramadan Video: ‘Wish You Peace’

JERUSALEM, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Israel’s prime minister said “I would like to wish you peace” in a message to Muslims who began observing Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

Binyamin Netanyahu uploaded a video on his Facebook page and wished Muslims peace and democracy, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.

If Arab democracy will take root there will be true peace, Netanyahu said. He said he would like to use the opportunity to call on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sit down and negotiate without any preconditions, the newspaper said.

“Our two peoples are waiting and yearning for this moment. I know how hard it is. I know there are many constraints and doubts. We can overcome them only if we sit together or send our envoys. We can cross this barrier and give a future of peace not only to our peoples but also to the entire region. I want to see a region of democracy and peace, and I would like to wish you peace,” Netanyahu said.

North Korea Ready To Resume Six-party Talks

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Aug. 1 (UPI) — North Korea is ready to resume the stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear disarmament without preconditions, its official news agency said Monday.

The six-nation talks among the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia have been stalled since December 2008 when the North withdrew to protest U.N. sanctions of its missile tests.

The North remains unchanged in its determination to “resume the six-party talks without preconditions at an early date,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told the news agency KCNA, it was reported by Xinhua, the official news agency of China, which is a close ally of North Korea.

The announcement came after two days of talks at the United States’ U.N. mission between North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae Gwan and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the first talks between the two countries in three years.

The purpose of the talks was to “explore the willingness of North Korea to take concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization,” a U.S. State Department announcement said.

The invitation to the North Korean official to visit the United States came after nuclear negotiators of the two Koreas met at an Asian security conference in Bali, Indonesia.

On Sunday, a South Korean official said the North Korea-U.S. talks were “an extension” of the inter-Korean meeting in Bali, the Yonhap News Agency reported.