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POSTED March 29, 2012 9:06 p.m.

JURY NOW HAS TEXAS BLEACH INJECTION DEATHS CASE: LUFKIN, Texas (AP) — Five kidney dialysis patients who authorities allege were killed when a former Texas nurse injected them with bleach had trusted the woman with their care but instead had their lives abruptly cut short by her, a prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments Thursday.

But a defense attorney for Kimberly Clark Saenz said his client is innocent and is being targeted by the owner of the clinic where she worked for faulty procedures at the facility.

Jurors began deliberating Saenz's fate after listening to more than three hours of closing arguments. They stopped after more than five hours and were to resume Friday.

Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington told jurors the five victims had believed Saenz would take care of them.

If convicted of capital murder, Saenz could face the death penalty. Her trial, in its fourth week, began March 5.

$540M LOTTERY HAS STATES ANTICIPATING TAX JACKPOT: PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — People queuing up for Mega Millions tickets aren't the only ones salivating over the record $540 million jackpot that could be won Friday — some state governments struggling through lean times know a hometown winner would bring a tax bonanza.

Taxes on a lump-sum payment option to a single winner could mean tens of millions of dollars of badly needed revenue that could go to restore entire social service programs on the chopping block, pay for hundreds of low-income housing units, forestall new taxes or hire more state troopers.

So many tickets have been sold that the jackpot climbed Thursday to the largest in U.S. lottery history, according to officials in Rhode Island, one of 42 states where Mega Millions is played. If a lone winner took the lump-sum payout on the jackpot's current amount, it would be an estimated $389.8 million.

STRANDED MAN SURVIVES 10 DAYS ON SNOW; FRIEND DIES: LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 76-year-old diabetic Colorado man survived 10 days in the remote Nevada desert by melting snow and using skills he learned as a Boy Scout, but a friend who was with him and ventured away to get help died.

James Klemovich and Laszlo Szabo, 75, went to scope out some mines in the state when their car became stuck on a lonely road with no cell phone service, Klemovich's wife, Joanne, said Thursday.

The men tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the car, and lit flares and started fires in hopes somebody would see them in northwestern Nevada's Pershing County, an area where less than 7,000 people are spread over 6,000 square miles.

MICHIGAN TO COUNT LOTTERY WINS AGAINST WELFARE: LANSING, Mich. (AP) — After twice finding out lottery winners continued to use food stamps after collecting the jackpot, Michigan lawmakers on Thursday gave final approval to legislation aimed at making sure it doesn't happen again.

Bills headed to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature would require lottery officials to notify the state's Department of Human Services about winners of $1,000 or more. The legislation also would put into law a requirement for asset tests to help determine eligibility for some public assistance programs in the state, and lottery winnings would factor into those tests.

The asset tests provision drew the most opposition from lawmakers Thursday, although some asset tests already are used in Michigan through state department policy.

Michigan lawmakers began the effort last year after learning that a Bay County man was using the food stamp program despite winning an $850,000 lump sum prize in 2010. He told state officials about his wealth but was allowed to temporarily keep his card because lump-sum windfalls at that time were not counted as regular income under the program.

ARKANSAS HIGH COURT OVERTURNS TEACHER-SEX LAW: LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the state's law banning sexual contact between teachers and students, finding that people 18 or older have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual relationship.

The court sided with 38-year-old David Paschal, an Elkins High School history and psychology teacher who admitted having a five-month consensual sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student.

"Regardless of how we feel about Paschal's conduct, which could correctly referred to as reprehensible, we cannot abandon our duty to uphold the rule of law when a case presents distasteful facts," wrote Chief Justice Jim Hannah.

PA. MAN ALLEGEDLY TRIED TO TAKE FIREWORKS ON PLANE: PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania man was arrested and faces a federal charge after screeners found him trying to take powerful fireworks onto a cross-country flight Thursday morning, authorities said.

Joseph Picklo, 29, of Dallas, Pa., had "commercial grade M-80s" in a backpack when passing through security at Philadelphia International Airport around 5:30 a.m. as he was about to board a flight to San Francisco, Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan said at a news conference.

The bag also contained a plastic bottle wrapped in electrical tape and partially filled with a powdery mixture and a test tube filled with another powdery substance, which also included a wick, according to a federal criminal complaint. Picklo is accused of violating federal law by attempting to carry an explosive device onto an aircraft, the complaint said.

 

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