Prosecution rests in church bombing trial
Prosecutors rested their case Saturday against an ex-Ku Klux Klansman accused in a deadly church bombing after jurors heard a secretly recorded tape in which he boasted about not being caught "when I bomb my next church."
The comment by Thomas Blanton Jr. was among dozens recorded more than 35 years ago by Mitchell Burns, a Klansman turned paid FBI informant.
Burns was an important witness for the state, but he agreed with the defense that Blanton never explicitly claimed responsibility for the bombing that killed four black girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963.
Blanton, 62, is charged with murder in the bombing, the single deadliest act against the civil rights movement. He says he is innocent, and his attorney will likely begin presenting his case Monday.
Illinois led in percentage of tossed ballots
Illinois threw out more presidential election ballots in 2000 than any other state, according to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune.
Election officials discarded 190,000 ballots in Illinois, or 3.9 percent of those cast. That rate was followed by 2.9 percent in Florida; 2 percent in New York and Ohio; 1.6 percent in California and 1 percent in Texas, the newspaper reported in today's editions.
Sixty-five percent of the discarded votes in Illinois 123,000 were cast in Chicago and suburban Cook County. The main reason for uncounted votes was faulty ballot punches, the Tribune found. About 46,000 city and county voters clearly intended to vote for president, but left dimpled or hanging chads.
Brush fires scorch at least 550 acres
Wind-fanned brush fires Saturday consumed at least 550 acres across the state and forced the evacuation of dozens of homes. No injuries were reported.
A fire near Millville Airport in southern New Jersey burned 450 acres and forced evacuations of at least 11 streets. Firefighters struggled into the evening to contain it.