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Black teen exonerated 70 years after execution

More than 70 years after South Carolina sent a 14-year-old black youth to the electric chair in the killings of two white girls in a segregated mill town, a judge threw out the conviction, saying the state committed a great injustice.

George Stinney was arrested, convicted of murder in a one-day trial and executed in 1944 — all in the span of about three months and without an appeal. The speed in which the state meted out justice against the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century was shocking and extremely unfair, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen wrote in her ruling Wednesday.

“I can think of no greater injustice,” Mullen wrote.

The two girls, ages 7 and 11, had been beaten badly in the head with an iron railroad spike in the town of Alcolu in Clarendon County, about 45 miles southeast of Columbia, authorities said. A search by dozens of people found their bodies several hours later.

Investigators arrested Stinney, saying witnesses saw him with the girls as they...

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Johns Hopkins accidentally sends acceptance notes to rejected students

Now you're a student of Johns Hopkins University; now you’re not.

The esteemed university in Baltimore was issuing profuse apologies this week after hundreds of early applicants were mistakenly informed that they had been accepted.

“We very much regret having added to the disappointment felt by a group of very capable and hardworking students, especially ones who were so committed to the idea of attending Johns Hopkins that they applied through early decision,” a spokesman, Dennis O'Shea, said in a statement.

Like many other universities, Johns Hopkins has an admissions program called “early decision” in which high school seniors can apply early to their top-choice college. If they are admitted they must accept and withdraw other applications.

Johns Hopkins had 1,865 early decision applicants. Of that group, 539 were accepted, and 1,326 were not.

On Friday, all the prospective students were able to log into a website to discover their fates. The information on that website, according...

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With Cuba-U.S. thaw, will New Jersey get convicted cop killer back?

News that the U.S. and Cuba want to normalize diplomatic relations could also open the door for federal officials to finally capture the first woman ever to be included on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Joanne Chesimard was convicted in the shooting death of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 but later escaped from prison and fled to Cuba. In a statement released Wednesday morning, the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police said any improvement in relations between the two countries should improve the chance of her being returned to prison in the U.S.

"We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973,” Col. Rick Fuentes, head of the state’s largest law enforcement agency, said. “We stand by the reward money and hope that the total of two million dollars will prompt fresh information in...

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N.Y. issues fracking ban after health department report

New York state officials announced on Wednesday a ban on fracking, the controversial method of mining for gas and oil, after releasing the results of a year-long study.

3:38 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to the announcement as a moratorium on fracking in New York state. State officials actually announced a complete ban of fracking in New York on Wednesday.

The 173-page report, issued by the state Department of Health, found that previous studies on the topic have raised too many questions about the possible effect fracking could have on New York's groundwater, climate and air quality.

"Many of the published reports investigating both environmental impacts that could result in human exposures and health implications of [fracking] activities are preliminary or exploratory in nature," the report reads. "However, the existing studies also raise substantial questions about whether the risks of [fracking] activities are sufficiently...

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Former Texas justice of the peace sentenced to death for murder

A former justice of the peace in North Texas was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing a district attorney's wife in what prosecutors described as a revenge plot that left three people dead.

Eric Williams was convicted Dec. 4 of capital murder in the 2013 death of Cynthia McLelland, who was slain along with her husband, Kaufman County Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland, in their home east of Dallas.

Williams has been charged, but not tried, in the deaths of Mike McLelland and prosecutor Mark Hasse.

The 47-year-old Williams lost his job and law license after McLelland and Hasse prosecuted him for theft and burglary. Prosecutors say that conviction pushed Williams over the edge. During his trial, they presented evidence that he paid a friend to rent a storage unit where he kept more than 30 guns, police tactical gear and a getaway car.

Authorities say a masked Williams gunned down Hasse in January 2013 outside a courthouse building in broad daylight.

Prosecutors say a “masked assassin,” whom...

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CNN's #AskACop hashtag backfires, elicits brutal responses

A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday.

#AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon.

There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police.

Some examples: "do you think dogs would make better cops, i mean they are color blind..." and "so, do you beat your wife and/or kids before or after you murder an unarmed citizen? just wonderin'"

In the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, distrust and animosity toward police is running high, at least in some quarters. Those feelings were made clear in tweets toward police, many of which were brutal.

By the time the show aired at 7 p.m., #AskACop was one of the highest Twitter trends in the U.S. 

Follow Ryan Parker for breaking news at @theryanparker and on Facebook.

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