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ALABAMA EXECUTIONS

Lawmaker: State can't do executions until spring

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama lawmaker says it will be next spring before the state can resume executing death row inmates.

Republican state Sen. Cam Ward, a top lawmaker on prison issues, says that will be the earliest that lawmakers will be able to pass new legislation allowing Alabama to receive drugs used for executions.

Ward tells The TimesDaily that the state is "basically out of chemicals."

He said pharmaceutical companies are refusing to sell Alabama more drugs until they can get some type of protection or "immunity." Republican Rep. Lynn Greer, who proposed legislation during the last session to keep the names of drug suppliers confidential, has said the companies fear lawsuits and backlash from death penalty opponents.

There are 16 death row inmates who have exhausted appeals and await execution.

COAL BILLIONAIRE-VIOLATIONS

Justice mines have 266 violations in 5 states

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

The Courier-Journal cited data from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in reporting that almost half of the citations against mines owned by Jim Justice are located in Kentucky, where enforcement officials have set an Aug. 11 deadline to take corrective action. Other violations are pending at operations in West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama.

Kentucky regulators threatened to suspend mining permits for Justice companies in June due to frustration over a slow response, but set the later date after the companies responded with a plan to take "serious actions."

Justice acknowledged the violations are significant, but he said all the issues will be corrected.

CHURCH ARSON REWARD

Reward offered in Jefferson Co. church arson

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Jefferson County sheriff's officials say a reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in a church arson.

Sheriff's spokesman Randy Christian says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the suspect in a July 26 arson at Bellview Baptist Church.

Christian says a witness told investigators a man broke one of the church's front windows and set the building on fire. Christian says the suspect fled when he saw the witness, and the witness extinguished the fire.

The suspect is described as a white man who's about 6 feet tall and possibly in his 50s. Christian says he has a large knot on his right cheek. Tipsters are asked to call crime stoppers at 205-254-7777.

BANK LOANS-CHARGES

Former bank president faces federal charges

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - A former Coffee County bank president is accused of receiving cash in exchange for loans and making false bank entries.

Federal authorities arrested James Kelly Baxter on Wednesday. He is the former president and CEO of Peoples Bank of Coffee County in Elba.

The Dothan Eagle reports that a 20-count indictment unsealed after Baxter's arrest states that he profited from multiple loans made to individuals through cash payments and proceeds from land purchases made with loan funds.

ALABAMA UNIVERSITY SHOOTINGS

Ex-professor fights conviction in Ala shooting

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - A former biology professor is again challenging her convictions in a shooting that killed three people at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Amy Bishop pleaded guilty to shooting colleagues during a faculty meeting in February 2010. Three people died and three more were injured.

But Bishop now claims an appeals court should throw out her case because of several mistakes. Among other things, Bishop claims prosecutors didn't prove she wanted to kill anyone.

Bishop also claims she has severe mental problems that clouded her thinking.

Prosecutor Rob Broussard says Bishop is stuck with a life without parole sentence and she's trying anything she can to get out.

Bishop has exhausted other kinds of appeals. Broussard says her latest appeal won't work, either.

Bishop was denied tenure before the killings.

SILVER COMET TRAIL ATTACK

Husband: Wife faces long recovery after attack

DALLAS, Ga. (AP) - The husband of a 42-year-old woman badly beaten on the Silver Comet Trail northwest of Atlanta says his wife is improving, but has severe head injuries.

He tells CBS 46 that she has broken bones in her face and doctors will have to wire her jaw shut for six to eight weeks.

Paulding County sheriff's officials said a bicyclist spotted the badly injured woman lying on the side of the trail around 6:42 p.m. Tuesday. They said she was going in and out of consciousness, and was taken by helicopter to Kennestone Hospital.

Investigators believe she was taken into a wooded area along the trail and left there by her attacker.

The 61.5 mile-Silver Comet Trail runs from Smyrna to the Alabama line.

CHURCH FIRE-REWARD

$5,000 reward offered in McCalla church fire

McCALLA, Ala. (AP) - The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says a $5,000 reward is being offered in connection with a church fire in McCalla.

A spokesman says investigators are looking for a man who broke a window on the front of Bellview Baptist Church, poured gas inside and started a fire around 1:30 a.m. Saturday. A neighbor saw the suspect and put out the fire before it caused extensive damage.

Investigators say the man may have been involved in setting fires earlier in the month at a vacant nursing home and a vacant house in the same area.

The sheriff's office says the reward will be provided for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is helping with the investigation and providing the reward.

DRUG TRAFFICKING SENTENCE

Ala. man sentenced on drug charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on drug charges.

Authorities say 40-year-old Biniam Asghedom played a large role in an effort to distribute cocaine and heroin in the Birmingham area. Prosecutors say a pound of cocaine was seized from the man during a traffic stop and he was charged with possession with intent to distribute.

Prosecutors say Asghedom was stopped by police after they followed him from a known drug location. Authorities say the man gave police consent to search his car, and $14,500 was recovered along with the drug.

The man is also ordered to serve 30 years of supervised release after his prison sentence.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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