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Nation roundup for March 19

Companies begin oil spill defense

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Workers on the drilling rig that exploded at the outset of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill catastrophe were “trying to get it right” as they monitored BP’s well for signs of trouble before the blast, an expert witness for the company that owned the rig testified Monday.

“They just misinterpreted what they were seeing,” well control expert Calvin Barnhill said on the 13th day of a trial over the disaster. “I don’t think anybody out there intentionally misinterpreted this situation.”

Barnhill was Transocean Ltd.’s first witness as the Swiss-based company, which leased the rig to BP PLC, started presenting its defense. Transocean president and CEO Steven Newman was scheduled to testify today.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier already has heard testimony by more than a dozen witnesses called by the Justice Department and attorneys for Gulf Coast businesses and residents who claim the spill cost them money. The plaintiffs’ lawyers still expect to call another witness to the stand this week, an employee of cement contractor Halliburton.

Abortion doc’s case ‘a lynching’

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A lawyer defending a Philadelphia abortion provider on murder charges accused officials of “an elitist, racist prosecution,” as the death-penalty trial opened Monday.

Lawyer Jack McMahon also accused city officials of “a prosecutorial lynching” of his client, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who is black.

Gosnell, 72, is accused of running a rogue clinic that ignored the state ban on third-term abortions and 24-hour waiting periods. Prosecutors say he also maimed desperate, often poor women and teens by letting his untrained staff perform abortions and give anesthesia. And they say he got rich doing it, by performing a high volume of substandard abortions.

Police found $250,000 in cash during a 2010 search of his home, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore told jurors.

Rape case might target Ohio coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The head football coach at Steubenville High School and the owners of a house where an infamous 12-minute video was filmed could be investigated as Ohio prosecutors look into how adults responded to allegations of rape last year.

One day after a judge convicted two high school football players of raping the 16-year-old girl in August, Steubenville’s top official said she welcomed a new, wide-ranging probe into possible wrongdoing connected with the rape.

Plane crash killed ex-football star

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Federal investigators say a former University of Oklahoma quarterback and a Tulsa, Okla., businessman were the flight crew for the private jet that crashed into a northern Indiana neighborhood.

Former football star Steve Davis and friend Wes Caves died Sunday when the plane crashed into three houses near the South Bend Regional Airport. The two passengers and a resident of one of the homes were injured.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox said Monday that Davis and Caves were licensed pilots. It is not clear which man was flying the plane. Fox said the plane attempted to land twice before crashing.

Investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder.

Fox says the investigation into the cause of the crash could take a year.


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