Former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is questioning the expected use of a voice recognition expert at his murder trial next month.
Zimmerman's attorney filed a motion made public Monday asking for a hearing to determine whether testimony from the expert would be allowed.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year in a gated community in Sanford during a struggle. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty.
Neighbors called 911 during the struggle and cries of help can be heard on the calls. Martin's family claims the voice is that of the South Florida teen.
Zimmerman's father has said in court he believes the cries are from his son.
Zimmerman's attorney says jurors could be confused by a voice expert's testimony.
Israel's willingness to hit Syrian targets it sees as threats to its own existence has complicated the Obama administration's internal debate over arming President Bashar Assad's foes and may change the way U.S. approaches allies as it tries to boost the rebels, including with possible military aid.
As Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Russia on Monday for talks with the Assad regime's most powerful ally, the administration remained tight-lipped on both Israel's weekend air strikes and their implications for Washington decision-making.
Israeli warplanes targeted caches of Iranian missiles that were bound for Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terror group that has threatened Israel. The weapons would have allowed Hezbollah to strike Tel Aviv and as far as southern Israel from inside Lebanese territory.
Still, Israel's actions put Damascus and Moscow on notice that the U.S. and its allies may not wait for an international green light to become more actively engaged. The administration said last week it was rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels or taking other aggressive steps to turn the tide of the two-year-old civil war toward the rebels.
At the same time, Israeli involvement in the war carries risks. Instead of prodding Russia into calling for Assad's ouster, it could bring greater Arab sympathy for Assad and prompt deeper involvement from Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, actors committed as much to preserving Assad as to fighting the Jewish state.
Although Israel hasn't officially acknowledged it carried out the airstrikes, Syrian officials on Monday were blaming Israel, calling it a "declaration of war" that would cause the Jewish state to "suffer."
Russia, alongside China, has blocked U.S.-led efforts three times at the United Nations to pressure Assad into stepping down. Officials said Kerry hopes to change Moscow's thinking with two new arguments: American threats to arm the Syrian rebels and evidence of chemical weapon attacks by the Assad regime.
Kerry, U.S. officials said Monday, hopes that may be enough to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to support, or at least not veto, a fresh effort to impose UN sanctions on Syria if Assad doesn't begin transition talks with the opposition. The officials demanded anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the confidential diplomacy.
"We have consistently, in our conversations with the Russians and others, pointed clearly to Assad's behavior as proof that further support for the regime is not in the interest of the Syrian people or in the interest of the countries that have in the past supported Assad," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"We have been clear in the past about our disappointment with Russia over their opposition to resolutions at the Security Council with regards to this matter. But this is an ongoing conversation," he said.
U.S. officials said the administration doesn't believe the weekend activity will force President Barack Obama's hand, noting that the U.S.'s main concern is the use of chemical weapons by Assad, while Israel's top concern is conventional weapons falling into the hands of its enemies.
The chemical weapons argument is now under surprising attack, with former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte saying over the weekend she and fellow members of a four-member U.N. human rights panel have indications the nerve agent sarin was used by Syrian rebel forces, but not by government forces.
Despite a clarification from the UN that it is has not yet made any definitive determination on chemical weapons use, Washington pushed back on del Ponte's assertion, saying it's highly likely that the Assad regime, and not the rebels, has been behind any chemical weapons use in Syria.
"We are highly skeptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons," Carney said. "We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime. And that remains our position."
The State Department said the administration continues to believe that Syria's large chemical weapons stockpiles remain securely in the regime's control.
The Obama administration opened the door to new military options in Syria after declaring last week it strongly believed the Assad regime used chemical weapons in two attacks in March. Two days after that announcement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said arming the Syrian rebels was a policy consideration.
Before departing for Russia, Kerry visited the Pentagon for a lunch meeting with Hagel. Defense Department press secretary George Little said he expected Syria to be discussed.
Also Monday, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for the US. to provide weapons to vetted Syrian rebels. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., introduced legislation that would allow for arms, military training and non-lethal aid to rebels that meet certain criteria on human rights and don't have links to terrorism.
Until now, U.S. efforts to bolster the rebels' fighting skills and gather intelligence on the groups operating inside Syria have been limited to small training camps in Jordan, according to two U.S. officials, who weren't authorized to speak about secret activities and demanded anonymity.
There are several options for escalation ranging from arming the rebels to targeted airstrikes and imposing no-fly zones. However, arming the rebels is the most likely escalation, officials said.
Officials said targeted strikes are likely to be considered only after uncontested proof emerges of chemical weapons use. And, even the most ardent advocates of U.S. intervention don't want American military boots on the ground while no-fly zones would demand intensive operations to neutralize Syria's Russian-supplied air defenses.
Although Israel seems to have thwarted those defenses with its weekend strikes, U.S. officials say that maintaining permanent no-fly zones will require far more support than specific actions like the airstrikes.
After visiting Moscow for the first time since he became secretary of state, Kerry will travel to Rome for talks with members of the new Italian government as well as Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to discuss Middle East peace prospects.
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Jim Kuhnhenn, Josh Lederman, Kimberly Dozier and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.
Authorities say searchers have found the body of an 83-year-old woman who went missing after arriving at a Washington airport from Barbados.
U.S. Park Police spokesman Paul Brooks said in an email Monday afternoon that the body of Victoria Kong was found about 2 p.m. by a team with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police.
Brooks said Kong's body was found north of Reagan National Airport, about 30 feet from a bike trail in a wooded area.
He said the investigation into her death is continuing.
Kong was last seen Friday leaving the airport on foot.
Kong's family says they were waiting for her to be escorted off the flight by wheelchair, but she never showed up.
Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter says he won't play a central Pennsylvania Christian college again unless it changes its policy against "homosexual behavior."
Ritter made the announcement on Facebook hours after playing a Friday night concert at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., southwest of Harrisburg.
Messiah students and staff have to sign a "community covenant" promising to avoid homosexual behavior and premarital sex.
Ritter calls the policy exclusionary and bigoted. He says he's donating his fee to an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services.
Messiah spokeswoman Beth Lorow says the administration is disappointed that Ritter is speaking in favor of tolerance but isn't applying those principles to their religious freedoms.
Ritter talked about the policy during the show. Lorow says his comments on stage weren't as harsh as his Facebook posting.
Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/joshrittermusic/posts/10151431221117709
A Phoenix jury is on its second day of deliberations in the trial of Jodi Arias, who is accused of murdering her one-time boyfriend in Arizona.
Jurors took a lunch break at noon Monday after three hours of deliberations. They are scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.
The jury began deliberating Friday on whether the 32-year-old Arias should be convicted of first-degree murder in Travis Alexander's June 4, 2008, death.
Prosecutors say Arias planned the attack in a jealous rage.
Arias initially denied involvement, then blamed it on two masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Testimony in the case began in early January, and Arias spent 18 days on the witness stand.
Mississippi Republicans are making a new turn in long-running efforts to improve the state's education system.
Gov. Phil Bryant has signed measures easing charter school creation and holding back third-graders who can't read. The Republican controlled Legislature also approved state-funded prekindergarten and higher qualifications and merit pay for teachers.
Bryant says the changes, many of which he pushed, will improve what he calls a "fairly ineffective educational system." By many measures, Mississippi has shown improvement in recent decades, but still lags behind.
The changes come atop existing improvement efforts in places like Clarksdale, a town in the state's Delta region which struggles with poverty and falling population.
Superintendent Dennis Dupree has adopted efforts to create a stronger high school curriculum, pay teachers based on achievement and create preschool programs.
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Government secrecy reaches a new level this week in the court-martial of an Army private who gave reams of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The military judge has ordered what prosecutors say is an unprecedented closed hearing Wednesday to help her decide how much of Pfc. Bradley Manning's trial will be closed to protect national security.
An unidentified prosecution witness will testify in a "dry run" to test alternatives to courtroom closures during presentation of classified evidence. The strategies could include redacted documents, unclassified summaries and even code words for classified information.
Prosecutors have proposed closing up to 30 percent of the trial. That prompted Manning's lawyers to request the hearing to test all reasonable alternatives to closing large portions of the court-martial to the public.
Prosecutors say no other court has held such a hearing.
The judge who presided over the trial of Casey Anthony says he believes there was enough evidence to convict the Florida mother who was acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter.
Judge Belvin Perry told NBC's "Today" show on Monday that he believes there was sufficient evidence for a first-degree murder conviction, even though much of it was circumstantial.
Anthony was acquitted almost two years ago of killing her daughter, Caylee, following a trial that attracted worldwide attention. She was convicted of making false statements to police and got credit for time served.
The judge says he saw two sides to Anthony. The one she showed to jurors was a wrongfully accused mother grieving for her child. The other was a woman wasn't afraid to shout and swear at her attorneys.
The FBI says it believes "a terror attack was disrupted" when authorities raided a western Minnesota mobile home.
The FBI arrested 24-year-old Buford Rogers on Friday, after a search of his home in Montevideo turned up Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and firearms.
The FBI said in a Monday statement that it believes "the lives of several local residents were potentially saved" by the search and arrest. The agency says a terror plot was discovered through analysis of intelligence gathered by local, state and federal authorities.
The statement doesn't offer further details about the extent or manner of the alleged plot.
Rogers is in federal custody and is charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. It's not clear if he has an attorney.
The FBI has taken into custody a Minnesota man who was believed to be plotting a terrorist attack.
Buford Rogers, 24, of Montevideo, was arrested Friday after authorities searched his home and found guns and explosive devices, according to an FBI news release. The Associated Press reports Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and a Romanian AKM assault rifle were among the weapons found. An affidavit said Rogers admitted firing the weapon at a gun range in Granite Falls.
The search warrant was executed in conjunction with the ATF, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and several regional law enforcement agencies.
The FBI said in the release that the lives of numerous Montevideo residents were potentially saved.
A complaint against Rogers was filed in Minnesota Federal District Court and an investigation is ongoing.
Rogers is charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, the Associated Press reports, and is expected to appear in court this week. He has a past conviction for felony burglary and a 2009 misdemeanor for dangerous handling of a weapon in Hennepin County, according to court records.
US prosecutors reportedly agree that teen accused of lying in Boston bombing investigation can be released
U.S. prosecutors have agreed that a teenager suspected of lying in the Boston bombing investigation can be released, but only under strict conditions.
Robel Phillipos, a 19-year-old University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student, is accused of lying to investigators about visiting suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room three days after the bombings.
Prosecutors and lawyers for Robel Phillipos plan to ask U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler to grant Phillipos a pre-trial release on the conditions of GPS monitoring, home confinement and a $100,000 bond, Reuters reports.
Phillipos is scheduled to have a probable cause and detention hearing Monday after his arrest last week. He faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A Pennsylvania man has been accused of abducting 6-year-old boy from his yard, raping him and then abandoning him in a park late at night.
Police say 45-year-old Brian Timothy Lynch, of Confluence, was arrested Sunday and is facing two counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges.
Authorities say the boy was playing in his yard about 55 miles southeast of Pittsburgh on Saturday when Lynch allegedly abducted him. They say he then played video games at his apartment with the boy, raped him in his car and finally left him near a park in Latrobe, about 35 miles from his home. Police found the boy there around 2 a.m. Sunday.
Lynch is being held in the Fayette County jail. No attorney is listed on court papers. Police say he confessed.
Maine police used their own special weapon – an electric stun gun – to help catch a man who they say randomly attacked a Stormtrooper and Ghostbuster outside a store on Free Comic Book Day.
Portland Police Lt. Gary Hutcheson said Adam Barnes, 31, was intoxicated when he was arrested outside Coast City Comics on Saturday.
Owen Wood, who was dressed up as the Stormtrooper -- a popular Star Wars character – told the Portland Press Herald that at the time of the attack, people were stopping at the store with their children in superhero costumes.
Wood said when he was first grabbed from behind he thought it was a friend, until Barnes allegedly started choking him.
Hutcheson said Wood was thrown to the ground, while the person dressed as a Ghostbuster was punched. Barnes was arrested, jailed and charged with two counts of assault, a count of disorderly conduct and five counts of criminal threatening of police officers, the Portland Press Herald reports.
When police told Wood that Barnes was subdued, he said, "the force was with me."
Police in Texas are hunting for a 22-year-old after he allegedly kidnapped a 14-year-old girl, her mother and another child at knifepoint outside a church.
Mount Pleasant police say Jesus Ramirez abducted the group outside the St. Michael Catholic Church Sunday and drove them in a truck to a nearby home. He then let the mother and child free, but took off with Ruby Zavala, MyFoxDFW.com reports.
Ramirez's truck was later found abandoned and wrecked in a wooded area used for mining, between Winfield and Lake Monticello.
"Ramirez knows the family, the victim, and they had at one time a dating relationship," Mount Pleasant Police Chief Wayne Isbell told KLTV. "He's previously been arrested for sexual assault of a child. We do believe he's armed and dangerous."
Records show Ramirez has had multiple assault charges and a sexual assault charge, with the most recent dating March 27.
Ruby Zavala is described in an Amber Alert as a 5-foot-tall Hispanic female with black hair, brown eyes and wearing a white top with blue jeans.
Jesus Ramirez is described as being 5 feet, 9 inches tall with black hair, brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a black baseball cap.
More than a dozen sculptures that will be used to call attention to evacuation points around New Orleans are arriving in the city.
The statues are simple larger-than-life stick figures that appear as though they are poised to hail a bus. They're being unloaded Monday and will later be installed at 17 pickup points for New Orleans residents who need transportation out of town when a hurricane evacuation is ordered.
They were designed by Boston artist Douglas Kornfeld who was selected for the work by the Arts Council of New Orleans. That group is working with Evacuteer.org, an organization that coordinates volunteers who help with the massive evacuation effort that accompanies a hurricane threat.