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Originally published June 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 30, 2007 at 2:04 AM

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Nation Digest

Official's husband gets life for her murder

The husband of Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine was convicted Friday of killing her by injecting her with a paralyzing drug that FBI experts...

The husband of Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine was convicted Friday of killing her by injecting her with a paralyzing drug that FBI experts detected in her system months after her death.

Chaz Higgs, 43, a critical-care nurse, was convicted of first-degree murder two days after attempting suicide for the second time since Augustine's death last July. He was sentenced later Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 20 years.

The Washoe County jury of eight women and four men returned the verdict after less than nine hours of deliberations.

Defense attorney David Houston said Higgs' suicide attempt didn't help his defense, saying, "Good facts, bad jury."

Higgs had blamed the stress of Augustine's political career for their failed marriage. When she died, she was running for state treasurer as a Republican.

Nogales, Ariz.

Smuggling tunnel to Mexico found

U.S. and Mexican law-enforcement agents executing simultaneous raids discovered a recently completed smuggling tunnel linking the two countries, officials said Friday.

The tunnel appeared ready to transport drugs when agents Thursday raided homes in Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Mexico, authorities said. Five men were arrested at the house in Mexico. The home in Arizona appeared to be vacant, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Though the houses were only 100 yards apart, the tunnel twisted and turned for more than 200 yards.

In recent years, more than 50 tunnels have been discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kansas City, Mo.

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Anti-war Marine not discharged

The Marines won't kick out an Iraq war veteran who made anti-war statements in a speech and wore part of his uniform at a protest, the service said Friday, despite a recommendation to discharge him early.

The Marines said they weren't proceeding with the case because they had "received sufficient indication" from Sgt. Liam Madden, 22, that he would no longer wear his uniform when engaged in political activities. They also determined his statements did not warrant further action.

"I think it's a total victory," Madden said, speaking on his cellphone from Columbia, S.C. But he insisted he had reached no agreement with the Marines about his uniform, and the Marines later said their only action was to notify Madden of their intent to discharge him if he failed to comply with regulations.

An investigating officer had recommended in May that Madden, of Boston, receive an other-than-honorable discharge. Madden is part of the Individual Ready Reserve, which consists mainly of those who have left active duty but have time remaining on their military obligations. He is scheduled to be discharged in 2010.

Lebanon, Tenn.

Porn actress misses cuefor court, must pay ticket

A porn actress who claimed she performed oral sex on a state trooper who stopped her for speeding lost her chance to avoid the ticket he issued because she failed to appear in court Friday.

Justis Richert, 21, of Knoxville, must pay the $159 ticket within two weeks, but she could have avoided it because the trooper has resigned and wasn't in court, officials said.

Traffic charges were dropped against the 16 motorists who did appear in court for tickets issued by Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper James Randy Moss.

Under her porn-film name "Barbie Cummings," Richert wrote on her blog that Moss took photos and video of their encounter in May and sent copies to her. Richert did not return a call Friday.

Prosecutors have said they would seek an indictment charging Moss, 40, with official misconduct and tampering with evidence.

Also

People who lost their homes and belongings to a South Lake Tahoe, Calif., wildfire were allowed to briefly return to their burned-out neighborhoods Friday as authorities declared the blaze mostly contained. The fire destroyed 254 houses.

Seattle Times news services

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