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Ala. man convicted for 2 rapes at mobile home park

(Information in the following story is from: The Dothan Eagle,

TROY, Ala. (AP) — A Pike County jury has convicted a 36-year-old man of raping two women last year at a mobile home park in Troy.

The Dothan Eagle reports Andre Lamon Ellis III was convicted Friday afternoon. Jurors found him guilty of two counts of first-degree rape and one count of second-degree burglary.

Prosecutors say Ellis broke into the home of the first victim and raped her before attacking the second woman hours later last March 26. Both women identified Ellis as their assailant.

Defense attorney J. Carlton Taylor says Ellis is innocent and the victims failed to "tell the whole truth" during their court testimony.

Prosecutor Chris Kaminski says Ellis' own testimony was full of "glaring inconsistencies."

Ellis is already serving a 22-year sentence following a property theft conviction last fall.


Ala. school system to file claim over BP spill

(Information in the following story is from: WKRG-TV,

FOLEY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama school system on the Gulf Coast says it's filing a claim seeking compensation for lost revenues blamed on the BP oil spill in 2009.

WKRG-TV reports attorneys for the Baldwin County public schools say they plan to file the claim next week. School superintendent Alan Lee won't divulge how much money the school system wants from BP, but he says it's a seven-figure amount.

The Baldwin County revenue department says the local schools received $48.7 million in funding from property taxes before the 2009 oil spill, but those revenues dropped sharply through 2012. County officials blame the spill.

It's not the first time Baldwin County schools have sought a check from BP. They received nearly $2 million in compensation for losses in 2011.


Ala. man faces sentencing in strangling death

(Information in the following story is from: The Daily Sentinel - Scottsboro,

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man convicted of strangling a woman to death will face a possible life sentence when he's sentenced by a judge next month.

The Daily Sentinel reports sentencing for Michael Anthony Bunch has been scheduled for Feb. 4.

A Jackson County jury last November convicted Bunch of murder in the 2009 death of Lisa Harper. Authorities say they had dated for three years before she her body was found near Highway 79.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Holt will decide Bunch's punishment. Sentencing guidelines show he faces 10 years to life in prison.


Bessemer to get $8.2M for public housing makeover

BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama city says it will receive $8.2 million from a federal program aimed at improving public housing. reports the city of Bessemer will use the money for repairs and renovations on 198 low-rent public housing units.

The project was approved for funding under an initiative of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. About $5.2 million of the funding will come from private partners.

Alphonso Patrick, director of the Bessemer Housing Authority, says his agency would never have been able to make the planned improvements without help.


Joshua Tree spider species named for U2's Bono

(Information in the following story is from: The Press-Enterprise,

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — It appeared Bono and arachnids didn't mix when his "Spider-Man" musical had a rough Broadway run, but that didn't keep a biologist from naming an actual spider species after the U2 singer.

Jason Bond of Alabama's Auburn University has identified 33 new species of trapdoor spider, including three of them in the California desert at Joshua Tree National Park. The park's namesake is featured in the title and cover of U2's 1987 album, "The Joshua Tree."

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports that Bond named two of the spiders after Indian tribes and one, A. bonoi, after Bono.

Bond has named other spider species after Angelina Jolie, Cesar Chavez and Stephen Colbert.

The trapdoor spider, found in the Southwestern U.S., is so-named because it makes a hatch to hide from prey.


Ala police: Animal hurt 'skinned' dog

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — Contributors gave about $900 to help solve what appeared to be a cruel crime in Gadsden last month: The killing of a 9-year-old Dachshund that appeared to have been skinned alive.

Officials now say the dog wasn't skinned at all — it was injured and died after being attacked by another animal.

And The Gadsden Times reports that police plan to refund the donations that were given as potential reward money.

Authorities initially said it appeared the dog was purposely mutilated in early December. A man was named as a person of interest and taken into custody on unrelated charges.

But Gadsden police now say an examination showed the dog wasn't skinned. They say its injuries were actually caused by another animal.

Police say they will refund the contributions.


Ala. celebrates 3rd BCS National title in 4 years

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama is celebrating its third BCS National Championship in four years in front of thousands of crimson- and white-clad fans.

The day began Saturday with a parade down University Boulevard that concluded at the walk of champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Players, coaches and support staff walked through the plaza, which honors every national championship and SEC championship team in the Crimson Tide's illustrious history, and up to a stage outside the stadium.

Head coach Nick Saban addressed the crowd on the sunny day, along with UA president Judy Bonner and Director of Athletics Mal Moore.

Radio broadcaster Eli Gold, who calls the Crimson Tide's games on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, emceed the ceremonies, which ended with confetti, fireworks and a highlight video of Alabama's 42-14 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Jan. 7 championship game.

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