In 5 hours, jury convicts

Elizabeth Smart's abductor

SALT LAKE CITY - Elizabeth Smart waited more than eight years for the word she heard yesterday.

"Guilty," the court clerk said, after a federal jury deliberated five hours to convict street preacher Brian David Mitchell of snatching Smart from her bed, at knifepoint in the dead of night, and forcing sex on her while he held her captive for nine months.

Smart smiled as the verdict was read, while a bedraggled, bearded Mitchell sat at the defense table, singing hymns with his hands before his chest, as if in prayer.

"I hope that not only is this an example that justice can be served in America, but that it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened," Smart said, after she walked arm-in-arm with her mother through a crush of media.

It was a dramatic end to a tale that captured the nation's attention since she disappeared in June 2002: A 14-year-old girl mysteriously taken from her home, the intense search and her eventual discovery walking Salt Lake City's streets with her captors.

Drug mix shows promise

against early breast cancer

SAN ANTONIO - New drug combinations are helping women with early breast cancer. Using two drugs that more precisely target tumors doubled the number of women whose cancer disappeared compared to those who had only one of the drugs, doctors reported yesterday.

It was the first test of Herceptin and Tykerb together for early-stage disease. They aim at a protein called HER-2 that is overproduced in about one-fourth of all breast cancers. Herceptin blocks the protein on the cell's surface; Tykerb does it inside the cell.

Jose Baselga, associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, led a study when he previously worked in Barcelona, Spain, that tested these drugs alone and in combination in 455 patients who also were given the chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel.

The patients were treated for about four months before surgery to remove their tumors and for nine months afterward. Doctors have been testing drugs in advance of surgery to shrink tumors and make the operation less drastic, and to get an idea quickly if these drugs will help a patient.

Just over half of the women who received Herceptin and Tykerb were discovered to have no signs of invasive cancer when their surgeries were done, versus only 25 to 30 percent of those given just one of these drugs.

Death ruled homicide

in Burger King clash

DETROIT - A 67-year-old man who police believe was homeless died after being punched and knocked to the ground during a scuffle with a 20-year-old Burger King employee in Detroit, and authorities ruled the death a homicide yesterday.

An autopsy determined that Paul Cannon died of blunt-force trauma to the head, said Dennis Niemiec, a spokesman for the Wayne County medical examiner's office. An earlier report suggested the punch may have caused Cannon to choke on his dentures, but Niemiec said the dentures played no role in the death.

The county prosecutor's office received a warrant request, and it was under review, according to spokesman Mark Bernardi.

Police said Cannon was reportedly causing a disturbance Thursday afternoon at the restaurant on the city's east side and tried to hit the worker, who swung back.

Key Mexican cartel leader

believed slain in standoff

MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities said yesterday that they believe they have killed a top leader of the violent La Familia cartel following two days of pitched fighting in the home state of President Felipe Calderon.

In skirmishes that erupted Wednesday afternoon and raged until early yesterday, federal forces deployed in the western state of Michoacan battled scores of gunmen from La Familia who torched vehicles and barricaded roads in a dozen cities. At least 11 people were confirmed killed, including five federal police officers and an 8-month-old baby.

Government security spokesman Alejandro Poire said officials had received information that La Familia founder Nazario Moreno Gonzalez - alias El Mas Loco, or "The Craziest" - was killed in the shooting.

Empty chair marks place

of peace winner; China fumes

BEIJING - The Nobel Peace Prize was placed yesterday on an empty chair in Oslo's city hall, creating a potent new symbol of the struggle for human rights and political reform in China.

Laureate Liu Xiaobo would have been sitting in that chair, were he not locked away in an obscure prison in northeastern China.

Liu, a poet and essayist, is serving an 11-year sentence for penning a manifesto calling for greater freedoms in China and the end of one-party rule. .

An enraged Chinese government dismissed the prize as an anti-China farce honoring a criminal, and successfully lobbied 18 countries to join its boycott of the ceremony. Chinese censors blocked international television and websites carrying news of the event.

Violence eases in Haiti

after disputed election

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Shops opened sporadically, the airport took in cargo flights and fewer flaming barricades blocked streets yesterday as Haiti's capital struggled to emerge from two days of riots over the disputed presidential election.

Officials worked behind the scenes to find a solution to the political crisis as an influential U.S. senator called for U.S. aid to be cut off to Haiti until a fair and democratic outcome to the election is found.

- From Daily News wire services