44-year sentence in killing at Yale

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A former animal-research technician was sentenced Friday to 44 years in prison for killing Yale University graduate student Annie Le days before what was to be her wedding day in 2009. The judge's decision came after anguished relatives described how their anticipation of a celebration turned to grief as they returned home with Le in a coffin.

Raymond Clark III, 26, apologized in New Haven Superior Court for strangling Le, 24, of Placerville, Calif. Her body was found stuffed in a wall of a research lab inside a Yale medical building on Sept. 13, 2009, her wedding day and five days after she was last seen in the building.

Judge Roland Fasano told Clark he had snuffed out the life of a promising young woman and virtually destroyed the lives of two families. Clark pleaded guilty earlier this year, and prosecutors revealed at the time that he had left behind evidence of a sexual assault and desperately tried to cover his tracks. - AP

Bus driver jailed in fatal Va. crash

BOWLING GREEN, Va. - A driver for a low-cost interstate bus service was being held without bond after being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, stemming from a crash Tuesday that killed four passengers and injured dozens.

Virginia State Police said Kin Yiu Cheung, 37, of Flushing, N.Y., was jailed pending a Wednesday court appearance. The crash killed four women, including Sie Giok Giang, 63, of Philadelphia.

Police say Cheung was fatigued when the Sky Express bus, heading from Greensboro, N.C., to New York on Monday night with 58 people, swerved off I-95, hit an embankment, and overturned about 30 miles north of Richmond.

The U.S. Transportation Department also issued a cease-and-desist order against Sky Express, which it shut down this week after the crash, after finding it was still trying to sell tickets under a different name. - AP

Prayer at school graduation OKd

SAN ANTONIO - Public prayer will be allowed at a Texas high school graduation after a federal appeals court Friday reversed a ban won by an agnostic family that contended that ceremony traditions such as invocations are unconstitutional.

The New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted the emergency appeal filed by the Medina Valley Independent School District. The school was ordered by a federal judge earlier this week to forbid students from asking audience members to join in prayer or bow their heads at Saturday's graduation.

The suit was filed on behalf of Christa and Danny Schultz, whose son is graduating, and was backed by the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Spokesman Joe Conn declined immediate comment. - AP

Elsewhere:

New York City investigators found no evidence of a slowdown by snow-removal workers during a Dec. 26-27 blizzard, though there were instances of on-the-job napping and drinking after plows got stuck.