Conn. abolishes the death penalty

HARTFORD, Conn. - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy quietly signed a law Wednesday that ends the state's death penalty for future crimes, making Connecticut the 17th state to abolish capital punishment.

The Democrat signed the bill behind closed doors, without fanfare. An aide said Malloy was surrounded by lawmakers, clergy, and family members of murder victims.

While he called it a "historic moment," Malloy said in a written statement that it was a time "for sober reflection, not celebration." The bill, which became effective immediately, was signed on the same day that a new Quinnipiac University Poll showed that 62 percent of registered voters in Connecticut still favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder.

Opponents of the repeal legislation included Dr. William Petit Jr., the only survivor of a 2007 home invasion in which two paroled burglars killed his wife and two daughters. Last year, Petit successfully lobbied state senators to hold off on repeal legislation while one of the two killers was still facing a death-penalty trial.

- AP

Judge upholds WikiLeaks case

FORT MEADE, Md. - A military judge refused Wednesday to throw out the case against an Army private accused of providing reams of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of government secrets in U.S. history.

Army Col. Denise Lind said she would rule Thursday on whether to dismiss any of the individual charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, including the most serious count of aiding the enemy - which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Prosecutors argue that the leak helped al-Qaeda and that Manning knew its members regularly viewed the antisecrecy website.

Manning hasn't entered a plea to the charges. He also hasn't yet decided whether he will be tried by a judge or a jury. Lind scheduled Manning's trial for Sept. 21 through Oct. 12. He is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website in late 2009 and early 2010.

- AP

Wis. Dems favor Milwaukee mayor

MADISON, Wis. - Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is showing signs of pulling ahead of the Democratic competition in the race to determine who faces Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election that has become a nationally watched battle over union rights.

Polls show Barrett with a lead less than two weeks before election day, and a labor group supporting his chief opponent, Kathleen Falk, recently pulled its television ads off the air. A state teachers union that backed Falk now says it will support whoever emerges from the Democratic primary May 8.

"It's pretty clear that Tom Barrett is winning the Democratic primary, which is remarkable considering those who are driving this recall support a different candidate," said Mark Graul, a leading Republican strategist. Polls have indicated that the recall election in June should be close, with Walker appearing to hold a slight advantage over a Democratic opponent.

- AP