Fla. puts more on death row

ORLANDO, Fla. - A report by a national nonprofit group that studies the death penalty found that Florida put more people on death row in 2012 than any other state.

The Death Penalty Information Center's report says nine states executed prisoners this year. Texas, with 15, executed the most. Florida executed three; there were none in Pennsylvania and one in Delaware. New Jersey does not have the death penalty.

Florida far exceeded other states in new death sentences: 21 were sentenced to die in Florida through mid-December, the report says. That's more than twice Texas' figure for the comparable period.

Overall, the report found that death-penalty use in 2012 "continued to decline, with fewer states endorsing capital punishment, relatively few death sentences being imposed, and executions being carried out at only half the rate of the late 1990s."

The majority of new death-penalty cases in 2012 were in a small minority of states, with Florida, California, Texas, and Pennsylvania (seven death sentences), accounting for 65 percent of new cases.

- Orlando Sentinel

Bush kin pay a hospital visit

HOUSTON - Former President George H.W. Bush spent Christmas in a Houston hospital with his wife, Barbara, and other relatives who planned to treat him to a special holiday meal.

The 88-year-old has been in the hospital since Nov. 23 with a lingering, bronchitis-like cough. A hospital spokesman had said Bush was likely to be released to spend Christmas at home, but then the former president developed a fever.

Doctors want to keep him in the hospital while they help him build up his strength and balance his medications.

On Christmas, the Bush family normally eats at Gigi's Asian Bistro in Houston's Galleria neighborhood. There were plans to pick up food at the upscale restaurant and take the meal to the hospital.

- AP

Avalanche kills ski patroller

TRUCKEE, Calif. - A member of a Sierra ski resort's patrol team who was injured after being caught in an avalanche has died - the second death connected to avalanches that occurred in the area Monday.

Bill Foster, 53, died at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev., where he was taken after the avalanche a day earlier at Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe, the resort said in a statement Tuesday.

A resort spokeswoman said she did not know whether Foster, a 28-year veteran with the resort's ski patrol team, died Monday night or Tuesday.

Foster was buried in a slide that had been intentionally set with an explosive device by a senior member of the ski patrol team. The team was doing avalanche control in an area closed to the public on the back side of the resort.

- AP