WASHINGTON

Obama commutes sentences of eight

President Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight people he said were serving unduly harsh drug sentences in the most expansive use yet of his power to free inmates.

All eight were sentenced under old federal guidelines that treated convictions for crack cocaine offenses harsher than those involving the powder form of the drug. Obama also pardoned 13 others for various crimes.

The president signed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010 to cut penalties for crack cocaine offenses in order to reduce the disparity. But the act addressed only new cases, not old ones.

Obama said those whose sentences he commuted Thursday have served at least 15 years in prison, many under mandatory minimums that required judges to impose long sentences even if they didn't think the time fit the crime. - AP
NEW YORK

Army cadet accused

A West Point cadet was arrested on campus Thursday and charged with distributing child pornography via e-mail. Papers filed in federal court allege that Ricky Patrick Hester, 23, of Granger, Ind., sent videos up to 15 minutes long showing young boys engaged in explicit sexual activity. He faces federal charges of distributing and possessing child pornography. If convicted of the distribution charge, he would face five to 20 years in prison. - AP
MICHIGAN

Trial set in shooting

A Detroit-area man who fatally shot a drunk, unarmed woman on his porch will stand trial on a second-degree-murder charge, a judge said Thursday, rejecting a self-defense argument. There is no dispute that Theodore Wafer, 54, shot Renisha McBride, 19, through the screen of his front door in the early hours of Nov. 2. His attorneys said he feared for his life, but Dearborn Heights Judge David Turfe said there were other ways to protect himself, including a phone call for help. - AP