COLORADO

Clinic-attack suspect asks to fire lawyer

The man who killed three people in an attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic halted court proceedings Wednesday by demanding that he be allowed to fire his public defender and represent himself.

Robert Dear, 57, announced at a status hearing that he no longer wanted the Colorado public defender's office to represent him. "I do not want them as my lawyers. I invoke my constitutional right to defend myself," he said.

After Judge Gilbert Martinez advised Dear to trust his lawyer, Dear replied, "How can I trust my attorney when he says I'm incompetent in the newspaper?" Martinez then cleared the court so Dear could talk privately with his attorney, Daniel King. - AP
NEVADA

Woman goes to court in fatal crash

A woman accused of intentionally plowing a car carrying her child through crowds of pedestrians on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk is distraught and overwhelmed, her defense attorney said after she briefly appeared in court for the first time.

Lakeisha Nicole Holloway, 24, was not asked to enter a plea but nodded to acknowledge that she would remain in jail while both sides investigate Sunday's crash that killed a woman and injured dozens of others. A coroner later ruled the death of Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Ariz., a homicide. The finding means it wasn't an accident but doesn't find fault. - AP
LOUISIANA

Driver, 2 children die in car-train crash

A 70-year-old driver and two 12-year-old passengers died when a passenger train hit their car on the tracks in Louisiana, state police said Wednesday.

The other three people in the car - a man and two 12-year-old boys - were critically injured, police said, but none of the 119 passengers on the train was hurt in the crash Tuesday evening in New Iberia, about 115 miles west of New Orleans.

Investigators don't know whether Phyllis Leblanc drove around a crossing gate or whether her 2006 Ford Taurus got stuck after the gate went down, Master Trooper Brooks David said in an email.

He said the crash killed Leblanc, Jayla Daigle, and Trinity Schmidt, and it injured Steve Leblanc, 49, and the boys, whose names weren't released. - AP
CONNECTICUT

After hospital trip,

a charge is born

Two people are facing larceny charges, including a woman who state police say faked a pregnancy and labor to avoid arrest Wednesday.

State police said they arrived at a KMart after getting a report of a shoplifting in progress and located the suspect, Giovanni Torcasio, 33, of Danbury. They found $268.93 worth of stolen merchandise in the vehicle. He was charged with larceny.

Police spoke with Torcasio's fiancee, Denajia Bishop, and discovered that she was wanted on a warrant for larceny. Bishop, 27, told police that she was pregnant and going into labor. She was transported to Danbury Hospital, where personnel discovered that she was not pregnant but concealing $91 worth of stolen items under her sweatshirt. She also was charged with larceny. - Hartford Courant