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STUDENT TOUR GROUP RETURNING TO U.S. AFTER CHECKS BOUNCED

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- It will be a subdued homecoming for a group of students stranded in Europe after their teacher paid for their overseas trip with checks that bounced.The 28 students and two adult chaperones were expected to return Thursday. They flew to Europe last Thursday for what was supposed to be a two-week tour of Spain, France and Portugal. But the day after the group arrived, its hotel reservations were canceled when checks written to the travel agency bounced, Richmond County District Attorney Danny Craig said.

Police suspect Vanessa Velez-Cruz, who teaches Spanish at Aquinas High School, a private Roman Catholic school, may have stolen more than half of the $80,000 the students gave her to book the trip. She was in jail Tuesday for allegedly violating terms of her release on bond on an unrelated, decade-old theft charge.

SUSPECT IN SALE OF HANDGUN IN SHOOTING FACES 2ND CHARGE

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) -- A man already accused of selling a handgun that two teenagers used in the Columbine High School massacre has been charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun.

Mark Manes, 22, sat quietly Wednesday as Jefferson County prosecutors laid out the second charge against him. Manes previously was charged with selling a TEC-DC9 9mm pistol that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold used in the April 20 rampage. Harris and Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

The latest charge is a felony that carries up to three years in prison upon conviction. The TEC-9 charge carries a sentence of up to six years but could go as high as 12 years if a judge finds extraordinary circumstances.

Defense lawyer Bob Ransome said Manes is being made a scapegoat.

INDIANA DAD WALKS INTO JAIL, SAYS HE KILLED INFANT SON

FRANKLIN, Ind. (AP) -- Haunted by the image of his dead baby's distorted face, a man walked into the Johnson County Jail and allegedly confessed to killing his infant son.

"Then he begged me to shoot him," Sheriff's Maj. Terry Nichalson said Wednesday.

Ronald Shanabarger, 29, was held without bond and was expected to be charged with killing Tyler Shanabarger, who was less than 8 months old.

Shanabarger told authorities he wrapped plastic wrap around Tyler's head Saturday night and walked away. He said he returned 20 minutes later, removed the wrap and placed his dead son face-down in a baby bed for his wife, Amy, to discover.

The mother thought the baby was asleep and didn't realize anything was wrong until the child failed to wake up Sunday morning, Nichalson said.

MAN SUSPECTED OF SHOOTING WOMAN FIGHTS EXTRADITION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A man suspected of shooting a Florida mother in the face, slitting her throat and leaving her four toddlers crawling in her blood is putting up a vigorous fight against extradition from Mexico, Clinton administration officials say.

Florida prosecutors are frustrated with the delay, but each of Jose Luis Del Toro Jr.'s appeals and legal challenges must be heard in the Mexican courts, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary Lee Warren and Jamison Borek, a State Department deputy legal adviser, told a House subcommittee on Wednesday.

They spoke after James Bellush, the victim's husband, asked Congress for help in pressuring the Mexican government to hand Del Toro over to the United States.

His voice at times quaking with emotion, Bellush said he and his children have waited since November 1997 to see Del Toro brought to trial in the death of his wife, Sheila Bellush, 35.

HOUSE COMMITTEE CLEARS CURB ON TEEN ABORTIONS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A bill making it a crime to take a pregnant minor to another state for an abortion without a parent's knowledge is nearing a House vote.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 16-13, along party lines, in favor of the bill Wednesday. A vote on the House floor could occur as soon as next week.

The Senate has yet to act on a companion measure.

The White House threatened last year to veto similar legislation.

The bill would make it illegal for someone other than a parent, guardian or legal custodian to take a pregnant girl under age 18 to another state for an abortion if it would violate parental involvement laws in the child's home state.

More than 30 states have laws requiring that at least one parent give consent or be notified when their minor daughter seeks to have an abortion.