Georgia executes man who killed woman during 1996 burglary

JACKSON, Ga. – A man convicted of killing his neighbour during a burglary in 1996 on Tuesday became the fourth person put to death in Georgia this year.

Kenneth Fults was executed by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson. Warden Bruce Chatman told witnesses the time of death was 7:37 p.m.

The 47-year-old inmate had pleaded guilty to killing 19-year-old Cathy Bounds during what prosecutors have described as a weeklong crime spree in January 1996. A jury in 1997 sentenced him to death.

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Fults declined to make a final statement but did agree to have a prayer read over him.

The warden left the execution chamber at 7:18 p.m. Records from past executions have shown that the lethal drug generally begins to flow within minutes of the warden leaving the room, but that is not visible to news media witnesses.

Fults lifted his head and looked to the right twice. He shook his head at 7:20 p.m. and then took several deep breaths, blowing air out through his lips visibly as his body shuddered several times. He then yawned, took several more deep breaths and became still.

READ MORE: ‘What that n****r deserved’: Man scheduled to be executed in Georgia had ‘racist, unfair’ trial

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday declined to grant clemency for Fults. The board did not give a reason for its denial, which is customary.

His attorneys had also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution to consider arguments that a juror who had imposed the sentence was motivated by racial bias. A statement from the court Tuesday afternoon said the request was denied but it didn’t give a reason.

Prosecutors have said Fults killed Bounds during a weeklong crime spree that began when he stole two guns during burglaries. After trying unsuccessfully to kill his former girlfriend’s new boyfriend with one of the stolen guns, Fults broke into the trailer next to his, where Bounds lived with her boyfriend.

Bounds, who was home alone, pleaded for her life and offered him the rings on her fingers, but Fults forced her into the bedroom, wrapped electrical tape around her head, put her face-down on the bed, put a pillow over her head and shot her five times in the back of the head, prosecutors had said.

Fults’ lawyers said in a clemency petition that their client had an extremely tough childhood characterized by abuse and neglect and an intellectual disability that keeps him from behaving appropriately.

“Mr. Fults, the man, committed a terrible, tragic act when he killed Cathy Bounds,” they wrote. “But before the man existed, there was an innocent, vulnerable child in his place. And that child, Kenny, fell through the cracks.”

They also pointed out what they said were flaws in his sentencing trial, including a juror they said was motivated by racial bias and a defence attorney who fell asleep and failed to provide jurors with adequate information.

In their filing with the Supreme Court, Fults’ lawyers argued his death sentence was unconstitutional because one of the jurors who imposed it was motivated by racial prejudice.

During jury selection for Fults’ trial in 1997, juror Thomas Buffington, who was white, told the judge and lawyers on both sides that he felt no racial prejudice.

An investigator working with Fults’ lawyers eight years later spoke to Buffington about his jury service. Buffington, who was 79 at the time of the interview and has since died, twice used a racial slur when talking about Fults, who is black.

“Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that (N-word) deserved,” Buffington said, according to the signed, April 12, 2005, affidavit in the court record.

On Tuesday, Fults had visits with 17 relatives, a friend, an attorney and two paralegals, officials said.

Another Georgia inmate, Daniel Lucas, is scheduled to be executed April 27.

PC Leader Brian Pallister targeted by opponents during latest televised debate

WINNIPEG —; Taxes and healthcare were hot issues as Manitoba’s political party leaders debated one week before the election.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister who is ahead in the polls was the target of all other participating leaders, especially when it came to cutting costs.

RELATED: Manitoba party leaders went head-to-head in election’s only televised debate

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    Pallister said he plans to cut waste in the health care sector, not front line services. He said he was open to ideas on how to improve healthcare and said the Selinger NDP had already started down the road of privatization.

    Green Party Leader James Bedomme asked Pallister for a commitment to fight poverty in the province. Pallister agreed it was an important topic.

    RELATED: Manitoba Tory candidate faces restrictions by College of Physicians and Surgeons

    “I want to work with anyone who wants to address the issues of poverty effectively,” Pallister said during the debate.

    Political analyst Royce Koop said Pallister was the strongest candidate at the debate.

    “They did not follow up aggressively, Mr. Pallister took advantage of the opportunities that were offered to him by the debate format more effectively than the other leaders,” Koop said.

    Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari targeted Pallister for not calling in to a Manitoba Teachers Society debate last week. For the most part, the Liberal Leader let her two opponents take the stage.

    “I wanted Manitobans to see how the two worked together. These are the kinds of things we see in the legislature,” Bokhari said in a scrum after the debate.

    When pressed on whether Manitobans would see another hike like the 2013 PST increase during the debate, Selinger did not initially give a clear response. However he said afterward that there would not be another hike.

    “We acknowledge we took them by surprise we do not have those conditions now, we do not have to raise the PST again,” Selinger said.

    While under fire, Selinger stuck to his point that the hike was a difficult decision that needed to be made for flood protection and infrastructure.

Authorities: Seattle mother dismembered in home, body parts dumped

SEATTLE – A man dismembered a nurse and mother of three in her suburban home then drove her head and other remains to Seattle, where they were found in garbage bags in a recycling bin, authorities said Tuesday.

The disclosure came as a King County judge ordered the suspect in the case, John Robert Charlton, held on $2 million bail and prosecutors said he could face a second-degree murder charge.

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Charlton has a criminal history. His parents had sought a restraining order against him in 2006, saying he had taken the movie “Hannibal” – about a serial killer – from a shelf and told his mother she should watch it and “beware.”

Charlton, 37, was arrested Monday after police said remains believed to be those of Ingrid Lyne of Renton were found over the weekend in a homeowner’s recycling bin. A head, arm with a hand, lower leg and foot were recovered, court documents state.

Lyne, 40, was reported missing on Saturday. The coroner’s office was working to confirm the remains were hers.

READ MORE: Body parts belong to Seattle mom who went missing after date: police

Her family released a statement Tuesday, saying their hearts are broken and can never be fully mended.

“This weekend, a light went out of our lives forever. Ingrid, beloved mother, daughter, sister, and friend was taken from us for reasons we still cannot comprehend,” the statement said.

Lyne had planned to go on a date to a Mariners baseball game Friday night, friends said. A neighbour told detectives she had been dating a man named John.

Charlton told police he went to the baseball game with Lyne and returned to her home that night but was so intoxicated he couldn’t recall what happened. He said he had been dating Lyne for about a month.

Seattle police detectives searched Lyne’s suburban home Sunday and found a 15-inch pruning saw near the bathtub, an empty box of plastic garbage bags identical to the type containing the body parts, and collected swabs of suspected blood, according to court documents.

Jennifer Worley, a King County prosecutor, said investigators found bits of human flesh and blood in the bathtub near the saw.

Police said Charlton had abrasions on his forehead and hand, injuries to his lip and chin, and scratches on his chest.

Gordon Hill, Charlton’s public defender, said at a court appearance Tuesday, where the judge instructed media not to show Charlton’s face, that no forensic evidence had linked any particular person to the crime.

Hill also said no time of death was established in the certification of probable cause that overlaps with time Charlton was with Lyne.

In a 2006 filing for a restraining order in Thurston County Superior Court, south of Seattle, Charlton’s parents said he had tried to provoke a fight with them while he was drunk and abusive.

Ray and JoAnn Charlton said he had told them “life was putting too much pressure on him” and he felt he was becoming mentally unstable.

The restraining order was later dismissed at the parents’ request.

John Charlton was convicted that same year of aggravated robbery in Utah. He was also convicted of a 2009 felony theft in Montana and negligent driving in Washington state in 1998.

Charlton told police he spent Saturday and Sunday night at the Lake Stevens, Washington, home of a former girlfriend.

Who deserves Manitoba’s cheers during NHL playoffs?

WINNIPEG – So the Winnipeg Jets won’t be a part of the playoffs.

Same with every other Canadian NHL team.

Hockey’s heartland won’t host any spring shinny for the first time since 1970 as all seven Canadian teams failed to make the post-season. The tradition of fans north of the border bonding together to cheer for Canada’s last standing squad is over.

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    But what if you’re still craving some playoff puck? Which regular season enemy do you become friends with?

    The Minnesota Wild are an obvious choice for Manitobans based on its close proximity to our province. A mere 630 km separates us and still frozen ice.

    You also can’t go wrong with the Chicago Blackhawks. Their captain is arguably one of the best players to every skate out of Manitoba. Oh…and the fact they’re the defending Stanley Cup Champions helps too.

    Take Our Poll

    Actually, it’s Anaheim. Out of all 16 teams participating in this year’s playoffs, the Ducks have the highest number of players, coaches and general managers who at point called Manitoba. The Ducks have a total of seven (more than enough to form a flying V) people who lived here, edging out the Nashville Predators by one.

    But if it’s hometown heroes you’re reserving your hoot and hollers for, then Chicago and the St. Louis Blues are for you. Both teams have three people in their organization who were born in Manitoba.

    RELATED: 6 things to know as NHL’s regular season ends

    The full list of teams and their connection to our province can be found below.

    Anaheim Ducks:
    Ryan Garbutt —; Winnipegger
    Ryan Kesler —; Played two seasons with the Manitoba Moose between 2003-05
    Kevin Bieksa —; Played four seasons with the Manitoba Moose between 2003-08
    Mike Santorelli —; Played 10 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 2012-13
    Josh Manson —; Played two games with the Flin Flon Bombers in 2008-09
    Assistant Coach Paul MacLean —; Played seven seasons with the Winnipeg Jets between 1981-88
    Assistant Coach Rich Preston —; Played 80 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 1978-79

    Nashville Predators:
    Colin Wilson —; Winnipegger
    Cody Hodgson —; Played two seasons with the Manitoba Moose between 2008-11
    James Neal —; Played five games with the Manitoba Moose in 2008-09
    Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton —; Played three seasons with the Winnipeg Jets between 1988-91
    Assistant Coach Kevin McCarthy —; Winnipegger
    Assistant Coach Phil Housley —; Played three seasons with the Winnipeg Jets between 1990-93

    Chicago Blackhawks:
    Jonathan Toews —; Winnipegger
    Dale Weise —; Winnipegger
    Duncan Keith —; Winnipeg-born
    Andrew Ladd —; Played five seasons with the Winnipeg Jets between 2011-16
    Assistant General Manager Norm MacIver —; Played 39 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 1995-96

    Dallas Stars:
    Cody Eakin —; Winnipegger
    Patrick Sharp —; Winnipeg-born
    Johnny Oduya —; Played 63 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 2011-12
    General Manager Jim Nill —; Played four seasons with the Winnipeg Jets 1984-88
    Assistant General Manager Les Jackson —; Managed and coached the Brandon Wheat Kings between 1980-84

    New York Rangers:
    Dylan McIlrath —; Winnipegger
    Tanner Glass —; Played 78 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 2011-12
    Head Coach Alain Vigneault —; Coached the Manitoba Moose in 2005-06
    Assistant Coach Scott Arniel —; Played six seasons with the Winnipeg Jets between 1981-91. Played three seasons with the Manitoba Moose between 1996-99. Also coached the Moose for six seasons between 2000-10.

    St. Louis Blues:
    Alexander Steen —; Winnipegger
    Joel Edmundson —; Brandon
    Ryan Reaves —; Winnipegger

    San Jose Sharks:
    James Reimer —; Morweena
    Assistant Coach Johan Hedberg —; Played three seasons with the Manitoba Moose between 1997-04
    General Manager Doug Wilson —; Played 52 games with the WCHL’s Winnipeg Clubs in 1973-74

    Florida Panthers:
    Quinton Howden —; Winnipegger
    Al Montoya —; Played two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets between 2012-14
    Assistant Coach Mike Kelly —; Coached and managed the Brandon Wheat Kings. Also was an assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose

    Philadelphia Flyers:
    Ryan White —; Brandon
    Brayden Schenn —; Played four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings between 2007-11
    General Manager Ron Hextall —; Brandon

    New York Islanders:
    Travis Hamonic —; St. Malo
    Ryan Pulock —; Grandview

    Washington Capitals:
    Jason Chimera —; Played 21 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1998-99
    Head Coach Barry Trotz —; Dauphin

    LA Kings:
    Assistant Coach Bill Ranford —; Brandon

    Minnesota Wild:
    Jordan Schroeder —; Played two seasons with the Manitoba Moose between 2009-11

    Detroit Red Wings:
    Darren Helm —; St. Andrews

    Pittsburgh Penguins:
    Eric Fehr —; Winkler

    Tampa Bay Lightning:
    Assistant Coach Rick Bowness —; Played two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets between 1980-82. Also coached the Jets for four seasons between 1984-89.

Vernon business owner feels ‘blind-sided’ by city project

VERNON – A Vernon business owner says he was blind-sided last Thursday morning when a contractor showed up to this farm and garden centre and told him they’d be starting a road project the following Monday.

The project would cause the closure of a road that is the main artery to Briteland Holdings during the busiest time of the year for his business.

“I was horrified because this is our Christmas, this is where we make the income to survive for the next 12 months,” says Briteland Holdings owner Dave Weatherill.

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The infrastructure improvement project was originally slated for last summer. There were public consultations and Weatherill supported the idea.

However, after quotes came in over budget, the city had to put it off until this year.

For three months, 32 Avenue between 27 and 29 Streets would be closed for the project.

Other nearby businesses like Ashley Furniture and Station BBQ restaurant also told Global News they feel they weren’t given enough notice. The city admits the mistake.

“I acknowledge that we can do much better,” says Manager of Infrastructure Management for the City of Vernon, Mark Dowanhiuk.

That’s why the project has been put on hold, again.

City council will also hold a special meeting this Friday to decide whether to delay the project until this summer. The delay would come with a price tag to taxpayers of about $100,000 in penalties paid to the contractor.

“We are between a rock and a hard place. We are taxpayers in the City of Vernon. We don’t want the city to spend any more than they have to for anything,” says Weatherill.

“On the other hand, we have a business to run.”

Dowanhiuk says he’s working on other options to present to council this Friday.

Lawsuit filed against the province over transgender human rights complaints

REGINA – Instead of focusing on discrimination, a lawyer is using the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the basis for a lawsuit addressing transgender human-rights complaints.

“How one wants to express one’s self in the world should be up to you and nobody else. You shouldn’t have to justify that the anybody,” Saskatoon-based lawyer Larry Kowalchuk said.

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    Kowalchuk and his clients, a number of parents of transgender children and a trans woman, argue needing a third party – a physician or psychologist – to verify your gender, the lack of option for having no gender, and preventing people under 18 from changing their gender markings – “M” or “F” – on documents violates their right to freedom of expression.

    A second part of the suit accuses the province and Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission of violating their charter rights, through the current draft of the Vital Statistics Act.

    This act is currently in the process of being reviewed by the Ministry of Justice.

    In February, a consent order was issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench, making it so transgender people can correct their gender markings on documents like a birth certificate without confirming they’ve undergone gender reassignment surgery.

    READ MORE: Proof of gender reassignment surgery no longer required for birth certificate amendments

    Laura Budd became the first person in Saskatchewan to receive corrected ID under these rules on Feb. 26.

    The Melville, Sask. woman had to get verification she is a woman from her family doctor. She doesn’t agree with the need for third-party verification though, saying it can be very damaging for people who have struggled with gender identity all their life.

    “You’ve convinced your family that you are who you are, for those under 18 especially, and now you have to convince a third party in order for the government to recognize you as a person,” Budd said.

    Budd works as a sexual and gender diversity consultant, and said identification is an often forgotten issue for those who don’t identify with a specific gender.

    “Society generally tells them that they cannot exist. Not only do they not exist, but they cannot exist. We need to have this discussion, and we need to update this information,” she explained.

    READ MORE: The fight for trans rights: a matter of life and death

    Since Budd corrected her birth certificate, eHealth Saskatchewan has received eight more applications.

    Currently, the agency uses interim regulations while the Justice Ministry reviews the Vital Statistics Act.

    These regulations, which require third party support for the change, are based on what other provinces require for gender markings changes.

    “I guess for individuals when they’re coming in to demonstrate that that intent is there, and that’s the process that they’re going through,” Alyssa Daku, eHealth Saskatchewan vice-president of strategy, quality and risk management ,said.

    British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Nunavut all require some form of third party support.

    The Ministry of Justice won’t comment on the legal proceedings, but a spokesperson said now that the election is over they hope to begin consolations on the Vital Statistics Act soon, and introduce changes in the spring.

    The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is sympathetic to the concerns of the plaintiffs. Chief Commissioner Judge David Arnot says these changes are usually incremental and are moving at the usual legislative speed.

    However, he fears litigation could slow the positive change.

    “There’s very nuanced complicated issues where expert witnesses would have to be called. The litigation in this could take four to five years quite easily I could predict that,” he said.

    Follow @davidbaxter_

Dion approved $11B in export permits for armoured vehicles destined for Saudi Arabia

OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has released documents showing the minister approved the export of $11 billion worth of the $15 billion in light armoured vehicles destined for Saudi Arabia as part of a controversial defence contract.

The documents shed new light on the controversial Saudi deal, as well as the Canadian government’s view of the murky world of Canadian arms exports to a volatile region.

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They indicate that Dion approved the export of the LAV3s after government officials advised him that they were satisfied the Saudis would not use the combat vehicles against their own people, but instead would use them to defend Canada’s common security interests with the desert kingdom.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia Canada’s ‘most important’ trading partner in the Middle East: government documents

The documents, which Dion’s office gave to on Tuesday night, cite the ongoing fight against Islamic State militants, in which Saudi Arabia is an ally with Canada, the United States and a coalition of several dozen countries.

The documents also show for the first time how the Canadian government views Saudi Arabia’s past involvement in helping quell the Arab Spring unrest in neighbouring Bahrain in 2011, and its ongoing involvement in trying to suppress the ongoing revolt in Yemen.

In both of those crises, questions have been raised about whether Canadian military exports to Saudi Arabia have been used in human rights abuses.

READ MORE: Analysis: The changing nature of why the Liberals stand behind Saudi arms deal

Since then, groups such as Amnesty International and Project Ploughshares have called on the government to cancel the $15-billion deal that would see a southwestern Ontario company build and supply LAV3s to Saudi Arabia.

The previous Conservative government approved the Saudi LAV contract and the Liberals have decided to honour it because they say cancelling it would lead to costly financial penalties that would hurt the country’s long-term business interests.

Dion has said the government would closely examine all future Saudi export permits with an eye towards ensuring they are consistent with international law, human rights and national interests.

WATCH: Dion breaks bread with Saudi ambassador, but ‘can’t reveal nature of discussion’

The documents acknowledge the controversy surrounding the deal, but conclude there are no violations that would justify cancelling it.

The analysis in the documents – stamped “Secret” – also acknowledges the poor Saudi human rights record, but it concludes there’s no tangible link between it and the Ontario-made LAV3s.

“Canada, like others in the international community, remains concerned about human rights issues in Saudi Arabia,” the document says.

It cites reports of the high number of executions, the suppression of political opposition and freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment of detainees, limitations on freedom of religion, discrimination against women and mistreatment of migrant workers.

“The government is undertaking a review of Canada’s current export control measures – to find ways to make the process more open, transparent, and accountable,” Dion’s spokesman Joe Pickerill said Tuesday night.

“Working with the Saudis allows us to hold them to account and creates opportunities to make progress on a range of issues, including human rights.”

The documents note how a United Nations panel of experts has concluded that all parties to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the Saudis included, have violated international humanitarian law by contributing to the high death toll of civilians.

But the Canadian assessment concludes that there is “no indication that equipment of Canadian origin, including LAVs” were in use there.

The document addresses reports that Canadian-made sniper rifles have surfaced in Yemen showing them in the possession of Houthi rebels. It says 1,300 of the weapons were exported to Saudi Arabia under valid permits, but says the Canadian embassy in Riyadh has concluded they were captured from Saudi forces by Houthi fighters in fighting along the border.

“This type of battlefield loss of equipment is to be expected as a result of military operations,” the document states.

The document also addresses concerns that the Canadian LAVs were used by the Saudis to suppress Arab Spring revolts in Bahrain in 2011.

“To the best of the (Foreign Affairs) Department’s knowledge, Saudi troops were stationed to protect key buildings and infrastructure, and did not engage in suppression of peaceful protests.”

Canucks brass dissects dismal season

VANCOUVER – Trevor Linden leaned against a wall in the bowels of Rogers Arena on Tuesday morning, surrounded by a crush of cameras and microphones.

The president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks had just watched a press conference where his head coach and general manager spent nearly an hour explaining a season that saw the team finish 28th overall with its worst point total since the late 1990s.

Now it was Linden’s turn.

No, he said, there weren’t mixed messages to fans regarding the direction of the team.

Yes, he added, the Canucks are concerned about this season’s attendance drop.

And yes, Vancouver will continue infusing younger players into the lineup while trying to remain competitive for a playoff spot with its dwindling veteran core that still includes Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

WATCH: Who will the Canucks keep or get rid of?

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“We’ve had our eye firmly on the future. We’ve never traded young assets for older assets that set us back,” said Linden, dressed in a sharp suit. “We knew eventually we were going to get younger and this was the year it took shape. We’re going to continue to go down that path.”

Linden said stripping the franchise down to its studs the way the Toronto Maple Leafs did this season in their full rebuild wouldn’t work in Vancouver.

“The notion of just gutting our team is not the direction we can go. We need our young players to have some support,” said the former Canucks captain. “We just can’t bring in a bunch of young players and throw them to the wolves. That’s not a recipe for success.

“The terminology … say whatever you want. We’re working hard at developing a young group of players here. I don’t think there’s been mixed messages at all.”

READ MORE: Canucks reflect on disappointing season

Linden, GM Jim Benning and head coach Willie Desjardins returned the Canucks to the playoffs in 2014-15 in their first years on the job. But the club slipped from 101 points to 75 this season, its lowest total since a 58-point campaign back in 1998-99.

“The pressure I feel is because I know our fans want to win,” said Linden. “It’s going to take some patience, but this is an exciting time for this organization.”

There were key injuries to many veterans in 2015-16, forcing some youngsters into bigger roles the team hopes will pay future dividends.

Those players included 19-year-old rookie forwards Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, first-year defenceman Ben Hutton and sophomore centre Bo Horvat.

“The silver lining of this year is our young players got experience they wouldn’t normally get,” said Benning.

Meanwhile, Linden gave Desjardins a vote of confidence heading into next season, but the coach knows how quickly the landscape can shift.

“Our business is a tough business,” said Desjardins. “And it’s always changing.”

Benning wouldn’t say if the Canucks plan to search out a big name in free agency this summer to complement the youth movement, but added any acquisition would have to be the right fit.

“We have meetings the next couple weeks with our pro scouts,” said Benning. “We’re going to go through all the different avenues where we think we can make our team better next year.”

With their dismal finish this season, the Canucks have the third-best odds —an 11.5 per cent chance — of winning the draft lottery April 30 for the right to select phenom Auston Matthews.

Management feels any one of Matthews, Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi — the consensus top-three players available — will step into the lineup next season. But Linden said he’s not getting too far ahead of himself with the chance Vancouver could also fall to No. 6.

“We’re No. 3 now,” said Linden. “There’s excitement (possibly) going to No. 1, but the fear of dropping is the bigger part of it.”

Notes: Linden said he can envision a scenario where both Alexandre Burrows and Dan Hamhuis return next season. Burrows, 35, is believed to be a candidate to have the final year of his contract bought out, while Hamhuis, 33, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. … Benning hopes to have Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko, who had an excellent season in the NCAA, signed in the next couple of weeks. The 20-year-old was a second-round pick of Vancouver back in 2014, but could choose to return to school for another season.

Confederate emblem ‘anti-American,’ judge in flag case says

JACKSON, Miss. – A federal judge said Tuesday that the Confederate emblem on the flag is “anti-American” because it represents those who fought to leave the United States.

But U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is not yet saying whether he will fully consider a lawsuit that seeks to eliminate the flag as a state symbol.

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Reeves heard more than three hours of arguments about motions in the lawsuit that Carlos Moore, an African-American attorney from Grenada, Mississippi, filed against the state. Moore is asking Reeves to declare the flag an unconstitutional relic of slavery.

READ MORE: Bryan Adams cancels Mississippi concert in protest of anti-LGBT law

Moore argued that under the U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a majority of justices found the Constitution protects a fundamental right of dignity. Moore argued the state flag violates his dignity and that of other African-Americans.

“I’m nobody’s second-class citizen, and I don’t appreciate being treated as such,” Moore said.

Reeves – who is also African-American – said he is considering two questions as he decides whether to give more thorough consideration to Moore’s lawsuit or to dismiss it.

One question is whether Moore has legal standing to sue the state, including whether Moore can prove he has been harmed because of the flag. The other question is whether flag design is an issue that can be decided by a court.

Reeves asked attorneys dozens of questions on both points Tuesday.

READ MORE: Appeals court rules Mississippi can resume Google inquiry

An assistant state attorney general, Doug Miracle, argued flag design is a political question that should be decided by the Legislature.

“The issue is not one of whether the legislative branch will act,” Miracle said. “The issue is whether it is capable and it is better suited.”

Mississippi has used the same flag since 1894, and its upper left corner has the Confederate battle emblem – a red field topped by a blue X dotted with 13 white starts. Voters chose to keep the banner in a 2001 referendum, and it’s the last state flag in the nation to prominently feature the emblem.

The public display of Confederate symbols has come under sharp debate since last summer, when nine black worshippers were massacred at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The man charged in the slayings had the Confederate battle flag in photos of him published online.

WATCH: Mississippi signs law allowing businesses to refuse service to gay couples

Moore filed his lawsuit in February, days after legislative leaders declined to have the state House and Senate debate bills that would have either removed the Confederate emblem from the flag or punished public entities that refuse to fly it. Several local governments and some universities have taken down the flag since last summer. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he supports the results of the 2001 vote but if the flag is to be changed, it should be done by a statewide vote.

Reeves didn’t say when he will rule on the arguments he heard Tuesday, but he noted they took place on the anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War being fired in 1861 at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

“We’re still arguing about a flag in 2016 and arguing about a flag that is anti-American,” Reeves said. He said the Confederate battle flag was one symbol of those who fought to secede from the United States.

The judge also said the battle emblem is a symbol of the Confederacy, “which is anathema to anybody who lives within the 21st century.”

Accused killer points finger at own brother in Ryan Lane trial

CALGARY – Things heated up in a Calgary courtroom Tuesday afternoon, when accused Tim Rempel pointed the finger at his own brother.

Rempel, his wife Sheena Cuthill, and his brother Will Rempel are all accused of the kidnapping and first-degree murder of Ryan Lane.

The prosecution alleges Lane was killed over custody of the child he shared with Cuthill.

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  • LIVE BLOG: Tim Rempel testifies in Ryan Lane murder trial

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    READ MORE: Accused killer maintains she was not part of any plan to kill Ryan Lane 

    There were several objections in the courtroom, as Tim spoke about his brother Will.

    He testified Will told him “he burned Ryan’s body.”

    The jury was told to ignore the comment; the judge deeming it hearsay.

    Tim spent the entire day on the stand.

    LIVE BLOG: Sheena Cuthill testifies in Ryan Lane murder trial 

    He gave the history of how he met Cuthill in the fall of 2011 and only months later, she discovered she was pregnant with their child.

    The 30-year-old said he married her and wanted to adopt the little girl she shared with Lane.

    He admits he was frustrated when Lane came back in the picture, wanting visitation.

    Rempel’s defence lawyer Allan Fay asked, “did you feel anger towards Ryan Lane?”

    Rempel replied: “I did…he was using any excuse he could to communicate with Sheena…it upset me.”

    He told court he repeatedly expressed to Cuthill that he wanted to meet Lane. He said he wanted to talk, not harm or kill him.

    “It became like the elephant in the room for us,” Rempel testified.

    “I had gotten to what I felt was my tipping point,” he said, telling the court he “needed to go talk to him.”

    Early on Feb. 6, he said he got the ‘okay’ from Cuthill to proceed with the talk.

    READ MORE: Prosecution finishes presenting evidence in Ryan Lane murder trial 

    That evening, the last night Lane was seen alive, Rempel said he called Lane from a city pay phone.

    “I told him I got pictures he would be interested in of [his daughter] and his ex,” Rempel testified he went on to set up a meet.

    He explained his brother Will was to pick Lane up and drive him to a rural location near Airdrie.

    “The sole purpose of me being there was to talk to him,” Rempel said, “I showed him pictures on my phone.”

    That’s when Rempel said Lane made comments about his wife. “That she’s still his and he still loves her.”

    “I told him he can’t have a relationship with Sheena, that boat has sailed,” Rempel explained.

    He said an altercation ensued.

    “He shoved me…I wasn’t expecting anything like that and he pushed me so I reacted. I reacted to defend myself.”

    “I hit him with my left hand on the nose and the lips…he was crying.”

    “I told him if he can’t get past this the conversation is over,” Rempel said.

    READ MORE: ‘Can I trust Will to have this done’ – texts between co-accused in Ryan Lane murder trial

    He said he decided to leave Lane on the road.

    “When you left that location was Ryan Lane alive?” Fay asked.

    “Yes,” Rempel replied.

    He added he also witnessed his brother drive away.

    His lawyer asked him why he lied to police days after Lane disappeared, telling detectives he’d never met Lane.

    “I was afraid…I was afraid for what might happen,” he said.

    Tim Rempel will continue his testimony Wednesday.