Nation & World Briefs 04-28-14 Supreme Court to confront role of cellphone in U.S.

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WASHINGTON -- Two Supreme Court cases about police searches of cellphones without warrants present vastly different views of the ubiquitous device.

Is it a critical tool for a criminal or is it an American's virtual home?

How the justices answer that question could determine the outcome of the cases being argued Tuesday. A drug dealer and a gang member want the court to rule that the searches of their cellphones after their arrest violated their right to privacy in the digital age.

The Obama administration and California, defending the searches, say cellphones are no different from anything else a person may be carrying when arrested. Police may search those items without a warrant under a line of high court cases reaching back 40 years.

What's more, said Donald Verrilli Jr., the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, "Cellphones are now critical tools in the commission of crimes."

Pilot missing after planes collide: The Coast Guard searched for a pilot in the northern part of San Francisco Bay on Sunday after two small planes collided over the water and only one of the aircraft landed safely, authorities said. Debris was spotted in San Pablo Bay after the 4:05 p.m. collision near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Petty Officer Loumania Stewart said. The collision involved a single-engine Cessna 210 and a single-engine Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. Each aircraft had one person on board. The Cessna crashed into the water and the pilot of the Hawker was able to land safely at Eagle's Nest Airport in the small Northern California city of Ione, Gregor said. The pilot was reportedly uninjured.

Student to be arraigned: A 16-year-old student faces arraignment on murder charges in the stabbing death of a classmate at t Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Conn., Friday on the day of the junior prom. Police haven't released the suspect's name, but people who saw him taken into custody identified him as Chris Plaskon, a friend of the victim, 16-year-old Maren Sanchez. Plaskon's attorney, Richard Meehan, said his client is being held in a hospital under psychiatric evaluation and will not appear at his arraignment, scheduled for today in New Haven. Plaskon is charged as a juvenile but Meehan has said he expects him to eventually be charged as an adult.

Mom tells police she stabbed infant son: Ashley Newton, a young mother believed to be suffering from depression, admitted to investigators that she stabbed her 7-month-old son to death in a Northern California park, police said Sunday. Newton, 23, of San Jose was arrested Saturday on suspicion of murder, the East Bay Regional Parks District Police Department said in a statement. Investigators continue to interview her family and friends in an attempt to make sense of the alleged crime. "This is an extremely shocking case for us," said Chief Timothy Anderson of the park's police department. The motive remains unclear, but Anderson said that Newton had a history of depression and appeared to have self-inflicted knife wounds on her wrist.

Observers held in Ukraine: Pro-Russian militants in camouflage fatigues and black balaclavas paraded captive European military observers before the media on Sunday, hours after three captured Ukrainian security guards were shown bloodied, blindfolded and stripped of their trousers and shoes, their arms bound with packing tape. The provocative displays came as the increasingly ruthless pro-Russian insurgency in the east turns to kidnapping as an ominous new tactic. Dozens of people are being held hostage, including journalists and pro-Ukraine activists, in makeshift jails in Slovyansk, the heart of the separatists' territory, as the pro-Russian insurgents strengthen their control in defiance of the interim government in Kiev and its Western supporters.

Divers renew search: Divers today renewed their search for more than 100 bodies still trapped in a sunken ferry after weekend efforts were hindered by bad weather, strong currents and floating debris clogging the ship's rooms. Investigators, meanwhile, expanded a probe into how coast guard and other rescuers responded after learning the ferry was sinking.

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