Missouri inmate executed for killing neighbor

JIM SUHR Associated Press Published:

BONNE TERRE, Mo. -- A Missouri inmate was put to death Wednesday for raping and killing a college student in 1995, making him the first U.S. prisoner put to death since an Arizona lethal injection went awry last month.

The Missouri Department of Corrections said Michael Worthington was executed by lethal injection at the state prison and was pronounced dead at 12:11 a.m. He is the seventh Missouri inmate executed this year.

Worthington had been sentenced to death for the attack on 24-year-old Melinda "Mindy" Griffin during a burglary of her Lake St. Louis condominium.

When the drugs began flowing, his head lowered back to the pillow and he appeared to breathe heavily for about 15 seconds before closing his eyes.

A Bible had been placed on his chest at his request, and he left a six-sentence written statement offering no apology.

Death toll at 589: The death toll in southern China's earthquake rose to 589 on Wednesday as search and rescue teams pushed into isolated mountain communities to clear debris from collapsed homes. The Yunnan provincial government said more than 2,400 people were injured in Sunday's 6.1 magnitude quake in the mountainous Yunnan farming region of Ludian county -- the country's deadliest temblor in four years. "There are a lot of people that we may never be able to dig out," said senior Col. Feng, who declined to give his full name because he was not an officially designated spokesman.

Playground stabbing: A neighbor in a Michigan mobile home park says she thought a group of children were just playing before she heard the screams of a 9-year-old after he was repeatedly stabbed in the back. A 12-year-old boy is now facing a murder charge. Barb Poelman says she usually hears laughter from the playground at Pinebrook Village in Kentwood, near Grand Rapids. Witnesses and authorities say Michael Conner Verkerke ran screaming to his home and collapsed bleeding on his porch before dying at a hospital. Another neighbor says the 12-year-old boy used his phone to calmly call 911 and turn himself in. A not guilty plea was entered Tuesday at the boy's arraignment in juvenile court.

Animal cruelty charges: A Pennsylvania veterinarian has used an overdose reversal drug to save a kitten that had been given heroin. Police said Tuesday they arrested the suburban Philadelphia man who abused the cat. West Chester resident James Myers faces charges including animal cruelty and drug possession. Police in West Whiteland Township say an officer spotted Myers' car parked in the middle of a street Sunday with a door open. The officer says under the door he saw an injured black kitten with a rope around its neck and several teeth knocked out. Police say they found bundles of heroin and dozens of needles in the car. Authorities say the veterinarian revived the cat with Narcan, an antidote for opium-based drug overdoses.

Biting off fingertip: A San Diego man has pleaded not guilty to biting off a man's fingertip during a Jay-Z and Beyonce concert at Pasadena's Rose Bowl. Twenty-five-year-old Roberto Garnica entered pleas Tuesday to mayhem, battery and battery with serious bodily injury. He could face up to eight years in state prison if convicted. Los Angeles County prosecutors say Garnica was at the concert on Saturday when he groped a woman and pushed her into some chairs, sparking a fight with her husband. Authorities say Garnica punched the man and then bit off the tip of his left index finger.

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