Federal prosecutors say they'll ask for more time to indict Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv).
Prosecutors said Friday they will not indict Tsranaev within the 30-day period prescribed the Federal Speedy Trial Act. Sunday marks 30 days since Tsarnaev was arrested following the April 15 bombing.
Prosecutors didn't specify under which exception they'd seek an extension.
Earlier Friday a judge denied a request from Tsarnaev's attorneys seeking to take periodic photos of him while he recovers from wounds sustained prior to his arrest.
Tsarnaev's lawyers argued the photos could provide evidence on the voluntariness of his statements and be used in an argument to mitigate his sentence.
The 19-year-old Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
The attorneys for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cannot take their own periodic photos of him, a judge ruled Friday, denying the request pertaining to "his evolving mental and physical state" and whether his statements to authorities after his arrest were made voluntarily.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler found Tsarnaev's lawyers could not take their own photos, saying the Fort Devens prison where Tsarnaev is housed has a policy against visitors bringing cameras.
The motion from Tsarnaev's lawyers remained sealed Friday. But in her ruling, Bowler included excerpts from the defense filing which suggest Tsarnaev's lawyers may want to use the photos to argue for "sentence mitigation."
Tsarnaev, 19, is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the April 15 bombings. The two explosions near the finish line of the marathon killed three people and injured more than 260.
Bowler said Tsarnaev's lawyers asked if they could regularly take their own photos of Tsarnaev.
"The defendant contends that his 'injuries over time' provide evidence of 'his evolving mental and physical state' which, in turn, is probative of 'the voluntariness of (his) statements and sentence mitigation argument,'" Bowler wrote.
Tsarnaev was badly wounded in a gun battle with police before his arrest. His lawyers could argue that statements he made to authorities after his arrest on April 19 were not voluntary because of his poor physical condition.
Bowler said the Bureau of Prisons could take photos of Tsarnaev with his lawyers present but those pictures would have to be shared with prosecutors.
Prosecutors plan to retry a Central Texas man whose 25-year-old conviction for setting a fire that killed his two young stepsons was set aside due to issues raised later with the science used to find him guilty.
Ed Graf's murder conviction was set aside in March by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. His case is one of several flagged by a state panel that's examining possible problems with arson investigations in criminal cases.
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said Friday that he intended to pursue another trial against Graf. Reyna said prosecutors would not seek the death penalty.
"Over twenty-six years ago, the lives of two little boys were tragically ended," Reyna said in a statement. "Changes in fire science caused Ed Graf's case to come back to McLennan County. It is my honor to continue to seek justice for the boys."
A judge set bond at $1.5 million. Walter Reaves, Graf's attorney, said that amount was too high for Graf's family to pay, and that he would likely remain in jail pending trial.
Graf was convicted of setting a 1986 fire in a Hewitt backyard shed that killed 9-year-old Joby Graf and 8-year-old Jason Graf. He was accused of locking the boys in the shed and lighting it on fire.
Investigators at the time who examined photos of the shed determined that charring was deepest near the shed entrance and on the doors. They said the charring and other patterns suggested a quick fire sparked by an accelerant like lighter fluid.
But experts who have since reviewed their work, including one hired by prosecutors, say they believe those earlier conclusions were mistaken, and that there is a significant possibility that the fire was an accident.
Prosecutors supported Reaves' request for a new trial, but have maintained that they believe there is enough other evidence to win a conviction. Graf's ex-wife, Clare Bradburn, has also maintained her belief that Graf killed her children.
Among that evidence, Bradburn has said, is what she described as his suspicious behavior before and after the blaze. She also questions why he took out life insurance policies on the boys months beforehand.
"When you have the truth on your side, when you have memories of specific things, words that were said, pictures in my mind that will never go away — it's an imprint on my heart," Bradburn said in an earlier interview.
Reaves said Friday he was disappointed Graf would likely have to wait in jail while the case was re-tried.
"I don't think they have any evidence at all. I really thought we would be done with it by now," he said.
A panel convened by the state fire marshal is examining Graf's case and others in which questions have been raised about the underlying fire investigation science. Criminal justice advocates in Texas have long called for more examination of fire science, particularly following the controversial 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham of Corsicana for the deaths of his three daughters in a fire. Willingham's conviction was questioned by many legal advocates and fire experts.
The longtime girlfriend of reputed gangster James "Whitey" Bulger lost her bid to reduce the eight-year prison sentence she received for helping Bulger during his 16 years as a fugitive.
A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that it found no basis to change the sentence that Catherine Greig received after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud. The panel included retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, fled Boston in late 1994 and remained a fugitive until he and Greig were captured together in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
Prosecutors say Greig helped Bulger in multiple ways while he was hiding from law enforcement.
Bulger, 83, is scheduled to go on trial in June on charges that he participated in 19 murders.
Greig's appellate attorney, Dana Curhan, had argued that the sentencing judge "effectively tripled" the appropriate sentence for Grieg. He said Judge Douglas Woodlock gave her too much time on the fugitive-harboring charge and wrongly imposed sentencing enhancements related to firearms and obstruction of justice. In court documents, Curhan also argued that five victims of Bulger's alleged crimes should not have been allowed to testify during her sentencing hearing.
"We disagree with it, but the court has spoken and we are going to review our options," Curhan said Friday.
Options include asking for a hearing before the full court or asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
In its written ruling, the appeals court agreed with Woodlock, who found that Greig's conduct was not limited to mere harboring.
"He also noted that Greig provided Bulger with `a variety of things,' over and above mere shelter," Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote for the court. "The judge referenced the length of the pair's time on the run, the heinous nature of the crimes Bulger is accused of committing, Greig's capacity to make her own choices, and the fact that a less serious sentence would promote disrespect for the law."
Thompson wrote that the record "provides a good deal of support" for the judge's sentencing calculations.
The appeals court also noted that Greig traveled across the country with Bulger for a long period of time, used false identities, helped Bulger perpetuate his aliases and settled with him in California, where she paid the bills, helped him get medical treatment and prescription medications, and maintained their home.
"Her handling of these tasks undoubtedly helped Bulger keep his public outings to a minimum, thus reducing his risk of detention," the court said.
Greig's former lawyer, Kevin Reddington, had asked for a sentence of a little over two years. Reddington said she had fallen in love with a "Robin Hood-like" figure and never believed in the years she helped hide him that Bulger was a murderer.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the court's ruling.
Logs documenting almost every minute of the Cleveland kidnapping suspect's time in jail show he spends most of his time resting with breaks for pacing, showers and cell cleaning.
New jail logs released Friday also document defendant Ariel Castro thanking a guard for bringing him breakfast and wishing him a good day.
The 52-year-old Castro remains on suicide watch with his activities documented in writing every 10 minutes at the Cuyahoga (keye-uh-HOH'-guh) County jail.
He faces preliminary charges of rape and kidnapping following his arrest on suspicion of imprisoning three women in his Cleveland home for a decade.
Castro's attorney has said he will plead not guilty.
The logs also show that Castro periodically asks for the time, looks out the window and stares at the ceiling.
A research report by the Pew Charitable Trusts says younger baby boomers and Generation Xers face an uncertain retirement because of reduced savings, high levels of debt, and losses during the Great Recession.
The study found that members of Generation X, who are now between 38 and 47 years old, lost almost half their wealth between 2007 and 2010. Young baby boomers, who are between 48 and 57, lost more money but a smaller portion of their overall wealth.
The report says both of those groups are struggling to save enough money for retirement and are lagging older groups in terms of their savings. They also hold more debt than those groups did at similar points in their lives.
A former girlfriend of a man accused in the beating deaths of five people in central Illinois says he had a blister on one hand but otherwise acted normally the day after the killings.
Kristy Moore testified Friday that Christopher Harris said the blister came from trimming trees.
Harris is charged with beating his former in-laws to death with a tire iron in September 2009. Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children were found dead in their home in Beason, 160 miles southwest of Chicago.
Harris' brother, Jason Harris, has said Moore is among several women Harris tried unsuccessfully to have sex with the night the brothers wound up at the Gees' property.
Jason Harris testified that he watched his brother beat one of the children.
A former Mississippi police chief already charged with demanding money or property in exchange for dropping criminal charges against people has been indicted on nine new counts.
Former Mendenhall Police Chief Donald "Bruce" Barlow was charged Feb. 5 with eight counts including conspiracy, extortion, soliciting bribes and witness tampering. He pleaded not guilty March 8.
A new indictment on Tuesday added nine additional counts.
The indictment says Barlow instructed "his officers to seize cash at every arrest, including money from people arrested for misdemeanors."
When some of those people were arrested, authorities say Barlow offered to let them go or reduce charges if they forfeited their property and money.
The new indictment says Barlow sometimes told people to sign over their vehicles and pay him cash, in one case $4,500.
A body has been found in a remote part of Orange County and authorities are trying to determine if it is a 36-year-old former Army sergeant who has been missing for the past two weeks.
The body was found late Thursday in an unincorporated area near Modjeska Canyon. Police from the city of Orange were called to the scene to investigate. They have been looking for Maribel Ramos who was last seen on surveillance video outside her apartment building May 2.
"No connection has yet been made between Ms. Ramos' disappearance and the body, and the investigation is continuing," Ly. Dave Hill of the Orange Police Department told MyFoxLA.com.
Ramos was reported missing a few days later after failing to show up for a softball game and speaking engagement at a veterans group.
Police have said there were no signs of foul play and there has been no record of Ramos using her credit card she she disappeared. But investigators said it was out of character for Ramos to suddenly cut ties.
Her sister Lucy Gonzalez said the last time she had contact with her sister was May 2. The two were reportedly exchanging text messages about a recent trip Ramos had made to Chicago to participate in a panel on veterans transitioning to civilian life and higher education.
Ramos served two tours of duty in Iraq as a sergeant in the Army and spent another year in South Korea and was expected to graduate later this month from Cal State Fullerton, MyFoxLa.com reported.
"She didn't respond right away, but I know she went to work and they sent her home because she looked really tired," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said it was unlike her sister to miss some of the commitments she had since her disappearance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Authorities say the gun used in a 37-hour standoff between New Jersey police and a man holding three children and two dead bodies was fake.
State Police Lt. Stephen Jones says hostage-taker Gerald Tyrone Murphy had a replica semi-automatic handgun. Jones says that doesn't change the way officers responded. Jones says Murphy also was holding a large kitchen knife and other knives were found.
Police were called to the Trenton home May 10 after a relative of a victim reported not hearing from her for weeks.
Police found the body of Carmenlita Steven and her 12-year-old son, Quavon, when they entered the home. They retreated when Murphy said he had a gun and explosives. The two had been dead almost three weeks.
No explosives were found.
A 17-year-old who pointed Ohio authorities to the bodies of two teenage brothers who had been reported missing was charged with aggravated murder in their deaths.
The teen, who has been in custody for about a week, was charged with delinquency in connection with aggravated murder, a prosecutor said Friday. Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers also has asked a judge to transfer the case from juvenile to adult court.
The brothers -- 14-year-old Blaine Romes and 17-year-old Blake Romes -- lived together with the third teen and their mothers inside a trailer home in Ottawa in northwest Ohio, neighbors said. All three teenagers were named in an Amber Alert last week after the brothers' mother returned to the home and found a gun and blood.
The 17-year-old was taken into custody May 9, several hours after he was detained at a gas station in Columbus after stopping to ask for directions, authorities said.
The Associated Press previously identified the 17-year-old boy, but now is withholding his name because he has been charged as a juvenile.
The boy's attorney and his mother have declined to comment. He had already pleaded not guilty to a grand theft auto charge.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said the 17-year-old told officers that the brothers were dead and gave the locations of their bodies. Few other details have been released about the case.
Autopsies have been completed, but the county coroner has refused to release the results.
Solid hiring helped push down unemployment rates in 40 U.S. states last month, the most since November. The declines show job markets are improving in most areas of the country.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates only rose in Louisiana, Tennessee and North Dakota. Rates were unchanged in seven states.
California, New York and South Carolina all reported the largest declines in April unemployment. Each states rate fell by 0.4 percentage points.
The report noted that 30 states added jobs in April; 18 reported fewer jobs.
Nationwide, employers added 165,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.5 percent. The economy has added an average of 208,000 jobs a month since November. That's up from only 138,000 a month in the previous six months.
The wife of the president of the Mormon church has died.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement on its web site that Frances B. Monson died at 6:35 a.m. Friday at a hospital in Salt Lake City. She was 85.
Thomas S. Monson says his wife was the family's beacon of love, compassion and encouragement.
The cause of death was not immediately disclosed. The church says she had been hospitalized for several weeks and was surrounded by her family at the time of death.
Frances Monson grew up in Salt Lake City during the Great Depression. The couple was married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1948.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
The unlikely pair -- an itinerant hitchhiker turned Internet celebrity and a lawyer three times his age -- met amid the neon lights of Times Square and headed back to a squat brick home on a quiet New Jersey cul-de-sac, authorities say.
Days later, the lawyer was found beaten to death in his bedroom, wearing only his socks and underwear. The hitchhiker was arrested Thursday and charged with his murder.
Caleb "Kai" McGillvary took a star turn in February when he became known to millions as "Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker" after intervening in an attack on a California utility worker. McGillvary described using a hatchet he was carrying to repeatedly hit a man who had struck a worker with his car, fending off a further attack.
Once lauded as a hero, McGillvary, 24, was arrested at a Philadelphia bus station Thursday evening and charged with the murder of Joseph Galfy Jr., a 73-year-old attorney.
"I believe that everyone is a little safer with this person off the streets," said Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
McGillvary will be processed in Philadelphia and sent to back to New Jersey in the coming days, Romankow said. His bail is set at $3 million.
Galfy was found dead in his Clark, N.J., home Monday, two days after authorities said he met McGillvary in New York City. Galfy, who lived alone, was found by police who went to his home to check on his well-being, Romankow said.
Statements posted on McGillvary's Facebook page following the homicide were "sexual in nature," Romankow said.
McGillvary's last post, dated Tuesday, asks "what would you do?" if you awoke in a stranger's house and found you'd been drugged and sexually assaulted. One commenter suggests hitting him with a hatchet -- and McGillvary's final comment on the post says, "I like your idea."
It was a hatchet that helped give McGillvary a brief taste of fame in February when he gave a rambling, profanity-laced interview to a Fresno, Calif., television station about thwarting an unprovoked attack on a Pacific Gas & Electric employee. The interview went viral, with one version viewed more than 3.9 million times on YouTube. McGillvary later traveled to Los Angeles to appear on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
Kimmel asked him what people were saying to him since the Feb. 1 encounter. "Hey, you're Kai, that dude with the hatchet," he responded.
Romankow declined to say what object was used in Galfy's beating.
Romankow said McGillvary, who said in his TV appearance he prefers to be called "home-free" instead of homeless, traded on his fledgling celebrity to meet fans across the country.
Authorities know he was in Times Square based on witness accounts, the prosecutor said.
"He was well-known," Romankow said.
McGillvary spent at least two nights in Galfy's home in Clark, 20 miles west of New York, Romankow said. The dark brick home is neatly landscaped, with carefully-pruned bushes lining a path to the entrance. Red tape labeled "evidence" now is affixed to the front door.
Authorities believe McGillvary took two trips to meet a fan in Asbury Park; Galfy picked him up after the first trip, Romankow said.
On Tuesday, McGillvary boarded a train in New Jersey bound for Philadelphia, Romankow said.
In the popular February interview, McGillvary told the Fox affiliate in Fresno that he was traveling with a man who veered into the utility worker.
After the driver got out of the car, he walked up to the utility worker and allegedly said, "I am Jesus and I am here to take you home." McGillvary pulled a hatchet from his backpack and struck the driver in the head several times to subdue him, The Fresno Bee reported.
"That woman was in danger," McGillvary told KMPH. "He just finished, what looked like at the time, killing somebody, and if he hadn't done that he would have killed more people."
The driver is now facing charges including attempted murder. Last month, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, the newspaper reported.
McGillvary also told the television station that he once came upon a man "beating on this woman he calls his" in an orchard and intervened.
"I started smashing him in the head and the teeth," McGillvary said.
In a Facebook post from May 10, written from a mobile phone, McGillvary thanked the people who "invited me in, partied hardy with me," and kept him grounded even though he realized how "crazy fame can be in flippin ones life upside down."
"ive met some of the greatest people in my life in these last three months," he wrote, "and i wouldnt trade these experiences with you for all the money in hollywood."
A teenager who pointed Ohio authorities to the bodies of two dead brothers who had been reported missing has now been charged in their deaths.
A prosecutor in northwest Ohio says the 17-year-old is charged with delinquency in connection with aggravated murder.
The Associated Press previously identified the teen but now is withholding his name because he has been charged as a juvenile.
The brothers' bodies were found hours after they were reported missing May 9.
All three teenagers had been named in an Amber Alert last week after the mother of the two brothers returned to a Putnam County trailer home and found a gun and blood.
The 17-year-old was later found with a missing car in Columbus, about 120 miles southeast of his hometown of Ottawa.
A knife carried by a Navy SEAL during the raid that killed Usama bin Laden sold for more than $35,000 at an auction to raise money for a friend's company that's seeking to help the Afghan economy.
Matt Bissonnette, whose pseudonym is Mark Owen, was given the knife by Emerson Knives prior to the bin Laden mission in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, and carried it on a variety of combat missions. He recently donated it for sale at an auction for Combat Flip Flops, a Washington state-based online store that sells high-end flip-flops it hopes to soon manufacture in Kabul. A winning bid of $35,400 by an unidentified buyer secured the knife, according to 24Fundraiser.com.
"I'm donating the knife because the owner of Combat Flip Flops is a friend and when he told me about this auction and all the good that the money raised was going to go towards, I wanted to help in any way that I could," Bissonnette said.
More than $76,000 was raised during the auction and will now go to Combat Flip Flops, which was started in 2010 by two Army Rangers and a musician from Montana. The company's website says it makes the footwear in Issaquah, Wash., and hopes to expand production to Afghanistan to help fill the economic void left as American troops pull out.
Bissonette, whose true identity was revealed in August, has also written a book about the historic raid, entitled "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden."
Ernest Emerson of Emerson Knives will also give the winner bidder a letter of authenticity from Bissonnette.
"That is the real deal — Owen is the real guy and this is the real knife," Emerson said.
O.J. Simpson's former lawyer is in Las Vegas to defend his work before, during and after the 2008 trial that put the former football hero in a Nevada prison for nine to 33 years.
In an email to The Associated Press, Yale Galanter says he arrived Thursday, ahead of his scheduled Friday' testimony as a state's witness in Simpson's bid for a new trial.
He didn't say anything more.
Key among Simpson's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel is the allegation that Galanter knew beforehand about Simpson's plan to recover stolen property and should have stepped away from handling the trial so he could testify on Simpson's behalf.
Simpson testified Wednesday that the two talked about the plan over dinner the night before the ill-fated confrontation in September 2007.
Officials say one U.S. Navy sailor was killed and several others were hurt in a training exercise at Fort Knox in Kentucky.
Fort Knox spokesman Ryan Brus said Friday morning that the accident happened Wednesday night and involved members of a Naval branch at the post in central Kentucky.
Brus had no other details and referred calls to U.S. Navy Lt. David Lloyd. Lloyd did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press.
Fort Knox is about 50 miles southwest of Louisville and is home to about 14,000 military personnel, including active duty members and reserves.
The U.S. Navy has used Fort Knox as a training ground since World War II. Naval architects tested mock-ups of ships at the inland post before the actual vessels were used in combat.
A jury on Thursday convicted a Wahiawa man of second-degree murder and other charges in a 2011 shooting rampage through Honolulu that killed a mother of 10 and wounded two other people.
Jurors deliberated for about 13 hours over three days before delivering a verdict in the case of Toby Stangel, 30.
They also found him guilty of two of seven counts of attempted murder. But they found him not guilty of one count of first-degree attempted murder, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto said he was disappointed with that decision.
"We felt the evidence was sufficient for the attempted murders in the first degree," he said.
The jury convicted Stangel of reckless endangering for firing at two police officers, the daughter of the woman who died, and a man who was shot while trying to help a wounded motorist. He was found guilty as charged for second-degree attempted murder of a woman shot in the back while driving and the first man he shot at. It failed to reach a verdict on three drug charges.
Stangel's family, who had been in court throughout the trial, left after the verdict without commenting.
Stangel opened fire at an intersection in the early-morning hours of June 3, 2011, killing 54-year-old Tammy Nguyen of Honolulu, authorities said. He then shot and wounded two more people on a freeway and fired at two police officers who were ticketing racing drivers.
Stangel's sentencing was set for July 31.
Prosecutors asked for a hearing on an extended term in hopes of eventually sending Stangel to prison without the possibility of parole. The jury will return to court on Monday for a hearing on that request.
"It's a very, very sad case," Nadamoto said. "Hopefully it'll send the message (that) you can't go around shooting at people."
Defense attorney John Schum didn't dispute that Stangel committed the shootings. He argued instead that his client lacked the "state of mind" to prove intent, a necessary factor for a conviction of murder or attempted murder.
Schum told jurors during closing arguments that Stangel's actions were more in line with reckless endangerment. Stangel didn't testify at trial.
"The challenge to them was to look at what was in Toby's mind," Schum said after the verdict. "I feel the verdict speaks for itself."
Schum said he doesn't know if Stangel will testify at Monday's hearing. "Toby is a not a danger to the community," he said.
Stangel is remorseful and doesn't want to cause more pain for the victims and their families, Schum said: "He feels horrible for what happened and we pray for them constantly."
Nadamoto argued in his closing that Stangel wasn't merely reckless, but intended to kill when he fired multiple shots.
Police have said the 17-minute shooting rampage started when Stangel got out of his car and walked up to vehicles stopped at an intersection. There, he shot and killed Nguyen, a mother of 10 who was in a minivan with her 16-year-old daughter.
He then proceeded to the H-1 freeway, where he shot Amie Lou Asuncion in the back, authorities said. Samson Naupoto was shot when he stopped to help Asuncion.
Authorities said Stangel also fired at others, including the two officers, but they were uninjured. None of the victims knew Stangel.
Prosecution witnesses included Asuncion, Naupoto and Tammy Nguyen's daughter Cindy Nguyen, who said she was in the passenger seat of her family's minivan when her mother was shot in the head.
Asuncion recalled running across the freeway after being shot in the back while driving, then hiding in some plants because she feared the shooter was following her. Naupoto testified that he was driving along the freeway when he saw Asuncion running across the lanes. He said he was shot in his right thigh.
Records show Stangel has five misdemeanor convictions dating to 2002, including criminal property damage and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and one year of probation for criminal property damage in 2006.
Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/jenhapa .
A nuclear plant near North Carolina's capital city was shut down after operators reviewing ultrasonic tests from last year found the results showed tiny marks of corrosion and cracking that need repair, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.
Operators at the Shearon Harris plant on Wednesday found a quarter-inch flaw in the covering of the reactor vessel, which contains superheated steam produced by the nuclear reaction's energy.
The crack did not penetrate the vessel head and there is no evidence of radiation leakage, an NRC incident report said. The discovery did not affect the health and safety of employees or the public at the New Hill plant, federal regulators said.
NRC inspectors will want to ask plant owner Duke Energy Corp. — which acquired the 26-year-old plant through its buyout last year of Progress Energy — why the testing performed during a spring refueling outage last year didn't find the problem, agency spokesman Roger Hannah said Thursday.
"I think that's a question, from our perspective, that we'd like to have answered," Hannah said. "We'll follow up on that to see if it was something that should have been seen."
Spokesmen for Charlotte-based Duke Energy said it would evaluate why the problem was missed last year. Data from last year's test were being reviewed ahead of an upcoming planned refueling outage.
"During refueling outages, we collect and analyze a lot of plant data," spokeswoman Rita Sipe said in an email. "The reactor is shut down and our repair plans are in progress."
She said Duke has reserves that can meet customers' needs during the shutdown.
The company expects to have the unit back online within a matter of weeks, Duke Energy said Thursday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The "minor repairs in a nozzle that penetrates the top of the reactor vessel" has been performed successfully at other nuclear reactors around the world, the company said.
The reactor vessel head is commonly checked because the metal is "subject to very high pressure and very high temperatures over a long period of time," Hannah said.
The shutdown comes days before the Harris plant's annual assessment meeting, at which NRC staffers discuss plant operations with the public. The meeting is Monday in nearby Holly Springs.
Progress Energy was cited last year for two safety violations considered to be of low to moderate significance, which Hannah said have since been corrected. Regulators found problems with ventilation systems that would be needed if there were a nuclear emergency.
Since the two North Carolina utilities merged to make Duke Energy the country's largest electric company, the Charlotte-based company has cut back on plans for Progress Energy nuclear plants.
Duke said earlier this month that it will not build two new reactors at Shearon Harris, reversing plans put in place by Progress Energy executives.
In February, Duke Energy said it will permanently close the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida after botched repairs while it was operated by Progress Energy Florida. Estimates for repairing the nuclear plant shut down since 2009 were between $1.3 billion and $3.4 billion.
Duke Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Rogers told North Carolina regulators last year that former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson was dumped within hours of becoming CEO of the merged company in part because of dissatisfaction over his handling of Crystal River's problems. Johnson is now CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Federal prosecutors in the upcoming racketeering trial of Massachusetts' reputed gangster Whitey Bulger (BUHL'-jur) want to do criminal background checks on potential jurors.
In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors cited the case of convicted killer Gary Sampson, who was sentenced to death for carjacking and killing two Massachusetts men and was also convicted of killing a New Hampshire man during a 2001 crime spree. Sampson's sentence was set aside by a judge who found that one juror repeatedly answered questions about her life dishonestly.
Prosecutors said conducting background checks will help determine whether potential jurors have truthfully answered questionnaires and minimize the chance of a mistrial.
The former leader of the Winter Hill Gang is scheduled to go on trial next month. An indictment accuses him of participating in 19 murders.