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MISSISSIPPI SHOOTINGS

Defense attorney: Man accused of killing 8 'just snapped'

MAGNOLIA, Miss. (AP) — Opening arguments have begun in the death penalty trial of a man accused of killing eight people in Mississippi in 2017. The Daily Leader reports that a witness on Saturday testified that he saw Willie Cory Godbolt enter his in-laws' home, get into a fight and fatally shoot a responding deputy. Authorities say Godbolt then killed his mother-in-law and two others inside the home before killing four other people in south Mississippi's Lincoln County. Godbolt's attorney Katherine Poor told the jurors that her client was trying to protect his family and believed his daughter had been inappropriately touched by a family member at the in-laws' home.

SEVERE WEATHER-MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi braces for flooding amid cresting river

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Saturday amid fears the Pearl River at Jackson could reach its highest level in decades. Forecasters believe the river will crest at 38 feet on Sunday. Parts of Jackson and suburban Ridgeland were under evacuation orders, and some people had already filled trucks with furniture and other belongings to get out. Reeves says more than 2,400 homes and other structures in and near Jackson could either be inundated or isolated by the rising waters. Officials say the river is expected to remain high for days, with rain in the forecast for Sunday and Monday.

AP-US-INMATE-DEATH-MISSISSIPPI

Another Mississippi inmate dies; no foul play suspected

Another Mississippi inmate has died, making him at least the 17th inmate in the state's troubled prison system to have died in less than two months. Officials say no foul play is suspected in the death of 54-year-old Bobby Lewis Vance. Officials say Vance died at a hospital in Jackson. He had been housed at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County. Vance had received a 25-year sentence in 2004 for two armed robberies. The cause and manner of Vance's death are pending an autopsy. At least 17 inmates have died since late December, most of them in outbursts of violence.

STORE SHOOTING-ARRESTS

6 arrested in shooting of Mississippi store owner

PONTOTOC, Miss. (AP) — Six people have been arrested in connection with a December armed robbery and shooting of a store owner in Mississippi. Pontotoc Police Chief Randy Tutor announced the arrests Friday at a news conference. Three masked robbers entered the East Side Quick Stop on Dec. 18. Police say one of them shot Omar Fadhel in the leg and head, but he survived and was able to call 911.  Tutor says all of the arrests were the culmination of 57 days of non-stop investigation, evidence collection and attention to detail.

GOOD SAMARITAN-KIDNAPPING

North Mississippi woman kidnapped after offering ride to man

BATESVILLE, Miss (AP) — A man has been arrested after authorities say he kidnapped a north Mississippi woman who offered him a ride. Panola County Sheriff Shane Phelps says the man forced the woman to drive around for six hours before they stopped at a Batesville gas station. The woman entered the store and asked employees to call police. The unnamed man fled in the woman's car, with officers chasing him until he wrecked. He ran away. The man was later arrested when an officer pulled over a car that had repeatedly driven past the area and found him. No charges have been announced.

HOSPITAL-WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT

Hospital owner says he earned millions in federal money

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — The former administrator of a south Mississippi hospital is defending the $17.7 million that he and his wife were paid over a decade to run the facility. Ted and Julie Cain are defendants in a civil lawsuit claiming they defrauded Medicare of $13 million for their work at Stone County Hospital. If jurors find for the government, the Cains could be forced to pay $39 million. That includes Medicare reimbursements and triple damages. A former hospital executive brought the charges and would get a share of any verdict. The U.S. government joined the whistleblower lawsuit in 2015 to try charges directly.