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In the Nation

Officials say fire in Okla. is arson

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - Oklahomans and Texans returned home to charred buildings, ruined cars, and glowing rock yesterday in the aftermath of several drought-fueled, wind-driven fires, at least one of which was deliberately set, according to fire officials.

Three people were killed, well over 100 homes were lost, and some small towns turned largely to ash in the fires that raged Thursday in wildfires in western and central Oklahoma and in Texas. The blazes eased yesterday as winds of up to 70 m.p.h. diminished.

About 70 homes in and around the Oklahoma City suburbs of Midwest City and Choctaw were destroyed in what Midwest City Fire Marshal Jerry Lojka said was arson.

The three deaths were in the grasslands of northern Texas. Dozens of homes were lost and hundreds more threatened as fires blackened more than 150 square miles of the state. - AP

Death penalty in yacht killings

SANTA ANA, Calif. - A man convicted of murdering an Arizona couple by tying them to an anchor and throwing them overboard from their yacht off Southern California was sentenced to death yesterday.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel imposed the sentence recommended by the jury that convicted Skylar Deleon, 29, of killing Tom and Jackie Hawks of Prescott, Ariz. DeLeon was also convicted in the 2003 killing of Jon Jarvi, an Anaheim man he met on a work-furlough program.

Prosecutors said Deleon, of Long Beach, feigned interest in buying the couple's nearly half-million-dollar yacht and threw them overboard during a test cruise in 2004. The bodies were never found. - AP

Chandra Levy suspect is moved

WASHINGTON - A Salvadoran immigrant facing charges in the slaying of Washington intern Chandra Levy has been moved to Oklahoma from a federal prison in California, officials said yesterday.

Ingmar Guandique, 27, was transferred Thursday from the Adelanto, Calif., prison where he was serving a 10-year sentence for assault, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said. He was taken to the bureau's federal transfer center in Oklahoma City.

District of Columbia police issued an arrest warrant March 3 for Guandique, accusing him of sexually assaulting and killing Levy on a trail in Rock Creek Park in May 2001. Authorities have said Guandique was expected to be brought to Washington within 30 to 60 days of the arrest warrant. - AP

Elsewhere:

New York officials said yesterday they found no trace of salmonella in a Long Island nut-processing plant after the discovery of bacteria at a sister company in California sparked a vast nationwide recall of pistachios. Inspectors received negative results on nine environmental swabs of Commack, N.Y.-based Setton International Foods Inc. and 10 sample tests of company food products.

Protesters calling for the resignation of New School University president Bob Kerrey broke into a campus building and occupied it for about five hours yesterday before police arrested 22 people. The protesters, who said they were students at the New York school, had a laundry list of reasons for their actions, including management issues and a desire for more study space in demanding the removal of the former Nebraska governor and senator.

Two Renaissance oil paintings on display at Hearst Castle in California were returned yesterday to the heirs of the original Jewish owners who were forced to flee Nazi Germany. The 16th-century paintings were returned to two grandchildren of art dealers Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer.

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