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This Hour: Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment

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US appeals court blocks Mississippi abortion law

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's governor and attorney general must decide whether to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that's keeping the state's only abortion clinic open.

A 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel voted 2-1 Tuesday to block a 2012 Mississippi law requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

When Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law, he said he hoped it would end abortion in the state. In defending the law, state attorneys said women with unwanted pregnancies could always travel to other states. But the appellate judges ruled that every state must guarantee constitutional rights, including abortion.

Ten states have adopted similar laws, forcing a growing number of clinics to close. Many hospitals ignore or reject abortion doctors' applications, and won't grant privileges to out-of-state physicians.


Tupelo officials delay vote on e-cigarette ban

TUPLEO, Miss. (AP) - Tupelo City Council President Mike Bryan has pushed for months to discuss expanding the city's public smoking ban to include the electronic devices used to deliver nicotine and other chemicals as an alternative to smoking actual cigarettes.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports city officials agreed Tuesday to wait longer on making any decision regarding e-cigarettes. The council wants to receive feedback from physicians, health advocates and others prior to voting whether to ban the habit in public.

Limited research exists for the nicotine intake method originating in China, leaving physical and psychological questions unanswered, such as impact to encourage children to smoke. More than 100 cities throughout the country have banned the tobacco alternative.


Horn Lake couple indicted in death of son

HORN LAKE, Miss. (AP) - A Horn Lake father and stepmother arrested in the death of their 11-year-old son earlier this year have been indicted on a charge of capital murder and could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors tell The Commercial Appeal 37-year-old Jack Thomas Raines and 33-year-old Amanda Leigh Raines were charged with capital murder in the death of Justin Tyler Raines. Authorities say the boy weighed only 56 pounds when he was found dead by police in the bathroom of the family's home on Feb. 6.

DeSoto County Assistant District Attorney Steven Jubera says it's a death penalty-eligible case.

Jubera said the trial has been set for Sept. 22 with a plea date of Sept. 8, but the case will likely be continued.

The couple is being represented by court-appointed attorneys.


Hattiesburg schools: Free meals to all students

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Beginning this school year, every student in the Hattiesburg Public School District will be able to eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch for free, thanks to a federal program which has just expanded to Mississippi.

The Hattiesburg American reports the district traditionally has had about 90 percent of its 4,600 students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch, if the parents of those children filled out the required paperwork. But these free meals will be offered with no paperwork.

Stephanie Hoze, the district's director of child nutrition, expects more students will participate in the district's breakfast and lunch program.

Current participation for breakfast is about 69 percent, and Hoze expects that to go up to 77 percent.

She expects lunch participation to increase from 85 percent to 91 percent.


Ex-state employee headed to prison

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A former state employee has been sentenced to prison for embezzlement and forgery.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says 49-year-old Rhonda Gleason, of Richton, was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Billy Joe Landrum in Jones County. Gleason pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery for crimes that occurred while she worked as a program director at Ellisville State School.

Hood, in a news release, Landrum sentenced Gleason to five years on each count, to run concurrent, with four years suspended and one to serve. She also must complete 624 hours of community service upon her release, pay restitution of $5,500 and court costs plus a $1,000 fine. Authorities say she took small amounts from more than 22 residents during a two-year period.


Lawyer: Conviction in sheriff's death flawed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Christopher Lee Baxter in the 2010 death of George County Sheriff Garry Welford.

Baxter and his girlfriend, Brandy Nicole Williams, were convicted in 2012 of capital murder. Each was sentenced to life without parole.

Welford was struck by a pickup truck in which Williams and Baxter were fleeing from authorities on July 21, 2010. Baxter was sought on an arrest warrant issued after he missed a sentencing date for drug convictions.

Welford was putting spikes at an intersection near the Alabama line to stop the truck and end a high-speed chase.

After an all-night search, Baxter and Williams were captured the next morning at a mobile home about six miles north of the scene.


Flaggs looks a downtown Vicksburg cameras

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. wants to buy surveillance cameras and install them is different areas downtown.

Flaggs tells The Vicksburg Post the city needs to seriously look at surveillance and security systems for the city, particularly the downtown area.

Police Chief Walter Armstrong says he prefers freestanding cameras that would work off existing electrical lines. He also recommended monitors at the police department as well as 911 "so two sets of eyes are watching."

Flaggs says if the city's two aldermen agree, extra money could be given the city's information technology department to develop the system.


Chamberlain-Hunt Academy to close

PORT GIBSON, Miss. (AP) - Chamberlain-Hunt Academy, a 135-year-old boarding school for boys, is closing its doors.

The Vicksburg Post reports the Port Gibson-based school notified faculty members Monday. Declining enrollment was cited as the primary factor for the school's closing.

The letter to faculty says the school was unable to recruit the number of paying students it needed to remain open.

School president Jim Montgomery confirmed the school's closing Monday, but declined to comment further pending release for an official statement.

Less than a decade ago, the student body of the all-boys upper school was nearly 100. During the 2013-14 school year, the enrollment was less than 30 in grades seven to 12.

Chamberlain-Hunt opened in 1879 after the Oakland College in Rodney closed during the Civil War.


Mississippi political figure Thurston Little dies

CORINTH, Miss. (AP) - Marvin Thurston Little, a colorful political figure in Mississippi and a Corinth businessman who got caught up in an insurance scam run by Martin Frankel, has died in a nursing home in Booneville. He was 81.

Officials with Magnolia Funeral Home in Corinth say Little died Monday at Landmark Nursing Home in Booneville. Services are noon Thursday at Wheeler Grove Baptist Church in Corinth.

The cause of death was not released.

Little was a prominent real estate developer in north Mississippi's Alcorn County and had close ties to the late U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland. The Little family was one of the most politically active in north Mississippi.

Little was sentenced in 2005 to 29 months each on two separate counts in connection with the Frankel international insurance scam.

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