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News Briefs

Rain and Hail Deluge a Slice Of the Los Angeles Basin

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- LOS ANGELES

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.

Two weeks after the most destructive wildfires in state history blackened the skies over Southern California, a freak storm deluged Los Angeles on Wednesday night and left piles of hail more than a foot deep in some parts of the city.

In Watts, a neighborhood seldom visited by providence, residents saw the lightning lacing the sky, the water cascading down the streets and the hail pounding on their rooftops as some sort of sign.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in all my years,” said Tyrone Wright, 52, cleaning up the mud around his tiny home on Alvaro Street. “It’s like the Lord said, ‘I’m going to take Watts and make it snow.”’

National Weather Service officials said that 5.31 inches of rain fell at 96th East Street and Central Avenue in South-Central Los Angeles in less than three hours on Wednesday evening. Mark Lenz, a forecaster with the weather service’s Oxnard, Calif., office, said that rain in that amount falls on Los Angeles once every 50 or 100 years.

Boyd Prosecution Focuses On Confession in Sniper Trial

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- CHESAPEAKE, VA.

Two hours of chilling audiotaped confessions are the heart of the case against Lee Boyd Malvo, the younger suspect in last fall’s sniper shootings, a prosecutor told jurors here Thursday morning.

“You’ll hear on those tapes his explanation of who he killed and why he killed them,” the prosecutor, Robert F. Horan Jr., said in his opening statement.

Horan said Malvo’s statements were both direct evidence of his guilt and a rebuttal of his main defense -- insanity.

“He’s glib,” Horan said of the portrait of Malvo that emerges from the tapes. “He’s articulate. He’s knowledgeable. He talks about the killing power of the rifle he used and the damage it can cause.”

Malvo, in a blue button-down shirt, looked grim as Horan spoke. He put his hand over his mouth, and he bowed his head progressively lower as Horan methodically matched Malvo’s statements to the lives he is accused of cutting short, rifle blast by rifle blast. By the end of the Horan’s hourlong statement, Malvo’s head was near the table.

Craig S. Cooley, a lawyer for Malvo, made a crucial concession early in his own opening statement. “We are not suggesting to you that they got the wrong man,” he said.

He also acknowledged that the tapes may have a powerful influence on the jury. “These statements are absolutely horrendous on their face,” Cooley said.