An Indiana man arrested on his way to a Los Angeles-area gay pride parade last year after police found three assault rifles and potentially explosive chemicals in his car has pleaded not guilty to weapons charges.
James Wesley Howell was arrested only hours after a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida, but police said they found no connection between Howell and the Orlando mass shooting.
He entered his plea on Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court to unlawful possession of an assault weapon, importing large firearms magazines, possession of a destructive device and carrying a loaded gun in a car, according to court records.
Howell was arrested June 12 after police officers responded to a call from a member of the public and found him sitting in a white Acura sedan with the firearms, Santa Monica police said last year.
He also had a five-gallon (19-liter) bucket with chemicals that could be used to make an explosive device, police said after his arrest.
Howell told police he was on his way to the LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood, a small municipality bordering Los Angeles. Police said he made no mention of what he planned to do at the parade.
Howell, who faces a sentence of more than nine years in prison if convicted, has been held in jail on $2 million bail since his arrest. He is due back in court on April 27.
A Los Angeles judge earlier this month found sufficient evidence to hold him for trial, according to court records.
Last year, prosecutors in Clark County, Indiana, where Howell lived at the time, charged him with molesting a 12-year old child, Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said by phone.
Indiana authorities brought the charge against Howell one day after he was charged with weapons offenses in California. Authorities had been investigating the molestation allegation for about two weeks prior to pressing charges, Mull said.
Howell appeared to have left for California after learning he was under investigation in Indiana, Mull said. Authorities plan to have Howell sent to his home state to face the child molestation charge after the conclusion of his criminal case in California.
A Los Angeles prosecutor could not immediately be reached for further comment on Wednesday. Reuters was not immediately able to identify a legal representative for Howell.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Patrick Enright and Andrew Hay)
Two treated for deadly pneumonic plague in Beijing
Two people in Beijing have been diagnosed with the pneumonic plague -- a rare instance of the highly-contagious disease that is fatal if left untreated.
The two individuals were being treated at a central hospital in China's capital city -- home to over 21 million inhabitants -- on Tuesday, local authorities said.
Pneumonic plague can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the "most virulent form of plague," according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the bubonic form is less dangerous.
The patients are from the northwestern Inner Mongolia province, district officials said in an online statement, adding that the "relevant prevention and control measures have been implemented."
Venezuela ex-intel chief missing in Spain ahead of US extradition
Venezuela's former military intelligence chief has gone missing in Spain just days after a court approved a request for his extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges, police said Wednesday.
"They are currently looking for him," said a spokeswoman for Spain's national police, referring to General Hugo Armando Carvajal.
Judicial sources said police had gone to his house in Madrid after Friday's court decision but could not find him.
In mid-September, Spain's National Court had rejected a US extradition request, instead ordering the release of Carvajal, who served as intelligence chief under the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
How The Hill’s John Solomon helped Rudy Giuliani spread his Ukraine conspiracies
After John Solomon ran columns in The Hill that touched off a disinformation campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the publication had discussions with Rudy Giuliani about a business venture.
As ProPublica revealed last month, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas had helped arrange an interview Solomon conducted with a Ukrainian prosecutor who claimed the Obama administration interfered with anti-corruption cases involving high-profile people, including Biden’s son Hunter. Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, trumpeted Solomon’s work on cable news. The Hill articles are now a central component of the Trump impeachment investigation.