A federal appeals court has ruled against Jennifer Keeton, who filed suit in 2010 against Augusta State University after the school ordered her to participate in a remedial program because she objected to the graduate counseling program's standards for counseling homosexuals. The school eventually expelled Keeton, who has maintained the institution violated her First Amendment rights. In its decision the court said the university's accreditation standards constituted a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason to enforce its rules.
A Texas teenager returned to the United States earlier this month after officials mistakenly deported the girl to Colombia. Jakadrien Turner, 15, had run away from home before authorities arrested her on theft charges last year. While in custody she gave a false name and convinced immigration authorities she was a Colombian national, prompting her deportation.
Police shot and killed an 8th-grade student who brandished a gun shortly after classes began Jan. 4 at Cummings Middle School in Brownsville, Texas, and then "engaged" authorities while refusing to surrender. It was later determined that 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez's weapon was a pellet gun that looked like a real handgun.
Calvary Chapel founder and pastor Chuck Smith revealed Jan. 1 that he is suffering from lung cancer. Smith, 84, who has never smoked, was expected to undergo surgery soon. Calvary Chapel is an association of evangelical churches with more than 1,000 congregations worldwide.
The sole survivor of a brutal Connecticut home invasion that left his wife and two daughters dead is engaged to marry. Dr. William Petit, 55, proposed after Christmas to photographer Christine Paluf, 34. The couple met after Paluf began photographing events for the Petit Family Foundation, which supports charitable causes in memory of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and the couple's two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. On Dec. 9 a jury sentenced Joshua Komisarjevsky to death for the 2007 murders; accomplice Steven Hayes is also on death row for his role.
Tony Blankley, British-born American commentator and former press secretary to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, died of stomach cancer on Jan. 7. Blankley was a former child actor and the son of an accountant for Winston Churchill. He was 63.
An Arizona college student believed by doctors to be brain dead following a deadly car accident last year began making a miraculous recovery just as his family pondered whether to take him off life support. Despite extensive head injuries, Sam Schmid suddenly awoke from a coma and held up two fingers on command. Doctors now expect Schmid, 21, to make a full recovery.