Bottle of scotch sells for $54K at liquor auction

NEW YORK - A bottle of 81-year-old scotch sold for $54,000 at New York's first liquor auction since Prohibition.

An anonymous collector bought the pricey potable at Christie's sale of wines and spirits on Saturday.

The 100-lot auction sold a total of $304,800 worth of rare wine and liquor. The top lot was a collection of 729 bottles of whiskey, which went for $102,000.

The $54,000 bottle was distilled at Macallan in Scotland in 1926, bottled in 1986 and rebottled in 2002.

Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933, but New York State did not allow auctions of spirits until this year.

N.J. closer to becoming first state to abolish death penalty

TRENTON, N.J. - The state Senate approved legislation Monday that would make New Jersey the first state to abolish the death penalty since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to impose the sentence.

The measure to replace the death sentence with life without parole would spare the life of a sex offender whose crimes sparked Megan's Law. With the support of the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the Democratic governor, the bill is expected to be signed into law within a month.

New Jersey has eight men on death row and hasn't executed anyone since 1963. It reinstated the death penalty in 1982.

Among the death row inmates who would be spared is Jesse Timmendequas, a sex offender convicted of murdering 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. That case sparked a New Jersey law requiring law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living in their communities.

Jury in Sears Tower terror trial still deadlocked

MIAMI - Jurors said Monday they were still deadlocked in the trial of seven men accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices, but a federal judge ordered the panel to continue deliberating.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard denied a defense motion for a mistrial, instead calling the panel into court and reading a jury instruction - known as the Allen charge - designed to bring the case to a resolution and avoid a mistrial or hung jury.

'It is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so,' Lenard told the jury of six men and six women, who have been debating the group's guilt or innocence for six days following a two-month trial.

The panel met for three more hours Monday without concluding the case and were ordered to return again today to resume work.

15 arrested after fight at Ala. college

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A fight between two women turned into a melee at Oakwood College, police said, with 15 students under arrest after hundreds of people allegedly confronted officers who broke up the altercation.

Two officers suffered minor injuries in the fracas, which began late Saturday, and authorities said Monday they were still sorting out what happened at the small college.

'It was a major event,' said Huntsville police spokesman Wendell Johnson.

Officials at the small school had no immediate comment.

Johnson said officers were at the Oakwood gymnasium for a basketball game when a fight broke out between two women about 11:45 p.m. Saturday. One of the women was arrested and placed inside a police car.

'That's when several hundred individuals circled a Huntsville police car trying to get the girl out of the police car,' he said.

Newspaper mogul Conrad Black gets 61/2 years in prison

CHICAGO - Former newspaper mogul Conrad Black was sentenced Monday to 61/2 years in prison, far less than sought by prosecutors, for swindling shareholders in his Hollinger media empire out of $6 million.

'Mr. Black, you have violated your duty to Hollinger International shareholders,' U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve told the silver-haired millionaire member of the British House of Lords known throughout the newspaper industry for his lavish lifestyle and flamboyant use of words.

Prosecutors had asked for as many as 30 years in prison for the Canadian-born Black, saying he had not shown 'one shred of remorse' for looting the company that once owned the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Telegraph of London, Jerusalem Post and hundreds of U.S. and Canadian community newspapers.

'Obviously, there's a great deal of relief' at the lighter-than-expected sentence, said Black attorney Jeffrey B. Steinback, who delivered a passionate, hourlong appeal for leniency.

- From wire reports