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Wire News: 2060< AP-FBC-Auburn-Player-Kil


2060Defense: Auburn player who was killed at party opened fire

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. (AP) -- A man charged with killing an Auburn University football player opened fire because the athlete also was shooting a gun during a party, a defense lawyer said Monday.

Markhale Hart, 22, was defending himself when 18-year-old Jakell Mitchell was shot to death in Auburn last month, said Mark Allen Treadwell, an attorney for Hart.

"It was absolutely self-defense," he said in an interview after a hearing on Hart's probation status. "Today was a real glimpse of what this case is going to evolve into."

Both men fired multiple shots during an argument, said Treadwell.

"It was like the shootout at the OK Corral," he added.

Treadwell represented Hart during a hearing in which a judge revoked probation for Hart, who was released early after serving six months in jail on a burglary conviction in 2012.

A probation officer's report asking the judge to revoke Hart's probation said the man acknowledged killing the player during a late-night party at an apartment complex in Auburn last Dec. 14.

Testimony during the hearing showed that Hart and Mitchell both opened fire, and that Hart was moving away from Mitchell when the fatal shot was fired, said Treadwell.

Hart later tested positive for marijuana use, but toxicology results aren't yet available for Mitchell, Treadwell said.

Authorities had not previously disclosed allegations that Mitchell was armed and opened fire, but additional evidence could be revealed during a preliminary hearing set for Tuesday in Alabama's Lee County, where the killing occurred.

The probation report said a witness told police that Mitchell got into an argument with a brother of Tyrone Ware, who isn't otherwise identified. The brother pointed a gun at Mitchell and fired several times, according to the document.

Treadwell said a statement by Hart and a police investigation showed that Mitchell fired several shots with a .45-caliber handgun, and Hart fired a .40-caliber weapon. The path of the casings fired by Hart was "streaming away" from Mitchell, he said.

Investigators found the gun Mitchell was using but the other weapon remains missing, Treadwell said.

Mitchell was pronounced dead at a hospital, and Hart was arrested hours later at his home in Tallapoosa County, documents show.

Mitchell was killed during a party at Tiger Lodge apartments, a large complex a few miles from the Auburn campus that caters to college students.

The complex -- since renamed and with what promotional materials describe as added security features -- is the same place where one-time Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips and a third man, DeMario Pitts, were shot to death during an argument at a late-night gathering in June 2012. Desmonte Leonard was convicted of capital murder in that case and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 20.

Wire News: SKI--Shiffrin's Team, 1st L

BC-SKI--Shiffrin's Team, 1st Ld-Writethru,586Shiffrin eyes American record 3rd straight WCup slalom winAP Photo ZAG101, ZAG120, ZAG102



Associated Press

FLACHAU, Austria (AP) -- In the final slalom before her home world championship, Mikaela Shiffrin can become the first American skier to rack up three straight World Cup wins in the discipline.

Shiffrin, from Vail, Colorado, has won the night race in Austria the past two years, and starts as a clear favorite again Tuesday after dominating the recent events in Kuehtai and Zagreb.

The 19-year-old Olympic champion posted the fastest time in all four runs of those events to shrug off a two-month period of equipment troubles and poor results.

She seems to be turning things around at the right time, while also dealing with personnel changes around her.

Tuesday's race is Shiffrin's second without her long-term coach Roland Pfeifer, who has been removed from the women's technical team.

According to the Alpine director of the U.S. ski team, Patrick Riml, the coach had been focusing too much on his most successful athlete.

"We have more athletes on the technical team, and they also belong to the team," Riml said. "It's important to have a good atmosphere in the team, that they all work together and with each other."

For the past 3 years, Pfeifer had been instrumental to Shiffrin's rise to the top.

The 50-year-old Austrian, a former professional skier who specialized in slalom and giant slalom, led the team since 2011, the same year Shiffrin made her debut on the World Cup.

Under Pfeifer's guidance, Shiffrin won two crystal globes for the most successful slalom skier of the World Cup season, the world title, and Olympic gold.

"Roland has done a great job," Riml said. "He will switch to the men's side. He is a top coach."

Still, Riml said it was better for everyone involved to separate Pfeifer and Shiffrin, even if the timing has not been ideal, with the world championship slalom and GS less than four weeks away.

"Only if all the girls on the team are happy and the coaches are cooperating well, results will come," said Riml, who hasn't replaced Pfeifer but will be travelling himself with the women's team for the rest of the season.

Riml said he will also try to intensify the cooperation between the technical and the speed team.

That could help Shiffrin, who wants to start competing in super-G's in the near future and, eventually, downhill races.

And Shiffrin can still work with her own small group of people, most notably her mother Eileen.

"Eileen is part of the team, no doubt," Riml said. "Eileen has been there since day one and she is still there. She is very important to Mikaela, she is a pillar to the whole system."

Shiffrin also emphasized how important harmony in the team is to her.

"I learned a lot about the people around me," she said. "And how my entire team handles the stress of not winning, or not reaching my potential, it puts stress on really everybody. Whether they say that or not, I know it's there and I felt a lot of pressure in November. It got to me a little bit."

After her two recent wins, Shiffrin is now eager to make it three in a row before defending her world slalom title on Feb. 14.

"I can't wait," she said. "I love it that we're going to have so much time to train, to prepare. And some time to rest and energize and then go out and hammer some training. By the time we race, anything can happen. That makes it very exciting for everybody."

Wire News: 2050< AP-SOC-FIFA-World-Player

2050Cristiano Ronaldo wins 3rd FIFA Player of the Year awardAP Photo PRO142, PRO131, PRO132, PRO132, PRO133, PRO133, PRO110, PRO111, PRO109, PBK125, PBK122



ZURICH (AP) -- Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Player of the Year award for the second straight year on Monday and third time overall.

The Portuguese forward, who led Real Madrid to its record 10th European title, received 37.66 percent of votes of national team coaches and captains and selected media to add to the FIFA awards he won in 2008 and 2013.

Ronaldo scored 61 goals last year for club and country, and set a Champions League season record with 17.

"I want to become one of the greatest players of all time," he said through a translator in his acceptance speech. "Of course, this requires a lot of effort and I hope to get there."

Lionel Messi, the Argentine star forward on Barcelona, was second in voting with 15.76 percent, just ahead of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (15.72), who helped Germany to the World Cup title.

On hearing his name read out by French great Thierry Henry, the 29-year-old Ronaldo closed his eyes, dipped his head and smiled before walking to the stage.

"It has been an unforgettable year," Ronaldo said after taking a deep breath.

Messi won the award four straight times from 2009-12. While Messi's Argentina lost in the World Cup final, Ronaldo's Portugal was eliminated in the first round.

U.S. captain Clint Dempsey voted Ronaldo first, followed by Messi and German midfielder Thomas Mueller. American coach Jurgen Klinsmann -- a former star and coach for Germany -- had Neuer first, followed by Messi and Dutch forward Arjen Robben. Paul Kennedy of Soccer America, the U.S. media representative, voted Ronaldo first, followed by Messi and German defender-midfielder Philipp Lahm.

The FIFA men's award merged in 2010 with France Football's Golden Ball, given to the European player of the year.

German midfielder Nadine Kessler won the Women's Player of the Year for the first time, getting 17.52 percent to beat out Brazilian forward Marta (14.16) and American forward Abby Wambach (13.33). Marta was a five-time winner from 2006-10 and Wambach won in 2012.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis voted Kessler first and Wambach second, whole American captain Christine Rampone had Wambach first and didn't include Kessler among her top three. The U.S. did not have a media vote.

Joachim Loew was voted men's Coach of the Year after leading Germany to the World Cup title, and Wolfsburg's Ralf Kellermann was picked as women's Coach of the Year.

"It's the icing on the cake," Loew said through a translator. "What would a coach be without a fantastic team? I am nothing without well-trained players."

Loew received 36.23 percent of votes, including the top picks of Klinsmann and Dempsey, followed by Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti (22.06) and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone (19.02).

Kellermann got 17.06 percent, topping Germany under-20 coach Maren Meinert (13.16), Japan's Norio Sasaki (13.06) and Sweden's Pia Sundhage (11.22), a former U.S. coach.

On the FIFPro-FIFA world all-star team, Ronaldo, Messi, Neuer, Lahm and Robben were joined by defenders David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Sergio Ramos, and midfielders Angel Di Maria, Andres Iniesta and Toni Kroos.

Luiz, Kroos, Di Maria and Robben were picked for the first time in voting by 23,383 players in 58 nations.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter made no mention of his upcoming presidential contest in his first public appearance since FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan announced last week he was running for the May ballot.

Blatter gave his annual presidential award to 90-year-old Japanese journalist Hiroshi Kagawa, who worked at his 10th World Cup in Brazil.

FIFA named volunteer workers at its tournaments as the winner of its Fair Play award.

In their acceptance speeches, Kessler and Kellerman both paid tribute to Wolfsburg player Junior Malanda, who died in a car crash last weekend.



Wire News: BBA--Athletics-Chavez,132


Jesse Chavez, Athletics agree to $2.15 million deal

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Right-hander Jesse Chavez and the Oakland Athletics have agreed to a $2.15 million, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

Chavez stepped in as a key member of the rotation in 2014 when projected starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin were each lost for the year to elbow injuries that required surgery.

Chavez, 31, went 8-8 with a 3.45 ERA with 21 starts and 32 appearances for a career-high 146 innings last year, when he made $775,000. The wins were his most in parts of seven major league seasons with Oakland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Toronto. He had started two games total before last year.

He started through late July, when the A's traded for Jon Lester to join a rotation that also added Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija earlier that month.



Wire News: SOC--Women's WCup-Artificia

BC-SOC--Women's WCup-Artificial Turf, 1st Ld-Writethru,427Wambach takes World Cup turf protest to FIFA's ValckeAP Photo PBK119, FOS112, WB130, PBK125



ZURICH (AP) -- Top female players have taken a protest against artificial turf at the World Cup in Canada to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, though with little hope of success.

United States forward Abby Wambach and Germany midfielder Nadine Kessler met a FIFA delegation Monday ahead of contesting the women's player award at the Ballon d'Or ceremony.

Wambach said at the players' official FIFA news conference that they talked "openly, candidly" with Valcke, but did not expect natural grass pitches to be approved ahead of the June 6 kickoff.

"I think FIFA has made their decision and they are sticking to it," the 2012 FIFA player of the year said. "The powers that be, the logistics, the timing -- it just may not happen."

"It's tough because as female athletes we want to be treated equal and we want to be playing on grass," Wambach said.

Wambach and Brazil forward Marta, the third candidate for the 2014 player award, have supported an anti-discrimination legal action filed in a Canadian court.

Canada wants to host the men's 2026 World Cup -- possibly bidding against the U.S. and Mexico -- when a proposal to play on artificial turf is unlikely to be made, or have a chance of winning.

However, an effective campaign by women's players would have needed to start sooner and with players included in FIFA's decision-making, Wambach suggested.

"If we had better dialogue over a year ago, two years ago when these decisions were really being made maybe we could have put together a coalition sooner to fight this," she said.

FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said Valcke had promised, at the meeting, to include players more in future discussions.

Protests by players now seem unlikely to be a distraction at the month-long, 24-team tournament, being played in six cities.

"We are not going to get into the World Cup environment and continue to talk about it," Wambach said. "That is something that will take our attention away from what our real goal is, and that is raising the trophy at the end."

FIFA has insisted artificial turf does not affect the quality of play or increase the risk of players sustaining leg injuries.

Wambach challenged that view Monday.

"I know I'm going to be a heck of a lot more sore after the tournament, that's for sure," said the 34-year-old Wambach, who has played in three World Cups and has to yet to win the trophy.

"It is sad because it will be my last World Cup and I really, really would love it to be on grass."