Among other items: Robert Blake's trial for murder begins; jackpot winner's relative found dead...

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Five fishermen were missing last night after their scallop boat capsized and sank about 45 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass. Coast Guard boats and aircraft searched for the crew late into the night in high waves and freezing winter weather.


The 75-foot New Bedford-based vessel with six crew members sent an emergency signal at 4:44 p.m. EST. Shortly after, a mayday followed, reporting that the Northern Edge had overturned and was sinking.


One crew member in a life raft was rescued by another fishing vessel, but there was no sign of his crewmates.


Los Angeles


Robert Blake’s trial for murder begins


Actor Robert Blake went on trial for murder yesterday, with prosecutors saying he loathed his wife enough to kill her, while his defense countered that the state’s star witnesses were hallucinating habitual drug users.


Blake is charged with fatally shooting his 44-year-old wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, three years ago as she sat alone in a car near an Italian restaurant in the Studio City section of Los Angeles, where they had just dined.


Police allege that when Blake couldn’t persuade two aging Hollywood stuntmen to kill Bakley for him, he pulled the trigger himself.


Scott Depot, W.Va.


Jackpot winner’s relative found dead


The 17-year-old granddaughter of Jack Whittaker, winner of the nation’s biggest undivided lottery jackpot, was found dead yesterday near her boyfriend’s home, more than two weeks after she disappeared.


The cause of Brandi Bragg’s death was under investigation. Authorities said there were no obvious signs of violence. An autopsy was planned today.


The body was found several hundred feet from a house owned by Steve Crosier, whose son Brandon was Bragg’s boyfriend, state police said.


Bragg was last seen alive on Dec. 4. Whittaker, a contractor who on Christmas Eve 2002 won a $314.9 million jackpot, reported her missing five days later.




Also


Homeland Security: James Loy, the No. 2 official at the Homeland Security Department, is retiring, the agency announced yesterday. He will remain on the job until March 1 or until a successor is confirmed by the Senate.


Jackson trial: A judge in Santa Maria, Calif., yesterday denied a motion for a delay in the child-molestation case against pop star Michael Jackson, clearing the way for the trial’s Jan. 31 start.


Arson: Two more men were arrested yesterday on arson charges in a series of fires at an upscale housing development in Green Belt, Md. Four others have been arrested in the past week.