FRESNO, Calif.

Suspected contract killer confesses to 40 slayings

A suspected contract killer charged in central California with murdering nine people confessed to investigators that he carried out up to 40 slayings in a career spanning decades, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Errek Jett, the district attorney in Lawrence County, Ala., said that Jose Manuel Martinez, 51, told investigators he carried out the crimes working as an enforcer for a drug cartel. Jett said they believe Martinez because of the details he gave investigators.

Martinez was arrested last year shortly after crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona and sent to Alabama, where he awaits trial on one murder charge. Once word got out, a steady stream of investigators from across the country came to question Martinez, Jett said.

HUNTSVILLE, Texas

Man executed by injection for murder, beating in 1997

A man who escaped prison in his native Mexico while serving a murder sentence was executed in Texas on Wednesday for fatally beating a former Baylor University history professor and attacking his wife more than 16 years ago.

Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, 44, was lethally injected in the state’s death chamber in Huntsville.

He was in the U.S. illegally when he was arrested for the October 1997 slaying of 49-year-old Glen Lich. Just 10 days earlier, Lich had given Hernandez-Llanas a job helping with renovations at his ranch near Kerrville, about 65 miles northwest of San Antonio, in exchange for living quarters.

Investigators said Hernandez-Llanas lured Lich from his house, then repeatedly clubbed him with a piece of steel rebar. Armed with a knife, he then attacked Lich’s wife. She survived and testified against Hernandez-Llanas, who also had been linked to a rape and a stabbing.

WINTER PARK, Fla.

Car hits day care, killing child, injuring 14 others

A car smashed into an Orlando-area day care Wednesday, killing a child and injuring 14 others, at least 12 of them children, authorities said.

Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children wasn’t releasing any more information on the age and sex of the child who died, said Katie Dagenais, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

One person at the hospital was in critical condition and five others were in serious condition, Dagenais said.

Several of the injured at the KinderCare building in Winter Park were reported to be in “very, very serious condition,” said Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Wanda Diaz

Diaz said the Toyota Solara convertible had gone out of control after it was struck by a Dodge Durango, jumped a curb and smashed into the day care, breaking through the wall and into the building. That driver was not hurt.

The Durango fled the scene but was located almost two hours later after it had been left at a home.

BATON ROUGE, La.

GOP chief asks congressman to resign over kissing scandal

The chairman of Louisiana’s Republican Party is asking U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister to resign after the GOP congressman was captured on tape kissing another man’s wife.

A person close to the state GOP told The Associated Press that party chairman Roger Villere was trying to convince McAllister to step aside immediately. The source asked not to be named because Villere hadn’t spoken directly with McAllister.

McAllister appealed for privacy Wednesday “during this difficult period” since a video surfaced two days earlier of him kissing the woman.

A north Louisiana newspaper said the video it posted was Dec. 23 surveillance video from inside McAllister’s office in Monroe. The woman, identified as Melissa Peacock, resigned Monday from McAllister’s congressional payroll.