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Trista Reynolds asked a probate judge to declare her daughter, Ayla, legally dead. According to that would allow Reynolds to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the 20-month-old  estate against Justin DiPietro, Ayla's father, who has been a focus of the investigation since the girl disappeared in 2011.  No word when that ruling might happen.

From the Associated Press:

A Maine man who police say strangled two cats will avoid jail time if he pays a fine, completes community service, and attends mental health counseling. The Lewiston Sun Journal reports 47-year-old Michael Hermann, of Greene, agreed to the deal Monday. Hermann had previously been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals. Police say a woman dropped the cats off at Hermann's house on March 23. Hermann says he had asked the woman not to because daughter is allergic to cats. Authorities say Hermann euthanized the cats in the woods.

Gov. Paul LePage's administration wants to tap into its maple syrup industry by using public dollars to protect a plantation of sugar maples. Maine Public reports Maine's agriculture department is the lead applicant for a 23,600-acre swath of timberland along the Maine-Quebec border. The board is set to make funding decisions in November.

Maine's two senators are part of a push to increase funding for American agriculture promotion programs. Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King say a bill they are helping to introduce would help American farmers get an edge in the world market. They say the bill aims to revitalize the U.S. Department of Agriculture's export promotion programs.

A federal court has sentenced a 33-year-old Lewiston. Maine, man to five years in prison for robbing a credit union this year. Acting U.S. Attorney Richard W. Murphy said Brent Roaix handed a handwritten note demanding money from a bank teller on Jan. 25 at a Rainbow Federal Credit Union in Lewiston. The teller gave money to Roaix, who then fled.

A national women's advocacy coalition is taking to the sky to urge U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to reject health care legislation. GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham have proposed the latest effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Collins has cited concerns including the measure's Medicaid cuts and seems a likely no.

A Maine laboratory famous for breeding medical research mice claims it has a rat in its midst. The Portland Press Herald reports Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging researchers at Nanjing University in China are breeding and selling strains of its mice. The lab says purchasers of the mice cannot breed, re-sell or distribute any offspring as part of their contract.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called President Donald Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Hours later, North Korea's foreign minister reportedly said his country may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean to fulfill Kim's vow to take the "highest-level" action against the United States.

President Donald Trump has added economic action to his fiery military threats against North Korea, authorizing stiffer new sanctions in response to the Koreans' nuclear weapons advances. Its leader Kim Jong Un issued a rare statement, branding Trump as "deranged" and warning he will "pay dearly" for his threat to "totally destroy" the North if it attacks.

Millions of people on the island of Puerto Rico face the prospect of weeks, and maybe months, without electricity following Hurricane Maria. The storm knocked out an already weakened electrical grid, and towns were left flooded and homes crushed. President Donald Trump said Thursday that Puerto Rico was "absolutely obliterated" and the Virgin Islands were "flattened." The White House says Trump has spoken with the governors of both.

Survivors are still being pulled from rubble in Mexico City as rescue operations stretch into a fourth day, spurring hope among desperate relatives gathered at the sites of buildings collapsed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. Police said several people were pulled from the rubble of two buildings in Mexico's capital Thursday. Still, with the hours passing, fewer of the living were found, and the official death toll rose to 273 in Mexico City and several nearby states, with 137 in the capital.

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