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LEGAL FATE OF FSU QUARTERBACK TO BE ANSWERED

Thursday, 05 December 2013 07:55 Published in Sports

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Jameis Winston will learn whether he faces prosecution Thursday when a state attorney finally announces the results of an intensive investigation into sexual assault allegations against the Florida State quarterback.

The alleged incident occurred nearly a year ago, but it wasn't until last month that Tallahassee police finally turned over information about the case to prosecutors.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said Wednesday that his office has "exhausted all investigative tools" since the case was handed over in mid-November.

"We have learned as much as we can learn," said Meggs, who was expected to announce his findings at a 2 p.m. news conference in his offices in the Leon County Courthouse.

In the short time since Meggs' office took over the case investigators have taken DNA from Winston, interviewed the victim and looked at other evidence connected to the case. ESPN reported that DNA found in the accuser's underwear matched Winston.

But Timothy Jansen, Winston's attorney, said he expects Meggs will exonerate his client. He has suggested that Winston had consensual sex with the accuser. The accuser's family has put out a statement saying Winston raped the woman.

"If he looked at evidence we did, we feel confident he will find that Mr. Winston did nothing wrong," Jansen said.

Jansen is confident enough that he plans to have Winston briefly address the media about the findings at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Duval in downtown Tallahassee, Fla.

Patricia Carroll, the attorney representing the alleged victim, has not responded to requests for comment.

The case against Winston has drawn national attention. The 19-year-old has led the Seminoles to a No. 1 ranking and a shot at a national championship if they defeat Duke this Saturday. Winston's play at quarterback has also made him a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy.

Many voters are waiting to see whether Winston will be charged with a crime before casting their ballots. The deadline for Heisman ballots to be turned in is Dec. 9.

Florida State policy dictates that a student-athlete is suspended from game action if charged with a felony until the charge is resolved "absent extraordinary circumstances as determined by the administration."

Meggs has said he wanted to make sure prosecutors completed a thorough investigation before making a final decision. He has also said several times that prosecutors must determine whether there is a "reasonable" chance of conviction.

The fact that Meggs has scheduled a news conference - as opposed to getting a warrant for Winston's arrest - could be seen as a sign that he will not file charges.

Meggs said Wednesday that the investigation results should answer some lingering questions about how the investigation was handled and why it took 11 months before prosecutors were notified.

"When you all look at this, when the dust all settles, you'll say `Man, there were some things that could have been done back in December of `12 that could have cleared this up a whole lot easier than November of 2013," he said.

The alleged sexual assault was first reported to police on Dec. 7, 2012. The family has said the victim did not know the identity of her attacker until early January, when she identified him as Winston. Police said last week that they tried to interview Winston back in January but that Jansen at the time told them his client would not answer questions.

The family has been sharply critical of the way Tallahassee police have handled the case. The family says they pushed to have a DNA sample taken from Winston only to be told by a police detective that it would alert Winston and make the case public. The family said Carroll was warned by police that Tallahassee is a "big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable."

Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case and said it was placed on inactive status in February after police were told the alleged victim did not wish to prosecute the case. Carroll has denied that the woman wanted to drop the investigation.

The alleged victim was an FSU student during the December incident, but she left school after Carroll was told by police that information about the case was about to be released to the media.

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Associated Press writer Kareem Copeland contributed to this story.

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Follow Gary Fineout on Twitter: HTTP://TWITTER.COM/FINEOUT .

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

NORTH CAROLINA BEATS NO. 1 MICHIGAN STATE 79-65

Thursday, 05 December 2013 07:54 Published in Sports

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- North Carolina flashed its potential again, earning another impressive victory after a second shaky setback.

J.P. Tokoto had 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to help the Tar Heels beat No. 1 Michigan State 79-65 Wednesday night.

North Carolina (5-2) has been talented enough to knock off the top-ranked Spartans and then-No. 3 Louisville this season, but the Tar Heels have also lost to Belmont and UAB.

"I truly believe after the Louisville win, our mentality after that was, `Birmingham is just going to be an automatic win. Just because we're North Carolina,'" Tokoto said. "We can't have that mentality - and kind of learned that Sunday night.

"We came here, were ready to play, intensity level was up, and we got results."

The Spartans (7-1) lost to an unranked nonconference team at home for the first time in more than a decade. They looked nothing like the team that beat then-No. 1 Kentucky a few weeks ago or the program that has had so much success over nearly two decades under coach Tom Izzo.

"One of the more disappointing performances of my career here," Izzo said. "From the jump ball, they kind of took it to us."

The Tar Heels took control from the start, never trailed and used a 12-1 run to take a 65-52 lead with 6:02 left.

"Michigan State did not want it that much more than we did," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

Izzo agreed.

"We looked soft," he lamented.

North Carolina outrebounded the Spartans by 11, leading to 19 second-chance points. The Tar Heels turned 14 of Michigan State's turnovers into 19 points and held the Spartans to 36 percent shooting.

"We're as happy as we can possibly be - 179 degrees away from where we were after the UAB game," Williams said.

Kennedy Meeks scored 15 points for North Carolina and Brice Johnson had 14 off the bench. Marcus Paige and Nate Britt added 13 apiece.

"You can't tell in college basketball what's going to happen," Williams said. "At one point, we had three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the court."

Gary Harris had 17 points and Keith Appling scored 13, but both Michigan State guards missed 10 of 15 shots. Adreian Payne had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans, whose last loss at home against an unranked nonconference team was Toledo on Dec. 30, 2002.

The Tar Heels beat a No. 1 team for the first time since March 4, 2006, at Duke, and they have a nation-high 13 wins over top-ranked teams. They've won seven straight against the Spartans, including in the 2009 NCAA final.

Tokoto has taken advantage of an expanded role while P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sit out because of NCAA eligibility concerns.

The 6-foot-5 Tokoto, who is from Wisconsin, made some friends and family members in the stands at the Breslin Center happy while green-and-white clad fans didn't have much to get excited about.

Tokoto blocked a shot early in the second half, got to a loose ball and threw it to Appling - while the Michigan State player was standing out of bounds - and made three straight shots later in the half to help the Tar Heels pull away.

"J.P. was really active," Williams said. "He did a lot of things. He's so athletic."

Michigan State pulled into a 32-all tie at halftime after an awful start, struggling to take care of the ball or make shots.

The Tar Heels scored the first six points of the game and led 16-4 while holding the Spartans to 1-of-7 shooting with four turnovers.

On the bench, North Carolina freshman Isaiah Hicks implored his teammates to keep playing and avoid looking at the scoreboard. The Tar Heels seemed to do that, building a 20-6 cushion midway through the first half as Michigan State missed nine of 11 shots and turned the ball over six times.

The Spartans got a scare later in the half when Appling landed hard on his right hip after defending a shot. He hobbled off the court, but was able to return to action before halftime.

Michigan State outscored the Tar Heels 13-2 over the last several minutes of the first half.

The Spartans, though, couldn't do enough to get ahead in the second half and they will likely fall in next week's poll after being No. 1 for a school-record three weeks this season.

"They came off a loss and they looked hungrier," Izzo said. "We came off all the hype and we looked not as hungry."

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: HTTP://TWITTER.COM/LARRYLAGE

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

WHITE HOUSE PUSHES FOR JOBLESS AID EXTENSION

Thursday, 05 December 2013 07:49 Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is pushing to extend jobless benefits to long-term unemployed Americans.

The argument is that if benefits don't get renewed by the end of the month, more than a million people will lose the assistance -- which will slow economic growth.

The government released a report Thursday. It says Congress has renewed benefits when unemployment was lower than the current 7.3 percent. New jobless numbers are due out Friday.

Democrats want to keep a program giving federal jobless benefits to people after their 26 weeks of state benefits run out. The Congressional Budget Office says that would cost an estimated $25 billion -- but estimates say it would also stimulate the economy and create jobs.

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