MIDLAND CITY, ALA.

Rural standoff continues

A gunman holed up in a bunker with a 6-year-old hostage kept law officers at bay Wednesday in an all-night, all-day standoff that began when he killed a school bus driver and dragged the boy away, authorities said. SWAT teams took up positions around the gunmanís rural property, and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartenerís safe release. The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, a retired truck driver, was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.

CHICAGO

Ex-governor leaves prison

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was released from prison before dawn Wednesday, stopping only briefly at a halfway house before he was allowed to travel home to serve the rest of his sentence for corruption. Ryan, 78, served more than five years behind bars. His status as an ex-governor didnít win him special consideration in the decision to let him skip the halfway house and go home, Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.

ORLANDO, FLA.

Delay requested for trial

Attorneys for the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with shooting Trayvon Martin to death last year asked for more time to prepare his case Wednesday, saying prosecutors had been slow to turn over evidence. At the same time, George Zimmermanís lead attorney, Mark OíMara, renewed his request for donations to Zimmermanís legal defense, which he said could cost up to $1 million.

SAN DIEGO

Hotel blast near resort

A powerful explosion on Wednesday ripped through a hotel near SeaWorld San Diego from a room where authorities said a couple was extracting hash oil, sending guests fleeing for safety. A 22-year-old man in the room suffered life-threatening injuries. Also hurt were a woman in the room and a young man staying next door, authorities said. All three were hospitalized.

Compiled from wire reports.