National Round Up

Missouri: Trial date set for former House speaker assault
NEW MADRID, Mo. (AP) — A trial in the assault case of former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton will be Oct. 28-29.

The Southeast Missourian reports that New Madrid County Circuit Judge Fred Copeland set the trial date Tuesday.

Jetton is accused of assaulting a Sikeston woman on Nov. 15. The victim testified at a preliminary hearing in February that they shared a bottle of wine and she became incoherent. She said Jetton choked and punched her.

She testified that she awoke after the assault with her hands bound with a belt and Jetton having sex with her.

Jetton’s attorney cited text messages between Jetton and the woman and tried to show that she knew the sex would get rough.

Jetton, a Republican, left the House due to term limits in January 2009.

Georgia: Singer sentenced in case of woman dead in apartment
ATLANTA (AP) — A Fulton County Superior Court judge sentenced the lead singer of an Atlanta rock band to 20 years in prison.

The singer, 23-year-old Warren Eugene Ullom of a band called The Judies, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced on Monday for his involvement in a drug-overdose death of 32-year-old Rachel San Inocencio.

The woman was found dead in Ullom’s apartment two years ago after an ambulance was called to the scene.

Authorities say Ullom injected the woman with cocaine in an attempt to revive her.

Ullom’s attorney, Guy Davis, said the voluntary manslaughter charge and 20-year sentence came after a plea bargain.

Indiana: Woman sues after daughter dies in foster care
LaGRANGE, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana woman whose 15-month-old daughter died in foster care is suing the foster parent and a state agency in her death.

Kelli Sprunger’s lawsuit seeks damages in Alissa B. Guernsey’s March 2009 death. It was filed in LaGrange Circuit Court but moved to federal court in Fort Wayne this month.

The suit names the Indiana Department of Child Services and 31-year-old Christy Shaffer, the child’s state-appointed foster parent.

Although a LaGrange County grand jury indicted Shaffer on two counts of neglect of a dependent last year, prosecutors declined to link the indictments to the child’s death.

But court documents say the toddler’s fatal head injuries resulted from Shaffer’s actions.

North Carolina: Mentally disabled former inmate sues agents
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A mentally disabled man released after being held for 14 years on a murder charge is suing investigators for their conduct.

Floyd Brown, 46, has an IQ in the 50s and was caught in legal limbo after he was arrested in 1993. Doctors at Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh said he wasn’t mentally competent to stand trial, yet local prosecutors argued he was “too dangerous” to return to the community and refused to drop the case.

High-profile attorneys David Rudolf of Charlotte and Barry Scheck of New York City contend Brown never should have been charged in the first place, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Wednesday.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday on Brown’s behalf, the attorneys argue that State Bureau of Investigation agents and sheriff’s deputies in Anson County, southeast of Charlotte on the South Carolina border, acted in bad faith when they arrested Brown.

Officials at the state Justice Department declined to comment.

Brown was charged with beating Katherine Lynch, 80, to death in her home in 1993. The retired schoolteacher lived just down the street in Wadesboro from the house Brown shared with his mother.

Investigators settled on Brown as a suspect soon after the slaying. Agents said Brown, who has the mental abilities of a 7-year-old, confessed to the slaying.

Brown’s lawyers argue in their lawsuit that the confession includes directions and details that Brown isn’t capable of understanding, and that SBI agents violated his rights to due process.

A judge released Brown in 2007 after ruling he was being held illegally. Brown’s relatives said then that it always was clear he didn’t commit the crime.

None of the evidence tested at the SBI crime lab linked Brown to the crime scene. Sheriff’s deputies have since lost virtually all the physical evidence.

Police agencies are not immune from civil lawsuits when officers willfully violate a citizen’s constitutional right of due process. The case was filed in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.

Rudolf and Scheck represented former death row inmate Alan Gell in his $3.9 million legal settlement last year. That ended a lawsuit alleging that an SBI agent ignored crucial evidence to pin a murder on Gell, who spent nine years behind bars before being acquitted at a new trial.

California: Jury awards $32M to teenager left quadriplegic
BARSTOW, Calif. (AP) — A jury has awarded a $32.2 million verdict in favor of a 17-year-old youth left quadriplegic when he jumped from a truck and hit his head on the pavement seven years ago.

The family of Dillon Elkins will receive 80 percent of the award in the lawsuit against the driver, who was 18 at the time.

Family lawyer Ricardo Echeverria says the accident resulted after Elkins and another boy hitched a ride in the bed of Robert Murchison’s truck. Echeverria says the driver shouted to the boys to jump because he saw a California Highway Patrol car on the freeway and feared he would get into trouble.

During the three-week trial that ended last week, Murchison said the boys sneaked on to his truck bed and he never told them to jump.

Pennsylvania: Acquitted rape suspect sues county, victim
CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania man acquitted of charges he raped a woman in 2007 is suing the victim, state police, and county prosecutors claiming they conspired to falsely accuse him.

Thirty-five-year-old Stanley Ohler Sr., filed his federal lawsuit Tuesday from a state prison on Frackville, where he’s serving six to 12 years for an unrelated sexual assault involving a 14-year-old girl.

Ohler contends in his lawsuit that state police in Uniontown, Fayette County prosecutors, and his alleged victim made up allegations that he repeatedly raped the woman in her home.

He was acquitted in July 2008 after calling two witnesses who testified that the woman made up the allegations and threatened to have Ohler jailed if he didn’t do some things she wanted.