National Roundup


New Hampshire

Judge to hear arguments on therapy records in killing

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A New Hampshire judge will hear arguments on whether to release therapy records linked to the killing of an Auburn woman and her 4-year-old son.

Mara Pappalardo and her son, Mason Smeltzer, were found dead in their home Nov. 8. Pappalardo's 7-year-old daughter, Mercey Smeltzer, was injured and hospitalized.

Pappalardo's husband and the children's father, 38-year-old Christopher Smeltzer, is charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of his wife.

No one has been charged with the boy's death. A medical examiner determined his death was caused by ligature strangulation.

Smeltzer is being held without bail. He is expected to attend the hearing in Rockingham Superior Court.

Prosecutors want to gain access to the therapy records to further their investigation.

North Carolina

Professor says comments cost her a job at NC State

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A former visiting professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh says comments she made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cost her a chance for a tenure track position at the school.

Terri Ginsberg says she fell out of favor with university leaders after an introduction she gave at a 2007 screening of the film "Ticket to Jerusalem." Ginsberg says she went from being a top candidate for a film studies job to being denied an interview for the post. Her one-year contract was not renewed in 2008.

Ginsberg has sued and is appealing a Superior Court judge's dismissal of her claim. No hearing has been set yet in the state Court of Appeals.

University spokesman Keith Nichols says the school doesn't comment on ongoing litigation.


Company that provided elephant for film sued

PERRIS, Calif. (AP) -- Animal rights activists have sued a Southern California company that provided an elephant used in the movie "Water for Elephants."

The suit was filed last week in Los Angeles federal court against Have Trunk Will Travel of Perris. It claims that the business defrauded two moviegoers who believed the elephant used in "Water for Elephants" was properly treated.

The suit claims the business used electric shock devices on the elephant.

Have Trunk Will Travel rents six elephants for movies, weddings, fairs and other special events.

Company owners Gary and Kari Johnson deny the abuse allegations. Kari Johnson tells the Riverside Press-Enterprise that the business has a stellar record of animal care and stands by its training methods.


Teen sentenced in nude photos case

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) -- A Geneva teenager has been sentenced to prison for sending nude pictures of himself to a 12-year-old Ashford girl.

Houston County Circuit Court Judge Brad Mendheim gave 19-year-old Branden Utley a three-year prison term on Tuesday after hearing testimony and arguments from lawyers. Utley pleaded guilty earlier this year to three felony charges, including two counts of transmitting obscene material and enticing a child for immoral purposes.

Houston County Sheriff's deputies arrested Utley in October 2010. Court records indicate Utley pleaded guilty to using a computer to send at least two nude pictures of himself to the girl. Records also indicate he was charged with enticing the same girl for the purpose of sex.

Attorney T.J. Haywood, who represented Utley, asked the court for a minimum sentence, along with probation.


Man accused of planning his own shooting

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) -- Police say a 49-year-old New London man who was shot by police last month planned the shooting after contemplating suicide.

Kevin Kenny was in court Tuesday charged with threatening, reckless endangerment, breach of peace, misuse of the 911 system and falsely reporting an incident.

Kenny was shot three on May 28 by officers who were responding to a report that a man had shot a woman in a hallway of his apartment building.

According to the arrest warrant, Kenny has acknowledged making the call and giving police a description of himself.

Police say Kenny pointed what was later determined to be an unloaded BB gun at officers and was shot.

Police obtained the arrest warrant June 21 but were unable to serve it while Kenny was recovering from his injuries.


$750,000 awarded over burning of Einstein papers

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- A Northern California family has been ordered to pay $750,000 for starting a wildfire that destroyed papers written by Albert Einstein.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that a jury last week ruled against Margaret Pavese, her husband, Lawrence, and her father-in-law in a negligence lawsuit.

The suit was filed by San Jose State chemistry professor Dan Straus, whose father was friends with Einstein. Straus had inherited papers written by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, which were destroyed in the 2007 wildfire that burned four homes.

Authorities say the fire erupted when Pavese left a metal barrel unattended while illegally burning paper plates.

Pavese later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor and paid $200,000 in restitution to fire victims.

Attorney David Spini, who represented Pavese' father-in-law, said he plans to seek a new trial on the grounds that the $750,000 award is excessive. If that fails, he plans to appeal.


Flag desecration lawsuit delayed

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) -- The trial date in a lawsuit challenging Missouri's flag desecration law has been delayed after the state's attorney general joined in the federal case.

Cape Girardeau resident Frank Snider filed the suit a year ago, claiming the law is unconstitutional. A trial date had been set for Aug. 1.

The Southeast Missourian reports that Attorney General Chris Koster's motion to intervene, filed in late April, postponed the trial. A new date has not been set.

Snider filed the suit on July 6, 2010, nine months after being arrested for shredding an American flag. Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle charged him with a misdemeanor that was eventually dropped after Swingle's review of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared flag burning as protected speech.

Published: Thu, Jul 7, 2011