National Roundup

Idaho: Canyon County rapist will spend life in prison
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Canyon County judge put a convicted rapist and serial convict behind bars for life for a sexual assault on a Nampa woman in August 2009.

Michael Russo has no possibility for parole after Tuesday’s sentence.

The 34-year-old, who served time for felonies dating back to 1994 in neighboring Washington state, was arrested hours after the Aug. 27 assault, then convicted this August in 3rd District Court.

Brian Taylor, the Canyon County prosecutor, called Russo “the worst of the worst” and said the community will be safer with him locked safely in prison for the rest of his life.

In addition to the 2009 rape, Russo has been convicted of four felonies, including rape and burglary in 2005.

He served 11 years in a Washington prison before his release in 2004, when he moved to Idaho.

Illinois: Fundraiser’s attorneys file for new trial
CHICAGO (AP) — Attorneys for a former fundraiser of impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich have filed a motion asking for a new trial for their client.

In a filing Tuesday, the lawyers contend Tony Rezko’s conviction should be overturned based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited how prosecutors can use the so-called honest services law. That law was used in Rezko’s prosecution, and the ruling has led to appeals by defendants convicted under it.

A jury convicted Rezko in 2008 of squeezing kickbacks from people seeking state business. Rezko has cooperated with prosecutors on Blagojevich’s case since then and agreed to delay his sentencing during that time.

Rezko’s attorneys say he should be allowed to challenge his conviction. Prosecutors argue that request is two years too late.

Arkansas: Appeals court reinstates state’s inmate’s lawsuit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel has reinstated a convicted Arkansas killer’s lawsuit against a Department of Correction guard.

The three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling Tuesday in which they overturned a judge’s dismissal of the lawsuit by 53-year-old David Hugh Williams.

Williams’ lawsuit claims Sgt. Scott Horner falsely accused him of misbehavior and called him a snitch within earshot of other inmates. It claims Horner was retaliating because Williams had filed grievances against him.

Williams is serving life for the 1980 killings of three people — including his father and a 7-year-old girl. He was later convicted of stabbing a fellow inmate to death in 1982.

Minnesota: Parole denied in kidnap-homicide case from 1980
ANOKA, Minn. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has denied parole for a Minnesota man convicted of kidnapping his former teacher and her daughter 30 years ago and killing a boy who saw the abduction.

Sixty-year-old Ming Sen Shiue (shoo) is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Texas. He’s eligible for parole every two years. If he’s ever paroled, Shiue could spend the rest of his life in state custody under a September ruling by an Anoka County judge.

Shiue was convicted in federal court of kidnapping his former ninth grade math teacher, Mary Stauffer, and her 8-year-old daughter in 1980.

Investigators said he videotaped some of the sexual assaults before the mother and daughter escaped from his Roseville home seven weeks later.

California: Police use of stun guns must be reasonable
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court says a Southern California police officer used excessive force when he used a stun gun to subdue an unarmed motorist stopped for not wearing a seat belt.

Coronado police Officer Brian MacPherson fired a Taser dart at then-21-year-old Carl Bryan during the 2005 traffic stop. Bryan fell to the ground, breaking four teeth and suffering facial cuts.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday said police must have reasonable grounds for using stun guns.

The court deemed the Taser use excessive and unjustified, but added the officer deserved immunity from prosecution because the circumstances in which the weapon could be reasonably used weren’t clearly defined at the time.

Because of the ruling, the San Diego County police agency won’t appeal the excessive-force ruling.

Mississippi: Judge dismisses Edmonds’ lawsuit
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge in Oxford has dismissed a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit filed by Tyler Edmonds.
U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. on Tuesday ruled that law enforcement officers did nothing unconstitutional in the handling of Edmonds’ confession in 2003.

Edmonds and his mother, Sharon Clay, sued Oktibbeha County in 2009, saying Edmonds was wrongfully convicted of murder “based on an alleged coerced confession taken by law enforcement officers.”

Edmonds, who was 14 at the time, was arrested May 12, 2003, and accused in the death of Joey Fulgham, who was married to Edmonds’ half-sister, Kristi Fulgham.

His confession reportedly came after Edmonds and his mother were separated, and then Kristi told him to “tell them” what he had done. Edmonds was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but a second trial jury acquitted him.

Kristi Fulgham is serving a life sentence for her role in the killing.

Biggers said Edmonds’ rights were not violated by law enforcement. He also rejected Clay’s claim she had the right to be present during Edmonds’ interrogation.

Mississippi: Pledge flap leads to reprimand recommendation
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A judicial watchdog agency says Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn should be publicly reprimanded for jailing an attorney for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in his courtroom.

The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance on Tuesday said Littlejohn has admitted that he violated Oxford attorney Danny Lampley’s rights with his contempt of court order Oct. 6.

The Mississippi Supreme Court will have the final say on the punishment.

The commission says Littlejohn “has altered the manner” in which he conducts the pledge in his court, noting its recitation now is voluntary.

Littlejohn was recently re-elected without opposition for another term in the 1st Chancery District.