Court Roundup

Utah: 2 men charged in 2009 slaying of retired BYU prof
PROVO, Utah (AP) — Utah County prosecutors have charged two Vernal men with capital murder for the 2009 slaying of retired Brigham Young University professor Kay Mortensen.

Martin Cameron Bond and Benjamin David Rettig were both charged in 4th District Court Wednesday with one count each of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary, and with three counts of aggravated kidnapping.

If convicted on the aggravated murder charge the 23-year-old men could face the death penalty.

Bond and Rettig were booked into the Utah County Jail on Dec. 7. Both are being held on $1 million cash bail.

A hearing is set for Dec. 21.

Police say they have accused each other in the November 2009 slaying of Mortensen.

Prosecutors have also dropped murder charges against Mortensen’s son and daughter-in-law.

Missouri: Man gets 50 years for child porn conviction
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A southwest Missouri man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for possessing child pornography, including pictures of his minor daughter being sexually assaulted.

The 50-year-old Cabool man was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield. He pleaded guilty in May.

Prosecutors said the man repeatedly assaulted his daughter sexually over a 17-year period starting when she was 4 years old. She became pregnant and gave birth to his child in 2006.

Authorities say he also forced the daughter to have sex with other adults and children, and posted photos on the Internet.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault and is not naming the southwest Missouri man to avoid identifying the daughter.

West Virginia: Judge could combine cases against DuPont
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A judge is considering whether to consolidate 15 personal injury lawsuits from families blaming cancer and lesser ailments on long-term toxic exposure to a former DuPont zinc-smelting plant.

Harrison County Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 12, 2011, in Clarksburg.

Earlier this month, a federal judge moved the case back to state court.

The plaintiffs have already won a class-action lawsuit over pollution from the former plant in Spelter.

The personal-injury cases seek damages for dozens of maladies they believe were caused by exposure to arsenic, cadmium, lead and other toxins.

Rebecca Morlock and her fellow plaintiffs also want damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical testing and treatment.

California: Sanity trial of baby-killing mom winds down
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A prosecutor says the testimony of a former hairdresser who claims postpartum psychosis caused her to run over her baby son in 1987 with the family Volvo shows she had no insight into her condition or how to control it.

Closing arguments concluded Wednesday in a trial for Sheryl Lynn Massip, who is asking a jury to declare her sane so she no longer has to have court-ordered mental health care. The jury will receive instructions Thursday before beginning deliberations.

Deputy District Attorney Aleta Bryant said Massip has a history of denial about her mental illnesses that caused her to stop taking medication and skip therapy sessions repeatedly.

“An unexploded time bomb is a danger even if it is unexploded, and there is an unexploded time bomb at the end of that table,” Bryant said, pointing to Massip. “History shows us what she is capable of when she goes off: A 43-day-old baby boy is dead at her hands.”

The “restoration of sanity” trial is unusual and was triggered when prosecutors decided to oppose a petition by Massip, who is free but can’t move or travel outside the state without court approval and has a home visit by mental health workers every three months.

“She’s lived with this reality: ‘I don’t understand how I killed my baby. I do know one thing. I never want to go to that place again. Please let me be a human again,’” her attorney Milton Grimes said in his closing argument. “And that’s why we’re here. We’re here to ask you to agree ... that she’s not a danger to us anymore.”

Massip, 46, was convicted of murder in 1988 in the death of her 6-week-old son Michael after she placed him under the left front tire of her car and ran him over. A judge later set aside the verdict, reduced the charge to manslaughter and found Massip not guilty by reason of insanity.

Massip, who has since remarried and now goes by the last name Smith, has never served time in prison or a state mental hospital. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, personality disorder and a hormone imbalance that causes bouts of deep depression.

Massip discontinued all medication at one point in 2003, provoking so much concern that the court issued an order requiring her to comply with treatment, Bryant said.

Massip also missed nine of 12 therapy appointments that year and often stops taking pills because she doesn’t like the side effects, she said.

She was hospitalized in 1992 and placed on suicide watch after cutting off her hair, according to testimony.

On the stand, Massip denied ignoring doctors’ orders and said she never quit any medication without asking.

On Wednesday, Massip clutched a tissue and occasionally glanced at her husband and other supporters as the attorneys delivered their arguments.

For Massip to prevail, nine of 12 jurors in the civil proceeding must agree she is not a danger to herself or others; she is taking her medication; and she can be trusted to continue her care without supervision.

Grimes said during trial that Massip has complied with all the terms of her treatment, and her doctors believe she is ready to live on her own, without court supervision.

She and her second husband, who now live in Northern California, are raising a 14-year-old daughter who testified at trial that her mother was a normal parent who helped her with her homework, drove her to visit friends and regularly attended two churches.

Indonesia: American man gets jail time for blasphemy
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court has sentenced an American businessman to five months in jail for marching into a mosque during Islamic prayers and ripping cables from the loud speakers.

Gregory Lloyd Luke was found guilty of blasphemy.

Mohammad Bilal, an official at the Praya District Court on Lombok island, said the 64-year-old was given a relatively lenient sentence because he was apologetic and polite during the hearings.

Luke, himself a Muslim, has a lodge for tourists on Kuta beach.

He stormed into the nearby mosque during prayers on Aug. 26 and disabled the speakers, which he said were too noisy.

A mob attacked him and ransacked his house, causing an estimated $20,000 in damage.