National Roundup

Virginia

Police say man denies killing wife, her 3 kids

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) -- A Virginia man has denied any involvement in the slayings of his wife and her three children, whose bodies were found in their burned apartment, police said Sunday.

John Moses Ragin, 36, professed his innocence during interviews with Newport News police detectives who traveled to South Carolina, where he is being held, department spokesman Harold O. Eley said.

"Mr. Ragin denies any involvement whatsoever in their deaths," Eley said.

Newport News police want Ragin returned to Virginia to face nine charges, including four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Crystal Ragin and her children, Sierra, 15, Rasheed, 10, and Lakwan, 6.

All four were found in their Newport News apartment on Friday. Investigators found evidence of knife wounds and "exposure to fire," police said.

Ragin was taken into custody Saturday after he called detectives to say he was in Manning, S.C. A 5-year-old boy Ragin had with Crystal Ragin was taken to a relative's house in South Carolina.

Eley confirmed that Crystal Ragin was in the military and assigned to Fort Eustis.

Three Newport News detectives and a forensic technician traveled to South Carolina to interview Ragin, Eley said. He said a court date had not been set to determine if Ragin can be extradited to Virginia.

Citing court records, the Daily Press of Newport News reported Sunday that John Ragin was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1991 in Clarendon County, S.C. He is still on probation for that conviction, said Eley, who could not provide further details.

Outside the family's apartment this weekend, neighbors and colleagues from Fort Eustis created a memorial to Crystal Ragin and her children.

Eley said police are appealing for any leads in the case, particularly in the days leading to the killings. Anyone with information can call: 757-247-2500.

Mississippi

Former casino worker wins $587K in lawsuit

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A former Tunica casino employee said he was fired from his supervisory job because he is Jewish.

A federal jury agreed with him.

In U.S. District Court in Greenville, a jury awarded Marc Silverberg $578,000 last week in his discrimination lawsuit against Sam's Town Casino & Gambling Hall in Tunica.

However, casino officials say Silverberg wasn't terminated because of his ethnicity but rather for poor performance that didn't improve after he was placed on a performance improvement plan.

Silverberg was Sam's Town Casino's food and beverage director, supervising about 270 employees, from May 10, 2006, until Aug. 22, 2008, when he was fired.

The Clarion-Ledger reports Gary Friedman, lead attorney for Sam's Town, couldn't be reached for comment.

Kansas

Defense begins case in capital murder trial

LYNDON, Kan. (AP) -- A former co-worker of a man accused of killing four family members in Kansas says the suspect's work suffered as he went through a contentious divorce.

Defense attorneys for James Kraig Kahler called Michael Schmitz as their first witness Monday in Kahler's capital murder trial in Osage County District Court.

Schmitz was engineering manager for the Columbia, Mo., water and light department when Kahler was its director in 2008 and 2009. Kahler lost that job in 2009 amid his divorce and his wife's sexual relationship with another woman.

Kahler is accused of shooting his wife, their two teenage daughters and his wife's grandmother in November 2009 in the grandmother's home just outside Burlingame, about 20 miles south of Topeka.

Schmitz said Kahler was obsessed with saving his marriage.

Kentucky

Hearing set for woman accused of war crimes

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A Croatian woman who had been living in Kentucky and is fighting efforts to be sent to Bosnia to face war crimes has a new court date.

A judge in Lexington on Monday scheduled a final extradition hearing for Azra Basic (bah'-sich) for Nov. 7.

Basic is accused of murder and torture for crimes alleged to have taken place after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. More than 100,000 people were killed in the ethnic war that followed Yugoslavia's collapse.

She had been living for several years in Powell County in eastern Kentucky, where she worked at a nursing home and a nearby food factory, before her arrest in March.

Kentucky

State high court asked to review fetus death suit

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- The Kentucky Supreme Court is being asked to review a lawsuit seeking damages for the death of an early-term fetus in a car crash.

The lawsuit was brought by Thomas A. Stevens on behalf of his 24-year-old daughter Desiree Amber Stevens and her 14-week-old fetus, both of whom died in the 2008 crash.

The other driver and Stevens' insurance carrier, Progressive Direct, settled on behalf of Desiree Stevens, but refused to pay anything for the fetus.

Circuit Judge Thomas Jones ruled they didn't have to and last month the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling, according to The Courier-Journal.

Now, Thomas Stevens and his attorney, J.T. Gilbert, are asking the state Supreme Court to consider the suit.

Massachusetts

Judge rejects suppression bid in terror case

BOSTON (AP) -- A federal judge has rejected a request to suppress evidence against a Massachusetts man accused of providing support to al-Qaida.

Lawyers for Tarek Mehanna of Sudbury had asked U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole Jr. to review classified evidence gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to disclose the materials to the defense and to suppress the evidence.

O'Toole, in a ruling released Friday, denied the motion. He said authorities had followed the proper procedures for obtaining evidence under the act.

Prosecutors say Mehanna traveled to Yemen to seek training in a terrorist camp and supported terrorist groups by translating videos and textbooks intended to encourage Muslim holy war.

Mehanna's lawyers say his activities amounted to free speech protected by the First Amendment. He's scheduled for trial in October.

Published: Tue, Aug 23, 2011