National Roundup


Univ. professor suspended over silent protest 
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado university has suspended a religious studies professor whose silent protest against racial bias on campus led to complaints that he refused to speak during classes.
Naropa University professor Don Matthews says he launched the protest on the Boulder campus during his classes last week. He says he walked around with a piece of paper explaining his protest and later answered questions during the last 10 or 15 minutes of his classes to make sure students understood their assignments.
According to the Boulder Daily Camera, Naropa officials say the silent protest was unnecessary, and they acknowledged that the university has work to do on issues of diversity. School officials say they want to resolve the issues and they want Matthews to resume teaching next year.

New York
Cops: Man steals art from dead man, calls 911 
PUTNAM VALLEY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man who went to check on an acquaintance and found him dead at his home is accused of stealing some of the man’s artwork before calling 911.
State police say Hiram Noel Mendez of Cortlandt Manor found Ronald Cutrone dead at his Lake Peekskill home in July. They say Cutrone’s death isn’t considered suspicious, but the cause of death hasn’t been determined pending toxicology results.
Police say Cutrone was an artist and onetime assistant to Andy Warhol. His best-known pieces involve cartoon characters.
Authorities say a nearly five-month investigation found that Mendez left Cutrone’s home and then returned and stole several of Cutrone’s works before calling 911.
Police say only a fraction of the pieces has been recovered.
Mendez was arraigned Tuesday on burglary, petty larceny and other charges.
Sentence in teen’s fatal DWI wreck stirs ire 
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A North Texas teen from an affluent family was sentenced to probation this week after he killed four pedestrians when he lost control of his speeding pickup truck while driving drunk, a punishment that outraged the victims’ families and left prosecutors disappointed.
The 16-year-old boy was sentenced Tuesday in a Fort Worth juvenile court to 10 years of probation after he confessed to intoxication manslaughter in the June 15 crash on a dark rural road.
Prosecutors had sought the maximum 20 years in state custody for the Keller teen, but his attorneys appealed to state District Judge Jean Boyd that the teenager needed rehabilitation not prison, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
If the boy continues to be cushioned by his family’s wealth, another tragedy is inevitable, prosecutor Richard Alpert said in court.
“There can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here,” Alpert said.
Authorities said the teen and friends were seen on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a store. He had seven passengers in his Ford F-350, was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to testimony during the trial. His pickup truck slammed into the four pedestrians, killing Brian Jennings, a 43-year-old Burleson youth minister; Breanna Mitchell of Lillian, 24; Shelby Boyles, 21; and her 52-year-old mother, Hollie Boyles.
Boyd said the programs available in the Texas juvenile justice system may not provide the kind of intensive therapy the teen could receive at a rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif., that was suggested by his defense attorneys. The parents would pick up the tab for the center, at a cost of more than $450,000 a year for treatment.
Scott Brown, the boy’s lead defense attorney, said he could have been freed after two years if he had drawn the 20-year sentence.
But instead, the judge “fashioned a sentence that could have him under the thumb of the justice system for the next 10 years,” he told the Star-Telegram.
Relatives of those killed in the accident drew little comfort from that assurance.
Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter, said the family’s wealth helped the teen avoid incarceration.
“Money always seems to keep you out of trouble,” Boyles said. “Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If you had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different.”
Shaunna Jennings, the minister’s widow, said her family had forgiven the teen but believed a sterner punishment was needed.
“You lived a life of privilege and entitlement, and my prayer is that it does not get you out of this,” she said. “My fear is that it will get you out of this.”
A psychologist called as an expert defense witness said the boy suffered from “affluenza,” growing up in a house where the parents were preoccupied with arguments that led to a divorce.
The father “does not have relationships, he takes hostages,” psychologist Gary Miller said, and the mother was indulgent. “Her mantra was that if it feels good, do it,” he said.
Judges receive more options for treatment orders
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Probate court judges would be given the authority to order outpatient treatment for people struggling with mental illness under a bill approved by the Ohio House.
Judges say the bill, which passed 87-6 on Wednesday, would give them options other than committing a person to a mental hospital. It now goes to the Senate.
Terry Russell, head of the National Alliance for Mental Illness Ohio, said it’s a major step for the state. He said the bill would save lives by giving judges more clout to “help people who need help, but don’t get help.”
“This is for people who are seen repeatedly in front of a judge and their illness is so severe they can’t stay out of harm’s way,” Russell said. “We’ve had so many catastrophes around the country where people resist treatment.”
Russell said the bill would allow judges to place people in the “least restrictive environment,” which is outpatient treatment. Commitment to a state hospital is far more restrictive and more expensive to taxpayers, he said.
Opponents claim the bill would strip mentally ill people of their civil liberties by allowing family members to force them to get treatment, whether or not they want or need it.
Linda Hutchison of Columbus testified in favor of the bill at House hearings. Her 45-year-old son Joey, who was bipolar, died Jan. 16, 2008, when he left home without warning, got into an accident, then ran into traffic on Interstate 270.