National Roundup

 New Jersey

Man pleads guilty in alleged forced divorce ‘get’ ring 
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A Brooklyn man has admitted traveling to New Jersey to coerce a Jewish man to give his wife a religious divorce — called a “get” — through threats of violence.
The U.S. attorney’s office says David Hellman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Trenton.
Prosecutors say the 31-year-old personal trainer was part of a plot involving several men, including two rabbis, who arranged religious divorces through torture and kidnapping.
The men were arrested in October 2013 in an undercover operation. The sting involved an FBI agent posing as a woman trying to get a divorce, who contacted the rabbis. According to court filings, one rabbi spoke about forcing compliance through “tough guys.”
New Mexico
Teen indicted in his 12-year-old playmate’s killing 
LOS LUNAS, N.M. (AP) — A 15-year-old New Mexico teen accused of killing his 12-year-old playmate was indicted Thursday on a murder charge.
A Valencia County grand jury indicted the teen on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said last week that he intends to try the 15-year-old as an adult. But he said a judge would have the option of sentencing the teen as a youthful offender. That means the judge wouldn’t have to impose a maximum sentence if the boy is convicted.
An arrest warrant affidavit said the 15-year-old hit Alex Madrid, of Albuquerque, on the left side of his head, then placed him under a mattress in a rural field at Meadow Lake, an area about 40 miles south of Albuquerque.
The teen told investigators he hit Madrid in self-defense because Madrid tried to stab him with a screwdriver following an argument over the teen’s infant daughter, the affidavit said.
The 15-year-old’s baby girl is 4 months old, deputies said.
Sheriff Louis Burkhard said Madrid appears to have died from severe trauma.
The boy’s body was found last week in the field littered with trash and old tires in a rural, unincorporated area outside Los Lunas.
Under New Mexico law, the state can charge minors as adults only if they are at least 14. The AP typically doesn’t identify juveniles charged in crimes.
At a recent detention hearing, Cindy Mercer, the suspect’s attorney, denied the allegation that the teen killed the 12-year-old and suggested her client can’t comprehend what’s happening.
“Due to his low mental functioning, I don’t believe he understands the charges or his rights,” she said.
Court approves 2nd lawyer in Bulger’s appeal 
BOSTON (AP) — A federal judge has approved a second taxpayer-funded lawyer to help with convicted Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger’s (BUHL’-jurz) appeal.
The 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals approved a request Wednesday from Bulger’s lawyer, Henry Brennan, to hire James Budreau.
The Boston Globe reports that in granting permission to hire Budreau, Judge Juan R. Torruella cited the apparent difficulty of the appeal.
Bulger’s assets have been seized by the federal government, and a number of people whose relatives were killed by him have won multimillion-dollar judgments against him.
The 84-year-old Bulger was sentenced in November to two consecutive life sentences plus five years. A jury in August found him guilty in 11 of the 19 killings with which he was charged, along with dozens of other crimes.
Tests show man poisoned self after conviction 
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say tests show a Tuscaloosa man used strychnine to kill himself in court after being convicted of child sexual abuse.
The Tuscaloosa News reports state investigators ruled that 42-year-old William Thomas Moore Jr. committed suicide in August.
A toxicology report shows the man’s system contained strychnine, oxycodone and amphetamines.
Court workers in Tuscaloosa saw Moore put something in his mouth in the courtroom after jurors convicted him of sexually abusing a young girl on Aug. 12.
He had a seizure on the way to jail and died within an hour. Officials previously said Moore told jailers he had taken cyanide.
Moore faced as long as 20 years in prison. His family owns a pest control company, and strychnine is a poison sometimes used as a pesticide.
Pa. man settles lawsuit against Md. State Police 
BEL AIR, Md. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man has agreed to a $10,000 settlement of his lawsuit accusing Maryland State Police officers of roughing him up after he raced past a traffic stop on his motorcycle.
The Daily Record of Baltimore reported the settlement amount Thursday. Michael Bixler’s lawsuit had asked for $4 million. Bixler was charged with 10 traffic citations including driving while under the influence as a result of the 2009 incident in Harford County. He pleaded guilty to eluding and escaping police officers and was sentenced to a year in jail with 11 months suspended.
The Daily Record reports the settlement amount was not disclosed when it was approved in federal court in January. Maryland State Police provided the settlement amount to the paper on Thursday.
New York
Soldier pleads guilty in West Point videos case 
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) — An Army sergeant who had been accused of secretly photographing and videotaping at least a dozen women at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has pleaded guilty in a court martial.
Officials at Fort Drum in northern New York say Sgt. 1st Class Michael McClendon agreed to a plea bargain Wednesday that includes a 33-month sentence, loss of pay, a reduction in rank to private and a bad-conduct discharge.
McClendon was a combat engineer who joined the military in 1990. He was assigned in 2009 to the support staff at West Point, where he worked with cadets.
He was charged last year with dereliction of duty, mistreatment, entering a women’s bathroom without notice, and taking and possessing inappropriate photos and videos of women who were naked or in various states of undress.