National Roundup

Slain woman became anti-violence activist after sister died

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A woman who was found slain along with her young daughter last week had become an anti-domestic violence activist after her sister was killed four years ago, and authorities allege both women were killed by their boyfriends.

Chaquinequea Brodie and her 9-year-old daughter were found dead Friday in their Waterbury apartment. Brodie’s 2-year-old daughter was found physically uninjured at the scene.

Brodie’s boyfriend, Anthony Rutherford, was arraigned on murder and other charges Monday during an emotional hearing in Waterbury Superior Court. Shouting erupted, and a woman passed out and was treated by paramedics.

A judge set Rutherford’s bail at $5.25 million and continued the case to Sept. 27.

Brodie’s sister was Alyssiah Wiley, an Eastern Connecticut State University student whose dismembered body was found in Trumbull in 2013. Wiley’s boyfriend, Jermaine Richards, is facing a third trial on a murder charge, after the first two ended with deadlocked juries.

After Wiley was killed, Brodie and her mother, Corrinna Martin, of West Haven, started Mothers of Victim’s Equality, a group that educates about dating and domestic violence.

Martin wrote about losing a second daughter in a posting on the group’s website and said her faith in God has not been shaken.

“The hardest thing for me as a parent to do is continue living on after suffering the brutally heinous lost of my baby ... so I thought,” she wrote. “I know now that THE HARDEST THING is to continue to live on after suffering the brutally heinous lost of two more of my babies.

“I beg all of you to make things right with one another because life is way to short to continue to live it with hatred, malice and loathe in your heart and especially towards your family,” she wrote.

Police have not disclosed what led to Friday’s homicides or how the victims were killed. Authorities, however, charged Rutherford with gun crimes and said he had a handgun on him when he was arrested.

No one answered the phone at the public defender’s office, which is representing Rutherford.

State’s attorney Maureen Platt declined to comment on the case.

Judge denies witness chance to view eclipse

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge in Florida ruled a trial couldn’t be postponed just because one of the key witnesses — a federal agent — had travel plans to see the solar eclipse.

In a droll, three-page ruling issued Friday, Judge Steven Merryday denied the motion filed by an assistant U.S. attorney.

Recalling popular dialogue from the TV classic Star Trek, the judge wrote that the prosecutor “boldly moves (where no AUSA has moved before).”

“The solar eclipse is no longer mysterious, supernatural, foreboding or ominous,” wrote Merryday. “An eclipse is just another astral event, precisely predictable since the day the Babylonians discovered the governing formula.”

Prosecutors wanted Monday’s trial postponed because an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent had booked a trip to see the eclipse on a day when defendant Joseph Bishop was to stand trial for unlawfully transporting firearms.

Merryday chalked it up to a “cruel fate” that allowed the trial and the eclipse to happen on the same day. The prosecutor’s motion “proposes to subordinate the time and resources of the court, of the opposing counsel, of the witnesses and of the jurors to one person’s aspiration to view a ‘total’ solar eclipse for no more than two minutes and forty-two seconds.”

A large chunk of the ruling cited lyrics from singer Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” which contains a line about flying to witness an eclipse.

The judge also quoted from the poet Wordsworth, name-checked Greek historian Herodotus, and referenced a Russian opera.

Appeals court revives suit over U.S. military base

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit that seeks to block construction of a U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan.

The suit by the Center for Biological Diversity argues that U.S. officials failed to adequately consider the base’s effects on the Okinawa dugong, an endangered marine mammal that resembles a manatee.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the center had authority to challenge the government’s evaluation of the impact on the dugong. A three-judge panel of the court also said the center’s request for an injunction blocking the project did not raise political questions that were beyond judicial review.

The 9th Circuit sent the case back to a district court for further proceedings.

Emails to the defense and justice departments were not immediately returned.

Remains of woman convicted in collar-bomb killing sought

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A man claiming to be the common-law husband of a woman convicted in a bizarre Pennsylvania bank robbery plot that killed a pizza delivery driver with a bomb locked to his neck wants federal prison officials to confirm her death and to release her remains.

The Bureau of Prisons has said 68-year-old Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong died April 4 of natural causes at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell, a medical facility for females in Texas.

Diehl-Armstrong was serving life plus 30 years in the 2003 Erie bank robbery plot that ended with the death of 46-year-old pizza deliveryman Brian Wells. He had been forced to rob a bank while wearing the metal collar bomb that exploded afterward as he sat, handcuffed, in a parking lot while police and the FBI waited for a bomb squad.

Mark Marvin, of Walden, New York, told the Erie Times-News on Monday that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons hasn’t cooperated with helping him locate Diehl-Armstrong’s remains — or even confirming to his satisfaction that she’s dead.

If she is indeed dead, he wants to move her remains to a Quaker cemetery near Poughkeepsie, New York.

Marvin said he met Diehl-Armstrong by mail while he was corresponding with her fellow inmates and helping them with legal issues, though he’s not an attorney.

Wells’ death remained a mystery until Diehl-Armstrong and her fishing buddy Kenneth Barnes were indicted in 2007 on charges they concocted the plot along with her ex-boyfriend William Rothstein, who by then had died of cancer.

Barnes later pleaded guilty and testified against Diehl-Armstrong. Federal prosecutors said Rothstein, a retired high school shop teacher, made the bomb collar using two egg timers provided by Diehl-Armstrong. They said he ordered the pizzas that lured Wells to a dead-end road where Wells was fitted with the device and given handwritten instructions on how to rob the bank and disarm the bomb.