National Roundup

Church shooting lawsuits against Air Force ­combined

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) - A federal judge will consolidate all federal lawsuits against the U.S. Air Force over the Texas church shooting that killed more than two dozen worshippers.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra announced Wednesday that the lawsuits will be consolidated and handled by U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez. Four lawsuits have been filed so far by victims or their relatives, but more are expected.

The lawsuits allege the Air Force was negligent for failing to report the convictions of gunman Devin Kelley, who opened fire Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Kelley's convictions would've prevented him from buying guns.

Ezra says the consolidation will be similar to a mass tort case. He says the court has sympathy for the victims and there's no reason to spread out the cases.

Reynolds' missed judge ­appointment deadline raises question

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Kim Reynolds failed to document the appointment of a district court judge by a mandated deadline in June and some attorneys are saying it's a slipup that has cast doubt on the judge's authority to make rulings.

Under the Iowa Constitution, Reynolds had until June 21 to pick a judge for the eastern Iowa 6th Judicial District from two names submitted by a judicial nominating commission.

She says she told her chief of staff she'd chosen attorney Jason Besler that day but there is no proof and Besler wasn't called until four days later. Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady says he takes her word that she made the verbal appointment.

Guy Cook, an attorney who served on a state judicial nominating commission, says Besler's appointment could create problems if someone who appears before him challenges his authority.

Gary Dickey, an Iowa lawyer who served as former Gov. Tom Vilsack's chief attorney, says he plans to ask Cady to ratify the appointment to avoid such a challenge.

Court to ­consider if sex offendercan be alone with own kids

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether a convicted sex offender can spend time alone with his own children.

The Courier Journal reports that 33-year-old Ryan Scott Stone pleaded guilty to third-degree sodomy of a juvenile male relative in 2007.

In 2015, the state learned that Stone was married with two children, who are now 3 and 6. The state won an order from a family court judge barring Stone from being alone with his kids, but a Court of Appeals unanimously reversed that, saying that ruling infringed on his constitutional right to raise a family.

Prosecutor Brian Thomas says children have a "fundamental right to be free from sexual exploitation." But the Court of Appeals said the state had failed to show the children were at risk.

Man accused of threatening judge found unfit for trial

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A Casper man accused of taking a person hostage at knifepoint and threatening to kill a federal judge has been found not competent to stand trial.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports a federal court ordered last week for David Chavis to be hospitalized to establish if his competency can be restored.

Chavis was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault and possession of a deadly weapon after authorities say he held a Casper office worker hostage in August 2016 while trying to obtain government documents.

He was charged with mailing threatening communications after authorities say he sent a letter to a federal judge in December while he was incarcerated.

Multiple mental health evaluations have been ordered for Chavis. The results have been discussed publicly.

Woman wins $2.75 million award after house burned in arson

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A jury has awarded a Columbia woman more than $2.75 million for injuries and losses she suffered during an arson fire at her home.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports when the lawsuit went to trial this month, Circuit Judge Robert Koffman had already determined that Mehrad Fotoohighiam, president of Electenergy Technologies, was responsible for the December 2014 fire that injured Marcia Green. Green escaped the fire through a window.

Authorities allege Fotoohighiam and Green were feuding because he wanted to buy the land where her trailer was located.

Fotoohighiam is awaiting trial for first-degree arson. He's also charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Prosecutors allege he offered to pay at least three different inmates to abduct and murder his ex-wife, the judge and prosecutors assigned to his case.

New York
Kingpin who ­trafficked cocaine ­sentenced to life in prison

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - Officials say an upstate New York drug kingpin convicted of operating a nationwide cocaine trafficking ring has been sentenced to life in prison.

Federal prosecutors in Rochester say 63-year-old Colin Montague was convicted in June following a seven-week trial. Montague was convicted of multiple charges, including operating a continuing criminal enterprise, drug conspiracy and money laundering.

The judge also ordered a $10 million money judgment against Montague. Prosecutors say the resident of the town of Greece operated a criminal organization stretching to states as far away as Nevada, Arizona and California.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Rochester Police Department uncovered Montague's organization during a wiretap investigation.

Published: Fri, Sep 21, 2018