National Roundup

Lawyer: Virus is halting progress in Boston kidnapping case

BOSTON (AP) — The case against a Rhode Island man accused of kidnapping and killing a Boston woman has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to his defense.

Louis Coleman's public defenders requested for the case to return in 45 days during a teleconference with a federal judge Tuesday.

"Since the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of our work in the case has stalled," Jane Peachy, a lawyer for Coleman, told District Court Judge M. Page Kelley. "Most importantly, our ability to visit with Mr. Coleman in the jail has been put on hold," which "hampers our progress significantly."

Coleman, who faces the death penalty, was charged with kidnapping Jassy Correia, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, from outside a Boston nightclub where she had been celebrating her 23rd birthday in February 2019. He  pleaded not guilty a month later.

Federal authorities allege Coleman was captured on surveillance video carrying her body into his Providence apartment.

Coleman was  stopped in Delaware days after Correia's disappearance. Her body was found in the trunk of his car by authorities.

Peachy asked that the status conference in the case be continued 45 days to July 7, a request the judge approved.

Prosecutors in the case did not oppose the request.

Coleman is charged with kidnapping resulting in death. He has been held without bail.

Environmentalists lose bid to halt uranium mine

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled against environmental groups and a tribe in their bid to keep a uranium mine south of the Grand Canyon from operating.

The Canyon Mine near the national park's South Rim entrance has been on standby for nearly 20 years. The company that owns it, Energy Fuels Resources, is waiting for uranium prices to rebound before opening it.

Still, environmental groups and the Havasupai Tribe sought to prevent that from happening. They sued the U.S. Forest Service, arguing the agency failed to consider the environmental and cultural costs of extracting uranium ore when it reviewed the company's mining claims.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell in Arizona said those costs would have been minimal, considering the Forest Service projected Canyon Mine's profits at a conservative $29 million.

"A drop in profits is not enough to defeat valid existing rights if the mine remains profitable," Campbell wrote in a ruling last week.

The environmental groups said Wednesday that they are reviewing the decision and evaluating whether to appeal.

"Canyon Mine should not have been allowed to go forward," said Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter. "We do know that. The risks are significant and the benefits negligible."

Energy Fuels is among the companies pushing for intervention from the federal government to rescue U.S. uranium mining in a tough global marketplace. Company spokesman Curtis Moore said Wednesday that Energy Fuels is actively maintaining the site.

"Energy Fuels will continue to operate the mine responsibly, and we are confident the court's decision will withstand any further appeals," he said.

The Canyon Mine lies within a roughly 1,562 square-mile area that was placed off-limits to new mining claims in the Obama administration. The moratorium outside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park runs until 2032 but doesn't prevent uranium companies with grandfathered claims from developing them.

The Forest Service concluded in 2012 that Energy Fuels has a valid, existing right to mine near Tusayan. The Grand Canyon Trust, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Havasupai Tribe sued the following year.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived a single claim from the lawsuit in 2018 and sent it back to the lower court for a decision on the merits.

Convictions, death penalty overturned in bar slayings

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge has overturned the murder convictions of a man sentenced to death in the shooting deaths of two other men in a bar in Pennsylvania's capital city almost two decades ago. reports that U.S. Middle District Chief Judge Christopher Conner ruled Wednesday that now-48-year-old Samuel Randolph IV was unfairly denied the right to be represented by the attorney of his choice when a county judge refused to delay his 2003 trial so his new attorney could prepare for the case.

After being represented at trial by an appointed attorney with whom he was at odds, Randolph represented himself during the penalty phase, presented no arguments and was sentenced to death, the judge said. Conner cited the two possible death penalties and found not "a single countervailing reason" for denial of a delay in the trial.

Dauphin County prosecutors alleged that Randolph was the masked man who killed Thomas Easter and Anthony Burton and wounded five others at Todd and Pat's Bar in Harrisburg on Sept. 19, 2001.
Investigators alleged that he had twice before tried to kill the victims following a fight involving the three 18 days earlier at another bar.

Randolph repeatedly proclaimed his innocence but said as he was sentenced to death in 2003 that he had discovered Jesus in prison and knew that God would deliver him.

Conner gave prosecutors 90 days to determine whether to retry Randolph. District Attorney Fran Chardo said he is still reviewing Conner's decision, which could be appealed to the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals.

2 Cook County judges test positive for coronavirus

CHICAGO (AP) — In a news release on Thursday morning, the office of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced that two judges in the courthouse in suburban Bridgeview tested positive for COVID-19. The release did not provide any details about the judges or their conditions.

According to the release, an employee of the adult probation department also tested positive, bringing to 39 the number of county court employees who have tested positive. The release also said that another resident of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center has also tested positive, bringing the number of residents to test positive to 15.

The county's criminal justice system has been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly the County Jail where hundreds of detainees and correctional officers have tested positive and seven detainees and two correctional officers have died.

At the Chicago Police Department, 521 sworn officers and 30 civilian employees have tested positive for the virus, and three officers who tested positive have died, according to the most recent department statistics.