Court Digest

Teenager pleads guilty to slaying airman in 2018

BENTON, La. (AP) — A 19-year-old has pleaded guilty to shooting a Louisiana airman to death during a botched car burglary more than two years ago.

Jareona Crosby entered the plea to second-degree murder Tuesday in Bossier District Court in the slaying of Joshua Kidd, a 30-year-old technical sergeant at Barksdale Air Force Base, news outlets reported.

Crosby was 17 at the time of the September 2018 shooting. She and Alonzo Wilson, a co-defendant who was 15 at the time, were accused of entering Kidd's garage and getting into a car, according to authorities. Kidd confronted the two and chased them as they ran from his home, prosecutors said.

Crosby, who was armed, turned and fatally shot him during the pursuit, Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jacobs said.

Wilson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2019 and was sentenced as an adult to 50 years without the possibility of parole.

Crosby was expected to be sentenced to life in prison on Dec. 15.

South Carolina
Deputy coroner and woman arrested for man’s murder

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina deputy coroner and a second person are accused of murder in the October disappearance of an Horry County man.

Christopher Allen Dontell was fired Monday from his job as a deputy coroner, reports The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, The 37-year-old Conway man was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder, as was 35-year-old Meagan Marie Jackson.

They're charged with murder in the death of Gregory Vincent Rice, who went missing on Oct. 2 near Myrtle Beach. Officers used dogs to search and used search warrants to try and find Rice. His body was found Sunday in a location that police have not disclosed.

Police haven't said why Dontell and Jackson are suspects or how Rice may have been killed. Rice's brother told WMBF-TV that Jackson had been in a relationship with Rice since 2006 and the couple had four children together, moving to South Carolina in 2013.

Dontell has been under suspicion for weeks. Horry County Coroner Robert Edge said in a statement Wednesday that Horry County police told the coroner's office that Dontell would be questioned and the office gave police permission to examine Dontell's county phone and vehicle then. By Oct. 23, police told Dontell he was formally under investigation and Dontell was suspended from the coroner's office.

Dontell and Jackson remain jailed without bail, with a hearing before a judge likely on Thursday. It's unclear if either have a lawyer representing them. Police said the investigation into Rice's death continues and additional charges are likely.

Mom seeks new trial in child's murder that prompted reforms

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A woman who was convicted of murdering her 10-year-old daughter has appealed to Maine's highest court to request a new trial, claiming that she was abused by her former husband.

Attorneys for Sharon Kennedy, 35, argue in the appeal to Maine's Supreme Judicial Court that she was a victim of abuse by her former husband, Julio Carrillo, and as such could not have acted as an accomplice when she participated in the abuse of her daughter, Marissa Kennedy, the Bangor Daily News reported Thursday.

They also argue the Superior Court judge who heard Sharon Kennedy's case should have suppressed the confession she gave to police saying it was involuntary.

Kennedy was convicted in February in the 2018 murder of her daughter and sentenced to 48 years in prison. The death was one of two murders that exposed gaps in Maine's child welfare system and led to widespread reforms in the way the state seeks to protect vulnerable children.

Carrillo pleaded guilty to murder and is serving a 55-year sentence.

Justices on the Supreme Judicial Court will hear Kennedy's appeal Tuesday, the newspaper reported. There is no deadline for them to decide.

Court rules that city not covered by new victims' rights law

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Public entities such as police departments are not eligible for victims' rights compensation as if they were individuals, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a decision focused on a new Ohio law.

The issue before the high court involved the interpretation of a constitutional amendment known as Marsy's Law approved in 2017.

Among other changes to state law, the amendment expanded the definition of victim to someone "directly or proximately" harmed by a crime.

Attorneys for the Centerville Police Department near Dayton argued the agency was due $1,375 in compensation for overtime worked by officers who responded to an April 2018 false report of an active shooter. The man accused of placing the false 911 call was convicted of making a false report and improper use of a 911 system.

Attorneys for the man argued a municipality is not a person under the Ohio Constitution and therefore not eligible for financial restitution.

Nothing in Marsy's Law suggests that those who voted for it intended for a municipal corporation to qualify as a victim, said Justice Judi French.

Lawsuit: Former officer sexually assaulted woman

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Louisville police officer who faces criminal charges in the Breonna Taylor raid is being sued by a woman who claims he sexually assaulted her.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Louisville alleged former officer Brett Hankison was working as a security officer in 2018 at a Louisville bar when he gave a woman a ride home and later sexually assaulted her.

Hankison was the only officer charged  by a grand jury in September for firing shots that went into an apartment adjacent to Taylor's unit. Taylor was shot to death by two Louisville officers during the March 13 narcotics raid. Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment; the other officers were not charged. He was fired  by the department in June for his conduct during the raid.

The lawsuit said Hankison, 44, "used his police uniform and secondary night club employment as mechanisms to prey on innocent women." It was filed by Margo Borders, who cited anonymous accounts from other women alleging Hankison had a pattern of giving women rides home from a bar in his police cruiser.

The suit also names the bar, Tin Roof, along with former Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad and other officials in the department. Hankison was employed by the bar for about five years, ending in 2018, according to the suit.

The Associated Press generally doesn't name victims of sexual assault, but in this case Borders has agreed to be named. Borders had gone public with the allegations in a social media post earlier this year.

Borders said the two met in 2017 when she was 22, and had a mutual friend. On the night of the incident in April 2018, the lawsuit said, Borders was intoxicated and Hankison offered her a ride home. When they arrived at her apartment, Hankison "invited himself inside," but Borders was tired and went to bed in her room. While she was "unconscious," Hankison went into the room and "violently" sexually assaulted her, according to the suit. The next morning, he messaged her to "suggest that the two had engaged in consensual relations," the suit said.

Stew Mathews, an attorney for Hankison in his criminal case, said Wednesday that he wasn't representing Hankison in the lawsuit and had only just heard about it.

Tin Roof said the allegations against Hankison were "reprehensible" and that the bar had terminated its relationship with him in the spring.

"Our company does not tolerate the abuse of power or discrimination in any form," Tin Roof's statement said.

Louisville police said they were investigating the allegations after Borders' social media post in June. Hankison has not been charged with anything in connection with the allegations.

Judge changes course, opts to keep ex-mayor's bribery case

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge who last week recused herself from the bribery case of a former northwestern Indiana mayor has changed course and will preside over the man's retrial after all.

U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Springmann on Tuesday vacated the recusal order she had issued last Friday in the case involving former Portage Mayor James Snyder, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

Springmann, whose court is in Hammond, did not explain her decision to keep the case, but she scheduled a telephone status hearing for Friday afternoon.

On Nov. 2, Springmann scheduled Dec. 7 as the start for Snyder's retrial  on a soliciting bribes charge which alleges that he solicited a bribe from two local businessmen. Four days later, she issued her now-vacated recusal order.

Court record show that Snyder's new bribery trial is still slated to begin Dec. 7.

A federal jury convicted Snyder in February 2019 of bribery and federal tax violations, but the bribery verdict was later overturned. Another judge ruled that Snyder deserved a new trial because he was denied the chance of calling brothers Bob and Steve Buha to testify that they didn't bribe him.

Last month, Springmann decided that Snyder must face a new jury on the bribery charge, overruling defense arguments that a second trial was barred by the constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

Prosecutors allege Snyder corruptly steered $1.125 million in contracts for the city of Portage to buy garbage trucks from a Portage trucking company in 2013, when the Buha brothers were its owners.

The government alleges Snyder solicited and received a $13,000 bribe from the brothers a few weeks later.

Snyder has pleaded not guilty

State to seek death for man accused of killing teen boys
MELROSE, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty in the case of a 30-year-old Florida man accused of killing two teenage brothers in their home over the summer.
Officials filed a request notifying the court that they plan to pursue the death penalty against Mark Wilson Jr. after a grand jury indicted him Oct. 20 on two counts of first-degree murder, the Gainesville Sun reported.
Wilson is accused of using a hammer and knife to kill 14-year-old Tayten Baker and 12-year-old Robert Baker in their home in August. The teens' family had recently moved to Melrose, in north Florida, from Polk County.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza said his office consulted with the boys' family prior to making the decision to seek death for Wilson, the newspaper reported.
Wilson remains in the Putnam County Jail. Rosemarie Peoples, a public defender who represents Wilson, declined comment on the case, the Sun reported.
The boys' mother found their bodies on Aug. 26. Wilson was arrested about two days later.
Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach said the scene was one of the most "horrific" he had ever witnessed.
Wilson was the boyfriend of the boy's aunt, and the family had allowed them to live in a shed in their backyard, officials said.

Verdict this week for man accused of killing grandmother
ONAWA, Iowa (AP) — A judge in western Iowa is expected to announce a verdict Friday in the case of a man accused of killing his grandmother in 2018.
Eliot Stowe, 22, is charged with first-degree murder for the beating death of 66-year-old Cheryl Stowe at her rural home in Castana in June 2018. Stowe waived his right to a jury trial, so a judge heard evidence during a four-day trial in August, the Sioux City Journal reported.
If found guilty, Stowe would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Cheryl Stowe's body was found wrapped in a rug and duct tape at the edge of a cornfield near her home on June 27, 2018, a day after her supervisor had asked authorities to check on her.
Prosecutors say Eliot Stowe had beaten her with a baseball bat. Eliot Stowe's defense team has argued that he suffers from schizophrenia and that he's not guilty by reason of insanity.