National Roundup

Man who killed 11 women, dies in prison at 61

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio man sentenced to death for killing 11 women and hiding their remains in and around his home has died in prison.

Convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell, 61, was receiving end-of-life care at Franklin Medical Center for a terminal illness when he died Monday, the Ohio Department of Corrections said. The death was not related to COVID-19, the department said.

Cleveland police were investigating a rape case in October 2009 when they searched Sowell’s house and discovered two bodies. They eventually uncovered the remains of 11 women.

Sowell was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to die for killing the women. He was also convicted of raping two other women and attempting to rape another.

He continued to appeal his case. As recently as May, a three-judge panel with the 8th District Court of Appeals unanimously held that Sowell failed to present enough evidence that he did not receive a fair trial and that his trial attorneys ineffectively represented him during the penalty phase. The panel also upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed Sowell’s petition for post-conviction relief.

Settlement near in case of pot suspect killed by state dozer

The estate of a man who was run over by a bulldozer while being chased by Pennsylvania State Police for illegally growing a handful of pot plants is nearing settlement of its federal wrongful death lawsuit against the state.

Gregory Longenecker, a 51-year-old short-order cook and Grateful Dead fan, had fled into thick brush after being caught growing 10 marijuana plants on public land near Reading. His body was found under the treads of a Pennsylvania Game Commission bulldozer that state police had commandeered in pursuit.

The suit by Longenecker’s family contended that state police and the game commission took “crazy and lethal action” against an unarmed man who posed no threat, then destroyed or withheld evidence to cover it up.
A federal judge overseeing the case has scheduled a settlement conference for next month. The hearing will review “the settlement of the wrongful death ... and allocation of settlement proceeds,” according to a Feb. 4 order by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl.

The filing does not include any details about the pending settlement, including the amount to be paid. The state attorney general’s office, which is representing both agencies in court, confirmed Monday that state police and the game commission have reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiff.

The family’s lawyer, Jordan Strokovsky, declined comment on the settlement but said: “We performed a very thorough investigation and the family is pleased with our findings.”

The July 2018 chase developed as Longenecker and his friend tended their pot plants in a small clearing on state game lands. A game commission worker, operating a bulldozer in the area, spotted their car parked in a field where vehicles weren’t allowed and called police.

The friend surrendered, but Longenecker fled, disappearing into the thick vegetation.

State police began a search, and a state police helicopter pilot, hovering overhead, spotted Longenecker in the underbrush. The suit said that state police Cpl. Michael Taylor asked the bulldozer’s operator, Mark Weiss, if he could climb aboard and blaze a trail in Longenecker’s direction. The pair set off on a “machine of death,” the suited said.

A prosecutor who investigated Longenecker’s death concluded that troopers acted reasonably. Authorities have publicly contended that Longenecker was high on methamphetamine, crawled under the back of the bulldozer when it stopped briefly, and was crushed to death when it started moving again and made a left turn.

The lawsuit called that explanation ludicrous, and witness statements cast doubt on the official version of how he got caught under the machine. The chopper pilot said he had Longenecker in view the entire time, noting in his deposition “that it would be impossible for Mr. Longenecker to crawl under the back of the bulldozer before the bulldozer turned left,” the lawsuit said.

The pilot also told authorities that the bulldozer appeared to be “coming in blind” and that he had tried to tell its operator to stop, but his radio wasn’t working, the lawsuit said.

Longenecker’s family asked why state police didn’t simply get a warrant for Longenecker and arrest him later, given they knew his identity and that his crime was relatively minor. An expert in police tactics also questioned why police would use a bulldozer to chase him.

Both sides recently agreed to dismiss Weiss and Taylor from the lawsuit, leaving the state agencies as defendants. Neither agency had any comment Monday.

Army major gets 30 years on child porn charge

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — An Army officer in Georgia who held a top-secret security clearance has been sentenced to serve three decades in federal prison for producing child pornography, authorities said Monday.

A federal judge sentenced 41-year-old Jason Michael Musgrove to serve 30 years after he pleaded guilty to production of child pornography, U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine said in a news release. Musgrove must also pay $9,000 in restitution to the victims and register as a sex offender.

“The disturbing and despicable nature of such predators only increases their danger to the community, and Musgrove’s long sentence immediately makes the community safer,” Christine said in the release.

When Musgrove was arrested in December 2019, he was a U.S. Army major assigned to the Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon in Augusta, where he worked as an integrated threats operations officer with a top-secret security clearance.

The news release says Musgrove faces administrative separation from the Army, which essentially means he’s being fired.

Musgrove admitted to producing and attempting to share child pornography online, and his actions were uncovered by the FBI, the release said.

“It is beyond comprehension that someone in a position sworn to protect American citizens would take advantage and traumatize vulnerable children,” Special Agent Chris Hacker, who heads the FBI in Atlanta, said in the release. “The FBI is committed to protecting our children by identifying and apprehending predators who commit such abhorrent crimes.”