Court Digest

North Carolina
School psychologist charged with sex crime aginst minor

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A psychologist for a North Carolina school district has been charged with sexually exploiting a minor, according to authorities.

Chris Reid, 69, a Buncombe County Schools worker, was charged Thursday with one count of the felony, the county sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Sheriff’s officials said Reid was taken into custody after investigators seized phones, computers and other electronic devices from his home while executing a search warrant. Additional charges could come after the State Bureau of Investigation performs a forensic examination of the devices, the sheriff’s office said.

The agency did not comment further on the alleged crimes.

Reid had been a psychologist with the system since August 2017, according to a statement from district spokeswoman Stacia Harris.

Harris called the news “shocking” for the school system and said Reid was suspended pending an internal investigation.

Reid was being held in jail on a $15,000 bond, according to officials. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could comment for him.

Charges filed against man accused in stabbing

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — A man accused of stabbing a woman at least 38 times resulting in her death is facing a homicide charge, among other counts in Marathon County Circuit Court.

A criminal complaint has been filed against 43-year-old David Morris in the April 23 death of 52-year-old Renee Caird. The Weston man was shot and wounded by police who responded to Caird’s call for help, the state Department of Justice said.

Morris is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, false imprisonment, obstructing an officer and two counts of recklessly endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon, the Wausau Daily Herald reported.

When officers arrived at a Weston apartment, Morris said Caird was with him, but that nothing was wrong, the complaint said. Police tried to force open the apartment door when they heard Caird scream, but were unable to gain access.

They radioed for a sledgehammer, used it make a hole in the door and saw Morris was armed with a large kitchen knife and that Caird was on the floor with what appeared to be stab wounds, according to prosecutors.

Police used the sledgehammer to break the door open. Morris ran out of the apartment directly toward two officers with the knife raised and the blade pointing at one of the officers, according to the complaint.

DOJ says three officers were involved in the shooting of Morris. He was taken to a Wausau area hospital.

Judge won’t disqualify Las Vegas DA in Nevada execution case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A state court judge said Friday he won’t disqualify the district attorney in Las Vegas from handling a bid to set the execution date for a convicted Nevada mass murderer.

A defense attorney for condemned inmate Zane Michael Floyd said they will appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

A day after Gov. Steve Sisolak and the top Democrat in the Legislature declared efforts to repeal the state’s death penalty law dead, Clark County District Court Judge Michael Villani also pushed back to June 4 his hearing of the district attorney’s request to set a late July date for Floyd’s lethal injection.

Floyd, 45, would be the first convicted killer put to death in Nevada since 2006.

An appeal by his attorneys, deputy federal public defenders David Anthony and Brad Levenson, could slow the pace of Floyd’s legal fights against his death sentence in state and federal courts.

U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II has said he might stop the proceedings in federal court long enough to review the constitutionality of Nevada’s untested lethal injection method and the as-yet-undisclosed drugs prison officials would use. Boulware will hear more about Floyd’s case next Thursday.

Before Villani on Friday, Anthony and Levenson accused Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson of scheduling his request for a judge to issue Floyd’s death warrant for political reasons — to influence the death penalty debate in the Legislature.

They asked the court to appoint a third-party prosecutor instead.

Alexander Chen, the chief deputy district attorney handling the Floyd case, said state law requires the district attorney or the state attorney general’s office to handle death penalty applications.

Levenson accused Wolfson, who favors the death penalty, of pressuring Democrats in the state Legislature — including two of Wolfson’s prosecutorial deputies, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Melanie Scheible — to scuttle the death penalty repeal bill.

Wolfson, Cannizzaro and Scheible did not immediately respond Friday to messages seeking comment.

Sisolak, a Democrat, said Thursday he believes capital punishment should be used only in “severe situations.”

Floyd, 45, was sentenced in 2000 to die for the shotgun killings of four people and the wounding of a fifth at a Las Vegas supermarket in 1999.

Levenson told Villani the repeal bill passed the state Assembly but never got a Senate hearing. He accused the Senate leaders who work for Wolfson, Cannizzaro and Scheible, of being “two people who stood in the way.” He suggested their non-Legislature jobs were on the line.

“If they didn’t do what they were supposed to do, would they be invited back?” he asked.

The judge issued a written finding to the court record saying he was satisfied that Cannizzaro and Scheible were on leaves of absence from Wolfson’s office and that while serving in the Legislature they were “not under the control of” Wolfson.

“The court finds that under the present scenario there is not a separation of powers violation,” he said.

Levenson read into the court record a quote Wolfson provided to the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a March 26 report about his call to execute Floyd.

“I think the timing is good,” Wolfson said. “Our legislative leaders should recognize that there are some people who commit such heinous acts, whether it be the particular type of murder or the number of people killed, that this community has long felt should receive the death penalty.”

“We would be moving forward with the Zane Floyd efforts at obtaining the order and warrant of execution notwithstanding the Legislature,” Wolfson said at the time. “I’m not purposefully moving forward with Floyd because of the Legislature. But because they’re occurring at the same time, I want our lawmakers to have their eyes wide open because this is a landmark case. They need to be aware that there are these kinds of people out there where the jury has spoken loudly and clearly.”

Levenson told Villani that Nevada residents and his client “deserve the assurance that the lawyers representing the state who are seeking Mr. Floyd’s execution ... are doing so fairly and not to further an agenda to manipulate the other branches of government.”

Prosecutors ask to drop most charges in doctor rape case

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — State prosecutors on Friday asked a judge to dismiss most sex crime charges filed against a reality TV doctor and his girlfriend, who are accused of drugging and raping several women at their Southern California home.

The attorney general’s office, which took over the case from the Orange County district attorney’s office last year, filed a motion asking for dismissal of 10 charges involving six of the seven alleged victims.

“We have no reason to believe that any of these victims are being untruthful,” but a review found that some allegations couldn’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor said.

The motion said a review found that some allegations couldn’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven D. Bromberg asked the state to file a brief with more information before he rules on the motion, which could happen next month.

Noting twists and turns in the case, Bromberg said it is “becoming the never-ending story.”

Dr. Grant Robicheaux, a surgeon who previously appeared on a Bravo TV show called “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male,” was charged in 2018 with in connection with seven victims, and Cerissa Riley was charged in connection with five. At the time, authorities said the pair plied their victims with drugs and sexually assaulted them when they were incapable of resisting.

Robicheaux, 40, and Riley, 33, have pleaded not guilty, saying the sex was consensual.

If the charges are dropped, the case would be pared down to allegations that Robicheaux and Riley assaulted a woman in 2017 at their Newport Beach home with intent to commit sexual offense. The state is asking for dismissal of a charge that they kidnapped the woman.

At the same time, state prosecutors want to file four additional charges alleging that the couple gave the woman drugs in an effort to have sex with her while she was unable to resist.

If convicted of assaulting one woman, Robicheaux and Riley could face 10 years in prison. If the judge won’t dismiss the other charges, a conviction could carry a potential life sentence.

“We have no reason to believe that any of these victims are being untruthful,” but a review found that some allegations couldn’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, Deputy Attorney General Yvette Martinez said in court.

“Obviously, the victims are not in favor of this” and want the chance to testify, said Mike Fell, an attorney for one alleged victim who could be removed from the case.

Last August, another judge ordered that the case be turned over to the attorney general’s office after the Orange County district attorney’s office tried to have the case dismissed, saying it believed there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

District Attorney Todd Spitzer had accused his predecessor, Tony Rackauckas, of manufacturing the case to bolster his reelection campaign.