Court Digest

DA: Child porn found in secret room at psychologist’s home

SALEM, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts psychologist has been charged with possessing hundreds of images of child pornography that prosecutors say were found in a hidden room in his apartment by a contractor renovating the bathroom.

Mark Ternullo, 68, of Danvers, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday in Salem District Court. Bail was set at $10,000.

The owner of the multifamily home in which Ternullo has lived for more than 20 years contacted police on Wednesday, according to a statement from the office of Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

She told police that a contractor hired to renovate the bathroom in the defendant’s apartment found a small hidden room behind the bathtub in which multiple boxes containing explicit images of children were stored, authorities said.

Police then obtained and executed a search warrant.

Ternullo had previously worked at a number of schools and community organizations, The Salem News reported.

The prosecution asked that bail be set at $500,000, citing concern that Ternullo might flee. Defense attorney Mark Dewan sought $1,000 bail, saying his client has a number of health concerns including bladder cancer and diabetes.


High court won’t hear Manson follower parole case

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) — The California Supreme Court has denied a potential bid for freedom by Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s rejection of her parole.

The court on Wednesday refused to hear Van Houten’s appeal of a lower court ruling last December that denied her petition for a review. 

That petition challenged what it termed a denial of due process by Newsom in reversing a 2020 parole board recommendation. It also said Newsom had refused to provide documents indicating when the board referred the case to him and argued that there was a “strong possibility”“ that he exceeded a 30-day time limit for review.

An email to Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned Thursday night.

Van Houten, 72, is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and other cult members kill Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. She was 19 when she and other followers fatally stabbed the LaBiancas and smeared their blood on the walls.

The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, but not Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others.

In 2020, the parole panel recommended that Van Houten be freed from prison, saying that she “does not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety” and had shown remorse for her crimes. Newsom, however reversed the decision, saying she did pose an “unreasonable danger” if released.

Since 2016, parole boards have recommended five times that Van Houten be freed from prison. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown and Newsom have blocked her parole four times. The fifth recommendation came last November and remains under procedural review.


Man accused of killing 6 in parade due in court

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A Milwaukee man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he drove an SUV through a suburban Christmas parade was due back in court ­Friday.

Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, was expected to enter a plea to  77 charges, including six counts of homicide and multiple counts of reckless endangerment. A Waukesha County Circuit Court judge also could take up Brooks’ motion for a change of venue that was filed Thursday. 

Last month, court Commissioner Kevin Costello said prosecutors had presented “ample” evidence to show Brooks probably committed felonies and ordered him to stand trial.

During the preliminary hearing, police detective Thomas Casey testified that he and other officers yelled at Brooks to stop as he drove the SUV through the parade in downtown Waukesha on Nov. 21.

He described how the vehicle zigzagged across the street for blocks, smashing into marchers from behind and running them over. He said Brooks injured 61 people, including the six people he killed.

Brooks’ attorney, public defender Anna Kees, maintained that he couldn’t turn off the parade route because the side streets were barricaded and full of spectators. She noted, too, that he told detectives that he didn’t mean to kill anyone and couldn’t bring himself to look when detectives showed him photos of the carnage.