Courts Round Up


Ex-cop acquitted of manslaughter sues Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) ? A former Hartford police detective is suing the city for more than $700,000 after being acquitted in December of manslaughter and assault in a 2005 on-duty shooting that killed a teenager and injured another man.

Robert Lawlor's lawsuit seeks legal fees as well as wages, overtime and other benefits he says were lost because of his 2006 arrest. He was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case and took early retirement before his trial.

Lawlor killed 18-year-old Jashon Bryant in May 2005 and wounded 21-year-old Brandon Henry. Lawlor says he was forced to open fire when Henry drove at an FBI agent and he saw Bryant in the passenger's seat appearing to reach for a gun. A weapon was never found.

City officials had no immediate comment Wednesday.

New Jersey

Defendant attacks own lawyer twice while in courtroom

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) ? Guards had to subdue a man who attacked his defense lawyer twice in a New Jersey courtroom.

A judge finally ejected Anthony Montgomery Tuesday.

The 41-year-old is on trial on charges of assaulting a citizen, a police officer and a police dog during a 2008 chase from Tinton Falls to Neptune.

Montgomery smacked Philip Pagano in the face after the public defender called Montgomery to testify. The judge, jury and spectators were cleared from the courtroom as officers tackled Montgomery.

Later in the day, the shackled defendant grabbed a microphone stand and flung it at Pagano as sheriff's officers were leading him out of the courtroom.

The judge refused Pagano's request to declare a mistrial.

The lawyer told the jury during his summation to acquit Montgomery of some of the charges.

North Dakota

Accused bank robber deemed unfit to stand trial

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) ? A judge has ruled that a man accused of robbing a bank in the northeastern North Dakota town of Gilby is incompetent to stand trial.

Judge Ralph Erickson has ordered that Clifton Patterson be treated for mental problems for up to four months.

Patterson, of Grand Forks, and William Collins, of Nashville, Tenn., are charged in federal court with robbing the Bremer Bank in Gilby of more than $50,000 in May 2009.

Ron Nieberding, a doctor who evaluated Patterson, testified at a Tuesday hearing that Patterson has a history of mental problems including schizophrenia and also has a lengthy criminal record.


Man changed mind about suicide, set fire to mobile home

MERCER, Pa. (AP) ? Prosecutors say a western Pennsylvania man set fire to his mobile home intending to commit suicide, but instead changed his mind and went out to breakfast.

Twenty-six-year-old Patrick Magargee, of Lackawannock Township, remains in the Mercer County Jail on charges of arson and criminal mischief in the Feb. 14 fire.

Police say he poured gasoline and kerosene in several rooms and lit it on fire. Once he saw the fire, police say Magargee changed his mind about suicide and tried to put the fire out. When he couldn't extinguish the fire, Magargee went out and had breakfast ? but didn't call 911 to report the blaze.


Man convicted in 1996 killing

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) ? A Connecticut jury has convicted a man of capital felony and murder in the rape and killing of a 15-year-old Montville girl who vanished in 1996.

Forty-four-year-old George Leniart of Montville was convicted Tuesday in New London Superior Court and will be sentenced on April 27 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

April Dawn Pennington disappeared from her home in May 1996. Her body was never found.

Leniart was arrested in 2008 after he allegedly told his prison cellmate that he kidnapped, raped and killed Pennington. He was in prison at the time for raping and choking a 13-year-old girl.


Death row inmate testimony sought in Wright trial

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) ? The attorney for former Bill Clinton aide Betsey Wright wants a videotaped deposition from a death row inmate for Wright's trial on charges she tried to smuggle contraband into a state prison.

Attorney Jeff Rosenzweig says in a court filing that the testimony of convicted killer Don Davis is needed to corroborate Wright's defense.

Wright's trial is to start May 25 ? about six weeks after Davis is to be executed.

Wright was arrested last May when officials reported finding her carrying a pocket knife, box cutter and other contraband at the maximum security Varner Supermax Unit in Lincoln County.

The 66-year-old Wright served as chief of staff to then-Gov. Bill Clinton for seven years.


Worcester settles brutality lawsuit

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) ? Worcester has agreed to pay $47,500 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by a man who alleged a city police officer beat him with a baton while he was defenseless on the ground.

The suit, brought in U.S. District Court by Trung Huynh, sought unspecified damages for illegal arrest and excessive force stemming from an incident outside a city club in 2006.

Huynh alleged that after one of his friends mouthed off to detail officers outside the club, one of the officers struck him repeatedly with a baton, breaking his wrist and causing multiple bruises.

Published: Thu, Mar 4, 2010