National Round Up

Texas: Jury awards $82M over 2007 explosion death
HOUSTON (AP) — The family of a Mineral Wells man who died after a 2007 explosion at a natural gas processing plant in Hood County has been awarded $82.5 million in damages.

Houston-based Exterran Energy Solutions L.P., formerly Hanover Compression L.P., will be liable if the Houston jury’s award is upheld. Exterran did not immediately comment Thursday.

Hanover engineered and built the plant where Joshua Wade Petrie was working. The plant is owned by Fort Worth-based Quicksilver Resources.

The jury Monday decided that Hanover was grossly negligent and 90 percent responsible. Quicksilver was cited for 10 percent responsibility.

Petrie family attorney Rob Ammons says Quicksilver, which employed Petrie, provided workers’ compensation insurance and is not liable for monetary damages.

California: State high court to hear church’s property appeal
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The California Supreme Court has decided to hear an Orange County church’s appeal to keep its beachfront church property, despite breaking away from the main Episcopal Church.

St. James Anglican Church, a theologically conservative breakaway church, has waged a nearly six-year fight to keep the church property instead of returning it to the Diocese of Los Angeles.

St. James is one of several dozen individual parishes and four dioceses nationwide that voted to split from the national church after the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop.

State courts have sided with the Los Angeles diocese throughout the six-year legal case. The church lost its petition to have the case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Colorado: Cochlear maker accused of giving kickbacks to docs

DENVER (AP) — A manufacturer of Cochlear implants has agreed to pay $880,000 to the U.S. government to resolve allegations that it paid kickbacks to doctors.

The U.S. Justice Department announced the settlement with Cochlear (COKE’-lear) Americas on Wednesday.

The company in Centennial, Colo., is a subsidiary of Australia’s Cochlear Limited and officials referred all questions there. The parent company said in a statement that it denies the allegations, but has agreed to settle to avoid ongoing legal fees and “the uncertainty and expense” of litigation.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by Brenda March in 2004 alleging that Cochlear was enticing doctors to prescribe its electronic hearing devices to Medicare and Medicaid patients. Private citizens with knowledge of fraud are allowed to sue on behalf of the government. March will get $176,000 of the settlement.

Pennsylvania: Trial for former officer charged in sex assault

PENNDEL, Pa. (AP) — A former police sergeant who led a sex crimes unit in suburban Philadelphia has been ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges.

Forty-one-year-old Michael Marren is charged in the alleged March 9 assault at the Bensalem Rescue Squad headquarters building. He has been fired from the Bensalem Police Department.

A woman testified Wednesday that Marren assaulted her in the bathroom of the squad building despite her efforts to dissuade him.

Jack McMahon, Marren’s attorney, says the act was consensual.

Marren is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He will be arraigned July 9 at Bucks County Court in Doylestown. He remains free on $100,000 bail.

Louisiana: Judge revokes bond in beating death of woman

NEW ROADS, La. (AP) — A state judge on Wednesday revoked the $250,000 bond set for a man charged with killing his girlfriend last year, ordering the defendant held in jail until his July trial.

In rescinding Larry J. Snyder Jr.’s bond, District Judge James Best described him as an imminent threat to society and a flight risk, Assistant District Attorney Becky Chustz said.

Snyder, 36, was free on bond and under house arrest on the night of May 30 when he smashed his car into an unmarked Ascension Parish sheriff’s vehicle in Gonzales and then fled the scene, Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said last week.

The deputy whose car was hit gave chase until Snyder pulled into a parking lot about one-half mile from the crash scene, Wiley said.

At the time of his arrest, investigators said, Snyder was wearing a court-ordered monitoring anklet and had beer tickets from that weekend’s Jambalaya Festival in his possession.

Gonzales police booked Snyder on counts of hit-and-run driving, second-offense driving while intoxicated, improper lane use and possession of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle, Wiley said.

The arrest demonstrated that Snyder, of Gonzales, had violated a series of conditions to which he agreed on Nov. 9 as conditions for his release from jail on bond, 18th Judicial District Attorney Ricky Ward said.

Among other things, Snyder promised the court he would remain at home unless he went to work, to court, to visit his attorney or to seek medical care, Ward said.

The court further ordered Snyder to remain drug- and alcohol-free and to live in Baton Rouge, Ward said.

“Snyder is showing that he has no respect at all for authority,” Ward said after Wednesday’s court hearing.

The defendant is scheduled to return to a New Roads courtroom July 12 to go on trial for allegedly kidnapping and killing his girlfriend, Davina Ann Chapman, 32.

Investigators said they believe Snyder argued with Chapman outside a Krotz Springs bar July 18 or July 19 before kidnapping the woman.

On July 20, searchers found Chapman’s battered body in a wooded area about 30 feet below the four-mile bridge on U.S. 190 connecting Livonia to Krotz Springs.

Snyder pleaded innocent Sept. 16 to a charge of second-degree murder in Chapman’s death.

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