Court Roundup

Nevada

Jury finds ex-Navy SEAL guilty of Vegas beatings

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A jury has found a former Navy SEAL guilty of attacking eight people with a metal pipe on the Las Vegas Strip in an apparent drunken rampage.

Jurors said Wednesday that Luke Shawley is guilty of seven charges of battery connected to a March 2010 attack that sent three people to the hospital.

He was found not guilty of one count of burglary.

Prosecutors say Shawley had 20 alcoholic drinks before the episode, which was caught on surveillance video at The Venetian resort-casino.

His defense attorney says that Shawley only had eight drinks. He argues that someone had laced one beverage with ecstasy, which fueled the attacks.

Shawley is under house arrest awaiting a Dec. 15 sentencing date. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

New Hampshire

Court rules aga inst mom in judge recusal case

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled against a Merrimack woman who believes the judge in her child custody case was biased against her.

Erica Tapply, who was trying to block her ex-boyfriend from visiting their son, repeatedly asked then-Superior Court Judge Robert Lynn to recuse himself. When Lynn -- who has since become a state Supreme Court justice -- refused, she appealed his decision to the high court, which upheld Lynn's ruling Thursday. Lynn was not involved in that decision.

Tapply had filed a complaint against Lynn with a disciplinary panel accusing Lynn of screaming at her during a hearing. The Judicial Conduct Committee dismissed the grievance but cautioned Lynn to use a temperate rather than strident tone. Lynn told the committee his tone was appropriately stern.

Arkansas

Testimony ends in FOI lawsuit against Ft. Smith

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) -- Testimony has ended in a lawsuit alleging the city of Fort Smith violated the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act in 2009.

The Southwest Times Record reports that Sebastian County Circuit Court Judge James took the case under advisement. There was no indication when he would rule.

The lawsuit says former City Administrator Dennis Kelly spoke individually with five of the seven city directors and gave each a memo recommending that the board give him authority to hire and fire department heads.

The lawsuit says the state Supreme Court has previously ruled that a one-on-one meeting in order to get approval of a plan is an FOI violation.

A city attorney says Kelly's conversations were not illegal because he was providing information -- and not asking for a decision.

Pennsylvania

Firefighter charged in arson at empty house

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) -- An 18-year-old volunteer firefighter is charged with setting fire to a vacant house in an area that's been plagued by other unexplained fires in recent months.

State police in Punxsutawney arrested Anthony Overbeck on Wednesday. Online court records don't list an attorney for Overbeck, a member of the Big Run Area Volunteer Fire Company based about 70 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Police tell the Punxsutawney Spirit that two fires set in the residence were suspicious and that Overbeck later confessed to breaking into the building late Monday night carrying a lighter and a plastic bottle filled with vegetable-oil soaked napkins.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also continuing to investigate that fire and several others in the Big Run area.

Court records show Overbeck remained jailed Thursday, unable to post $200,000 bail.

Louisiana

Man found guilty of manslaughter in 2009 shooting

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) -- A 62-year-old Lafayette man accused of second-degree murder of his former neighbor tried to argue in court that he killed the victim in self-defense, but a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

The Advertiser reports District Judge Edward Rubin will sentence Jerry Steinle on Aug. 18 in the shooting death of 40-year-old David Trahan on Dec. 10, 2009.

Keith Stutes, assistant district attorney, says Trahan was defacing a door on Steinle's house when Steinle caught him in the act. An argument resulted, and Steinle pulled a gun and shot Trahan three times.

Stutes said the prosecution asked Rubin Wednesday to hold Steinle in prison until the sentencing next week, but Rubin allowed Steinle to remain free on the $100,000 bond he posted before the trial began.

Published: Fri, Aug 12, 2011