National Roundup


Inmate gets wish: Death penalty for 2 slayings

WISE, Va. (AP) -- A Virginia inmate who pleaded guilty to killing an inmate after threatening to kill again if he didn't get the death penalty for slaying another prisoner has gotten his wish.

The Bristol Herald Courier reports that Robert Gleason received not one, but two death sentences Tuesday during a hearing in Wise County Circuit Court. One sentence was for killing inmate Harvey Watson Jr. in 2009. The other was for killing inmate Aaron Cooper in July 2010.

Gleason had pleaded guilty previously to both slayings. He said in court and in an interview with The Associated Press last year that he would kill again if he wasn't given the death penalty for Watson's slaying.

Upon hearing the sentence Tuesday, Gleason grinned and jokingly wondered if he'd be executed twice.


Panel rejects suit over immigrants' adult children

PASADENA, California (AP) -- Immigrants might have to wait longer to bring their now-adult children to the United States after they themselves had waited years to get here, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A three-judge panel for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a 2002 law aiming to prevent lengthy processing from affecting children's immigration applications does not enable all of the children, once they are grown, from immigrating to the U.S. quickly.

It can take more than a decade to obtain a green card granting permanent residency status through a relative, but only children under 21 can immigrate on their parents' petitions. That means children may wait years to get a green card with their parents only to find out they got too old to qualify for one while they were waiting.

Immigration attorneys argued that the 2002 law meant these now-grown children should be allowed here soon after their parents, now green card holders, filed paperwork on their behalf.

But Citizenship and Immigration Services argued these now-grown children were new applicants and must start the process anew. That can mean years more waiting, especially for immigrants from countries such as the Philippines and Mexico due to country-based immigration quotas.

Immigration attorneys who argued the case say thousands of immigrants face similar delays in bringing their children here. The attorneys will likely request a rehearing before the full appeals court, said Carl Shusterman, one of the attorneys representing immigrants in the suit.


Sheriff gives new details in mansion death

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- San Diego authorities have released new details about the death of a woman found hanging naked and bound at a historic California mansion.

Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas says Tuesday that a handful of minor injuries were found, but adds in a statement that Rebecca Zahau's death is still being ruled a suicide.

Among the injuries to the 32-year-old were relatively minor bruises on the right side of Zahau's scalp. Also, a T-shirt wrapped around her neck had been stuffed in her mouth.

Lucas says blood found on Zahau's inner thighs was her own and there was no genital trauma.

Zahau lived in a waterfront estate known as the Spreckels mansion with boyfriend Jonah Shacknai, founder and chief executive of Medicis Pharmaceuticals Corp.


Boston teen allegedly kills based on address

BOSTON (AP) -- Prosecutors say a Boston teenager who was supposed to be at a Red Sox game while on a day pass from a juvenile detention facility instead stalked the streets and fatally shot another teen based solely on where he lived.

Ricardo Arias was ordered held without bail Tuesday after pleading not guilty in adult court to killing 18-year-old Alex Sierra.

The 17-year-old Arias had been in State Department of Youth Services custody because of a gun-possession charge.

Authorities say he left the baseball game early Saturday and went to the South End with a friend. They say he then asked passers-by if they lived in the Villa Victoria housing project, the home of a rival gang. When Sierra said yes, prosecutors say Arias shot him.

Sierra had no gang ties.


Ex-judge sent to Okla. prison in kickback scam

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) -- The northeastern Pennsylvania judge convicted in a kickback scheme involving two privately-owned juvenile detention centers has been transferred to a federal detention facility in Oklahoma.

The Times-Tribune of Scranton reported Wednesday that former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella was transferred from Philadelphia to a holdover facility in Oklahoma City.

Ciavarella was sentenced last month to 28 years in prison for taking a $1 million bribe from the builder of a pair of for-profit youth detention centers. The scandal became known as "kids for cash" and resulted in the state Supreme Court throwing out thousands of juvenile cases Ciavarella oversaw.

Ciavarella's attorney has filed notice of his client's plan to appeal the verdict and sentence.


Appeals court says state can execute cop killer

MIAMI (AP) -- A federal appeals court has lifted its stay of execution for a Florida man convicted of killing a police officer 33 years ago.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled Wednesday that Florida can execute Manuel Valle, who had been scheduled to die earlier this week. It was not immediately known when Valle will be executed, but it could be within days. The state department of corrections didn't immediately return a call.

Valle had argued that the new drugs Florida plans to use for lethal injections constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The appeals court justices ruled that Valle is unlikely to win that appeal and lifted the stay.

Valle was convicted of fatally shooting Coral Gables officer Louis Pena in 1978 after a traffic stop.


Appeals court to hear argument in death case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A federal appeals court will hear arguments in November over whether a judge made the correct decision in throwing out the death sentence of a western Kentucky man who pleaded guilty to killing an honor student in 1997.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals set the case of 37-year-old Robert Keith Woodall for Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. EDT in Cincinnati.

Woodall pleaded guilty in 1998 to kidnapping 16-year-old Sarah Hansen from a store in Greenville. A jury sentenced him to death for the murder and life in prison for kidnapping and rape.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell in 2009 overturned the death sentence, finding that a state judge improperly instructed the jury before sentencing.

Published: Thu, Sep 8, 2011