National Roundup

Massachusetts

Appeals court overturns murder conviction

BOSTON (AP) -- The state appeals court has granted a new trial for a Fitchburg man convicted of killing and burning the body of a Townsend man a decade ago.

In a decision released Monday, the court overturned Matthew Lavoie's 2003 second-degree murder conviction, as well as his life sentence, for the slaying of Westley VaanAnen in March 2001.

In his appeal, Lavoie said prohibiting his family from watching jury selection violated his right to a public trial. The court agreed.

Prosecutors say Lavoie shot VaanAnen three times after a night of drinking with friends, possibly motivated by a desire to steal cash and drugs, then burned the body.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone tells The Sun of Lowell the decision was based on legal interpretations and does not dispute the facts of the case.

Arkansas

Wife of convicted doctor to sell some assets

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A federal judge is allowing the wife of a former Russellville doctor who was convicted of planning a bombing to sell some of the couple's assets to cover living expenses.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that U.S. District Judge Brian Miller is requiring Sangeeta Mann to provide a detailed list of the items she plans to sell. Mann must also provide the name, address and telephone number of the buyers within five days of the sale of each item.

Mann's husband -- Dr. Randeep Mann -- is appealing his conviction and life sentence for plotting the February 2009 blast that severely injured State Medical Board Chairman Dr. Trent Pierce.

Sangeeta Mann was convicted of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence in the case. She is also appealing.

Pennsylvania

Hearing on baby-buying charges set for Nov. 21

COUDERSPORT, Pa. (AP) -- A preliminary hearing for five people charged in an alleged baby-buying scheme in north-central Pennsylvania has been set for Nov. 21.

The two-day hearing was supposed to take place last month, but was postponed.

Two lawyers, a Kansas couple and a Coudersport woman have pleaded not guilty to what state prosecutors called a scheme to pay the woman to let the couple adopt her infant daughter.

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office announced the charges in May, nearly two years after a county judge halted the adoption proceedings.

Court records say Coudersport lawyers Jarett Smith and his former wife Donna Albright-Smith helped arrange the adoption for Smith's brother and sister-in-law from Overland Park, Kansas. They're all charged, along with the baby's mother, 24-year-old Krista Samme Eveland.

Virginia

Man fined $5,000 for illegal dentistry

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A Chesterfield County man who admitted practicing dentistry out of his home without a license has been fined $5,000.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that a Chesterfield Circuit Court judge ordered 54-year-old Jose A. Hernandez to pay the fine Monday.

Judge T.J. Hauler called Hernandez's situation "a truly sad case in many regards."

Hernandez had pleaded guilty in June to illegally performing invasive dental procedures in 2005 and 2006.

Hernandez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, where his attorney says he was a licensed dentist.

Attorney Samuel P. Simpson told the judge that Hernandez has been waiting since 2001 for immigration authorities to approve his application for legal residency.

Pennsylvania

Police: Couple locked boy, 7, in coffin

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) -- Police are searching for a couple after a 7-year-old diaper-clad boy was found crying in the basement of a filthy northeastern Pennsylvania home, where he claimed he was forced to sleep in a coffin.

The Times-Tribune of Scranton reports investigators filed endangerment and unlawful restraint charges on Friday against 31-year-old Brian Sleboda and 26-year-old Lori Gardner. Scranton police Chief Dan Duffy says police are searching for them.

Court documents say the boy told officers he was sometimes bound with duct tape and told ghosts inhabited the basement.

The Times-Tribune report says neighbors heard the boy crying last week and called police. When officers arrived, the boy asked "are you here to help me?"

The boy's relationship to the couple was unclear.

Officials say the bug-infested home has been condemned.

South Carolina

Families of SC boat crash victims awarded payments

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The families of two women killed in a boat crash on Lake Murray last year will each be paid nearly $250,000 by the family of the man who authorities say caused the collision.

The State newspaper reported Tuesday the court-approved settlement goes to the parents of 25-year-old Kelli Bullard of Lexington and 24-year-old Amber Golden of Huntsville, Ala.

The women were killed in the May 1, 2010 crash.

The newspaper reports that Steven Kranendonk of Irmo does not admit fault as part of the settlements. Kranendonk is charged with two counts of felony boating under the influence of alcohol.

Court records show that he and his father are in talks with the women's boyfriends who were injured in the crash.

Virginia

Teen gets nearly 97 years in robberies

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A 19-year-old Norfolk man convicted of several crimes related to robberies in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina has been sentenced to nearly 97 years in prison.

Raymond Lewis Perry was sentenced Monday in federal court in Norfolk.

He was convicted in June on charges of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by means of robbery, three counts of interference with commerce by means of robbery, and four counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Court records show Perry robbed a pizzeria, a convenience store and a gas station in Virginia Beach in September 2010. A clerk at the gas station was shot but survived.

He also was convicted of robbing two grocery stores that month in Gates County, N.C.

Published: Wed, Oct 5, 2011

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