Court Roundup

North Carolina

Judges uphold conviction in officer's death

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina appeals court has upheld a man's second-degree murder conviction for the traffic death of a Wilmington police officer who ran off the road miles away from the start of an automobile pursuit involving the defendant.

The state Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday against Anthony Pierce, who was also convicted of possessing a gun and marijuana and fleeing to elude arrest related to a 2009 car chase. Pierce is expected to get out of prison in 2024.

Pierce challenged his murder conviction in part by saying there was insufficient evidence that his refusing to stop for another officer was the most likely cause of the death of Officer Richard Matthews.

Matthews responded to a request for assistance, swerved to avoid debris and lost control of his vehicle.


Ex-ICE chief out on bail in child porn case

MIAMI (AP) -- The former chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in South Florida is out on bail awaiting trial on child pornography charges.

Bureau of Prison records showed Tuesday that 51-year-old Anthony Mangione was released. A federal judge earlier agreed to grant Mangione $75,000 bail after receiving a psychological report on whether Mangione was in danger of harming himself.

Mangione headed the Miami-based ICE office since 2007 but has now retired from the agency. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography using private Internet accounts. The charges carry a combined maximum 50-year prison sentence.

Bail restrictions include a curfew, electronic ankle monitor and electronic monitoring of a computer in Mangione's home.


Roanoke mom pleads no contest to 2nd-degree murder

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) -- A Roanoke woman accused of killing her 2-year-old son has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.

Media outlets report that 24-year-old Morgan Lockett entered her plea Tuesday on the sixth day of her trial in Roanoke Circuit Court. She also pleaded no contest to child abuse and neglect. A child endangerment charge was dropped.

Circuit Judge Clifford Weckstein reduced the murder charge from first degree to second degree on Monday.

Lockett faces up to 50 years In prison.

Her son, Aveion Lewis, was reported missing in January 2010. The child's body was found wrapped in plastic and tape in a Roanoke County landfill about two weeks later. The cause of death wasn't determined.

In August, Lockett's husband, Brandon Lockett, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and child neglect.


Ex-head of state film office gets probation

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The former director of the Iowa Film Office has been sentenced to two years probation for his role in a larger tax break scandal that gave money to individuals and companies that made movies in Iowa.

Tom Wheeler was found guilty earlier of misconduct in office. A jury found him not guilty on eight other counts.

Wheeler had faced up to five years in prison.

During his sentencing Tuesday, his attorneys argued for leniency.

District Court Judge Douglas Staskal granted a request for a deferred judgment, meaning the conviction will be wiped from Wheeler's record if he successfully completes probation.


Erie man gets life for 'third-strike' rape guilt

ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- An Erie man will spend life in prison because of a "three strikes" conviction for a November rape and burglary that occurred shortly after his release from a 20-year sentence for doing the same thing.

The Erie Times-News reports Monday's sentence against 57-year-old James E. Johnson is believed to be the first time an Erie County judge has imposed a life sentence for a crime other than murder.

County prosecutors pushed for the "three-strikes-and-you're-out" life sentence because Johnson had convictions for at least two other violent crimes -- both involving raping women during burglaries -- since the 1970s. Erie County Judge John Garhart convicted Johnson of the latest rape in June.

Assistant District Attorney Erin Connelly says Johnson is an ideal candidate for the "three strikes" law.


State considers parole for 'Onion Field' killer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The California parole board will consider compassionate release for the man convicted of killing a Los Angeles police officer during a kidnapping chronicled in the novel "The Onion Field."

The board will consider the case of Gregory Powell during its meeting Tuesday. The union representing Los Angeles police officers is urging the board to deny his release.

The 77-year-old Powell has terminal prostate cancer and is not scheduled to attend. Under state law, inmates are eligible for compassionate release if they have six months or less to live.

A judge would make the final determination if the board recommends release.

Powell is serving a life sentence for kidnapping officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger in 1963. He fatally shot Campbell in an onion field near Bakersfield, while Hettinger escaped.


LA lawyer nominated to 9th US Circuit Court

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A Los Angeles lawyer and former federal prosecutor has been nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

President Barack Obama nominated 44-year-old Paul Watford to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Pamela Rymer last month.

He would be the second African American on the current San Francisco appeals court.

The San Francisco Chronicle ( ) says Watford attended University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA law school. He was a law clerk for 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles for three years before joining the firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, where he is a partner specializing in appellate law.

Published: Wed, Oct 19, 2011


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