NATIONAL ROUNDUP

Utah

Death row inmate seeks stay of execution

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A death row inmate is asking a Utah judge for a stay of an April 5 execution by firing squad while he pursues an appeal in the federal courts.

Attorneys for Michael Anthony Archuleta filed a notice of appeal Feb. 10 in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court.

Court papers say Archuleta is entitled to a stay while the case is reviewed by the federal courts.

Archuleta has not previously appealed his 1989 capital conviction in the federal system. Five state court appeals have been rejected.

Archuleta and co-defendant Lance Wood were convicted in separate trials in the 1989 murder of Southern Utah University student Gordon Church.

Archuleta was sentenced to die and Wood to life in prison without parole.

A federal judge has set no date for a hearing.

Mississippi

Feds delay sentencing, seek more fraud victims

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A federal judge has put off a former NFL player's sentencing to give prosecutors time to notify possible fraud victims in Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida and Arizona.

The amount of Jeffrey Walker's restitution payment will depend on the number of victims, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Sentencing had been scheduled last Friday. Federal assistant public defender George Lucas opposed the delay, saying Walker has been waiting months to be sentenced.

Walker, 48, pleaded guilty in October to wire fraud and tax evasion involving a planned resort in China. Prosecutors said he used investors' money for personal items including a luxury van and a boat.

Walker, formerly of Madison, Miss., now lives in Franklin, Tenn.

He was drafted in 1986 by the San Diego Chargers in 1986 and also played with the New Orleans Saints.

Prosecutors know of at least 20 investors who were victims of the multimillion-dollar scheme, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Rushing said in court last week that letters from potential victims continue to arrive, including some last week.

Two people testified last week that they sent thousands of dollars to Walker, who

was accused of fraudulently obtaining at least $2.1 million from investors.

Walker faces up to 23 years in prison under federal law, but likely will get a lesser sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate did not set a sentencing date Friday, but said all victim statements must be received within the next 45 days, and Walker will be sentenced the week after that.

FBI and IRS officials said Walker misrepresented to as many as 30 investors that their money would be used for building estate homes, townhomes and patio homes in China in a project his companies, Charter Resources International and Sterling Group Holdings Inc., supposedly were developing.

Investors in Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida and Arizona made interstate bank wire transfers to one of his companies. One sent a $200,000 check.

North Carolina

Defense lawyers want DNA evidence out in case

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Defense attorneys have asked a judge to throw out DNA evidence in the death of state school board member Kathy Taft.

Attorney Michael Driver told Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner on Monday the evidence related to a cigarette butt discarded by 32-year-old Jason K. Williford was improperly gathered by police.

Williford is charged in the March 2010 rape and death of Taft at a home in Raleigh.

Driver says police should have obtained a search warrant before picking up the cigarette butt.

Prosecutor Trish Jacobs says the apartment parking lot was a public space and that Williford discarded the cigarette butt in an area that does not require a warrant for a search.

Williford's trial is scheduled to begin next month.

Mississippi

State high court tosses out appeal

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- An appeal from three Lafayette County men convicted of having sex with a 3-year-old girl won't be heard by the Mississippi Supreme Court after all.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision this past week, said it had looked over documents submitted by the three and concluded "there is no need for further review."

Glenn E. Grose; his brother, Johnny Grose; and Timothy Jordan were convicted in 2008. The state Court of Appeals upheld the convictions in 2010. The Supreme Court had agreed last fall to take a look at the case.

Glenn Grose was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences on three counts of sexual battery. He also got 10 years on a child neglect count. Jordan and Johnny Grose each were sentenced to life in prison for rape and 10 years each on charges of child neglect and fondling.

Prosecutors said the three men had sex with the toddler on numerous occasions in 2005.

The Court of Appeals rejected arguments that the defendants were not allowed to confront their accuser because the trial judge allowed hearsay testimony from a therapist and others. The trial judge also allowed jurors to see a videotaped questioning of the child.

The Appeals Court said the testimony fell under the "tender years" exception to the hearsay rule.

The tender years exception generally allows a parent or licensed professional to tell juries what abused children have told them, including descriptions of any act of sexual contact performed with or on the child by another.

Supreme Court Justice David Anthony Chandler, in a dissent joined by Justice James Kitchens, focused on the videotape of the child.

Chandler said no law enforcement officers were present when the girl was questioned by a nonprofit group.

Chandler said testimony at trial was that the child was videotaped so she wouldn't have to be questioned more than once about the same thing.

The videotape clearly showed "a prosecutorial purpose," Chandler said, because of the nature of the questions asked of the child and it was transmitted to law enforcement officials.

He said the nonprofit agency had become an agent of law enforcement and the child's interview was "intended as a substitute for trial testimony."

Chandler said the facts that child did not testify at the trial and defense attorneys were not allowed to talk to her violated the defendants' rights to confront their accuser

Published: Wed, Feb 22, 2012

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