National Roundup

Illinois

Hudson on witness list for upcoming murder trial

CHICAGO (AP) -- Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson is on the witness list for the upcoming trial of a man accused of killing her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.

The Chicago Tribune reports, however, that prosecutors haven't yet disclosed whether Hudson will actually testify at William Balfour's trial, which is slated to begin April 9.

Balfour was the estranged husband of Hudson's sister, Julia. Hudson's mother and brother were found dead in the family's home on Chicago's South Side in 2008. Her nephew's body was found days later in a vehicle on the city's West Side.

A court filing by prosecutors last week contains detectives' reports from interviews with Hudson after the deaths. According to the filing, Hudson told investigators she'd known Balfour since childhood and had advised her sister against marrying him.

Connecticut

Man pleads guilty to killing sneaker salesman

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A 21-year-old man has pleaded guilty in the killing of a sneaker salesman in East Hartford more than two years ago.

Donele Taylor of East Hartford pleaded guilty to felony murder and robbery Monday in Hartford Superior Court in the shooting death of William Castillo on June 30, 2009. He faces 32 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 4.

Police say Taylor and an accomplice, Kenneth Holley, robbed Castillo in his East Hartford apartment. Authorities say Taylor admitted shooting Castillo, but implicated Holley as the shooter in another police statement. Holley awaits trial on charges including accessory to manslaughter and robbery.

Castillo's cousin, Brian Rivera, was shot to death when a fight erupted at a candlelight vigil for Castillo the day after Castillo was killed.

Georgia

Man gets life prison sentence in Columbus slayings

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) -- A man accused of shooting two people to death at a Columbus Internet cafe last summer has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty of murder.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that Eric Vann Huguley asked for forgiveness during a Monday court hearing.

The 27-year-old old said he would like to apologize moments before he was sentenced to life in prison for the killings of Rebecca Wyatt and Fredrick Brown on July 6 at Joycom Internet Sweepstakes on Buena Vista Road.

Huguley said in court that he has asked God for forgiveness, and that he would give his life away if he could to bring the two people back.

Pennsylvania

Man convicted in murder case claims bad advice

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) -- One of four men sentenced in the doorstep slaying of a central Pennsylvania man says he got bad advice from his lawyers when he pleaded guilty two years ago.

Robert Baker told a judge on Monday he could have defended himself against the murder charge prosecutors brought against him in the 2007 slaying of Ray Diener at his Elizabethtown home.

Baker says he was under duress that night because a co-defendant threatened him.

The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era reports trial attorney Douglas Conrad told the court no witnesses could corroborate Baker's claim.

Baker is serving at least 25 years. One co-defendant was sentenced to death and another got life in prison after going to trial.

Lancaster County President Judge Joseph Madenspacher says he'll rule after both sides file briefs.

Indiana

Ex-pro wrestler sues promoter over groin injury

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A former professional wrestler from southern Indiana is suing an Evansville-based promoter and an opponent over a match in which he allegedly suffered a serious groin injury from a kick delivered by his opponent.

John Levi Miller's lawsuit filed Monday in Clark Circuit Court in Jeffersonville accuses his opponent, Clinton Woosley, of rupturing his right testicle last June during a match that was supposed to have a prearranged outcome.

Miller's lawyer, Larry Wilder of Jeffersonville, tells The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky. that doctors eventually had to remove the damaged testicle.

Miller's suit accuses Coliseum Championship Wrestling and its owner of breaching its duty to ensure that Woosley was adequately trained and understood the "moves" intended to entertain the crowd and still deliver the match's predetermined outcome.

Nevada

Judge dismisses separation-of-powers lawsuit

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- A Carson City district judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a conservative think tank that challenged the constitutionality of public workers serving in the Legislature.

Judge James Todd Russell threw out the lawsuit because the legislator targeted in the case by the Nevada Policy Research Institute left his job with the state Public Utilities Commission last year. The lawmaker, Democratic Sen. Mo Denis of Las Vegas, now works in the private sector.

The institute announced Monday it will appeal the judge's decision to the Nevada Supreme Court, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Joseph Becker, the Las Vegas-based institute's chief legal officer, said there are six other legislators with situations similar to Denis' case and the separation-of-powers doctrine is "fundamental in our system of government."

The Las Vegas-based organization filed its lawsuit in November, saying Denis had to quit his full-time job as a computer technician with the Public Utilities Commission if he wanted to keep his part-time legislative job.

The organization sued on behalf of William Pojunis, an unemployed computer technician. The suit argued that Denis' employment with the PUC violated Pojunis' own constitutional rights because it prevented him from seeking Denis' job.

It claimed holding jobs in both the executive and legislative branches of government violate separation-of-powers protections.

Denis quit his PUC job weeks after the lawsuit was filed and took a similar job with Lunas Construction in southern Nevada.

Russell ruled Friday that the case against Denis was "moot" because the controversy on which it was filed no longer existed. His decision was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

"We are obviously pleased with Judge Russell's decision, and we will continue to fight for my rights on this issue," said Denis, leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

He added the appeal to the Supreme Court is "without merit."

Published: Wed, Feb 29, 2012

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