National Roundup

Arizona

Homebuilder hit with stiff damage award

PHOENIX (AP) -- Several hundred Sun City Grand homeowners in Surprise have been awarded nearly $14 million in one of the largest construction-defect cases in Arizona history.

The Arizona Republic reports the money was awarded by an arbitration panel against developer Del Webb Communities Incorporated, a subsidiary of PulteGroup Incorporated.

The money was awarded to some 460 Sun City Grand homeowners.

Attorney Stephen Weber said that 413 of the households could not join the arbitration for legal reasons and are awaiting a trial date in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The award includes $7.9 million in damages and $5.7 million in legal fees and costs.

PulteGroup Vice President James Zeumer says they plan to challenge the award in state court.

Illinois

Inmate known as the 'Lipstick Killer' dies

CHICAGO (AP) -- An 83-year-old man who was dubbed the "Lipstick Killer" after three murders in Chicago in the 1940s and who became Illinois longest-serving inmate has died.

The Cook County medical examiner's office tells the Chicago Tribune William Heirens died Monday at a Chicago hospital after officials at Dixon Correctional Center found him unresponsive in his cell. An autopsy is planned.

Heirens was a 17-year-old University of Chicago student and petty burglar when he confessed to the 1945 killings of two women and a 6-year-old girl. The child's remains were found scattered in Chicago's sewers.

Investigators at one of the women's homes found a message scrawled in lipstick that read: "For heaven's sake, catch me before I kill more."

Heirens later said he'd only confessed to avoid the electric chair.

Virginia

Jury prospect bows out of Virginia Tech trial

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) -- A jury prospect in the wrongful death trial stemming from the April 2007 shooting rampage at Virginia Tech says she cannot serve on the panel.

The development Tuesday is delaying the seating of a jury to hear the case in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Christiansburg. An attorney representing the families of two slain students who brought the lawsuit said the prospective juror is a Virginia Tech employee and had misgivings about serving on the jury.

Court officials are calling back members of the jury pool in hopes of finding a new prospect.

A jury was to be seated Tuesday in the civil trial, followed by opening statements.

Arizona

Immigrant files $1M claim against Arizona sheriff

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Mexican immigrant who had a romantic relationship with an Arizona sheriff has filed a $1 million notice of claim against the sheriff and the county.

Pinal County Sheriff's officials say the precursor to a lawsuit was received by their office Monday, but they declined further comment.

Last month, Sheriff Paul Babeu announced that he's gay and once had a relationship with Jose Orozco while the immigrant was a campaign volunteer.

Orozco has accused Babeu of threatening to deport him if he revealed their relationship. Babeu has denied any wrongdoing and has asked for an independent investigation into the matter.

The Arizona Republic says Orozco's claim creates new complexities for Babeu, who's completing his first term as sheriff and is running for a congressional seat in Arizona's conservative 4th District.

New York

Law enforcement official: LulzSec hackers arrested

NEW YORK (AP) -- Top members of the computer hacking group LulzSec have been arrested and will face charges in New York, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

Five people with the group were either under arrest or being sought, the official said. The details of the allegations weren't immediately available, but were expected to be made public in court documents being unsealed Tuesday morning.

The group also goes by the full name Lulz Security. Hackers associated with the group have claimed to be responsible for a variety of cyber attacks on big companies, law enforcement and government agencies.

The law enforcement official spoke on condition of anonymity because the charges hadn't yet been officially announced.

LulzSec is a spin-off of the loosely organized hacking collective Anonymous. Its members attained notoriety last May by attacking the website of the public broadcaster PBS and posting a story claiming that the slain rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and living in New Zealand.

Some alleged associates of the group are already facing charges elsewhere. An English teenager, Ryan Cleary, was arrested by British law enforcement in June and charged with being linked to the group. In July, a reputed LulzSec spokesman, Jake Davis, was arrested in Scotland.

Vermont

Man charged with attempted murder, kidnapping

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) -- A Vermont man is being held on $250,000 bail on charges he shot a man and kidnapped a woman following a two-state chase.

Police say 35-year-old Omar Rodriguez of St. Johnsbury shot 43-year-old Steve Rodimon of Woodsville, N.H., as he was leaving work Monday. It happened at the Ocean State Job Lots parking lot at the Green Mountain Mall in St. Johnsbury. Rodimon was treated for a gunshot wound.

Rodriguez also is accused of kidnapping Tina Evans, who was leaving work along with Rodimon, and forcing her to drive Rodimon's vehicle. Vermont State Troopers spoke with Rodriguez by phone. The vehicle showed up in New Hampshire and a chase ended near a truck stop in Newbury, N.H.

Rodriguez was charged with a variety of offenses. He's due in court Wednesday.

California

Not guilty plea in '84 Pleasanton classmate murder

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A man has pleaded not guilty to charges in a Pleasanton cold case involving the 1984 murder of his high school classmate.

Fourteen-year-old Tina Faelz was stabbed to death while walking home from Foothill High School. Her body was found on a popular shortcut trail used by students.

Investigators say a DNA match led them last August to Steven John Carlson.

Carlson's case initially landed in juvenile court because he was 16 at the time. But an Alameda County judge recently transferred it to adult court, citing the brutal nature of the crime and previous failed attempts at rehabilitation.

The Oakland Tribune reports that Carlson entered his plea to the murder charge on Monday.

A gag order prevents all parties from commenting on the case.

Published: Wed, Mar 7, 2012

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