National Roundup

Florida

Teacher faces dismissal over 'cone of shame'

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida high school science teacher faces dismissal amid allegations that she used a "cone of shame" dog collar to discipline students.

Pasco County schools superintendent Heather Fiorentino has recommended firing 47-year-old Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp for putting a dog collar on at least eight of her ninth graders on two days in April.

The collar was reportedly the type used to prevent animals from licking themselves after surgery. "Cone of shame" is a reference to the animated film "Up," which Bailey-Cutkomp had previously shown to students.

Zephyrhills High administrators learned of the allegations after seeing the students' photos on Facebook. Parents tipped off the school.

She has requested a hearing before the School Board to appeal the superintendent's decision. A telephone message left for Bailey-Cutkomp by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned.

New Jersey

'NJWeedman' convicted of pot possession

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) -- Jurors in New Jersey have delivered a mixed verdict at the trial of a marijuana activist who lives in California and goes by the name "NJWeedman."

The panel in Mount Holly on Wednesday convicted Ed Forchion of possession of one pound of pot in the trunk of his car. However, they could not reach a verdict on whether he intended to distribute it.

The 47-year-old moved to Los Angeles several years ago to run a medical marijuana dispensary. He was arrested during a traffic stop in April 2010.

He could not use New Jersey's medical marijuana law as a defense.

Forchion told The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill he was happy he didn't get thrown in jail while he awaits a retrial for the distribution charge.

Oklahoma

Hearing delayed for man accused in Tulsa shooting

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A judge has delayed a preliminary hearing for a man charged with shooting two people outside the Tulsa County courthouse.

Andrew Dennehy's attorney sought the delay. His client was due in court Friday for a preliminary hearing and had another hearing set for May 18 on charges that he attempted to escape police custody and assault and battery on a police officer.

Prosecutors accuse Dennehy of opening fire March 7 outside the Tulsa courthouse, wounding a sheriff's deputy and a bystander. Dennehy was shot in the face after exchanging gunfire with deputies.

Dennehy's attorney said in a court filing that his client's gunshot wound makes it difficult for Dennehy to communicate.

On Thursday, a judge agreed to combine the two cases against Dennehy and set a July 18 preliminary hearing.

Florida

State Supreme Court considering foreclosure appeal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Supreme Court is considering a mortgage foreclosure case that could have far-reaching consequences.

The justice heard oral argument Thursday that focused on whether lenders or other plaintiffs can avoid penalties for filing forged documents with courts simply by voluntarily dismissing their cases.

Palm Beach County homeowner Roman Pino accused the Bank of New York Mellon of submitting bogus documents in its foreclosure case against him.

A judge, though, denied Pino's request to penalize the bank by prohibiting it from again trying to foreclose.

An appellate court affirmed that ruling but certified the issue to the Supreme Court as a matter of great public importance.

Pino and the bank then settled, but the high court said the case was so important that it would not let them dismiss it.

Iowa

Police had suspicions about man in 1981 crime

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) -- Authorities say a California man who's confessed to killing an Iowa couple more than 30 years ago was one of several people of interest to investigators back then.

Sixty-six-year-old Jack Pursel, of South Gate in southern California, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Robert and Goldie Huntbach, of Waterloo, on Jan. 12, 1981.

Pursel showed up at the Waterloo Police Department on Tuesday and confessed to killing the Huntbachs during a planned robbery.

Dan Trelka is director of safety services for Waterloo. He says Pursel knew the Huntbach family and may have dated a relative around the time of the crime.

Pursel remains in custody. Online court records don't list his case yet, and it's unclear whether he has an attorney.

South Dakota

Court rules for Kevin Costner in sculpture appeal

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that actor Kevin Costner did not breach a contract with an artist he commissioned to produce bronze sculptures of bison and American Indians.

The Hollywood superstar paid Peggy Detmers $300,000 to make the sculptures in the 1990s for a resort he planned in South Dakota's Black Hills. The resort was never built, and he instead placed the sculptures at his Tatanka attraction near Deadwood.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court's ruling that the alternative placement did not constitute a breach of contract.

Costner filmed much of his Academy-Award-winning movie "Dances with Wolves" in South Dakota.

Florida

Court sides with prosecutors in capital case

ATLANTA (AP) -- A federal appeals court has reversed a judge's decision to grant a new trial to a death row inmate convicted in the 1995 slaying and mutilation of a Kissimmee woman.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said the judge who ordered a new trial for Scott Mansfield engaged in his own "fact-finding process" and failed to accept findings from the Florida Supreme Court.

The decision also said the judge "afforded precious little weight" to other evidence the Florida Supreme Court relied upon, and ignored other evidence that incriminated Mansfield.

Mansfield was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the Oct. 15, 1995 slaying of Sara Robles next to a grocery store.

Published: Fri, May 11, 2012

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