National Roundup

Kansas

Mom upset over sale of convicted killer's items

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) -- An Indiana woman whose daughter's body was found more than a decade ago on the Kansas farm of a man later convicted of killing multiple women is upset that an Internet website is making money by selling his items.

Dozens of personal items from John E. Robinson, who was sentenced to death in 2003 in Kansas for the deaths of Suzette Trouten, 27, of Michigan, and Izabela Lewicka, 21, a former Purdue University student, recently went on sale on a website that deals in what has been dubbed "murderabilia."

The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/L3GSuy) reports the items include a Santa Claus suit Robinson once wore, sketched cartoons and a driver's license that has a $1,500 price tag.

"For me this is a nasty thing," said Danuta Marona-Lewicka, whose daughter's body was found on Robinson's property in 2000. "Auctions? This hurts people. Someone is taking advantage of terrible feelings."

Robinson, 68, remains in prison in El Dorado, Kan., and won't get any money from the sales of his former belongings, which his family believes were carried away by a salvage hunter at a neighborhood garage sale near the home of his former wife, Nancy. She filed for divorce in 2005 after 41 years of marriage and has never been implicated in the slayings.

The bodies of Trouten and Lewicka were found in barrels in Kansas, while the remains of three other women were found in a storage facility Robinson rented in Missouri. All five women were killed by blows to the head.

In addition to the Johnson County, Kan., death sentences, Robinson also received a life sentence for the murder of a third woman whose body was never found. In Missouri, he was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to killing five women there.

Legislative efforts have failed to stifle the practice of selling the macabre merchandise.

"A small number of people idolize killers like others idolize athletes or rock stars," said Andy Kahan, a crime victims' advocate for the city of Houston. "Nobody cares about Joe the burglar's stuff. . But these people will collect anything that can be linked to some of the heinous and most despicable acts of crime known to man."

Kahan has been fighting the industry since 1999. Eight states, not including Missouri or Kansas, have passed laws against profiteering from criminal notoriety.

Marona-Lewicka said she would not be calling up the websites.

"People who (are fascinated) about criminal action to the point they're buying these things, I could see them going down the same road," she said. "I think governments should look at this and try to stop it. I don't know if there's any possibility for me to stop it."

New York

Report: '05 Syracuse probe found no abuse evidence

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- An investigation ordered by Syracuse University in 2005 into sex-abuse allegation against a former assistant basketball coach found no witnesses who believed the accuser's story.

The report obtained by the Post-Standard of Syracuse shows in detail how the school reacted to accusations against then-assistant coach Bernie Fine by former ball boy Bobby Davis.

Fine has denied the accusations.

ESPN first aired Davis's accusations in the fall. But Davis had approached police and the media years earlier. Syracuse University had a law firm look into the clams after Davis contacted them in 2005.

The university took statements from seven people. Most people interviewed said they believed Davis was a liar and that he likely made up the allegations because he was angry at Fine. Head coach Jim Boeheim was not formally interviewed.

New York

Police: Drunk man fell asleep in wrong NY house

NEWSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- Authorities in western New York say a 20-year-old man thought he was sleeping on his friend's couch when state troopers woke him up over the weekend.

It turns out he was off by about 20 miles.

State police say a homeowner in rural Erie County town of Newstead woke up around 4:30 a.m. Saturday and found a stranger sleeping on his couch. He was unable to wake up the stranger, so his wife called 911. When troopers arrived, they found the very intoxicated man still sleeping on the couch.

Troopers say the man told him he thought he was at a friend's house on Grand Island, 20 miles west of Newstead.

The man was charged with criminal trespass and issued an appearance ticket for Newstead Town Court.

Pennsylvania

Man jailed in chase with pregnant passenger

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) -- A central Pennsylvania man is jailed on charges including aggravated assault on an unborn child because police say he led them on a two-mile chase while his pregnant girlfriend was in the car.

Online court records don't list an attorney for 22-year-old Michael Beck, of Altoona, who was arrested Saturday.

The Altoona Mirror reports Monday that police chased Beck after he allegedly gave them a false name and sped away after he was pulled over for an illegal right turn on a red light about 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Police say the chase included a one-mile stretch in which Beck allegedly drove against traffic and was dodging vehicles on a one-way street. Police say Beck let the woman out of his SUV after hitting a guide rail, and they identified him by speaking to her.

Illinois

Prosecutors mull retrial for man in baby death

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- Authorities in southwestern Illinois could announce this week whether a man will face a second trial in the 2008 death of a 5-month-old girl.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook declared a mistrial early Saturday in 26-year-old Kenneth Zook's case after jurors deliberated for nearly 10 hours but couldn't reach a verdict.

Prosecutors contend Zook admitted shaking Alayna Frazier because she wouldn't stop crying. But Zook's attorneys countered that Zook blacked out from heroin use and dropped the baby or fell on top of her.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that a defense attorney says the case will return to court this week to decide whether Zook will be tried again and whether a judge will set bail for Zook.

Published: Tue, Jun 12, 2012

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