National Roundup

Pennsylvania

Man choked wife with TV tray, police say

MCDONALD, Pa. (AP) -- A southwestern Pennsylvania man is jailed on charges that he choked his wife using a television snack tray after they argued about an online chat room she was visiting.

Online court records don't list an attorney for 39-year-old Scott Samstag, of McDonald.

The Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pa. reports Samstag was arrested Friday on aggravated assault and other charges after McDonald police responded to a 911 hang up call and found Samstag's wife crying by the side of the road.

That's when she told police they had argued about the chat room and that her husband choked her with his hands and then using a bar from the snack tray.

Police say Samstag acknowledged arguing with his wife and that things got out of control.

He remained in the Washington County Jail on Monday.

Indiana

3 courtrooms testing use of video transcripts

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Three Indiana courtrooms are taking part in a pilot program testing whether video transcripts can speed up the appeals process.

Tippecanoe Superior Court Judge Loretta Rush tells the Journal & Courier the Indiana Court of Appeals chose her court for the test because it has a lot of appeals. She says the hope is that video transcripts can save taxpayer money by shortening the length of time appeals spend in the court system.

During the pilot program all three participating courts will completely replace written transcripts with video transcripts. Paper transcripts are expensive to produce and can take up to 90 days to create.

When attorneys file appeals they submit a paper transcript of the trial and reference the parts where it's believed there were procedural errors.

Maine

State high court upholds hypnotist sex charge

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Maine's high court has upheld the conviction of a Jay man who sexually assaulted a girl he hypnotized.

The Supreme Judicial Court last week rejected the defense arguments of 39-year-old Aaron Patton, who was sentenced to six years in prison last year after being found guilty of charges including gross sexual assault.

Authorities say the victim began hypnotism treatments with Patton when she was 8 to help her break a fingernail-biting habit. The girl testified Patton began touching her inappropriately when she was 12 and had sex with her starting when she was 14.

After each sexual encounter, she said he hypnotized her so she would keep the relationship secret.

The Sun Journal reports that the high court rejected several defense arguments.

New York

Woman sentenced for kidnapping, raising baby

NEW YORK (AP) -- A woman who snatched a newborn baby from a New York City hospital more than two decades ago and raised her as her own was being sentenced on Monday.

Ann Pettway will learn her fate from a Manhattan federal court judge.

Pettway, 51, pleaded guilty to a kidnapping charge in February.

During her court appearance then, she offered details of the 1987 kidnapping. She said she took a train from her Connecticut home to Harlem Hospital, where she scooped up 3-week-old Carlina White, who had been brought to the emergency room by her parents.

As part of Pettway's plea bargain, prosecutors recommended between 10 and 12-1/2 years in prison. The judge was to decide at the sentencing scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Carlina's birth mother, Joy White, wept during Pettway's plea in February "I've lost 23 years of being with my daughter," she said, adding that those decades were filled with pain and heartache.

During the proceeding, Pettway told the court: "I went to the hospital. I took a child. It was wrong."

But she offered no explanation for her action.

White said she encountered Pettway at the hospital on the day her daughter disappeared, dressed like a nurse. "She came up to me and said to me, 'Don't cry. Your daughter is going to be OK.'"

The case was solved by Carlina herself.

As she grew up in Connecticut under another name, the girl became increasingly suspicious of her own identity. Pettway told her she had been given away by a drug addict.

Carlina White said she browsed the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for clues to her identity. After matching a photo of herself with one on the site, she tracked down her true mother and they reunited in January of 2011. A DNA test confirmed they were mother and child.

Today, they speak every day, Joy White said.

"I love my daughter. She's a beautiful girl," she said, adding that she had kept a picture of her missing baby at her bedside for 23 years.

Oregon

5 more inmates allege sex assault at Oregon prison

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Five more inmates at Oregon's prison for women have filed lawsuits accusing staff of sexual abuse.

The lawsuits were lawsuits filed last week in Marion County Circuit Court seeking $1.1 million for each inmate. A sixth inmate filed a separate suit last month.

The Statesman Journal reports that the latest allegations involve a staff member who works in the prison's kitchen area.

The inmates allege that the Department of Corrections and some of its staff members were aware that sexual abuse of inmates was a "rampant problem" at the Coffee Creek Correctional Institution in Wilsonville. The suit alleges they did nothing to stop it.

Idaho

Former undersheriff files discrimination lawsuit

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) -- A former undersheriff in Twin Falls County has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming she suffered gender discrimination during her brief time on the job.

Gerlyn ''Sam'' Walker filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court last week. The Times-News reports that Walker alleges she was regularly treated differently than her male counterparts and should be paid for damages after being demoted in 2009.

Sheriff Department spokeswoman Lori Stewart says department policy forbids commenting on an ongoing lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Walker claims she was required to work more hours for her salary than salaried men on the administrative team.

She also alleges men on the administrative team received perks not offered her and that she was purposely excluded from daily meetings held at a local coffee shop.

Published: Tue, Jul 31, 2012

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