National Roundup

Pennsylvania
Mistrial declared when prosthetic eye pops out

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An assault trial over a fight that cost a man his left eye ended in a mistrial Wednesday when his prosthetic eye popped out as he was testifying, startling jurors.
John Huttick was weeping on the witness stand in Common Pleas Court as he testified about the impact of losing his eye in the August 2011 fight in the parking lot of a bar called the New Princeton Tavern, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Suddenly, the $3,000 prosthetic blue eye popped out. Huttick caught it and cried out as two jurors gasped and started to rise.
“I couldn’t believe it just came out,” Huttick said.
Judge Robert Coleman, who called it an “unfortunate, unforeseen incident,” granted a mistrial motion by defense attorney Eileen Hurley. He scheduled a new trial for March 4.
A group of people including Huttick and defendant Matthew Brunelli had been drinking at the bar, Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson said. Brunelli left with a girlfriend but got into an argument with another patron that turned into a fight in the parking lot, and when Huttick tried to separate the pair Brunelli threw a punch that hit Huttick’s left eye, Gilson said.
Hurley said her client, who’s charged with aggravated assault, struck Huttick with a fist, but Gilson said he “stabbed” Huttick with a metal key sticking out between his fingers.
Huttick, who’s suing Brunelli, said that he lost his job because of the injury and that depression drained his finances and nearly broke up his relationship with his girlfriend.

Nebraska
Mother gets more time for prostituting girls

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska woman accused of prostituting her 7- and 14-year-old daughters has been given up to 20 more years in prison.
The Hastings Tribune says the 36-year-old was sentenced earlier this week in Furnas County District Court to 12 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit a felony.
The woman already had been sentenced in Buffalo County to 80 to 90 years in prison. She’d pleaded no contest and was convicted of conspiracy to commit child sexual assault and of two felony counts of child pornography possession.
The Associated Press is not using her name to protect the identity of the girls. The AP does not usually identify the victims of sex crimes.
The girls’ mother has pleaded no contest to nine similar felony counts in Franklin County.

Florida
Miami woman gets 30 days after flipping off judge

MIAMI (AP) — A Miami woman has been jailed on contempt charges after flipping off a judge during a drug possession hearing.
Miami television station NBC 6 reported that 18-year-old Penelope Soto laughed Monday when Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat asked how much her jewelry was worth as he inquired about her financial assets.
The judge told Soto to be serious and Soto said she was being serious.
He set Soto’s bond at $5,000 and said bye-bye. Soto laughed again and replied, “adios.” He summoned her back and reset her bond at $10,000.
Soto asked whether the judge was serious and he said, “I am serious. Adios.”
Soto flipped him off and blurted an expletive as she walked away.
The judge summoned her again and sentenced her to 30 days in jail.

Montana
Man charged with cheating couple out of their home

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings man is charged with defrauding an elderly couple as they tried to sell their home in Harlowton.
The Billings Gazette reports 42-year-old Jesse James Eagle Speaker appeared in Justice Court Tuesday on charges of felony theft, forgery and exploitation of an elderly person.
Prosecutors allege Eagle Speaker took ownership of a house that was on the market for $85,000 by deceiving the owners, including a 69-year-old woman.
The residence was listed for sale in January 2010. Prosecutors allege Eagle Speaker persuaded the owner to sign a document she didn’t understand that transferred ownership of the property to him.
Court records say Eagle Speaker sold the property for about $45,000 in November 2010. He said the woman was asking $43,000 and he paid her $35,000 after it sold.

New York
Widow of famed jazz pianist files copyright lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) — The widow of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson has filed a $1 million lawsuit against singer Hilary Kole for copyright infringement.
Kelly Peterson filed the suit in Manhattan federal court this week.
She claims Kole gave copies of four tracks she recorded with the pianist to an Internet radio program and that the radio program played at least one of the tunes.
The Daily News reports the recordings were made in 2006 at the behest of Peterson’s record producer and have never been released.
Peterson died in 2007. He was celebrated for such American standards as “Our Love is Here to Stay” and “My Romance.”
Kole has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and frequently collaborated with Peterson.
A message was left for her manager.

North Carolina
KKK leader in NC sentenced on weapons charges

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A leader of a Ku Klux Klan group from Benson has been sentenced for his role in a plot against the Johnston County sheriff.
Charles Robert Barefoot Jr., 50, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle, who also ordered Barefoot to serve three years of probation after he completes his prison term.
Barefoot was organizer of the Nation’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and was convicted in September on six counts of weapons and explosives violations. Prosecutors said the charges were related to a plan to kill Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell.
Prosecutors said at the trial that Barefoot blamed Bizzell for the failure of a nightclub Barefoot operated more than a decade ago.
Prosecutors also say Barefoot also was upset because Benson officials would not let his group march and have a float in the annual Mule Parade.
Barefoot began building pipe bombs and obtained an explosive he kept in a freezer at his home, court documents state.
Barefoot told another Klansman that he planned to float down the Neuse River on a boat, get out in Smithfield, plant a bomb at the sheriff’s office near the riverbank, and get back on the boat.
There was no evidence that the plot was ever attempted, court officials said.

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