National Roundup

California
Military court denies an appeal in Iraq war case

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The military’s highest court has denied a government request to reconsider the overturned murder conviction of a Marine who has served more than half of his 11-year sentence in one of the biggest war crime cases to emerge from the Iraq war.
The denial from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces clears the way for the release of Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III of Plymouth, Mass. from the brig at California’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Hutchins’ military attorney Maj. Babu Kaza said Hutchins was expected to be released Friday and reassigned to Camp Pendleton north of San Diego, where he was previously stationed. He’ll return to living in nearby Oceanside with his wife and two children, Kaza said.
The Navy can still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or retry Hutchins.
The appeals court overturned Hutchins’ conviction on June 26, supporting his claims that his rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq.
Prosecutors asked the court to reconsider, saying Hutchins waived his right to counsel at the time and willfully told his side of the story without coercion.
Hutchins said in a statement that the Navy’s motion was “frivolous, and is solely designed to stall my imminent release.”
“My family and I have been through so much,” Hutchins said in the statement.
Under the military justice system, Hutchins had to remain in the brig until the court ruled on the motion. After its denial of the Navy’s motion, the court issued a separate order mandating his release.
Hutchins led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping an Iraqi man from his home in April 2006, marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death in the village of Hamdania.
Hutchins has said he thought the man — who turned out to be a retired policeman — was an insurgent leader.
None of the other seven squad members served more than 18 months.
The move is the latest in a series of twists for Hutchins, whose case was overturned once by a lower court three years ago only to be reinstated in 2011 by the same court that agreed with his latest petition.

Wisconsin
Milwaukee FBI chief reassigned, investigated

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The head of the Milwaukee FBI office is under investigation for trying to influence a subordinate’s testimony in a lawsuit against the agency, court records show.
Court records show the Office of Inspector General started investigating Teresa Carlson, special agent in charge of the Milwaukee office, after it was alleged she told an agent who was to testify in a lawsuit involving another agent that it would be in his best interest to “come down on the side of the government,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
Carlson refused to testify last month in the case held in a federal courtroom in Virginia, telling the judge she was under investigation and wanted to consult an attorney.
Leonard C. Peace, spokesman for the FBI’s Milwaukee office, said Carlson is on temporary duty assignment at the agency’s Washington headquarters and doesn’t know if she will return to Milwaukee. Peace said he was not aware of the investigation.
Mark Crider, an agent, was about to testify in a lawsuit filed by Army veteran Justin Slaby, who was denied a job with the agency because of a disability. Slaby, who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, was preparing to deploy again when his hand was blown off in a training accident in Georgia.
Crider, an FBI firearms instructor, had determined Slaby was qualified to be an agent because he could shoot with his dominant hand. But FBI trainers at Quantico, Va., saw it differently and kicked Slaby out of the academy.
Carlson spoke with Crider after learning he was going to testify for Slaby.
“She then went into a protracted dialogue about why Slaby should never be an agent since he was handicapped,” Crider noted in a statement He typed immediately after the meeting.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis sanctioned the government Thursday for the conduct of Carlson and other FBI officials in the case. He wrote it would be up to the jury to determine if Carlson attempted to get Crider to commit perjury, but he said there is no dispute that she met with Crider about his testimony.
Davis called Carlson’s conduct “wholly inappropriate” and said it “could have resulted in erosion in the integrity of the judicial process.”
The judge ordered that a joint statement from attorneys for the FBI and Slaby be given to the jury during the trial, which is set to begin July 29 in Alexandria, Va. The statement says Carlson tried to sway Crider’s testimony.
Slaby, 30, is a Wisconsin native who now lives in Virginia. The FBI has prohibited him from speaking to the media, according to his attorney, Kathy Butler.

Kansas
Court hearing set for photographer on paraglider

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A first court appearance is scheduled for a well-known freelance photographer who was charged with misdemeanor trespassing after he flew a paraglider over a Kansas feedlot while shooting pictures.
George Steinmetz, of Glenn Ridge, N.J., and his assistant, Wei Zhang, of Beijing, China, are set for a first appearance hearing Aug. 29 in Finney County. Steinmetz was on assignment for National Geographic magazine when he flew above Brookover Feed Yard last June 28. The feedlot owners say he did not seek permission for the flight.
A National Geographic spokeswoman says the magazine hired a Garden City attorney to represent the men.

Nebraska
Hearing set for doctor accused in slayings of 4

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Indiana doctor accused of killing four people with ties to an Omaha medical school will make his first appearance in a Nebraska court next week.
The Douglas County Attorney’s Office confirms that a bond hearing for Dr. Anthony Garcia has been set for 9 a.m. Tuesday. Garcia is currently being held without bond in the violent killings of four people in two separate attacks carried out five years apart.
Garcia, who was arrested in Illinois on Monday, was extradited Thursday to a jail in Omaha.
He faces four counts of first-degree murder in Omaha in connection to the May deaths of Creighton University pathologist Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary. Garcia is also accused of killing 11-year-old Thomas Hunter and his family’s housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, in March 2008.

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