National Roundup

Kentucky
Woman held in contempt for pregnancy

BENTON, Ky. (AP) — A western Kentucky judge has held a woman in contempt for becoming pregnant while incarcerated before her trial on a manslaughter charge.
Marshall County Circuit Judge Dennis Foust ruled that 20-year-old Tiffany Pittman violated court orders late last year while in jail before facing a jury on Dec. 7. Pittman was sentenced to 15 years in prison manslaughter the death of Stephen J. “Jimmy” Harper. Harper died Aug. 15, 2011 in a wreck on U.S. 68 in Marshall County.
Foust on Friday denied shock probation in the case and tacked on the contempt of court ruling.
The Paducah Sun reported that Pittman’s attorney, James Jameson, told Foust the stress of going to trial and possibly spending the rest of her life in jail pushed Pittman to break the rules and see her boyfriend when she left the jail for a mental health appointment in mid-November. She said simply that she did not intend to get pregnant.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark Blakenship asked Foust to tack more time onto her sentence or order her to reimburse the commonwealth for her medical expenses for getting pregnant.
Foust did not immediately issue a punishment for the contempt citation, but added he would do so soon in a written order.
“I will not lie to you, I am torn,” he said.

Connecticut
Judge dismisses lawsuit over Mexico massacre

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal judge in Connecticut has dismissed a lawsuit against former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo that accused him of crimes against humanity in connection with the 1997 killings of 45 people in a Mexican village.
U.S. District Judge Michael Shea in Hartford ruled that Zedillo is immune from the lawsuit because of his status as a former national leader. Zedillo denied the allegations, and the State Department backed his immunity claim. Shea dismissed the lawsuit Thursday.
Zedillo was president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000 and is now an international studies professor at Yale University.
Ten unnamed plaintiffs who say they are survivors of the killings in Acteal sued Zedillo for $50 million in 2011. They said Zedillo bore some responsibility for the massacre and tried to cover it up.

Wisconsin
Comprehensive list of unsolved murders needed

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin has no comprehensive listing of its growing number of unsolved homicides, which some say could lead to more solved cases, according to a media report.
A review by Gannett Wisconsin Media revealed there have been at least 282 homicides that went unsolved between 2003 and 2012. Add in prominent cases that date back to 1953 and that number rises to nearly 400. It’s possible the number could be much higher.
Having a database of unsolved killings could generate tips and leads, said Lt. Wayne Smith of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, who recently served as president of the Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators.
Dave Robinson, of Manitowoc, agrees. His brother Terrance was shot and killed in October 1998 in Milwaukee, the victim of an apparent armed robbery. The case is unsolved.
“From my standpoint, if we are going to spend any tax dollars on anything, this is the kind of thing you want to spend it on,” Robinson said. “I think it would serve a purpose and you never know, a statewide database might (help solve a crime).”
Gannett Wisconsin Media’s analysis spanned 52 policing agencies in 34 Wisconsin counties. Reporters looked through media clips and court and police documents along with data from the state’s Office of Justice Assistance and Department of Justice to assemble its list.
Institutional barriers have stood in the way of establishing a public listing of cold cases. The progress of an investigation, and how broadly the case information is shared, depends on which agency is handling the case.
In 2011, the homicide investigators association released two decks of playing cards highlighting cold cases. The 104 cards represent 52 cold cases from Milwaukee and 52 from other jurisdictions.
Joell Schigur, special agent in charge of the state’s Cold Case Unit, said the cards were produced with the help of a $5,000 state grant. She said they were distributed to the Wisconsin prison and jail system, with the hope that they would generate information on old homicides.
“We had a little difficulty in getting what we got, but as far as I know it’s the best database in Wisconsin,” Smith said.
Rob Wells, executive director of the Colorado-based Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, said the situation in Wisconsin is similar to many other states.
Some states publicize certain unsolved homicides, but don’t publish a comprehensive listing, he said. For example, a Michigan State Police website highlights just six of its cold case homicides. The Illinois State Police site focuses on 24 cases, he noted.
“The tracking of (all) unsolved homicides is not something that’s the norm,” Wells said.
Wells’ group created a database of 1,500 unsolved homicides in Colorado dating to 1970 — an effort that eventually was taken over by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
“The database has been a real big tool for Colorado, and other agencies outside the state,” Wells said. “It’s opened up communication between agencies.”
The group also pushed through a change in Colorado law that requires police agencies to report to the state those homicides that have been unsolved more than three years.

New Mexico
Trial in doctor’s death likely to begin Aug. 20

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys say the trial for a 19-year-old charged with killing a Farmington doctor is likely to begin on Aug. 20.
John Mayes is charged with first-degree murder and other felonies in the June 2011 death of Dr. James Nordstrom.
Nordstrom was found beaten to death in his backyard in Farmington.
Authorities say he fatally beat Nordstrom with a pool cue.
Mayes has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Mayes is the son of Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes.
The Farmington Daily Times reports that John Mayes appeared in court on Thursday. District Judge William Birdsall set an Aug. 8 hearing date to argue final matters before the trial.?

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