National Roundup

 Florida

New trial ordered for Fla. woman who got 20 years 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida appeals court is ordering a new trial for a woman sentenced to 20 years to prison after she fired a warning shot in a wall during a dispute with her husband.
The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that a judge did not properly instruct the jury handling the case of Marissa Alexander.
But the appeals court did also state that the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law as a way to defend her actions.
Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her.
Her case in Jacksonville has drawn attention and criticism aimed at mandatory-minimum sentencing laws.

Washington
Woman accused of DC vandalism not competent 
WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors say a woman who was arrested in July and accused of splattering green paint at the Washington National Cathedral is incompetent to stand trial.
The Washington Post reports 58-year-old Jiamei Tian was found incompetent after an examination by doctors at Washington’s St. Elizabeths Hospital. The finding is preliminary, and doctors recommended Tian be given a full competency examination.
A hearing in Tian’s case was held Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court, but she was not present.
Tian was charged with defacing the Washington National Cathedral with green paint and suspected of similar vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial and other sites. Another hearing in the case was scheduled for Oct. 31.
 
Connecticut
Man going on trial for 1984 Newtown killing 
DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man is going on trial in the 1984 killing of his wife, whose remains were found three years ago under a barn floor on their former property in Newtown.
Seventy-year-old John Heath’s murder trial is scheduled to begin Thursday in Danbury Superior Court.
The Bridgewater resident insists he’s innocent and doesn’t know what happened to his wife, Elizabeth, when she vanished in 1984, shortly after he filed for divorce.
The couple’s daughter was 4 years old at the time.
Authorities said Heath got married the following year to a woman who babysat their daughter.
Elizabeth Heath’s remains were found in 2010 by a contractor working on the barn on the property. The medical examiner’s office ruled she died from blows to the head.
 
Nebraska
Malcolm district settles lawsuit over bullying 
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A woman and her teenage son have settled a lawsuit filed against the Malcolm school district alleging the district didn’t protect the boy from bullying.
Court records say the lawsuit filed in February 2011 was settled last week at the request of both parties. Terms were not disclosed.
The boy was an eighth-grader during the 2009-2010 school year. The lawsuit says the district didn’t react properly to harassment of the boy. In one instance, the lawsuit says, tormenters pushed his head into a toilet bowl.
The lawsuit also says the district violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate the boy’s diabetes.
The boy, who has since left the school, was referred to as John Doe in the lawsuit in order to protect his identity.
 
Indiana
Disbarred lawyer is convicted of document forgery  
MISHAWAKA, Ind. (AP) — Jurors have convicted a disbarred northern Indiana attorney of forging the names of other lawyers on court documents.
The St. Joseph County jury returned guilty verdicts Wednesday against 47-year-old Rod Sniadecki on three felony counts of forgery.
The South Bend Tribune reports Sniadecki’s former legal assistant testified she forged the signatures and faked information in a tax return to secure a mortgage on his South Bend office.
Defense attorney Len Zappia argued the assistant did so without Sniadecki’s knowledge to keep the office running while he was gone.
The Indiana Supreme Court suspended Sniadecki in 2007 for starting a relationship with a woman whose divorce he was handling and lying about it. He was disbarred in 2010 for the forgery case.
His sentencing is scheduled for December.
 
Texas
Mistrial declared for man in slaying in a parking lot  
McKINNEY, Texas (AP) — A mistrial has been declared for a North Texas man charged in a 2011 parking lot slaying because jurors mistakenly saw evidence from another trial.
A judge in McKinney on Wednesday declared a mistrial in the capital murder trial of Daniel James Ramsour of McKinney. No new trial date was immediately set.
Andre Lang Currier of Frisco was fatally shot during an alleged drug deal. Ramsour and Raymond Anthony Washington of McKinney were later caught in Beaumont.
The Dallas Morning News reports the regular court reporter had a family emergency and a substitute was called. Jurors mistakenly were given DVDs of police interviews from Washington’s trial in May. The DVDs were not introduced in Ramsour’s trial.
Washington was convicted of murder and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
 
Ohio
AG: Company was  deceptive in its charity soliciting  
LIMA, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he and his counterpart in Pennsylvania have filed lawsuits against a Youngstown-area company suspected of deceptively soliciting donations for firefighter and police charities.
DeWine says his office determined telemarketers with Encore Music Productions Ltd. and its agents misled potential donors, pretended to be firefighters and broke other regulations. He says Encore sold tickets and business advertisements for local concerts to solicit for 30 Ohio organizations and several in Pennsylvania.
DeWine says his 42-count civil lawsuit in Ohio’s Allen County alleges fraud, money laundering and other deception. He says a temporary restraining order has been granted, and he’s asking the court to shut down the business.
A message left Thursday at a phone number for Encore in Boardman, near Youngstown, was not immediately returned.

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