National Roundup

 Illinois

Prosecutors file response in Blagojevich case 
CHICAGO (AP) — Prosecutors have filed a response to Rod Blagojevich’s corruption conviction appeal.
The 169-page government filing submitted late Tuesday urges the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject the imprisoned former governor’s request for a new trial.
Defense lawyers filed the appeal on the Illinois Democrat’s behalf in July. It asks the Chicago-based appellate court to toss his convictions or at least reduce his 14-year prison sentence.
In 2011, jurors convicted the 56-year-old former governor of engaging in wide-ranging corruption. That included seeking to profit from his power to appoint someone to the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when he became president.
With prosecutors’ response in, oral arguments on the appeal could be scheduled soon. A ruling on the appeal by the three-judge panel could happen within several months.
 
Washington
Guns returned to two Gonzaga Univ. students 
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Two Gonzaga University students who were placed on probation after using a pistol to scare off an intruder now have their weapons back.
KHQ-TV says Erik Fagan and Dan McIntosh retrieved their firearms Tuesday night.
Campus security confiscated McIntosh’s pistol and Fagan’s shotgun after the students reported that a man had come to their apartment door Oct. 24 demanding money and trying to force his way inside. The homeless man left when McIntosh displayed his pistol.
The students were placed on probation for violating the university’s weapons policy. Gonzaga students are not allowed to have guns in their homes if they live on campus or in a university-owned apartment.
Fagan and McIntosh were told they could retrieve their weapons as long they didn’t store it at any property owned or operated by the university.
 
Texas
Man convicted of killing teen in rape case 
DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas-area man is now facing a possible death sentence after being convicted Tuesday of killing his children’s baby sitter to silence her from testifying that he raped her.
Franklin Davis admitted in court to killing 16-year-old Shania Gray, describing how he lured her into his car outside her school, shot her and dumped her body in a river. But he said he killed her out of revenge and hatred, not to obstruct the sexual assault case that was nearing trial.
The jurors who found Davis guilty of capital murder will now decide whether to sentence him to death or life imprisonment without parole eligibility. Testimony in the penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday.
Gray was remembered after her death as a vivacious, friendly girl who often played basketball in the family driveway. Most people did not know she was at the center of the sexual assault case against Davis.
Her mother told police in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite that Davis sexually assaulted Gray while she was baby-sitting his children. Davis, known by the nickname “Wish,” exposed himself and had sex with the girl four separate times in 2011, according to a police affidavit.
Davis continued to deny the allegations at his murder trial.
“She lied,” Davis said on the stand, according to Dallas television station KTVT. “She ruined my life. She took everything from me, everything I work so hard to get. She took it.”
In the days before he killed Gray, Davis called and sent her text messages pretending to be a boy and asking her questions about the sexual assault case. The day of the killing, Gray got a text message saying her new friend was outside her school to surprise her.
Davis’ defense attorneys argued that he was trying to do his own investigation after police did not. But prosecutors scoffed at that notion.
 
Louisiana
Barber gets 24 years for gunning down an ex-client 
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A barbershop owner who gunned down a former client of his outside his shop in eastern New Orleans in 2012 pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a 24-year sentence.
The Times-Picayune reports jury selection was about to begin Tuesday in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court when attorneys reached a last-minute plea deal for 31-year-old Travis Peters, who killed 36-year-old Herbert Nealy on Aug. 16, 2012.
Nealy was shot multiple times and pronounced dead on the scene.
Had Peters been convicted at trial on charges of second-degree murder, he would have faced life-imprisonment, the mandatory sentence in Louisiana.
 
Nebraska
Inmate appeals case over sex act drawings 
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska inmate has appealed a judge’s ruling against him over return of his drawings that depict nudity and sex acts.
Christopher Payne filed a lawsuit in April against the state Department of Correctional Services. He says Tecumseh prison officials violated his constitutional rights by taking 11 pencil drawings from his cell between October and January. Payne is serving a 40- to 50-year sentence for raping two boys
The department policy on hobbies bans artwork depicting nudity, sex acts, violence, bondage, sadomasochism, bestiality and acts of degradation.
The Lincoln Journal Star says Judge Karen Flowers ruled in October that Payne’s rights were not violated.
The Nebraska Court of Appeals earlier this month notified both parties that it would consider the case.
 
Arizona
Defense wants conviction of ex-officer tossed 
PHOENIX (AP) — Lawyers representing a former Phoenix police officer convicted of aggravated assault in September want a judge to throw out the verdict and order a new trial.
The jury failed to reach verdicts on charges of second-degree murder and animal cruelty but prosecutors have said they want him retried on those charges. Richard Chrisman was charged after fatally shooting 28-year-old Danny Rodriguez and his dog during an October 2010 domestic violence call.
The Arizona Republic reports defense lawyers are accusing prosecutor Juan Martinez of misconduct and questioning the competency of the victim’s mother. She testified at the trial.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday on the defense request. Chrisman is scheduled to be sentenced on the aggravated-assault count later this month.

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