National Roundup

 Indiana

Death sentence ordered for man in 2012 slaying 
NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana man was sentenced to death Tuesday after telling a judge that’s what he deserved for killing his late mother’s 75-year-old best friend.
The death sentence for 56-year-old William Clyde Gibson of New Albany came after the first of possibly three trials on murder charges for deaths of women stretching back to 2002.
A Floyd County jury needed less than 20 minutes last month to reach its guilty verdict against Gibson on charges he sexually assaulted, strangled and mutilated the body of Christine Whitis in April 2012.
Floyd County Superior Court Judge Susan Orth set Gibson’s execution for Nov. 26, 2014.
“I deserve what I’m getting. No question,” Gibson said in court. “It ain’t no big deal.”
Gibson’s death sentence will be automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court.
County Prosecutor Keith Henderson has said the Whitis slaying case is probably the most disturbing he’s ever seen.
Gibson also is accused of strangling 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk of Charlestown, whose remains were found buried in his New Albany backyard days after his arrest in Whitis’ death, and in the 2002 stabbing death of Karen Hodella, 44, of Port Orange, Fla.
Trials are scheduled for next year in those slayings, with Gibson possibly facing the death penalty in Kirk’s death.
Gibson said in court Tuesday that he wanted speedy trials on those murder charges.
“I don’t want no deal. I want a trial,” he said.
The county’s budget troubles are due in part to having spent $2.1 million this year on the third murder trial of onetime state trooper David Camm, who was acquitted last month on charges he killed his wife and two young children. Gibson’s first trial also cost the county an estimated $275,000.

Florida
Federal judge OKs settlement in Anthony case 
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a settlement between Casey Anthony and a Texas search group that helped look for her missing 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery will be allowed to have an unsecured claim of $75,000 in Anthony’s bankruptcy case under the terms of the settlement.
Judge K. Rodney May approved the settlement Monday in Tampa.
The search group won’t be entitled to any other claims and won’t be allowed any further dealings in the case.
The group had objected to the bankruptcy, claiming it spent more than $100,000 searching for the girl in 2008. Attorneys for the group said Anthony knew her daughter was already dead.
Anthony was acquitted of murder in the girl’s death during a 2011 trial and has been in hiding since then.
She filed for bankruptcy in January, claiming $1,000 in assets and $792,000 in liabilities.
Two other parties have complaints pending in Anthony’s bankruptcy case.
Both Zenaida Gonzalez and Roy Kronk claim they were defamed by Anthony, but she has asked a judge to dismiss their claims. Anthony’s attorneys say the claims they were defamed are baseless.
Anthony told detectives investigating Caylee’s disappearance that a baby sitter named Zenaida Gonzalez kidnapped her.
Kronk found Caylee’s remains in woods near Anthony’s home. He says he was defamed when Anthony’s defense team made false statements, including that Kronk killed Caylee and that he moved the remains.
 
Georgia
Suspended state lawmaker to go to trial Dec. 16 
ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia state lawmaker who was suspended over an indictment accusing him of illegally claiming state pay is set to stand trial next month after his lawyer filed a request for a speedy process.
The trial for Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, is scheduled to start in Fulton County Superior Court on Dec. 16. A grand jury indicted Balfour in September on felony charges of making a false certificate, theft by taking and a count of false statement and writing. He is accused of illegally claiming legislative expense pay and double-billing the state and his private employer for some expenses.
Lawyer Ken Hodges said they requested a speedy trial because his client is innocent and wants to get the allegations behind him. They believe strongly that a jury will find that Balfour did not intentionally turn in fraudulent reports, Hodges said.
Balfour has been under legal scrutiny for payments that he received for his work in the General Assembly.
He previously agreed to pay a $5,000 fine issued by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting pay for in-state work and travel on days when he was elsewhere. Lawmakers can only claim that pay if they are conducting official business inside Georgia. They can collect expenses while traveling outside the state if they are part of an approved delegation.
Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this month signed an order suspending Balfour. The Senate Republican leadership reacted swiftly, removing him from his committee leadership positions and suspending him from the Senate Republican Caucus.
 
Tennessee
Woman gets 2 life sentences in deaths of sons 
CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — A Bradley County judge has sentenced a woman to two life terms in the deaths of her two young sons.
Tasha Bates was convicted in August of murder and child neglect in the deaths of 3-year-old River and 5-year-old Leland, who were left in a car last June when the temperature hit 101 degrees.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Bates’ attorney, Richard Hughes, asked that the sentences be allowed to run concurrently, meaning she would serve just one life sentence.
“Justice can be accomplished with one life sentence,” Hughes said. “That in no way diminishes the life of these children.”
The prosecution didn’t object, but the judge refused.
“These are two people that were murdered. Two people. Two murders,” Bradley County Criminal Court Judge Amy Reedy said, adding that the boys were “introduced into a horrible place and around horrible goings-on, and around horrible activity.”
During the trial, prosecutors introduced evidence of meth making at the family’s home.
The judge ruled that Bates will have to serve the sentences consecutively, or one after the other.
In Tennessee, life sentences call for at least 51 years.
Hughes said the judge’s ruling means Bates will likely remain in prison for the rest of her life.
“She is effectively facing life without parole,” Hughes said.

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