National Roundup


Court rules against officer who caused crash 
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled against a Racine police officer who drove against a red light when responding to an accident, causing a crash that injured another driver.
On a 4-3 decision Friday, the court reversed a ruling of the Racine County Circuit Court finding that the officer was immune from liability for damages resulting from her decision to enter the intersection.
The Supreme Court ordered that a jury verdict finding that both parties were equally at fault for the 2009 accident be reinstated.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, writing for the majority, says there was credible evidence to support the jury verdict of casual negligence on the part of the police officer.

Suit over studen­t death to beco­me federal case 
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — An attorney for the family of a student shot to death by a University of South Alabama police officer says a lawsuit in the case is moving from state court to federal court.
A grand jury found that Officer Trevis Austin was justified in shooting Gil Collar. Police said he was naked and banging on a window at a campus police station Oct. 6, 2012. Austin, who went outside to investigate the sound, said Collar was acting erratically and lunged toward him. reports that Mobile County Circuit Judge Robert Smith granted a request by lawyers for Collar’s parents to dismiss the suit in state court.
Lawyer Ben Locklar, who represents the family, said he plans to file a federal civil rights suit. Locklar said the shooting was not justified.

Lawyer: Claims of bad circumcision outcome untrue 
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Two doctors are denying claims by an Alabama man who says his penis was amputated during what was supposed to be a routine circumcision.
A lawyer for the physicians says the allegations in a lawsuit filed this week in Birmingham by Johnny Lee Banks Jr. are untrue.
The attorney, Will Axon, says the lawsuit is an attempt to damage the reputation of the physicians.
Banks and his wife filed the lawsuit this week against Drs. Vincent Michael Bivins and Alan Aikens, their medical groups and a hospital. He claims his penis was wrongly amputated during a circumcision last month.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of medical malpractice, negligence and other wrongdoing. It seeks an unspecified amount of money.
The hospital also says the claims are without merit.

New Mexico
Fighter relieved he won’t face charges in death 
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A professional mixed martial artist says prosecutors’ decision to not charge him in the fatal stabbing of an intruder at his New Mexico home is a relief.
The District Attorney’s office in Las Cruces announced Thursday that an investigation did not produce evidence to prove that Joseph Torrez killed 25-year-old Sal Garces on Jan. 1 without legal justification.
Sheriff’s officials have said Torrez fatally stabbed Garces after Garces and other people forced their way into Torrez’s home.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Torrez spoke publicly about the matter for the first time after prosecutors announced their decision.
Torrez says he acted to protect himself and his family but that he finds it difficult to think about taking another man’s life.
Man gets 5 years in prison for 10th OWI conviction
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) — A Stevens Point man has been sentenced to five years in prison for his 10th drunken driving offense.
Thirty-eight-year-old Michael Vollrath will also serve five years of probation following his prison sentence. Portage County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Eagon also ordered Vollrath on Thursday not to drink alcohol for ten years.
Vollrath’s latest conviction follows a February arrest when he was driving with a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit. Stevens Point Journal Media says Vollrath was first convicted of drunken driving in 1994.
State high court overturns brothers’ death sentences 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has overturned the death sentences of two brothers convicted of capital murder in the shooting deaths of four people whose bodies were found in a snow-covered Wichita soccer field in 2000.
The state Supreme Court on Friday also struck down three of the four capital murder conviction each against Jonathan and Reginald Carr. But it upheld one capital murder conviction each.
The court’s majority overturned the death sentences because, it said, the presiding judge failed to have separate proceedings for each brother.
In overturning most of the capital convictions, the majority said the instructions to jurors were flawed.
Man charged in 2 killings wants to fire his lawyer 
RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — A 70-year-old Vermont man charged with fatally shooting two electricians who were working on his rented home last winter is asking for a new lawyer.
Sylvester Labartino of Fair Haven has been held on $750,000 bail in the Feb. 12 shooting deaths of 57-year-old Shane Plummer and his 26-year-old son Christopher, both of West Haven.
Labartino says the Rutland lawyers Mark Furlan and Christopher Montgomery have not been in touch with him since his arraignment.
New Mexico
Group wants to sue the U.S. over river water flow 
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by environmentalists accuses federal agencies of breaking promises and failing to provide Rio Grande flows needed to protect two endangered species of fish.
WildEarth Guardians filed the suit Thursday in U.S. District Court against the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers over protection for the silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that federal officials say they’ve made major changes in how they operate and spent tens of millions of dollars in the past decade to leave water in the river for the fish.