National Roundup

 Pennsylvania

Neig­hbor’s death in beating now ruled homicide 
TURTLE CREEK, Pa. (AP) — The Allegheny County medical examiner says a neighbor who died after he intervened in a fight between a couple next door is the victim of homicide.
One of the neighbors, 30-year-old Danny Washington, of Turtle Creek, is already jailed on aggravated assault and other charges for the domestic dispute and the subsequent fight with his neighbor, 58-year-old James Payne.
Payne died at a hospital Sunday from head trauma that county police say he suffered while trying to break up a fight between Washington and his girlfriend on Friday.
Police were still trying to determine Tuesday whether Washington will now be charged with Payne’s death.
Online court records don’t list an attorney for Washington, who faces a preliminary hearing Aug. 5 on the assault and other charges.
 
Pennsylvania
Ruling: Standoff suspect didn’t need rights read
HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — An appeals court says a central Pennsylvania police officer wasn’t entitled to have his rights read to him before he spoke to fellow officers who had surrounded his home during a standoff two years ago.
The Altoona Mirror reports the Superior Court opinion reverses a ruling by a Blair County judge who ruled that Altoona police Detective Craig Zahradnik’s statement couldn’t be used against him at trial on a charge that he stalked his estranged wife.
Another city detective spoke with Zahradnik on the phone after police surrounded his home when he refused to surrender on the arrest warrant in September 2012. During that conversation, Zahradnik acknowledged he’d been following his wife around because she ignored him.
The ruling statement may now be used against Zahradnik, who is no longer an officer, when he stands trial.
 
New Mexico
King says he’ll a­sk court for donation ruling 
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A campaign finance case involving the New Mexico’s race for governor is apparently headed to the state Supreme Court
Democratic nominee and current Attorney General Gary King says he’ll ask the justices to decide whether he has to return certain donations as Secretary of State Diana Duran contends.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the issue centers on the timing of the contributions. They were made weeks after the June 3 primary election, and Duran contends that contributions for the primary election cycle cannot be accepted after that election.
Duran is a Republican and King says Duran’s office is politically motivated in how it’s handling the matter.
Duran denies any partisan motivation. She contends the three donations exceeded the state’s contribution limits by a total of nearly $11,000.
 
Ohio
Murder charge ad­ded against man in chase 
CINCINNATI (AP) — A man has been charged with aggravated murder in the aftermath of a slow-speed chase on Cincinnati-area interstate highways in which police say he held a handgun to his head.
Court records Tuesday showed that bond on the new charge was set at $1.25 million in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.
The suspect, Christopher McFerron, 44, initially faced charges including inducing panic after a chase that lasted more than an hour Saturday in the western Cincinnati area. Police said he ordered his wife out of the car on Interstate 74 and continued driving with a gun to his head, ingesting heroin before he was arrested. Sections of Interstate 275 were shut down in both directions during the chase at speeds as low as a few miles per hour.
McFerron was also accused of causing the death of Lockland businessman James Rolman, age 72, during a robbery. Police say Rolman was abducted just north of Cincinnati shortly after withdrawing $6,500 from his bank for his business payroll Friday.
“It was a normal routine for Mr. Rolman to go to the bank,” Lockland Police Chief James Toles told WLWT-TV. Rolman was found dead in his car Saturday morning.
Toles said the two men knew each other, and that McFerron had sold scrap metal to Rolman’s company.
McFerron was held after a Monday court appearance on the charges from the chase, and police charged him with murder later in the day.
Toles said police are still trying to determine whether another person was involved in the robbery and slaying.
No attorney was listed for McFerron.
 
Pennsylvania
Women stole thousands for dog show hobby 
DERRY, Pa. (AP) — Two western Pennsylvania women have been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from two elderly sisters and using the money to attend dog shows.
Online court records don’t list attorneys for 30-year-old Jessica Skacel, of Derry, and 22-year-old Ashley Giovannagelo (gee-oh-vah-NAH’-gel-oh), of Greensburg. For now, the women are charged with stealing a minimum of $2,000 from each victim.
But the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports state police at Greensburg are still trying to tally the thefts and believe much more was stolen.
Police say Skacel was hired to care for the women, who are now 85 and 83, and eventually brought in Giovannagelo to help her. Since, 2012, police say the defendants have stolen tens of thousands of dollars from each woman’s bank account and used it show their St. Bernards in dog shows around the country.
 
Illinois
Excavation finds court whe­r­e Abe Lincoln worked 
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Archaeologists excavating near the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington have unearthed part of the footprint of the 1836 courthouse where experts said Abraham Lincoln worked as an attorney.
The discovery happened Monday on the first day of two to three weeks of archaeological work before construction starts on a new entrance into a planned tourism center on the lower level of the history museum. Museum executive director Greg Koos says the find represents “physical remains of an incredibly historical episode in McLean County.”
The Pantagraph in Bloomington reports that the courthouse was a two-story brick building and was torn down in 1868 to make way for an Italian-style courthouse.
Archaeologists also found artifacts, including pieces of glass, a pipe stem, ceramic pieces and spikes and nails.

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