National Roundup

South Carolina
Reputed gangster pleads guilty in kidnapping plot

A South Carolina woman who authorities say is a gang member known as "Lady Jamaica" has admitted lying to federal agents during their investigation of the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor's father.

Chason Renee Chase, 24, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Columbia, South Carolina. She was questioned by FBI agents following the April 5 kidnapping of Frank Janssen of Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Prosecutors say Janssen's kidnapping was directed by 49-year-old Kelvin Melton, a high-ranking Bloods street gang member serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison. The intended target was Janssen's daughter, the state prosecutor who put Melton away in 2012 for his role in the shooting of his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.

Chase was interviewed by the FBI while the elder Janssen was missing and lied about communicating with Melton on a cellphone hidden in his jail cell, authorities said. Records from that phone showed numerous calls to Chase's number. Chase also claimed not to recognize a photograph of Melton.

The FBI later located Janssen and rescued him in a dramatic raid on an Atlanta apartment where he had been held. His captors, young gang members who prosecutors say were in frequent cellphone contact with Melton, sent Janssen's wife a photo of him tied up in a chair and a series of text messages threatening to torture and kill him if demands made on Melton's behalf were not met.

Chase faces a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Nine others still face federal criminal charges in the case.

Melton, Quantavious Thompson, Jakym Tibbs, Tianna Maynard, Clifton Roberts, Jenna Martin, Jevante Price, Michael Gooden and Patricia Kramer all face a federal conspiracy charge related to the abduction. All but Kramer are also charged with kidnapping.

Court: Inmate can't sue over stabbing

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A one-time inmate who said he was stabbed a dozen times in the Bullock County state prison can't sue officials for failing to protect him, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Two officers and two administrators were immune from the prisoner's lawsuit, the justices ruled unanimously in ordering a lower court in Montgomery to reverse an order that refused to dismiss the case.

Thomas Donahey Jr., 53, sued Lt. Harvey Ruffin, Sgt. Shelton Patterson, Deputy Warden Sandra Giles and Warden Kenneth Jones two years ago after he was stabbed a dozen times with a ballpoint pen by another prisoner inside Bullock County Correctional Facility in 2010.

Donahey has since been paroled from another state prison, Bibb County, according to the Department of Corrections. He was released in July.

Donahey, who has multiple theft convictions and pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property in Montgomery, claimed the officers failed to protect him from the attack and should have known that he didn't get along with the attacker. He asked for $500,000 in damages from the officers.

The officers argued that the attack was "spontaneous" and occurred while both Donahey and the other man were in a prison ward being treated for mental health issues. They denied there was a history of violence between the two men and said the attacker had gone for years without any disciplinary problems.

The officers asked a circuit court in Montgomery to dismiss the case last year by claiming they were immune from lawsuits, but the judge refused without explanation.

The officers appealed, and the Supreme Court told the judge to dismiss the case because the officers were immune from being sued. The prison officials were acting within the scope of their jobs and there was no evidence of "deliberate indifference" to Donahey's safety, the court ruled.

Attorneys eye ex-death row inmate's confession

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Attorneys for a Delaware man whose conviction and death sentence for a 1991 slaying were overturned say a confession he gave should not be allowed in any retrial.

Jermaine Wright's attorneys filed court papers Friday saying his confession shouldn't be allowed as evidence because Wright was high on heroin at the time and not properly informed about his right to have an attorney. They also say the confession was riddled with factual mistakes about the killing of Wilmington liquor store clerk Phillip Seifert, including the time, the type of gun, and the number of shots.

The Supreme Court overturned Wright's conviction because prosecutors repeatedly withheld evidence that might have helped the defense.

Before his sentence was overturned, Wright had spent more time on death row than any other Delaware inmate.

Probation for ex-cop who killed elk named Big Boy

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - A former Boulder police officer convicted of killing a treasured bull elk in an upscale neighborhood was sentenced Friday to four years of probation.

Sam Carter, 37, was on duty when he killed the elk known as "Big Boy" on New Year's Day 2013 while it grazed under a crabapple tree. He did not report firing his weapon and then said the animal had been injured and needed to be put down.

Prosecutors said text messages between Carter and another former Boulder police officer, Brent Curnow, showed the shooting was planned. The elk was a fixture in the neighborhood and its killing inspired marches, vigils, a tribute song and plans for a memorial.

A jury convicted Carter in June of nine charges, including three felonies - forgery, tampering with evidence and attempting to influence a public official. Carter, who faced up to six years in prison, also was ordered Friday to complete 200 hours of community service, serve on a work crew for 30 days and pay $10,200 in fines, The Daily Camera reported.

"I want to apologize to the citizens of Boulder, and I'm asking the court to allow me the chance to repair the damage that I've caused," he said during the sentencing hearing. "I am haunted by this incident every day."

Carter did not comment on the judge's decision after leaving the courtroom.

Curnow faced the same charges as Carter, but he took a plea deal and received a deferred sentence, 60 days of home detention and probation. Prosecutors said Carter called Curnow to come cart away the body in his pickup truck, and together they butchered the animal for its meat.


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