National Roundup

Pennsylvania
Schools settle lawsuit over trimming beard

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia School District has settled a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that accused school administrators of discriminating against an employee who said he couldn't trim his beard for religious reasons.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports the lawsuit was settled Monday.

The March lawsuit was prompted by an October 2010 policy preventing school police and security officers from having beards more than a quarter of an inch long. The Justice Department says the policy discriminated against a Muslim officer and others by failing to accommodate their religious beliefs.

An attorney for the district says it can keep the beard-trimming requirement, but must come up with a more detailed policy for how officers can request a religious accommodation. The district had previously settled a complaint by the guard confidentially.

Nebraska
Mother takes deal in slaying of 4-year-old son

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) - A Hastings woman whose 9-year-old son is charged with fatally shooting his 4-year-old brother has pleaded no contest to a child abuse charge.

Court records say the 30-year-old woman was convicted on Monday of felony negligent child abuse resulting in injury. Prosecutors had lowered the charge from felony negligent child abuse resulting in death. Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 28.

Her 31-year-old boyfriend also has pleaded guilty to felony negligent child abuse resulting in injury. His sentencing is set for Sept. 22.

Her older son is accused of shooting his brother with a .22-caliber rifle in April and has been charged with manslaughter.

Ohio
AG won't release video of police shooting at store

BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (AP) - Ohio's attorney general said he won't publicly release surveillance video of a man fatally shot by police at a Dayton-area Wal-Mart despite a growing effort by family and supporters on social media calling for it.

Facebook groups and online petitions have been created pushing for the release of the video of police killing of John Crawford III inside of a Wal-Mart store in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek on Aug. 5, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Crawford was fatally shot by officers responding to a 911 call that a man was waving a rifle in the store. They said Crawford refused orders to drop the weapon, which turned out to be a pellet rifle he had taken off a store shelf.

His supporters say the public has a right to know what happened. People and groups ranging from the president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus to the Rev. Al Sharpton's civil rights group National Action Network have called for the tape's release.

Crawford was black. The officers involved in his shooting are white.

But DeWine said releasing the video would be "playing with dynamite" because it could compromise the investigation and taint a potential jury pool.

Rallies have been staged pushing for release of the video and also in support of the police.

Wal-Mart customer Angela Williams, 37, also died that day. She collapsed from a medical condition while trying to flee the chaos in the store with her 9-year-old daughter.

A special grand jury on Sept. 22 will determine if any charges should be brought against the officers. As part of the investigation, authorities closed the 24-hour store for several hours last week to re-enact the shooting.

Texas
Jury finds woman not guilty of strangling 2 kids

DALLAS (AP) - A North Texas woman accused of strangling her two special-needs children because she wanted "normal kids" has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Dallas Morning News reports Saiqa Akhter must remain at a state mental hospital for treatment unless a judge approves her discharge.

Medical experts testified Monday that Akhter was diagnosed as schizophrenic and insane when her children were attacked and died in July 2010. Relatives say the Irving woman's 5-year-old son, Zain, had severe speech problems. Her 2-year-old daughter, Faryaal, was developmentally delayed.

Akhter told a 911 operator that she strangled the children because they were a burden, saying, "I want normal kids."

Attorneys for Akhter, who was originally charged with capital murder, said she belonged in a mental hospital and not prison.

Louisiana
Man thought dead found guilty in child's slaying

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - A jury has convicted a Mississippi man who was declared dead two decades ago only to resurface as a murder suspect.

The Town Talk reports that jurors took just over an hour Monday before finding Thomas Sanders guilty in the kidnapping and slaying of 12-year-old Lexis Roberts.

The penalty phase begins next week. Jurors will decide whether the 57-year-old Sanders will be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors concluded their case against Sanders on Friday. Defense lawyers called no witnesses after failing to get the case thrown out of federal court.

Roberts' skeletal remains were found off a gravel trail in rural Louisiana in October 2010. The body of her mother, Suellen Roberts, was found later in Arizona. Sanders confessed to killing both.

California
Suspect indicted in killing 7 people at college campus

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Prosecutors say a grand jury has indicted a man accused of killing seven people at a small Northern California Christian college.

The Alameda County district attorney's office announced Monday that the grand jury on Aug. 22 indicted One Goh on seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the 2012 shooting rampage at Oikos University in Oakland.

A judge ruled last year that the 45-year-old Goh is not mentally fit to stand trial after doctors diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. The indictment means Goh can go straight to trial if he's later found competent.

The former Oikos student has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed. A status hearing is set for April.

Authorities say Goh planned the spree at the school that caters to Korean immigrants after a tuition dispute. His attorney, David Klaus, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday.

 

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