National Roundup

San Francisco to pay $15 million in fatal park hit-run

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco will pay $15 million to the family of a woman who was fatally struck by a city pickup truck while she lay with her baby in a public park.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the legal settlement Tuesday to 35-year-old Christine Svanemyr's widower and child.

Svanemyr was relaxing with her 11-month-old baby and dog at a park in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood on Sept. 5, 2013, when she was run over by a city Recreation and Park Department truck.

A parks gardener driving the truck was charged with vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run. The city fired him, and his criminal case is ongoing.

In November, the family filed a legal claim against the city, which is a precursor to a lawsuit.

Hernandez bid to toss telephone evidence goes on

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) - A judge is hearing testimony for a second day on a bid by attorneys for ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez to have evidence from his cellphone thrown out.

The motion hearing is taking place in Fall River Superior Court. The defense says the phone was unlawfully seized and searched. Prosecutors say they had a warrant for it and it was turned over by Hernandez's attorneys without objection.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston.

A Massachusetts state trooper who investigated Lloyd's killing was questioned Wednesday on the stand. Prosecutors showed surveillance video from Hernandez's home showing Sgt. Paul Baker arrive to execute search warrants. Hernandez can be seen stretched out on his couch while authorities are in the house.

Appeals court upholds reversal of DeLay verdicts

HOUSTON (AP) - The highest criminal court in Texas refused Wednesday to reinstate two money-laundering convictions for former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a ruling last year from the 3rd Court of Appeals that tossed the Republican's 2010 convictions for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a scheme to influence Texas state elections.

Travis County prosecutors had argued in June before the Austin-based Court of Criminal Appeals that the convictions be reinstated.

"We agree with the court of appeals' ultimate conclusion that, as a matter of law, what the state has proven in this case does not constitute either of the alleged criminal offenses," the high court said in its 8-1 ruling.

Prosecutors said DeLay accepted $190,000 in corporate donations to his Texas-based political action committee, which then funneled those funds to seven candidates in 2002 through a money swap coordinated with an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee. Under state law, corporate money cannot be given directly to political campaigns.

The lower appeals court, however, ruled there was insufficient evidence for a jury to have found DeLay guilty. DeLay had been sentenced to three years in prison, but that was put on hold while his case was appealed.

The Court of Criminal Appeals said Wednesday there was nothing in the case record to show DeLay knew he was "conducting, supervising or facilitating a transaction that involved the proceeds of criminal activity." Prosecutors failed to establish the "requisite culpable mental state" to prove the offenses, the high court said in its 38-page decision.

As a result, DeLay "was not susceptible to conviction for laundering money or conspiring to launder money," the court said.

In a brief concurring opinion, Judges Cheryl Johnson and Cathy Cochran referred to the transactions as "wheeling and dealing (that) was a tad shady, but legal."

"It is not a crime to conspire to do a legal act," they said.

The lone dissenter, Judge Lawrence Meyers, called the high court's ruling deficient and said the court had "changed the law and ignored the facts in order to arrive at a desired outcome."

New York
Teacher at elite NY school faces sex charges

NEW YORK (AP) - A teacher at an elite New York City high school already accused of sending an indecent photo to a student is now facing an additional 36-count indictment alleging he victimized six others.

Brooklyn Technical High School teacher Sean Shaynak remained in custody Wednesday, a day after he pleaded not guilty to the new charges. Bail was set at $750,000 bond and was at $250,000 for the previous charge. Defense attorney Kimberly Summers declined to comment.

The charges in the new indictment include kidnapping, forcible touching, sexual abuse and criminal sexual act. Shaynak faces up to 25 years in prison on the top charge, authorities said.

Shaynak, 44, pleaded not guilty in August to charges including dissemination of indecent material to a minor. Authorities say he sent a photo of his genitals to a 16-year-old female student.

Authorities said Tuesday that computers and phones taken after his arrest found text messages, photos and videos detailing sexual interactions with six teens, from ages 13 to 19, between 2011 and 2014. Those interactions included taking a 15-year-old girl to a nude beach and giving alcohol and cigarettes to minors, officials said.

"These alleged actions are completely unacceptable and have no place in, or outside of, our schools," City Department of Education spokeswoman Devora Kaye said. "The DOE took swift action to immediately reassign Mr. Shaynak following his initial arrest. He is not, and will not be, in contact with students. Student safety remains our top priority."

No trial for man in 2012 cruiser-crushing case

NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a tractor two years ago won't be prosecuted. The Caledonian Record reports State's Attorney Alan Franklin and defense attorney Chandler Matson agree that 36-year-old Roger Pion, of Newport, was insane at the time of the rampage.

Pion had pleaded not guilty. At one point, he was deemed incompetent to stand trial, and he was hospitalized in January. A later evaluation deemed him competent, and he is now treated outside a hospital.

Franklin said a hearing on his treatment would be conducted in about two months.

Police said Pion was angry about a marijuana possession arrest when he drove his father's tractor over six police cruisers and a van owned by the Orleans County Sheriffs' Department in August 2012, causing $300,000 in damage.

Published: Thu, Oct 02, 2014


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