National Roundup

Oregon
Naked violinist sues police over arrest last year

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Hillsboro, Oregon, man arrested after playing a violin while naked outside the federal courthouse in Portland last year is suing police.

The Oregonian reports that 25-year-old Matthew T. Mglej claims authorities used excessive force and violated his First Amendment rights. He named the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Police Bureau as defendants in a lawsuit filed last week, and he’s seeking $1.1 million in damages.

Police showed up after receiving complaints about the demonstration, during which the man played violin, meditated and quoted former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They said they arrested him for indecent exposure and carried him to a patrol car when he refused to walk.

Mglej claims jail deputies cut his wrists by jerking on his handcuffs and called him names when he cried from the pain and for his service dog.

He has a hearing on the indecent exposure charge next month.

New York
Mom accused of killing son with salt going on trial

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A young mother accused of killing her 5-year-old son by poisoning him with salt goes on trial this week in the New York suburbs.

Lacey Spears of Scottsville, Kentucky, is charged with depraved murder and manslaughter in the death a year ago of Garnett-Paul Spears.

Prosecutors say she forced salt into a feeding tube in the boy’s stomach. His sodium levels rose to dangerous levels with no medical explanation, prosecutors said, leading to a swollen brain, seizures and death.

All the while, Spears was keeping social media followers up to date. She made tens of thousands of entries during his lifetime, presenting herself as a supremely devoted mother.

Her postings, her Internet searches about sodium and Garnett’s hospital records will be in evidence.
Jury selection is set for Monday.

Tennessee
Defendant says he has no memory of sexual assault

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A former Vanderbilt football player charged with rape told a jury Monday that he can’t remember a dorm room sexual assault that prosecutors say he and three of his teammates carried out.

“I was just drunk out of my mind,” Cory Batey testified.

Batey told jurors that he was horrified when he saw on his cellphone explicit pictures of a woman he’d never met before in his life.

Batey was a 19-year-old who had just come out of his freshman year when he and three of his teammates were charged with raping an unconscious student in a dorm in June of 2013.

The alleged victim in the case cried during his testimony and bent forward, prompting a court official to inquire if she was OK. She testified last week that she has no recollection of being sexually assaulted.

Batey and Brandon Vandenburg are standing trial this week. Both are charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Two other former players who have not gone to trial yet are facing the same charges. Vandenburg additionally faces a charge of unlawful photography and tampering with evidence.

All four have pleaded not guilty.

Batey testified that another player told him what happened in Vandenburg’s dorm room. He recalled a warning to delete pictures on his phone.

Batey’s attorney has told the jury that the former player was so drunk at the time that he blacked out. His defense has said the culture at Vanderbilt changed Batey.
Throughout the trial, jurors have seen graphic video footage and photos of the sexual assault that police recovered from cell phones and a laptop.

Batey told jurors that it was he who was in the images they saw. He said he took responsibility.

“So, Mr. Batey, today you say that you are accepting responsibility for your actions?” asked Roger Moore, one of the prosecutors in the case. “Does that mean you are changing your plea?”

Batey said no.

Defense attorneys have placed blame on the elite Southern university, saying their clients’ judgment was warped by a campus culture where drunken sex was common.

Graphic evidence and testimony presented in court shows that several others were at least partly aware that an unconscious woman was being taken advantage of or had enough evidence to show that something had happened to her, and did nothing to help her or report it.

The incident came to light only after Vanderbilt officials reviewed a dormitory surveillance video following a report of vandalism. When they reviewed the footage, they saw an unconscious woman being dragged into a dorm room. They called Nashville police, who opened an investigation.


Rhode Island
Bodies left in funeral home buried, cremated

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Several decomposed bodies and remains left unattended by a Providence funeral home have been buried or cremated.

The Providence Journal reports that the Health Department released information showing that of the nine decomposed bodies discovered in the investigation of Pennine Funeral Home, eight have been identified and buried or cremated with the voluntary help of four funeral homes.

The medical examiner says all eight died of natural causes between 2001 and 2013.

Police say they are not much closer to understanding what Pennine’s reasons were for leaving the human remains scattered around his funeral home and an abandoned unit of a storage facility.

Authorities say funeral home director Alfred Pennine committed suicide last summer.

Oklahoma
State could halt executions for high court review

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma is willing to put three executions on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews whether a certain sedative can render death row inmates sufficiently unconscious.

Rather than stop the executions itself, Oklahoma took the unusual step Monday of asking justices for a stay. Oklahoma wants the right to resume executions if it finds a different suitable drug.

Four inmates sued Oklahoma, saying they fear the sedative midazolam cannot prevent their suffering as lethal drugs take effect. One of the four was executed this month and showed no signs of physical distress. Charles Warner implied discomfort during his final statement but before any lethal drugs were administered.

Last year, Clayton Lockett struggled against his restraints during his execution.

Another execution is set for Thursday. Two others follow by March 5.

 

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