National Roundup

Pennsylvania
Woman charged with stealing police cruiser

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (AP) - A woman has been ordered to stand trial on charges she stole a police cruiser and led officers on an 80 mph chase - all while her hands were cuffed behind her.

Center Township police testified at Roxanne Rimer's preliminary hearing Monday that she was arrested after stealing earrings from a Kohl's store Jan. 14.

Police testified that a loss prevention officer detained the 27-year-old Rimer, who apparently gave a fake name and claimed to be a juvenile. Before police could arrive, Rimer ran away and jumped into a car driven by her grandfather, police said. That car was pulled over moments later, and Rimer was removed, handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a police cruiser, screaming, "Mommy! Mommy!" authorities said.

Police don't believe the grandfather knew of the shoplifting allegation.

Officers say while police were searching her grandfather's car, the thin Chippewa Township woman squeezed through an opening in a partition in the cruiser that wasn't latched and crawled into the front seat.

She zoomed off, smashing into her grandfather's car as she drove away, still handcuffed, police said.

Rimer then led officers on a nearly 10-mile chase, weaving in and out of traffic, before she crashed into a hillside and jumped out of the car, police said.

District Judge James DiBenedetto ordered her to stand trial on charges including aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, fleeing and eluding police, and robbery.

Her attorney, Steven Valsamidis, argued against the aggravated assault charge - filed because of accusations the officers were endangered - because he said Rimer didn't intend to injure anyone and nobody was hurt.

But the judge agreed with the prosecutor, who said Rimer put both the police and her grandfather at risk.

"She was going to get out of that situation at whatever the cost," said Frank Martocci, assistant district attorney in Beaver County.

California
Actress pleads not guilty to lewd conduct

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An attorney for "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend has entered not guilty pleas on their behalf to misdemeanor lewd conduct charges.

Attorney Lou Shapiro entered the pleas at a brief hearing Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Watts and Brian Lucas were charged in October after briefly being detained by Los Angeles police who were investigating a report of lewd conduct in a parked Mercedes the previous month.

After the incident, Watts suggested she was a victim of racial profiling. She has said she and her boyfriend were just kissing in the car.

Police say officers followed proper protocols while investigating the call.

Neither Watts nor Lucas appeared in court Tuesday. Their case will be called again Feb. 23.

Colorado
Prosecutors to probe police killing of teen

DENVER (AP) - Denver prosecutors are promising to do a thorough investigation after police shot and killed a 17-year-old girl who authorities say struck an officer with a stolen car.

However, prosecutors said Tuesday they could not discuss the facts of the case.

The statement came after about 20 people rallied outside the office of District Attorney Mitch Morrissey calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the shooting early Monday of the girl identified by officials as Jessica Hernandez.

Morrissey was out of town and chief deputy district attorney Doug Jackson spoke after the rally over shouts and obscenities from some of the protesters. He said the findings of the investigation will be made public and people can decide if the right decision was made.

The girl's cousin, Jose Castaneda, was frustrated and said he didn't want to wait months to find out what happened.

Kentucky
Ex-county official sentenced to jail

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former county official in Kentucky has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for raking in more than $100,000 in a kickback scheme that continued after his Appalachian county was hit by a tornado.

Former Morgan County Judge-Executive Tim Conley tearfully begged for mercy Tuesday. Conley acknowledged his wrongdoing and said he wants his life back.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove said Conley's crime "feeds into the cynicism" toward government and said there are consequences.

He sentenced Conley to seven years and three months in prison for soliciting and accepting the kickbacks from a bridge contractor. That was at the top of federal sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutors urged a sentence of 11 years and four months.

The 2012 tornado killed six people in Morgan County. They were among 25 who died in an outbreak of twisters statewide.

Nebraska
Man convicted of weapons counts in death of child

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A 19-year-old man has been convicted of two weapons charges connected to the death of a 5-year-old struck by a bullet while eating breakfast in her Omaha home last year.

Prosecutors made a deal with Jaylen Montgomery, who pleaded no contest Monday to use of a firearm and discharging a firearm at an occupied building. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a third charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Montgomery faces up to 54 years in prison when he's sentenced on April 3. He is one of four men charged in the slaying of Payton Benson.

Authorities have said the four were riding in a stolen vehicle on Jan. 15, 2014, when they spotted someone they thought was a rival gang member. Three of them got out and opened fire with handguns and a rifle.

Their bullets struck three homes. One of the stray rifle bullets went through a wall of Payton's home a block away, through her and out another wall, authorities said.

One of the defendants, 21-year-old Vincent Hicks, is awaiting trial on charges of first-degree murder and other crimes. Authorities have said they believe he fired the rifle.

Jacob Brown, 22, is awaiting trial, online court records say, as is Adonus Moses, 23. Brown is charged with use of a firearm and discharging a firearm at an occupied building. Moses is charged with conspiracy.

Published: Wed, Jan 28, 2015

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