National Roundup

Utah

2 peace officers suspended over bikini video shoot

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Two Utah peace officers have been suspended without pay over a risque video shoot featuring bikini-clad women firing high-powered weapons.

The Utah Department of Public Safety imposed the discipline in December on Rob Wilkinson, a Utah Highway Patrol sergeant, and Justin Hansen, a State Bureau of Investigation agent. The department released its discipline records last week after receiving a request to obtain them by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Wilkinson, who received a three-day suspension, and Hansen, who received a one-day suspension, were at the Big Shot Ranch near Grantsville in June when British bikini models posed for photos and were videotaped firing guns for a calendar called "Hot Shots."

The two men were seen wearing camouflage uniforms identifying them as police in a promotional video posted on YouTube in October.

Neither Wilkinson nor Hansen sought their superiors' permission to participate, and superiors learned of the activity only when they saw video clips played by the news media in Utah, according to the records.

The men were disciplined for conduct that brings discredit to an officer or agency, and for wearing their uniform during a promotion for a product - both rules violations, the records show. Wilkinson and Hansen declined comment.

An acquaintance asked the two to help supervise the firing line where the models shot at targets, according to an internal affairs report. The report also notes Hot Shots purports to donate a portion of its proceeds to charities for wounded soldiers.

In November, four Utah National Guard soldiers were disciplined for their unauthorized involvement and use of military vehicles in a video featuring the bikini-clad women firing high-powered weapons and riding in tanks.

A non-commissioned officer who inappropriately allowed the video to be partially shot at Camp Williams in May was relieved of his duties, and three other soldiers received lesser measures ranging from counseling to a reprimand.

Iowa

Judge: No early end to man's trial for girl's death

WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge has denied a request to acquit a man accused of killing his former girlfriend's 5-year-old daughter.

Defense attorneys for 35-year-old Casey Frederiksen on Monday moved to clear his charges of first-degree murder and sexual assault, claiming the prosecution failed to offer physical evidence in their case against the man. Prosecutors allege Frederiksen sexually abused Evelyn Miller and stabbed her to death while baby-sitting her in 2005.

The girl's body was found in the Cedar River five days after she was reported missing.

The defense says the prosecution relied only on Frederiksen's prior behavior to link him to the girl's death, but prosecutors disagreed. The judge denied the motion, saying evidence is sufficient for the case to go to jury.

Texas

Proposal requires top courts to air arguments

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A Texas lawmaker is proposing letting voters decide whether the state's highest criminal appeals court should have to record and post online video of its proceedings.

Edinburg Democratic Rep. Terry Canales says his Republican peers may support the requirement in the name of transparency.

But he's less certain about them agreeing to appropriate the cash that Texas' Court of Criminal Appeals would need to record proceedings. The proposal would cost $300,000 to start, then $48,000 annually after that.

A hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment is set for Tuesday. If it passes, a referendum could come in November.

The state Supreme Court is Texas' highest civil court. Its proceedings have been broadcast online since 2007, but initially got funding help from St. Mary's University School of Law.

Tennessee

Football players plead not guilty to rape charges

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Former Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson and suspended Tennessee defensive back Michael Williams have pleaded not guilty to aggravated rape charges.

Johnson and Williams were arraigned Monday after being indicted last month by a grand jury. Trial was set for Aug. 24.

Johnson and Williams were suspended from Tennessee's football team in November, one day before Knoxville police named both as subjects of a rape investigation. Johnson has since graduated and completed his eligibility.

Lawyers for both players have said their clients are innocent of the charges.

Tom Dillard, the lawyer representing Johnson, declined comment Monday aside from pointing out that his client had pleaded not guilty. When Johnson turned himself in last month, Dillard issued a statement saying Johnson "has fully cooperated throughout this investigation, has maintained his innocence from the beginning, and looks forward to being cleared of these accusations so that he can begin to put his life back together."

Johnson and Williams are charged with raping a woman at a Knoxville apartment in November. The Associated Press does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse.

Johnson and Williams turned themselves in after getting indicted last month and were released on $40,000 bond.

Johnson, a 23-year-old from Gainesville, Georgia, was a four-year starter for Tennessee's football team. His 425 career tackles represent Tennessee's second-highest total since the school started keeping track of that statistic in 1970.

Vermont

Death penalty case to be retried after 15 years

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Preparations for a new trial are getting underway for a Vermont man whose 2005 federal kidnapping and murder conviction and death sentence was overturned because of juror misconduct.

Donald Fell is expected to be in court in Burlington on April 10 for the pretrial conference.

Relatives of the Terri King, the 53-year-old North Clarendon woman who was abducted and later killed when she arrived for work at a Rutland supermarket, are planning to attend the hearing.

Fell and his co-defendant, Robert Lee, were originally charged with abducting King in November 2000 shortly after killing Fell's mother and a friend in her Rutland apartment, authorities said. No state charges were ever filed for their deaths. Lee hanged himself in prison in 2001.

Prosecutors had offered a potential plea deal, calling for Fell to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for a life sentence. But last month, it was removed as an option

Fell is now being held at the federal Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center in New York.

Published: Tue, Mar 10, 2015

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