Court Roundup

New York

Sofia Vergara's ex-fiance will fight to save embryos

NEW YORK (AP) - Actress Sofia Vergara's former fiance says in an op-ed that he sued the "Modern Family" star to protect their frozen embryos because he longs to become a parent and doesn't want the "two lives" they created to "be destroyed or sit in a freezer until the end of time."

Businessman Nick Loeb wrote Wednesday on NYTimes.com that as the child of divorced parent he yearned to have the kind of family depicted in artist Norman Rockwell's iconic paintings.

He said when he was in his 20s, his girlfriend had an abortion and the decision was "entirely out of my hands." Later, he married a woman with whom he tried to have children with the help of a fertility specialist. The marriage eventually ended.

When he and Vergara became engaged, he said, he began "to push for children" but she insisted they use a surrogate. He said initially two fertilized embryos were created. The first one implanted didn't take and the surrogate miscarried the second. "I felt crushed," he wrote.

Two more embryos were created before their relationship ended. He said he was willing to take full parental responsibility if Vergara didn't want to share custody, but she refused.

The two had signed a form stating that any embryos they created could only be brought to term if both of them agreed. Loeb said the form didn't specifically say, as California law requires, who would happen to the embryos if they separated.

"A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects," he said. "Shouldn't a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?"

Loeb said Vergara's lawyer has told reporters that she wants to keep the embryos frozen indefinitely. "In my view, keeping them frozen forever is tantamount to killing them," he said.

Loeb wrote that people have asked him why he doesn't just move on and have a family of his own. "I have every intention of doing so," he said. "But that doesn't mean I should let the two lives I have already created be destroyed or sit in a freezer until the end of time."

He said he takes the responsibility of being a parent seriously. "This is not just about saving lives; it is also about being pro-parent."

Georgia

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:<t-1f$>Former football player charged in death of boy

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) - Police have charged a former Southeastern Conference football player with killing a 4-year-old boy.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that 26-year-old Steven Terrence Singleton, a former football player at Buford High School in Georgia and a college player at Louisiana State University and the University of South Carolina was booked Wednesday in Gwinnett County on charges of felony murder and cruelty to children. Singleton is accused of inflicting fatal brain injuries on Tye Hardin on Saturday.

Singleton's relationship with Hardin is unclear. The newspaper reports that Singleton has posted multiple times on Facebook about the boy.

Police say the fatal incident occurred at a home near Lawrenceville, though the details are unclear.

It also is unclear whether Singleton has a lawyer who could comment about the charges.

New Hampshire

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:<t-1f$>Court upholds cop killer's death sentence

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a jury fairly handed down a death sentence to a man convicted of killing a Manchester police officer nearly a decade ago.

The justices of the state's highest court unanimously ruled that Michael Addison will remain the state's only death row inmate. He was convicted of killing officer Michael Briggs after a violent, weeklong series of crimes in October 2006 that put him at the top of the city's "most wanted" list.

In their first fairness review of a death sentence, the justices compared the Addison case to others across the country in which a person was convicted of killing a police officer in the line of duty.

"We conclude that the defendant's sentence is neither excessive nor disproportionate and, accordingly, affirm his sentence of death," the justices wrote.

His lawyers had argued the Briggs killing lacked the brutality of other killings.

Addison's lawyer can ask the court to reconsider its ruling. His lawyer, David Rothstein, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

On Oct. 16, 2006, Addison was wanted by police for a string of violent crimes, including several armed robberies and a drive-by shooting. Briggs was 15 minutes from the end of his shift when he and his partner - both on bicycle patrol - confronted Addison in a dark alley. Jurors found that Addison shot Briggs in the head at close range to avoid arrest.

During appeal, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin argued that criminals who kill police officers "demonstrate in the most extreme way possible that they have no respect for the rule of law or for human life."

"It is no surprise that criminals like the defendant who murder law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty are more often sentenced to death," Strelzin wrote in his brief.

During arguments in January, Justice Gary Hicks pointed out that Briggs had asked Addison to stop more than once, then, as Briggs approached him, Addison held his hand up, "it could be argued, ensnaring Officer Briggs in a trap, then put a bullet through his bike helmet. Why isn't that heinous?"

While Thursday's ruling is the last of Addison's direct appeals to the state Supreme Court, defense lawyers are already mobilizing in an effort to undermine the foundation of his death sentence.

Defense attorney Richard Samdperil filed an appeal of one of Addison's convictions for a robbery in the days leading up to the Briggs shooting. Prosecutors used that robbery and others in his violent crime spree as aggravating factors in arguing for a death sentence. If Samdperil can upset one of those factors, it could trigger a fresh analysis of Addison's death sentence.

The new appeal, filed April 6, claims Addison's trial lawyers were at fault for not questioning the 11th-hour assignment of Judge Kathleen McGuire to the case and her failure to postpone the trial when prosecutors filed newly-discovered evidence on the eve of trial.

Published: Fri, May 01, 2015

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