National Roundup

Missouri
Ferguson to pay lawyer $1,335 an hour for reforms

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - Ferguson is paying an attorney more than $1,300 an hour to help the St. Louis suburb negotiate and possibly litigate reforms demanded by the Justice Department since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown last summer.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Ferguson City Council decided behind closed doors in March to hire Dan K. Webb of suburban Chicago at an hourly rate nearly double Missouri's highest attorney billing rate last year.

Webb's tab doesn't include the expenses and fees of any lawyers or paralegals in his firm who may work on the case.

Webb is a 69-year-old former federal prosecutor whose clients in private practice included Philip Morris, Microsoft and the New York Stock Exchange.

Georgia
Sheriff accused of shooting wom­an in Atlanta suburb

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) - An Atlanta-area sheriff who was acquitted three years ago in a major public corruption case is now accused of shooting a woman in a subdivision near the suburb of Lawrenceville.

The woman was found shot in the abdomen Sunday evening, Gwinnett County police said. She was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in critical condition, authorities said.

The shooter was identified as Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, Gwinnett County police said in a statement. He refused to speak with investigators at the scene and was released with no charges, police said.

The shooting was "reported as accidental," police said late Sunday in a statement, which did not elaborate on who characterized it that way.

In 2012, Hill was elected sheriff despite being under indictment on felony corruption charges. A jury the following year acquitted him of the 27 felony charges, including theft and giving false statements.

The jury's acquittal cleared the way for Hill to continue as sheriff in the county south of Atlanta. The charges had stemmed from Hill's previous term as Clayton County's sheriff, from 2005 to 2008. The indictment accused Hill of using his office for personal gain. Special Assistant District Attorney Layla Zon said during the trial that Hill used his county car for trips that he paid for, in part, by using a government credit card.

But Hill's attorneys argued that the charges were politically motivated. Hill has drawn controversy since the day he first took office in 2005, when he fired 27 deputies. A judge later ordered that the deputies be reinstated.

Late Sunday, Gwinnett police said investigators have been consulting with the District Attorney's Office and no charges have been filed in the ongoing investigation. Possible charges against Hill would proceed differently since he's a sheriff, police said.

"When you're an active sheriff in the state of Georgia, there are certain legal requirements and steps that have to be taken," Doan told reporters at the scene. "It's not just an average citizen where you can take out a warrant for their arrest."

The home where police say the shooting occurred is a $329,990 model home for sale in the Park Haven neighborhood, Paran Homes advertises on its website. Paran Homes representatives didn't immediately return a phone message left early Monday.

Earlier this year, another high-ranking law enforcement official shot his wife as she slept. Then Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom called 911 early New Year's Day to report accidentally shooting his ex-wife, Margaret, as they slept in their suburban Atlanta home. The shooting left Margaret McCollom paralyzed below the waist.

McCollom resigned from his post in March. He was indicted on a misdemeanor reckless conduct charge in April. Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard said investigators found no evidence McCollom intended to harm Margaret McCollom. However, Ballard said he concluded the shooting could have been prevented.

Pennsylvania
Father wants to change plea for girl's rotten teeth

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania father who pleaded guilty after his daughter's teeth were found so rotten her life was endangered now says he didn't neglect his 6-year-old.

The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown reports that Kenneth Wanamaker Jr. wants a judge to let him withdraw his guilty plea. Wanamaker says Saturday that he never endangered his daughter's life.

The 37-year-old pleaded guilty last month to reckless endangerment and false swearing. He's been in jail since having his bail revoked in December for failing to enroll in drug treatment.

Authorities allege he allowed his daughter's teeth to become so infected her life was at risk.

He says in a filing April 22 that he didn't understand the charges.

Authorities are still investigating the pneumonia death of Wanamaker's 7-month-old son in 2011.

Illinois
New policy: No solitary to punish juvenile inmates
CHICAGO (AP) - A federal judge in Chicago has approved new rules strictly barring juvenile detention centers in Illinois from using solitary confinement to punish detainees.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice negotiated that policy change in an ongoing class-action lawsuit. The ACLU alleges solitary confinement can seriously damage inmates' mental health.

ACLU lawyer Adam Schwartz said in a Monday statement "ending solitary confinement is a mark of a forward-thinking agency." An agency spokesman didn't have an immediate comment Sunday evening.

Court filings indicate Judge Matthew Kennelly gave his OK in late April. Court-appointed monitors will oversee implementation. Solitary confinement will be permitted in some cases if detainees are deemed a threat to themselves or others. But they usually must be released after 24 hours.

Virginia
Trial begins for 6 in slaying of reserve officer

WAYNESBORO, Va. (AP) - Six people are scheduled to go on trial this week on charges stemming from the slaying of a Waynesboro reserve police officer.

The News-Virginian reports that jury selection began Monday in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville. The trial is expected to last four weeks.

Four defendants are charged with kidnapping, murder, racketeering and robbery. They are Travis Bell and siblings Daniel Lamont Mathis, Shantai Monique Shelton and Mersadies Lachelle Shelton.

Gert Arthur Wright III, also known as Halisi Uhuru, and Anthony Darnell Stokes are charged with racketeering and obstruction of justice.

The charges stem from the slaying of 45-year-old Kevin Quick. Quick was reported missing on Feb. 1, 2014. His body was found days later in woods northwest of Richmond.

Published: Tue, May 05, 2015

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