National Roundup

Vermont
Man dismissed from jury duty for prisoner costume

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont man has escaped jury duty - by getting dismissed for wearing a prisoner costume.

James Lowe of Barnet says he was released from jury duty on Tuesday when he showed up to court wearing a black-and-white-striped jumpsuit with a matching beanie.

The Caledonian Record reports that Lowe showed up on time and joined other prospective jurors before the start of the selection process. Deputies directed him to an empty courtroom to meet with the judge, who told him to leave.

Lowe says the judge told him he could've been found in contempt of court. That could've meant a fine or jail time.

Lowe says the juror instructions don't restrict clothing, but that he's happy to be released because of his work schedule and family obligations.

Florida
Doctor tied to NJ Sen. Menendez heads to hearing

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A prominent eye doctor accused in a federal corruption case along with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is scheduled to be back in a Florida courtroom seeking release on bail.

Dr. Salomon Melgen is set to appear in federal court in West Palm Beach on Wednesday morning to provide more information on his assets before a judge sets bond.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hopkins said Monday that he needed to know about property and bank accounts held by 61-year-old Melgen in his native Dominican Republic, as well as the value of artwork he owns in the U.S.

Melgen has been behind bars for nearly eight weeks. He is accused of falsely diagnosing patients with eye conditions and performing unnecessary procedures to bilk Medicare out of as much as $105 million.

New Jersey
Medical examiner rules reporter's death a drowning

LONG HILL TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A medical examiner in New Jersey says the death of a Wall Street Journal reporter whose body was found in a river 14 months after he disappeared was an accident.

The medical examiner determined that 55-year-old David Bird accidentally drowned when he fell into the Passaic (puh-SAY'-ihk) River.

Bird was a liver transplant recipient and didn't have his medication with him when he left his Long Hill Township home to take a walk in January 2014.

Two men canoeing in the Passaic River between Long Hill and Bernards Township came across a red jacket in March and police found Bird's remains.

Bird's widow, Nancy, tells the Daily Record of Parsippany she believes her husband was scrambling to return home as a storm approached and lost his footing on the banks of the river.

Virginia
Woman admits bigamy; didn't divorce husband

WAYNESBORO, Va. (AP) - A woman who married her female partner last year without first divorcing her husband has pleaded guilty to bigamy and other charges in Virginia.

The News Virginian of Waynesboro reports 28-year-old Keyshana Rae Childress was sentenced to two years' probation.

Prosecutors say Childress signed a marriage license in October 2014 and lied about being married. Childress was already married to a 51-year-old man from Charlottesville. After marrying her 27-year-old female partner, Childress took her three children to Gainesville, Florida.

In January, the husband told police Childress took the children to Florida without his permission and against a child custody and visitation order.

Childress was charged with one felony count of bigamy, one felony count of perjury and three misdemeanor charges of custody violations.

Kentucky
Widow sues atty. after husband commits suicide

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky woman is suing an attorney who helped get disability benefits for her now-deceased husband, blaming the attorney for her husband's suicide after the Social Security Administration cut off those benefits.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Floyd County Circuit Court says the benefits were cut off because officials suspected the attorney, Eric Conn, was engaged in fraud. Emma Burchett says her husband stopped taking his antidepressants after the monthly check of $1,036 was suspended in May. Burchett was one of 900 people whose checks were suspended.

The lawsuit says Leroy Burchett shot and killed himself June 1. Benefits were temporarily restored on June 4.

Conn has not been charged with a crime. His attorney called it a tragic case but said Conn bears no responsibility. He blamed the Social Security Administration for suspending the benefits without a hearing.

New York
Guard, ex-guard arrested in death of Rikers inmate

NEW YORK (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a current and former Rikers Island correction officer are charged in an inmate's 2012 beating death.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara planned a Wednesday news conference about the arrests in Ronald Spear's death. Court papers say former guard Brian Coll repeatedly kicked Spear in the head. They say Byron Taylor was arrested because he helped restrain Spear and then lied about his role.

New York City settled a lawsuit last year for $2.75 million stemming from the death.

Spear's death at 52 was ruled a homicide. A criminal complaint says Spears, a pre-trial detainee, was face-down on the prison floor as Coll kicked him.

Lawyers say Spear complained guards retaliated against him for contacting lawyers about his kidney disease treatment.

It's not immediately clear who will represent them.

New York
Court upholds keeping teen's brain for autopsy

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's highest court has ruled that medical examiners don't have to return to families all organs from autopsied bodies or even tell them parts are missing.

The case involves a New York City couple who buried their 17-year-old son after a 2005 car crash, not knowing his brain was removed.

Two months after the funeral, Jesse Shipley's high school class saw his brain in a labeled jar during a morgue field trip.

The Shipleys got it back and had a second funeral.

A jury awarded them $1 million for emotional distress, reduced to $600,000 by a midlevel court.

The Court of Appeals, divided 5-2, says medical examiners have discretion, not a legal obligation, to tell families organs have been kept and have no liability for not doing it.

Published: Thu, Jun 11, 2015

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