National Roundup

Pennsylvania
Cops say man took ambulance for joy ride

YORK, Pa. (AP) - Emergency workers in Pennsylvania got an unpleasant surprise when they wheeled a patient out of a home to their ambulance, only to find it wasn't there.

Police in York tell the York Dispatch 21-year-old Leonard Eugene Smith took the vehicle for a joy ride Friday before ditching it. They say an in-vehicle camera captured his actions and a tracking device led them to the ambulance.

Jim Arvin, president and CEO of White Rose Ambulance, says the video shows Smith "having a good time" behind the wheel, adding he "seemed excited."

Smith is charged with felony theft and a misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person. He's jailed on $75,000 bail.

The patient, who was having breathing problems, got to the hospital without much delay after another ambulance was called.

Massachusetts
Ex-football player pleads guilty to battering woman

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A former Massachusetts college football player charged with fracturing his girlfriend's skull has pleaded guilty to assault and battery but avoided prison time.

John Perry, a former linebacker at Western New England University, was sentenced this month to a year of probation after pleading guilty to reduced charges. He had faced a more serious charge of aggravated assault for allegedly punching the woman last November during a party at his off-campus house.

The Springfield Republican newspaper reports that the 22-year-old from Marblehead was also ordered to avoid alcohol, stay away from the victim and complete a domestic violence treatment program. He was kicked out of the Springfield school.

Perry's lawyer said the woman was intoxicated and didn't remember what happened, and that Perry wasn't home when she was injured.

New York
Diabetic inmate's family to get $1.5M settlement

NEW YORK (AP) - The family of a diabetic Rikers Island inmate who died after being ignored by jailers for more than 14 hours is getting a $1.5 million settlement from New York City.

The Daily News reports that internal investigations by the city and state blamed the death of 45-year-old Carlos Mercado on corrections officers on duty beginning Aug. 23, 2013.

Documents say surveillance video captured one of the jailers stepping over Mercado after he fell out of a holding pen.

The newspaper says his sister, Linda Mercado, and her lawyers, couldn't be reached for comment. She previously said the staff needed training on how to deal with diabetic patients. She says her brother would still be alive if he got his medicine.

The case was resolved this month.

California
Possible burglar dies in chimney after fire is lit

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say a suspected burglar who became stuck in the chimney of a Central California home died after the homeowner unknowingly lit a fire in the fireplace.

Fresno County Sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti said an autopsy on Sunday concluded that 19-year-old Cody Caldwell died of smoke inhalation and burns.

Authorities said a homeowner in the rural town of Huron heard someone scream after lighting a fire in his fireplace Saturday afternoon and alerted authorities.

When the homeowner realized a person was stuck in the chimney, he extinguished the fire.

Lt. Brandon Pursell said Caldwell was responsive when firefighters smashed the chimney to get him out, but when they got to the young man he died.

Ohio
Trial set for man charged with abduction of teen

CINCINNATI (AP) - A trial is scheduled for a suburban Cincinnati man who authorities say was on an electronic monitor in an abduction case when he had a 14-year-old girl dropped off at his home by taxi and held her captive for months and raped her.

Twenty-year-old Cody Lee Jackson has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sex, production of child pornography and transfer of obscene matter to a minor. Court documents show the trial is scheduled Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.

Jackson also faces state charges, including rape.

The Norwood man was arrested in October in Utah, where authorities say he fled after being taken off electronic monitoring this summer.

Messages seeking comment were left for Jackson's attorneys.

North Dakota
Man sentenced to prison in sex trafficking case

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in prison in a North Dakota sex trafficking case.

Willie Bernard Navy Jr. is charged in federal court with transportation for purposes of prostitution. He pleaded guilty in September.

Authorities say Navy brought someone to North Dakota in November 2014 in order to sell sex in the oil patch.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson ordered Navy to serve five years of supervised release when he is freed from prison. The judge says Navy might have to register as a sex offender depending on the laws of the state where he chooses to reside.

North Carolina
Cellist: Religious discrimination cause for firing

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A cellist says she was terminated from her job with the Asheville Symphony because of her religious beliefs.

Media outlets report a civil rights complaint says Jacqueline Taylor was a tenured principal cellist with the group for 22 years and lost her job after requesting not to work on her Sabbath.

Taylor was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist in 2014. The complaint says in March 2014, Taylor wasn't granted an excused absence when she requested not to work on the Sabbath, which lasts from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Subsequently, she was terminated.

Symphony attorney Matthew Gilley says Taylor's allegations are "unfounded" and the symphony acted appropriately.

Symphony Director David Whitehill says if Taylor wasn't able to attend Friday and Saturday rehearsals for next season, her contract wouldn't be renewed.

Published: Tue, Dec 01, 2015

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