National Roundup

New Jersey
Girl calls 911 after touching Elf on the Shelf

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey girl called 911 after she touched her Elf on the Shelf.

Police say 7-year-old Isabelle LaPeruta of Old Bridge was worried because, according to the popular children’s book, the magic of Christmas goes away if the elf is touched.

WNBC-TV reports the girl told the 911 operator not to come to her house because she had meant to call her dad.

However, police are required to check 911 calls and an officer found the child in tears.

Her mother, Lynanne, says she awoke from a nap to find her daughter trying to shoo an officer out of the house. She says the girl panicked after the elf fell on the floor when she threw a ball.

The officer radioed headquarters: “Isabella apologized. She touched the Elf on a Shelf. She won’t call 911 again.”

Minnesota
Man, upset about bedbugs, killed elderly mother

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors say a Minneapolis man admitted that he killed his 89-year-old mother because he was upset that a bedbug outbreak would get her kicked out of her home.

Michael Gallagher is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Patricia Ann Gallagher. The 62-year-old’s bail was set at $2 million Tuesday.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Gallagher told investigators that he went to his mother’s downtown Minneapolis apartment on Thursday to help her clean and that he called 911 the next morning and said he had killed her.

Police say Gallagher said he beat his mother with a sculpture of himself and that he tried to smother her with a pillow and strangle her. He doesn’t have a lawyer yet.

Alabama
Judge denies request for stay of execution

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday denied an Alabama death row inmate’s emergency motion for a stay of execution.

Christopher Brooks is scheduled to be put to death Jan. 21 for the rape and bludgeoning death of Deann Campbell more than 20 years ago. The execution would be Alabama’s first in more than two years.

Brooks has argued the execution should not be carried out until a court decides the constitutionality of the state’s new lethal injection drug combination. He joined five other death row inmates in a lawsuit challenging the use of midazolam as a sedative in Alabama’s three-drug lethal injection process.

Brooks and the other inmates argue that midazolam won’t prevent an inmate from feeling pain as the second and third drugs are administered to stop the heart and lungs.

Chief U.S. District Judge William Keith Watkins wrote in a 40-page opinion and order that Brooks has not proposed a feasible alternative to the state’s execution protocol.

Brooks has proposed a single drug procedure using either sodium thiopental, pentobarbital or midazolam as an alternative but has not demonstrated that the first two drugs are readily available, Watkins said in the opinion. The judge also said Brooks’ suggestion to use midazolam in a single drug procedure suggests the sedative is effective and would serve its intended purpose.

The judge also wrote that a statute of limitations for Brooks to file claims that the state was violating his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment ran out in 2004, two years after the state switched its execution procedure to lethal injection.

The statute of limitations would be reset only if the state implemented a significant change to its execution procedure, Watkins wrote. The judge echoed a recent filing from the state attorney general’s office, saying Alabama switching the first drug used in the three-drug procedure wasn’t a significant change and that Brooks’ challenge to the method was weak considering his proposal using any one of the three drugs alone as an alternative.

Watkins also cited opinions in the case of Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip. Watkins said testimony from both sides supported the notion that midazolam is effective as the first drug in a three-drug procedure and the sedative had been used in 12 executions without any significant problems.

“Brooks pleaded an alternative that is part of the present protocol, which means his inevitable execution will be either with three drugs beginning with midazolam, or with midazolam alone, which undermines his arguments about the three-drug protocol,” Watkins wrote. “Either way, his execution would appear to be inevitable in the post-Glossip landscape.”

The Alabama Supreme Court last week refused to stop Brooks’ execution in a 9-0 decision. The Alabama attorney general’s office has also argued that Brooks is using the lethal injection challenge as a last-minute ploy to avoid execution.

Ohio
Judge agrees to step down, never run again

CLEVELAND (AP) — A Cleveland municipal court judge accused of mistreating staff, defendants and others will step down and agree never to serve as a judge again in exchange for her disciplinary case being dropped.

An Ohio Supreme Court panel is expected to approve the arrangement struck by Judge Angela Stokes and the court’s disciplinary arm.

Cleveland.com reported Tuesday that the deal submitted to the Board of Professional Conduct requires Stokes to retire immediately and never hold any judicial position in any state court.

The Supreme Court’s disciplinary branch filed charges against Stokes in 2013 alleging she had mistreated court staff, lawyers and defendants and used a disproportionate amount of court resources.
Stokes’ attorney, Larry Zuckerman, says the deal allows Stokes to move forward with her life and career.

Illinois
Nuns sue after plan for winery, school blocked

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) — An order of nuns has filed a federal lawsuit after officials denied a plan to expand their in northern Illinois convent to include a winery, brewery, nursing home and more.

The McHenry County board shot down the Fraternite of Notre Dame’s request earlier this year, saying the large development was a bad fit for the rural area near Huntley.

The Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/1PjujdY ) the order has filed a federal lawsuit claiming it was discriminated against on a religious basis. Attorneys are asking a judge to reverse the county board’s decision.
The order operates a soup kitchen and after-school program in Chicago. It also has a chapel and living quarters on nearly 100 acres about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.

Opponents of the expansion say they’re worried about added traffic.

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