National Roundup


Lawsuit: Banana truck caused restaurant fire

SEEKONK, Mass. (AP) - The owners of a Massachusetts restaurant are suing the Chiquita banana company, alleging a truck carrying bananas caused a fire that destroyed their business.

David Salvatore, who represents the owners of the Old Grist Mill Tavern in Seekonk, tells The Sun Chronicle that a truck carrying bananas rolled over in June 2012, and ruptured a natural gas line that sparked the blaze.

He says there's a pattern of improperly loaded banana trucks being involved in accidents.

The suit names as defendants Chiquita Fresh North America, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, the owner and driver of the truck, and a freight company.

Chiquita denies negligence in its response to the suit. Columbia Gas said it could not comment on pending litigation.

The suit filed in Bristol Superior Court seeks unspecified damages.


Man dumped dead houseguest's body

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - A man has been charged with abusing the corpse of a Philadelphia woman found dead on the side of a central Pennsylvania road on Valentine's Day.

Robert Moir told police that 35-year-old Corinne Pena died on his bathroom floor, and he left her body along a road, figuring it would be quickly found and wouldn't decompose because of the low temperatures.

Moir's attorney, James Bryant, described Pena as a houseguest who "died on him."

"He probably should have called 911," but he didn't," Bryant told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "In 'National Lampoon's Vacation,' it was sort of funny, but this isn't 'National Lampoon's Vacation' or 'Weekend at Bernie's."

Ferguson Township police said Moir, 59, acknowledged meeting Pena in the Philadelphia area several days before she was found dead. Moir told police he and Pena spent several nights in a hotel before he brought her back to Patton Township in central Pennsylvania.

Moir found Pena dead Feb. 13 on his bathroom floor. Police believe she overdosed, but toxicology tests are pending. He dumped her body in Ferguson Township, police said.

A passer-by found Pena's body, and authorities could not immediately identify her. After they released images of Pena's tattoos and a wedding band, relatives confirmed her identity.

"It is simply heart-wrenching, and we hope this arrest brings some peace to her family and friends," Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said after Tuesday's charges. "We remind the public that this kind of callous behavior is totally unnecessary in light of the overdose immunity law."

Moir faces a preliminary hearing March 23. Abuse of a corpse is a second-degree misdemeanor, carrying up to two years in prison upon conviction.


Officer uses stun gun to break up fight at school

APOPKA, Fla. (AP) - A resource officer at Florida middle school used a stun gun to break up a fight between students.

WFTV-TV reports that the officer used the stun gun, shocking one of the students at Wolf Lake Middle School in Apopka in the upper thigh after he was unable to pull him off another student. The students involved were arrested Monday.

Principal Laura Beusse sent a message to parents about the fight, saying that the officer used the stun gun after students refused to stop fighting despite commands by law enforcement.

Apopka police spokesman Sgt. Edwin Chittenden says the use of a stun gun is a common and accepted practice throughout the state and country.

Apopka police are investigating. The school resource officer remains on active duty at the campus.

New York

Prosecutor: Man likely killed baby girl in rural area

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A prosecutor says a man charged in the slaying of his 21-month-old daughter likely killed the toddler on New York state-owned forestland outside Syracuse before returning to the city and dumping her body in a creek.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick says it's believed 24-year-old Ryan Lawrence killed his daughter Maddox last weekend at the Labrador Hollow Unique Area on the Onondaga-Cortland county line, 15 miles south of Syracuse.

State police divers found the child's body Tuesday in Onondaga Creek, which flows into Onondaga Lake through Syracuse's Inner Harbor.

Lawrence was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder. Police say they don't have a motive for the slaying.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert for Maddox on Sunday, after Lawrence disappeared with the girl.

Lawrence is being held in jail. Information on his lawyer wasn't immediately available.


Men wrongly imprisoned receive millions

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Two Ohio brothers who spent decades in prison for a murder they didn't commit will receive millions in additional compensation from the Ohio Court of Claims.

The court announced Tuesday that 61-year-old Wiley Bridgeman will receive $2.4 million and 58-year-old Kwame Ajamu (KWAH' may ah-jah-MU') nearly $2 million for being wrongfully imprisoned in the 1975 slaying of a salesman outside a corner store in Cleveland.

Bridgeman received an initial payment of $970,000 and Ajamu $648,000 from the court last year. A third man convicted in the slaying, 59-year-old Ricky Jackson, has received $1 million so far.

Jackson spent 39 years in prison, Bridgeman 37 years and Ajamu 25 years. All were sentenced to death.

They were exonerated last year after a key witness who was 13 when he testified recanted.


Prosecutor asks to expand police shooting probe

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota prosecutor has asked a state agency to expand its investigation into the November fatal shooting of a black man by Minneapolis police.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told the Star Tribune Tuesday his office has discovered "that a number of things were not completed," so the case was returned to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He would not elaborate.

Twenty-four-year-old Jamar Clark was shot by a Minneapolis officer on Nov. 15 during what authorities said was a struggle. Some who said they saw the shooting have said that Clark wasn't struggling and was handcuffed. The shooting sparked weeks of demonstrations.

Freeman said he hopes to have a decision by the end of March on whether or not the officers will be charged.

Published: Thu, Feb 25, 2016


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