National Roundup

U.S. appeals court to hear Maryland gun-control case

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Maryland's ban on assault weapons and large-capacity gun magazines is back before a federal appeals court in Virginia.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond raised concerns about the constitutionality of the restrictions in February. The panel sent a lawsuit challenging those provisions back to a judge who upheld them and ordered her to take another look using a more rigorous legal standard.

The state appealed that 2-1 decision to the full 15-member appeals court, which heard arguments Wednesday.

Maryland lawmakers passed the sweeping Firearms Safety Act after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut. Gun-rights advocates went along with most of the law but challenged the provision banning 45 assault weapons and the 10-round limit on gun magazines.

South Carolina

White ex-cop faces federal charges in black motorist's death

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A white former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist who was running away now faces federal civil rights charges.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday shows that Michael Slager is charged with violating Walter Scott's civil rights. He's also charged with obstruction of justice and unlawful use of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Slager faces state murder charges in the April 2015 shooting of Scott after a traffic stop in North Charleston and is scheduled for trial in October. Prosecutors have asked that the trial be held before or after the trial of the man accused of shooting nine people to death at a black church in Charleston last summer.

Last fall, North Charleston approved a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott's family.

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Officer avoids jail time for groping handcuffed woman

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A former Daytona Beach police officer won't face prison time after pleading no contest to charges of groping a handcuffed woman.

A judge on Tuesday ordered 23-year-old Larry Leon Jones to serve two years of probation after he agreed to a pre-trial agreement with prosecutors. He's also required to surrender his law enforcement certificate and cannot work in law enforcement in the future.

State Attorney's Office spokesman Spencer Hathaway says a felony charge of falsifying records will be dismissed if Jones successfully completes the program.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports Jones was a probationary officer when the incident occurred in February 2015. A woman who had been arrested and placed in Jones' patrol car told police he stopped on the way to police headquarters and groped her.


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Suit filed against pot businesses after shooting


DENVER (AP) - The family of three boys filed a lawsuit against two recreational marijuana businesses after a shooting that left their mother dead and their father charged with murder.

The lawsuit claims companies that made a type of marijuana-infused candy and sold it to the father failed to warn him about its potency and possible side effects, including psychotic behavior.

The Denver Post reported Tuesday the suit was filed on the boys' behalf by their grandparents, Wayne and Marti Kohnke, and aunt, Tamara Heman, who are now their guardians.

Richard Kirk is charged with first-degree murder in the April 14, 2014, shooting death of his wife, Kristine Kirk. Before she was shot, Kristine Kirk told a 911 dispatcher her husband was hallucinating and was getting a gun.

Richard Kirk pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. A defense expert, Dr. Andrew Monte, said in a report submitted to the court that Kirk was intoxicated with THC, marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, which led to delirium.

Authorities said low levels of THC were found in his blood, and a partially eaten piece of marijuana candy was found in the house. The candy came from a legal marijuana shop.

The lawsuit names Gaia's Garden LLC and Nutritional Elements Inc. It says Gaia's Garden made the candy and that Kirk bought it from Nutritional Elements.

Sean McAllister, an attorney for Gaia's Garden, said the company has always complied with state requirements for labeling and packaging its products. He said marijuana doesn't lead to violence and that the company will fight the suit.

Tiffany Goldman, chief operating officer for Nutritional Elements, declined to comment.


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West Virginia
Ex-coal CEO asks for delay in start of prison sentence


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Attorneys for former coal executive Don Blankenship want to delay his entry into prison this week.

In an emergency motion in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Blankenship's attorneys wrote that he's slated to head to prison Thursday in California. But the court has not ruled on whether the former Massey Energy CEO should stay free until his larger appeal is decided.

Prosecutors replied that Blankenship's motion is redundant.

Blankenship was sentenced April 6 to a year in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.

The coal mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

Blankenship's attorneys say he could serve much, or all, of his sentence before an appellate decision is reached.


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Man hit boy with whiffle bat, says boy hit him first


NEMACOLIN, Pa. (AP) - Police say a Pennsylvania man hit his girlfriend's 11-year-old son with a whiffle ball bat but told authorities he only did it because the boy "hit him first."

The (Washington) Observer-Reporter reports that Cumberland Township police charged 34-year-old Adam D. Smith on Monday with simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct.

Police say Smith was arguing with the boy's mother when the boy grabbed the bat to defend her.

Police say Smith told the boy, "Go ahead and hit me with it," and the boy did, leaving a welt on Smith's neck.

Police say Smith then grabbed the bat and hit the boy on his left side, causing a welt the size of a softball.

Smith doesn't have an attorney and remains in the Greene County jail.

Published: Thu, May 12, 2016


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