National Roundup

South Carolina
Prosecutors seek  mitigating ­factors in church shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in South Carolina want to know what mitigating factors the defense plans to present during the sentencing phase of the death penalty trial of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.

Prosecutors note in court documents filed Monday such disclosure before the trial was ordered in the Boston Marathon bombing case. The documents said that providing the information beforehand will allow the government to investigate defense claims and also help seat an impartial jury.

Mitigating circumstances such as drug abuse or mental illness that the defense will rely on in sentencing are generally not required to be revealed until after a defendant is found guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, there is a second part of the trial to determine the sentence.

The government wants the judge to order the defense to reveal such factors by Oct. 1. The 22-year-old Roof is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 7 in the slayings of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church a year ago.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson noted in the filings that U.S. District Judge George O’Toole Jr. ordered the defense to provide such mitigating factors before the trial in case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was sentenced to death for his role in the marathon bombings. Explosions at the race in Boston on April 15, 2013, killed three people and injured more than 260.

Richardson wrote that by providing adequate notice of the mitigating factors, the government will have time to investigate and rebut them in court.

Without enough notice “the penalty phase will effectively become a trial by ambush that undermines the fairness and truth-seeking function of sentencing,” the document said.

He also added that if a defendant, for example, were to rely on substance abuse as a mitigating factor “the court should be able to consider substance-abuse related answers during jury selection as providing the basis for challenging a juror.”

Richardson wrote that if the information is not provided before the trial, it would increase the likelihood “the government would need to request a substantial delay between the guilt and penalty phases of the trial” to investigate the mitigating factors.

Roof faces hate crimes and other charges in federal court. He also faces nine counts of murder in state court in a trial set for January. The state is also seeking the death penalty.


Pennsylvania
Neighbor: Naked man shot wife of nine days with crossbow

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Witnesses say a man accused of fatally shooting his wife with a crossbow in Philadelphia stood naked at his own doorway as she stumbled to a neighbor’s home and collapsed in a pool of her own blood.

Margie Maldonado says 42-year-old Pamela Nightlinger stumbled through Maldonado’s front door Sunday night bleeding from her chest and that Nightlinger’s husband, Paul Kuzan, was standing naked in his doorway saying “crazy things.”

Maldonado says Kuzan then went back inside “like nothing happened.”

Authorities say the couple had been married nine days before the killing.

Kuzan is charged with homicide and related offenses. It’s not known if he has a lawyer.

Neighbors say Sunday night wasn’t the first time Kuzan appeared naked in public and acting strangely.


New York
Doctor gets 17 years prison time in sex abuse of 11-year-old girl

NEW YORK (AP) — A Long Island doctor is heading to prison after admitting he sexually assaulted a young girl whom he maintained an online relationship with after meeting her in the chat room of an online game.

Newsday reports Hassan Khan of Mineola was sentenced Friday in federal court to 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Khan must serve 10 years of post-release supervision and register as a sex offender.

Prosecutors say the relationship began in 2007 when the victim was 11 and lasted until about 2013. Prosecutors say he sexually assaulted the girl overseas and forced her to engage in sexually explicit conduct over live video chats.

Kahn’s attorney, Jeffery Greco, says the sentence is too harsh.


Washington
Man shot by Secret Service at White House gate ordered held

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pennsylvania man shot by Secret Service at a White House gate earlier this year after he refused to drop a gun he was carrying has been ordered held while his case proceeds.

Jesse Olivieri was shot after approaching the gate May 20. The 31-year-old from Ashland, Pennsylvania, had been hospitalized following the shooting, and The Washington Post reports he appeared in court Monday in a wheelchair.

Olivieri’s attorney, Loui Itoh, had requested home detention, saying Olivieri had never pointed or shot the handgun at anyone and had no prior criminal record. Itoh said Olivieri was living with his parents, had received psychiatric treatment and is now under medication.
But Judge Michael Harvey found that Olivieri is “a danger both to himself and the community” and ordered him held.

Pennsylvania
Panel approves subpoena power in AG probe

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A legislative subcommittee investigating the possible impeachment of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is authorizing its chairman to issue subpoenas.

The House Subcommittee on Courts voted Tuesday to give Montgomery County Republican Rep. Todd Stephens the ability to demand documents and testimony.

The vote also starts a process of seeking secret grand jury records and protecting possible witnesses against retaliation.

Kane, a Democrat, isn’t seeking a second term in the November election. She’s been without a law license since October and awaits trial on criminal allegations she leaked grand jury information and lied about it under oath. A message seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.

A state Senate vote fell short in February of removing Kane under a provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution separate from the House-initiated impeachment process.
 

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