National Roundup

Nebraska
Man gets 35 years in online child porn scheme

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraskan who federal prosecutors say was part of a child pornography ring has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Prosecutors say 31-year-old Brandon Hennerberg, formerly of Fairbury, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Lincoln. In June he’d pleaded guilty to one count of child exploitation enterprise.

Hennerberg and five co-defendants were charged in the Eastern District of Michigan in a 28-count indictment that included conspiracy to produce child pornography. Prosecutors say the six schemed to deceive at least 100 girls into online sexual activity that was recorded.

Gina Balaya in the Michigan prosecutor’s office said Thursday that Hennerberg had requested that his case be transferred to Lincoln for his pleading and sentencing.

Prosecutors say two co-defendants await sentencing. Cases are pending for the three others.

Virginia
State shields price of supplier’s execution drugs

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia officials have signed a contract with a vendor to obtain execution drugs, but are shielding the name of the vendor and the price of the drugs.

Virginia joined several others states by passing a new state law the last legislative session that allows officials to keep secret the suppliers of drugs used to carry out executions.

A memorandum of agreement obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch through a Freedom of Information Act request redacts not only the identity of the supplier, but the date the contract was signed and the amount the state will pay for each batch of drugs.

The agreement may be good for up to seven years, but can be ended by the vendor at any time.

There are seven men currently on death in Virginia, but no execution dates have been set.

Texas
Lawyer: $1.9M settlement in Sandra Bland suit

HOUSTON (AP) — A lawyer for the family of Sandra Bland, a black Chicago-area woman who died in a Texas jail after a contentious traffic stop last summer, says a $1.9 million settlement has been reached in the family’s wrongful death lawsuit.

Attorney Cannon Lambert tells Houston television station KTRK the settlement includes a provision that the Waller County Jail have a 24-hour nurse or emergency medical technician on duty.

Authorities have said Bland killed herself three days after she was arrested by a state trooper for a minor traffic offense. Bland’s family later sued the county and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Wisconsin
Attorneys press for release of convict in case profiled on Netflix

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Attorneys for the man convicted of helping his uncle kill a woman in a case profiled in the popular Netflix series “Making a Murderer” are asking for his release while his appeal is pending.

A 48-page motion filed in federal court argues that Brendan Dassey is not a flight risk and would not pose a danger to the public if he’s released.

A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators tricked Dassey, then 16, into confessing that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005. The judge ordered that Dassey, now 26, be freed within 90 days unless prosecutors appealed or decided to retry him.

Attorney General Brad Schimel has followed up with an appeal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Massachusetts
Boston police consider program for prostitution customers

BOSTON (AP) — Boston police are considering sending men who seek sex for a fee to a special program where they can learn about the impacts of sex trafficking.

Police tell the Boston Herald the so-called “john school” is one of several initiatives being considered in a crackdown on sex trafficking that aims to reduce the online sex trade by 20 percent in a year.

The program is getting a $30,000 grant from Demand Abolition, a Cambridge advocacy group.

The head of the department’s human trafficking unit says men who solicit sex think it’s a victimless crime, but by attending a “john school,” they can see the horrors of sex trafficking and even meet victims.

Proponents say if first-time drunken drivers can be sent to an education program, so can sex solicitors.

Massachusetts
Plumber charged in 1993 slaying of a witness is denied bail

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts plumber charged along with former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme in the 1993 slaying of a Boston nightclub owner has been denied bail.

The Boston Globe reports that a federal magistrate judge on Wednesday ordered 61-year-old Paul Weadick held.

The judge wrote that the Burlington man would likely flee and pose a risk of harm to the public if released.

Prosecutors argued last week that Weadick is a violent man with ties to high-profile mobsters.

Weadick’s lawyer says his client is a family man who hasn’t been in legal trouble since 1989.

Weadick and Salemme have pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of 43-year-old Steven DiSarro.

DiSarro vanished in 1993. His remains were found buried in Providence, Rhode Island, in March.

South Dakota
State: Ex-police chief killed fiancee to collect insurance

BURKE, S.D. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former South Dakota police chief killed his young fiancee to collect more than $900,000 in insurance money.

The Daily Republic reports the state’s claim came during opening statements Wednesday in the trial of 64-year-old Russell Bertram in Burke. He is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2009 death of 26-year-old Leonila Stickney, who was pregnant.

Prosecutors also argued that Bertram was jealous because he knew the unborn child couldn’t be his because he had a vasectomy.

Bertram told authorities he was putting his shotgun into his truck after a hunting trip when the weapon fired accidentally, striking Stickney.

Defense attorney Mike Butler told the court the case was thoroughly investigated at the time and that authorities decided against arresting Bertram.

 

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