National Roundup

Louisiana
Man who shot ex-NFL player charged with manslaughter

HARVEY, La. (AP) — The man who fatally shot ex-NFL player Joe McKnight has been arrested and jailed on a charge of manslaughter.

Ronald Gasser, 54, was arrested late Monday, after initially being released last week without charges pending further investigation, jail records show.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand announced a news conference for 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the case. Normand has said Thursday’s shooting was the result of an apparent road-rage incident.

When deputies arrived, the sheriff said Gasser handed them his gun and confessed to killing McKnight, 28.

Gasser shot McKnight three times from inside his car while McKnight stood outside and then gave his handgun to deputies when they arrived at the scene soon afterward, Normand said. Authorities said no weapon was found on or near McKnight’s body.

McKnight played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Jets held a moment of silence Monday night before their game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium to honor the former running back.

McKnight was rated the nation’s No. 1 running back recruit when he came out of Louisiana in 2006 and signed with the University of Southern California. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the Jets in 2010 and played three seasons for New York. He spent a season with Kansas City, and most recently played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.

McKnight had a 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in 2011, and it remains the longest play in Jets history.

Florida
Judge denies venue change in murder-for-hire

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — After giving it a night’s thought, a judge still believes he can find six impartial jurors to hear the trial of a Florida woman accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband.

Judge Glenn Kelley said Tuesday that with 55 prospective jurors set to undergo final questioning from an original pool of 200, he thinks Dalia Dippolito can get a fair trial in Palm Beach County.

The case has received extensive coverage in local and national news media since Dippolito’s 2009 arrest. An appellate court threw out a 2011 conviction and 20-year-sentence because of a mistake during jury selection.

Dippolito’s attorney, Brian Claypool, angrily accused Kelley of rushing to get the trial over.

Prosecutors allege Dippolito offered an undercover officer $7,000 to kill her then-husband.

New Jersey
Police officer charged with slapping man dressed as bunny

HOPATCONG, N.J. (AP) — A police officer accused of slapping a man who was wearing a bunny costume and was blowing an air horn inside a police station has been charged with assault.

Hopatcong police Officer Nicholas Maresca Jr. was charged on Friday with slapping Kevin Hemmerich on Nov. 17. He faces one count of simple assault.

The encounter between Maresca and Hemmerich was captured on a video shot by Hemmerich’s brother. The video shows Hemmerich entering the Hopatcong police station and blowing the air horn repeatedly despite being told to stop.

Kevin Hemmerich’s brother, Jason Hemmerich, said two officers began cursing at them and one hit Kevin Hemmerich in the face.

Maresca’s attorney, Anthony Iacullo, told NJ.com that Maresca “acted appropriately and in accordance with his training and experience as a police officer.” He said Maresca would be vindicated.

Jason Hemmerich said his brother went to the police station to turn himself in on a warrant related to a motor vehicle accident. Kevin Hemmerich faced an arrest warrant for not completing a work program that was in lieu of jail time for failing to have car insurance.

Maresca has been placed on administrative duty, prosecutors said.

Maine
More than 200 wreaths stolen from family farm

ALFRED, Maine (AP) — Hundreds of holiday wreaths have been stolen from a Maine farm.

Gile’s Family Farm owner Frank Boucher said Monday that someone stole a trailer containing more than 200 wreaths from behind the Alfred business sometime between 6 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday.

The staff had wanted to unload the wreaths on Saturday, but didn’t see them when they arrived at work.

Boucher estimates the total value of the stolen items at about $5,000.

Boucher says he thinks the thieves may have been after the decorations because there were more expensive trailers nearby.

State police are investigating.

Minnesota
Mother files lawsuit over baby mix-up at hospital

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota woman filed a lawsuit against a health care provider after her newborn was mistakenly given to another mother at a hospital and breastfed.

Tammy Van Dyke, of Apple Valley, recently filed the lawsuit in Hennepin County seeking more than $50,000 in damages for an incident that happened in December 2012. The lawsuit contends that Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis failed to care for her infant who was mistakenly taken to the wrong mother.

Van Dyke, her son and the other mother had to go through “unnecessary medical treatments and tests” because of the mix-up, according to the lawsuit.

“In good faith you drop your child off at the hospital nursery with the nurses,” Van Dyke said in a previous interview with KSTP-TV. “Never in a million years would you think this could happen or would happen.”

The hospital’s operator, Allina Health, said at the time that hospital procedures required staff to match codes on the infant’s and mother’s identification bands, and it appeared those procedures were not followed.

Allina Health officials said Monday that they have since instituted a new electronic procedure.

“When the Mother Baby Center opened in February 2013, we began using electronic identification bands for the mother and infant that must be matched when returning the infant to the mother,” said Michelle Smith, clinical program director of Mother Baby Service Line. “This helps us to assure that the identity of the infant and mother are matched each time.”

An apology letter to Van Dyke from Abbott Northwestern Hospital in 2012 acknowledged the boy was put in the wrong bassinet.

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