National Roundup

Nebraska
State high court: Man's murder conviction stands

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Supreme Court has found that a man convicted for a 1978 stabbing death was not entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his post-conviction appeal.

Jerry Watson was convicted in 2011 of first-degree murder and a weapons count in the death of 61-year-old Carroll Bonnet and sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.

Bonnet's body was found in his Omaha apartment in October 1978, and his car was later found in Illinois. DNA evidence and fingerprints led to Watson, who was in prison in Joliet, Illinois, on burglary and drug charges.

On Friday, the state's high court affirmed that there was no merit to Watson's post-conviction relief claim that his lawyer was ineffective for not seeking to suppress DNA evidence and not investigating another suspect, among other things.

New York
Court OKs conviction of high-ranking cop in favoritism case

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) - New York's highest court has upheld the conviction of the former deputy commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department.

William Flanagan was convicted in 2013 on official misconduct and conspiracy charges following a scandal linked to a high school burglary. Prosecutors said Flanagan pulled strings to help the son of a wealthy department benefactor accused of stealing $11,000 worth of equipment from his high school.

Despite video evidence, an eyewitness and the principal's urging that he be arrested, police never charged the student. Prosecutors argued his father was as a longtime benefactor of the police department.

Flanagan was sentenced to 60 days in jail. His attorney tells Newsday she will seek to re-argue the appeal. The court ruled Thursday.

Two other police officials also were convicted in the case.

Pennsylvania
Martin Sheen  backs pal seeking election as judge

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Martin Sheen has briefly reprised his "West Wing" role as president in a new ad backing his friend seeking election as a Pennsylvania judge.

Sheen played the fictional President Josiah Bartlet in the series and brought the role back briefly in the roughly two-minute ad for Judge Joe Cosgrove. Cosgrove is seeking election to Commonwealth Court.

As Bartlet, Sheen reads a proclamation calling for Cosgrove's reappointment, citing his legal mind and "courageous" decisions. Sheen says he's known Cosgrove for most of his life and called him his brother.

Cosgrove was appointed last year by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and is seeking an elected term on the court. He's competing in the May 16 Democratic primary.

Before serving on the court, Cosgrove served on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.

Colorado
Judge retires to avoid disciplinary proceedings

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado judge on paid suspension has agreed to retire rather than face disciplinary proceedings.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that the Colorado Supreme Court says El Paso County Judge Jonathan Walker will step down from the county bench on Feb. 15.

According to a Thursday news release, Walker was accused of "undignified and disrespectful conduct" toward three female judicial employees, retaliating against a witness in the ensuing investigation, improperly modifying plea agreements and failing to recuse himself from cases involving his personal attorney.

Walker couldn't be reached for comment Thursday evening.

According to the Supreme Court statement, Walker disputed three of the four claims before he agreed to retire.

Texas
Grand jury indicts man in death of teen girlfriend

BAYTOWN, Texas (AP) - A Galveston County grand jury has indicted a 21-year-old man in the killing of his girlfriend whose mother and sister were found dead days before.

Jesse Christian Dobbs was indicted Thursday on a count of murder in the death of 16-year-old Kirsten Nicole Fritch, whose body was found Nov. 10 behind a Texas City bar with more than 50 stab wounds.

County prosecutors said in a statement that authorities continue to investigate the deaths of Fritch's mother, 37-year-old Cynthia Morris, and her 13-year-old sister, Breanna Pavlicek.

Their bodies were found Nov. 8 in their Baytown home, east of Houston. Investigators have previously said Dobbs is a suspect in those killings.

Online jail records don't indicate an attorney who could address the allegations against Dobbs.

South Carolina
Ex-officer's lawyers want statements axed from federal trial

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Lawyers for a former South Carolina police officer want statements he gave investigators tossed out of his upcoming federal trial for killing an unarmed man running away from a traffic stop.

Michael Slager's lawyers filed a motion Friday saying that Slager only spoke to investigators two days after the April 2015 shooting because his first lawyer was told there was no video of the shooting.

Defense attorney Andy Savage says State Law Enforcement agents already had watched the bystander video eventually broadcast worldwide of Walter Scott's shooting with prosecutors.

Prosecutors have argued that investigators are allowed to be deceptive.

Slager's federal trial for violating Scott's civil rights is scheduled to start in May. State prosecutors have charged him with murder, but Slager's first trial ended in a hung jury.

Tennessee
Now-paralyzed man admits to 2002 rape after rape kit match

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A now-paralyzed man has pleaded guilty to a rape that occurred in Tennessee more than a decade ago.

Local media outlets report that 49-year-old Albert Evans pleaded guilty this week to raping a woman in 2002 while armed. He received a 10-year suspended sentence and remains in a nursing home.

The crime went unsolved until a match was made on a rape kit in 2014. Evans was paralyzed from injuries in a vehicle crash at some point following the rape. He was arrested in 2015.

Rape kits are used to collect physical evidence of sexual assault. Authorities disclosed in 2013 that more than 12,000 kits had accumulated and not been tested since the 1980s.

A city official said 1,024 kits remain to be shipped for testing.

Published: Mon, Feb 13, 2017

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