National Roundup

Ohio
Judge: Man can't be tried in 1972 cop-shooting case

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An 82-year-old man who was indicted, but never prosecuted, in the nonfatal shooting of an Ohio police officer almost 45 years ago cannot be tried now, a judge ruled Thursday.

The case against Charles Hays fell through the cracks, and prosecutors acknowledged the state neglected the case. But they said he never demanded a speedy trial.

Franklin County Judge Guy Reece dismissed the case Thursday, saying Ohio had at least two opportunities over the past four decades to bring Hays back for trial.

"The right to a speedy trial is a fundamental constitutional right," the judge said.

Columbus police officer Niki Cooper was shot in the left arm in March 1972 when he and his partner interrupted a burglary. Cooper never regained full use of the injured limb, and he died just over three years ago at 71.

Hays was shot twice by Cooper and left a paraplegic, according to court records.

Hays' attorney, Robert Essex, argued the state missed opportunities to try Hays over the years, violating his constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Two accomplices were charged and pleaded guilty. Both sides agree Hays was properly indicted on counts of intentional shooting, burglary and larceny. What happened afterward is in dispute.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said Hays was aware of the charges even as he continued to commit crimes in Kentucky and Connecticut, where he served time in prison.

Hays was hospitalized for his injuries, first in Columbus, then at a veteran's hospital in Cleveland. Afterward, he went to Kentucky and ended up in jail where Ohio authorities were notified of his presence and told an ambulance would be needed to collect him.

In the early years after his indictment, Hays highlighted his medical condition as a reason he shouldn't be returned to the state, prosecutors argue.

The state's lax approach is illustrated by the fact that Hays has a current Ohio driver's license he's renewed twice and has lived at the same address in Dayton for 10 years, Essex said.

Hays is in poor health and unavailable for an interview, Essex said.

Maryland
Slain inmate's conviction reversed 4 days after his death

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - A Maryland appeals court has reversed a man's rape conviction four days after he was found beaten to death in a state prison cell.

The Court of Special Appeals issued the ruling Wednesday in the case of 69-year-old Roger Lee Largent. Maryland's second-highest court found that Largent's jury conviction last year for second-degree rape was based on the testimony of a nurse who gave an unqualified expert opinion that a woman can be raped but show no physical signs of an assault.

Largent maintained the sex was consensual.

Largent had been convicted of a third-degree sex offense in 1999 and was a registered sex offender.

Maryland State Police are investigating Largent's slaying Saturday at the maximum-security Western Correctional Institution. The state prison agency says investigators have identified an inmate suspect.

North Carolina
6 charged with trafficking a ton of pot in a van

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Six people in western North Carolina have been arrested after officials found more than a ton of marijuana in a van.

Stacy Cox with the Asheville office of North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement told local news outlets that officers found a shipment of nearly 2,300 pounds in a van at a home in Asheville around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Cox says law enforcement received information that a large shipment of marijuana was expected in the Asheville area. Investigators said the marijuana was worth $3 million.

Two of the people arrested live at the home where the marijuana was found. Each of the six people was charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to traffic marijuana.

New York
Family discovers wrong headstone at grave of girl

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - A Long Island family is reeling after discovering the wrong headstone on the grave of a 9-year-old girl.

Newsday says the family of Amiyah Dunston found someone else's headstone when they visited her grave on Valentine's Day in Uniondale.

Amiyah was mauled by a dog in November 2015. Her family had ordered a headstone, but that one hadn't arrived yet.

Amiyah's grandmother, Marlena West, says the child's mother relived the tragedy because of the error.

It's not clear whether the other family has been informed of the mix-up.

Greenfield Cemetery is owned by the Town of Hempstead. A sympathetic commissioner had the monument company remove the incorrect headstone.

Town spokesman Mike Deery extended "heartfelt apologies" on the monument company's behalf.

Idaho
Death penalty considered for men accused of shooting teen

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Prosecutors are considering seeking the death penalty against two Buhl men accused of killing a high school student last year.

The Times-News reports that 19-year-old Gerardo Raul Chavez and 20-year-old Jose Daniel Alvarez pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to felony counts of murder and intimidating a witness. The pair is accused of the May 7 drive-by shooting of 15-year-old Vason Lee Widaman.

Prosecutor Grant Loebs has 60 days to decide whether or not he will seek capital punishment for the two men.

During Wednesday's hearing, attorneys said a trial for the men will likely begin July 11. They each face up to life in prison for the charges against them if Loebs does not seek the death penalty.

Texas
Teacher with pornography past appeals firing

DALLAS (AP) - A 38-year-old Dallas teacher fired when her pornographic actress past became public says she was forced into "sex slavery" as a teenager and wants her education job back.

The Dallas Morning News this week obtained a copy of Resa Woodward's Dec. 13 termination letter.

The science teacher at Balch Springs Middle School, in the Dallas Independent School District, was put on administrative leave when her past surfaced. The dismissal letter cited her work in "adult content media" accessible online.

Woodward appealed to the Texas Education Agency, saying a controlling man forced her into "sex slavery" and adult films.

TEA is reviewing the case. An ethics code requires Texas teachers to have good moral character.

Woodward attorney Calvin Johnson told WFAA-TV that she should be commended for bouncing back from adversity.

Published: Fri, Feb 17, 2017

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