National Roundup

Ohio
Police: Half-naked driver crashes car into store to get beer

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (AP) — Police in suburban Cleveland say a half-naked man intentionally crashed his car into a closed convenience store to get beer, injuring himself and a store employee.

Rocky River police say the 45-year-old driver was wearing nothing from the waist down when he crashed through a store wall early Sunday and told the worker he needed beer.

Police say the man barricaded himself in a beer cooler and told police to shoot him, but they subdued him with a stun device.

The driver was taken to a hospital, as was the store employee, who suffered leg and chest injuries that weren’t considered critical.

The driver has been charged with impaired driving.

Police say the worker was fortunate that a deli counter was between him and the car, preventing more serious injuries.

South Carolina
Man faces federal charges for damage caused at Fort Sumter

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Charleston-area man is facing federal charges after authorities say he defaced a structure at the South Carolina fort where the Civil War began, officials said Thursday.

Noah Sigalas, 21, of Sullivan’s Island was indicted Tuesday on charges of defacing an archaeological resource and government property, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Beth Drake. Authorities said that Sigalas was visiting Fort Sumter, in the Charleston harbor, in March when he pulled on a support pole that was stabilizing a casemate wall, causing more than $1,000 in damage. A casemate is a gun emplacement.

If convicted, Sigalas faces possible penalties of more than a decade in prison and nearly $300,000 in fines. Court papers listed no attorney for Sigalas, who was scheduled to appear in court later this month.

Fort Sumter, on Charleston Harbor, was bombarded by Confederate guns on April 12, 1861, in a fight that started four years of civil war. It’s part of the Fort Sumter National Monument, one of 84 national monuments among 413 sites administered by the National Park Service.

Chief ranger Ben Byrnes said the fort is a valuable historical resource, where many of the bricks date back to its original construction, which began in 1829.

“Destroying any part of Fort Sumter brick is like literally erasing a page from the history of the United States,” he said.


New Mexico
State Supreme Court won’t restore funds to Legislature

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request to override budget vetoes, leaving negotiations about how to solve the state’s budget crisis — and restore funding to the Legislature — in the hands of the governor and lawmakers.

In a two-page order, the court said it was too soon to consider any possible constitutional violations related to Gov. Susana Martinez’s vetoes of all funding for the Legislature and state universities in the coming fiscal year.

The Republican governor has called a special session for May 24 in an attempt to resolve a state budget crisis linked to faltering tax revenues and a weak local economy.

The Legislature had argued that Martinez overstepped her authority by defunding the legislative branch of government and all state institutions of higher education.

Martinez had urged the state Supreme Court to stay out of budget negotiations.

For the upcoming special session, she has outlined rough proposals to restore most vetoed funding, but there has been no sign of a compromise with Democratic lawmakers.

Kentucky
Court grants search of machete attack suspect’s laptop

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A district court has approved the search of a laptop used by the man accused of attacking students with a machete at a coffee shop at Transylvania University in central Kentucky.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the affidavit in support of the search warrant for 19-year-old Mitchell W. Adkins’ laptop cites his 2015 post on BuzzFeed as a community contributor titled “Discrimination of Conservatives in Liberal Arts.” Lexington police detective Steve McCown says Adkins “proclaimed his distaste with Transylvania’s political atmosphere and intolerance for political affiliation” in the post.

A witness says Adkins asked about the political affiliations of the cafe patrons before the April 28 attack.

Police say two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. He pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges May 1 and was released on $25,500 bond.

North Dakota
Judge clears way to try first 10 over Jamaican lottery scam

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge in North Dakota has cleared the way to try the 10 defendants who have already been arraigned in a multimillion-dollar Jamaican lottery scam case instead of waiting until the other five suspects have been taken into U.S. custody.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Hochhalter asked U.S. District Judge Dan Hovland to allow the government to proceed to trial without waiting for the remaining defendants to be caught or extradited from Jamaica, saying the victims deserve justice in a case that has already dragged on for more than five years.

“Elderly victims (and) witnesses continue to die awaiting conclusion of this case,” he said. “Twelve victims are known to have died during the pendency of this matter.”

Hovland approved the request Wednesday, saying it is “in the best interest of the public and all of the defendants.”

A trial date hasn’t been set.

The five suspects who are not in U.S. custody will be separated from the case of others who have been extradited from the Caribbean nation to North Dakota, where the case originated. Four of the five are still fugitives. The fifth is in custody in Jamaica awaiting extradition.

Among those awaiting trial is Lavrick Willocks, who authorities allege was the mastermind of the scam that bilked at least 90 mostly elderly Americans out of more than $5.7 million. He pleaded not guilty in January to 66 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Eight other suspects facing the same charges were extradited in late April and pleaded not guilty shortly after. Another suspect who is a U.S. citizen pleaded not guilty in August 2015.

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