National Roundup

New Mexico
Barbecue pit stolen from restaurant

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police are investigating a bizarre heist of a 1,700-pound barbecue pit from a popular Albuquerque restaurant.

The Albuquerque Journal reports police say the black and red 200-gallon smoker was stolen early Sunday.

Daniel Morgan, the owner of Pepper’s Ole Fashion BBQ, says the smoker was cooking up a batch of brisket when it was taken.

Morgan says most of the meat the restaurant serves is prepared in an indoor barbecue pit and he uses the custom built apparatus for catering gigs.

No arrests have been made.

Morgan says he considered launching a crowdfunding page to help cover the $5,800 costs of a replacement.

Inmate to use self-defense assertion in murder trial

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) — Court records say a man accused of killing another inmate at the Iowa State Penitentiary plans to assert self-defense during his murder trial.

The records say Lha Southideth-Whiten has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying of Michael Whitworth during an Oct. 20 altercation in the Fort Madison prison’s cafeteria. The Hawk Eye newspaper in Burlington reports that Southideth-Whiten’s trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 29.

A criminal complaint says Southideth-Whiten punched Whitworth, knocking him to the cafeteria floor, and continued to hit his face and head even though Whitworth was bleeding heavily and appeared to be unconscious.

Authorities say the 46-year-old Whitworth died 10 days later at a hospital. An autopsy ruled his death a homicide caused by blunt force trauma.

Hundreds mourn doctor slain after denying opioids to man’s wife

GRANGER, Ind. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral for a northern Indiana doctor who prosecutors say was slain by a man because he would not prescribe his wife opioids.

Mourners praised Dr. Todd Graham’s dedication to medicine, his family and charitable causes during Monday’s funeral at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Granger.

Dr. A.J. Mencias choked up as he recalled his medical partner as a friend and an inspiration whose personality “lit up a room like the sky on the Fourth of July.”

Prosecutors say 48-year-old Michael Jarvis of Mishawaka fatally shot Graham, an Athens, Illinois, native, last Wednesday outside a Mishawaka medical center two hours after Graham refused to prescribe highly addictive painkillers to Jarvis’ wife during an appointment.

Jarvis then fatally shot himself at a friend’s home.

Prep school discloses more claims of sexual misconduct

ANDOVER, Mass. (AP) — A prestigious Massachusetts boarding school says an investigation has found that two more former faculty members engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with students.

Phillips Academy’s head of school wrote in an email to the school community Monday that the alleged misconduct was found by an independent law firm hired by the school.

The Andover school previously identified five cases in the 1970s and 1980s in which former faculty members engaged in improper conduct with students.

Head of School John Palfrey says the latest investigation found that one male teacher allegedly had sexual intercourse with a female student during the 1970s.

Another male faculty member allegedly “engaged in unwanted intimate touching” with a student during a school-sponsored activity.

The two former faculty members refused to participate in the investigation.

Settlement reached in case over mansion

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The owner of a 72,000-square-foot (6690-sq. meter), five-story mansion in southwestern Missouri has settled a lawsuit against the supplier of concrete used to build the 13-bedroom castle-style behemoth.

The July 21 settlement avoided a jury trial that was scheduled to have begun Monday in Springfield in the lawsuit by the family of astrophysicist Steven Huff against Kansas-based Monarch Cement Co. and subsidiary City Wide Construction Products, The Kansas City Star reported .

The deal’s terms were not disclosed.

Huff sued in May 2015 for $63 million after a whistleblower alleged contractors who built Chateau Pensmore in Christian County had skimped on a concrete component called helix — fine, twisted strands of high-tensile wire that makes concrete less vulnerable to wind and explosions. Walls reinforced with helix bend rather than break, then flex back into place.

The lawsuit claimed the concrete companies drove helix meant for the all-concrete mansion to storage to be sold for other projects, rather than mixing a full measure of the component into cement.

Monarch Cement and City Wide Construction have denied those allegations.

The 14-bathroom mansion, which was completed in 2016 after seven years of construction, has exterior walls 12 inches thick and is designed to survive earthquakes, tornadoes and even a bomb blast. Huff told the Star in 2015 that the house should stand for 2,000 years.

Jury finds unhappy couple defamed wedding photographer

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas jury has awarded a wedding photographer more than $1 million after determining a newly married couple unhappy with her work launched a social media campaign to post falsehoods about her.

The Dallas County jury found Friday that the campaign against Andrea Polito amounted to defamation. The campaign included the couple taking their complaint to Dallas news stations.

The jury unanimously found the couple acted of out malice in targeting Polito in 2015.

Polito said in her lawsuit that the couple repeatedly asked that their wedding photos be forwarded to them but the contract stipulated that they first submit an order form for their wedding album.

The cover photo for the album can cost in excess of $125.

The lawsuit contends the ensuing negative publicity “destroyed” Polito’s business.