National Roundup

Cable reality star charged in toy store scam 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — One of the stars of a defunct TLC reality show has been charged with theft in Kentucky.

Fayette County Jail records indicate 28-year-old Mellie Jeanette Lee was arrested in Louisiana and booked Wednesday on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, theft by deception of $10,000 or more and unlawful access to a computer. Lee was known as Mellie Stanley on “Gypsy Sisters,” which ran from 2013 to 2015, and also appeared in “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.”

News outlets report her arrest citation states Stanley and others used counterfeit coupons to purchase $18,000 in items at Toys R Us and Babies R Us in October.

According to court documents, the charges were filed in Fayette County Nov. 27.

Stanley pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday.

3 convicted; mistaken gang killed mayor-elect’s nephew

ATLANTA (AP) — Three men have been convicted of killing a nephew of Atlanta’s mayor-elect in a mistaken gang shooting.

Authorities have said 18-year-old Darius Bottoms was shot because 23-year-old Ryan Bowdery, 22-year-old David Dajunta Wallace and 19-year-old Rashad Barber mistook him for a member of a rival gang.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV report that all three were convicted Thursday of felony murder and other charges. Each was sentenced to life in prison, plus additional time.

Bottoms was a nephew of Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was elected Atlanta mayor earlier this month and takes office in January.

New York
Lawyer: Woman whose fiance drowned grateful to be released

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. (AP) — The lawyer for a woman who pleaded guilty in the drowning death of her fiance during a New York kayak outing says she is grateful to be out of prison.

Angelika Graswald was released Thursday from Bedford Hills prison.

She and her fiance, 46-year-old Vincent Viafiore, were on the Hudson River in April 2015 when he drowned. Prosecutors said she admitted sabotaging his kayak by pulling the drain plug and suggested she wanted his life insurance money.

She was initially charged with murder. But they later said her statements were inconsistent and she pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. She was behind bars for nearly three years.

Man acquitted of murder after8 years behind bars files lawsuit

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man acquitted of murder after eight years behind bars has filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was wrongfully convicted of killing his wife’s grandmother.

Michael Amick and his wife, Sara, a teacher, sued earlier this month, one year after winning his freedom. It accused southern Missouri officials of making false reports, fabricating evidence and failing to interview witnesses, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Michael Amick initially was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree arson in the 2008 shooting and burning death of 67-year-old Leona Maxine Vaughan in Oregon County, near the Arkansas border. The Post-Dispatch couldn’t reach the Oregon County Sheriff for comment.

The Missouri Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2015 because an alternate juror was called back to deliberate hours after being dismissed in violation of state law. A new trial held in Butler County ended in acquittal.

Jury foreman Lance Donze previously told the Post-Dispatch that the prosecution’s case hangs primarily on a witness who testified that he had seen Amick’s truck at the scene and that it was “not enough for any of us to put someone in jail for the rest of their life.” The witness was 19 at the time of the crime and had marijuana in his system. Lead defense attorney Adam Woody had argued that there was no physical or scientific evidence that placed Amick at the scene.

In a twist, the lawsuit also said that inmate James Higdon has said a fellow prisoner, David Youngblood, confessed to killing Vaughan with the help of a teenager. A judge ruled that Higdon’s statements wouldn’t be admitted at Amick’s second trial, partly because Higdon and Youngblood sought financial gain in exchange for the testimony.

Youngblood is serving life without parole for the deaths of four older adults who were burned and some of them also shot in two separate incidents in 2010 in homes about 30 minutes from where Vaughan died two years earlier. Youngblood’s wife and daughter also are in prison for the deaths, and the daughter’s former boyfriend is awaiting trial.

$1M bond set for mother charged with murder in son’s death

CLEVELAND (AP) — A judge has set a $1 million bond for a Cleveland woman charged with murder after telling authorities where her 5-year-old son’s body was buried.

Thirty-four-year-old Larissa Rodriguez appeared Friday in Cleveland Municipal Court. Police say Rodriguez, the mother of nine children, was arrested Monday after police received a tip that she and her boyfriend had buried her developmentally disabled son, Jordan, in their yard.

Police say he died Sept. 22.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office hasn’t identified the remains found Tuesday or indicated a cause of death. Investigators say the body of an apparent child found during the search had injuries that included broken ribs.

Court records don’t indicate whether Rodriguez has an attorney.

The county has taken custody of four of Rodriguez’s children.

Contractor who tried to have homeowner killed sentenced

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A Virginia home remodeling contractor who tried to have a client killed has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Washington Post reports that contractor Daniel W. Jamison was sentenced last week after trying to hire an undercover police officer as a hit man.

Jamison met with the officer to discuss the murder after the homeowner had Jamison charged with construction fraud for not completing a $41,000 remodeling job.

Jamison argued that he had not been serious when talking to the undercover officer, but Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Devine said he did not “believe a word of” Jamison’s story.