National Roundup

Prosecutor denies ­misconduct, says he never believed inmate

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi prosecutor denies trying to intimidate or coach testimony from a witness in the case of a man accused of killing a woman by setting her on fire, saying he never believed the inmate’s story.

District Attorney John Champion, testifying Monday, said Jalen Caudle told him about the suspect, Quinton Tellis.

Champion says he didn’t violate rules by talking to Caudle without his lawyer because he was there to talk to Caudle as a witness against Tellis, who’s accused of killing 19-year-old Jessica Chambers in 2014. Tellis’ first trial ended in a hung jury and he’s scheduled for retrial.

Witnesses testified Chambers said “Eric” attacked her. Tellis’ lawyer alleges Champion tried to coach Caudle into testifying that Chambers called Tellis “Eric.” Champion says Caudle offered that statement freely and Champion didn’t believe Caudle.

Accuser asks court to release dioceses report

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man who has accused a since-defrocked priest of molesting him as a 13-year-old is asking Pennsylvania’s highest court to allow the release of a grand jury report into allegations of decades of child sexual abuse in six Roman Catholic dioceses.

The filing by Todd Frey comes as the state Supreme Court holds up publication of the nearly 900-page report while it accepts written arguments this week from current and former priests who object to being named in the report.

Frey joins nine news organizations and Attorney General Josh Shapiro in asking the court to release the report.

A two-year investigation targeted the dioceses of Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown and Scranton. Victim advocates say it could be the most exhaustive examination by any state of clergy abuse.

Police: Houston toddler dead after self-inflicted gunshot

HOUSTON (AP) — Police in Houston say a 2-year-old boy is dead after he apparently found a loaded gun in his home and shot himself in the head.

The shooting happened Sunday afternoon in northwest Houston. Police Capt. David Angelo says investigators are still piecing together what happened, but that they believe the boy found the unsecured gun, pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger.
The child was pronounced dead at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Angelo says investigators found a 9 mm pistol on a couch in the home’s living room.

He says the boy’s parents were home at the time of the shooting, and that an investigation is underway to determine whether any charges should be filed.

New Jersey
Prosecutor: Man driving drunk on sidewalk hits, kills infant

RARITAN, N.J. (AP) — Authorities say a man was driving drunk when he struck three people on a sidewalk, killing an infant and seriously injuring the child’s mother and 5-year-old brother.

Somerset County prosecutors say Ronald Rebernik faces numerous counts stemming from Saturday’s accident in Raritan, including vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault. It wasn’t known Monday if the 62-year-old Raritan man has retained an attorney.

Prosecutors say Rebernik’s SUV struck two parked cars before hitting the three victims, then re-entered the roadway and hit two more parked cars before his vehicle became disabled.

The 36-year-old mother was pushing the infant in a stroller, while her other son walked beside her. The baby was flown to a hospital but died there a short time later.

The mother remained hospitalized Monday in serious condition, while the 5-year-old boy was in critical condition.

Convicted child rapist pleads not guilty to new charges

BOSTON (AP) — A 70-year-old convicted child rapist from Massachusetts who was set to be released before his arrest last month has pleaded not guilty to new charges.

Wayne Chapman pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of open and gross lewdness and lewd, wanton and lascivious acts. Prosecutors say Chapman exposed himself and masturbated in the view of prison staff.

Chapman’s arrest came as officials were preparing for his release after two experts ruled he is no longer sexually dangerous.

Chapman was convicted in 1977 of sexually assaulting young boys he lured into the woods. His prison term ended in 2004, but he has been civilly committed since then.

Chapman’s impending release sparked outrage from Chapman’s victims and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

His attorneys have denied the new allegations.

South Carolina
Suspect accused of taking meth to K-9 car

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (AP) — Police say a man who brought drugs with him when he opened a car door and found himself facing a drug enforcement squad simply uttered an expletive and added, “What’s up, guys?”

Then he got arrested.

Citing a statement from the Berkeley County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office, WCSC-TV reports the team was investigating a drug complaint Thursday night and pulled up in an unmarked K-9-equipped car to encourage the suspected drug dealer to leave the area. The sheriff’s office says the suspect wasn’t discouraged by the dog’s excited yelps.

The statement says 40-year-old Eric Hall dropped baggies containing suspected meth and kicked them under the police vehicle when he realized who was inside. But he was arrested, along with his passenger, 40-year-old Paul Howard.

It’s unclear whether they have lawyers.

10-year-old boy behind wheel of crashed car

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officers who followed a car zig-zagging down a Des Moines street before it crashed were surprised to find a 10-year-old boy at the wheel with his 7-year-old brother riding shotgun.

A 911 caller alerted police to a reckless driver a little before 8:30 a.m. Monday. Officers who spotted the car turned on their flashing lights while following it, but the curb-to-curb excursion didn’t end until the minor crash. Police say neither of the boys was hurt.

Sgt. Paul Parizek says the boys apparently were just out on a joy ride, and were heading nowhere in particular.

Parizek says they won’t be referred to juvenile authorities, telling The Des Moines Register that “the punishment to fit the crime is probably going to be in the home.”