National Roundup

Illinois
Architect charged with murder in ­girlfriend’s death

CHICAGO (AP) — A Cook County judge has denied bail for an architect who is facing murder charges in his live-in girlfriend’s strangling death.

Authorities say 26-year-old Devon Charlton of Chicago was arrested Thursday at O’Hare International Airport. He is charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 31 death of 23-year-old Ninaa Edwards. Prosecutors say police found her body with red marks on her neck. She was on a bed in the couple’s South Side apartment.

Charlton’s attorney Joshua Kutnick argued in court Sunday that Charlton wasn’t a flight risk and said Charlton went to the airport to pick up his mother, not flee the jurisdiction. Kutnick said
Charlton worked for a South Loop studio and was a member of the American Institute of Architects Chicago’s Young Architects Forum.

Indiana
Lawsuit over wrongful ­conviction gets green light

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — A man who spent nearly 10 years in prison for a wrongful conviction has cleared a key hurdle in his lawsuit against Elkhart police.

Attorneys for Elkhart argued that Keith Cooper took too long to sue . But a federal judge last week rejected that argument.

Cooper was convicted of armed robbery for a 1996 home invasion and shooting that injured a teen. He was released from prison in 2006 after a co-defendant’s conviction was overturned. In 2017, Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a pardon, and Cooper’s record was expunged.

Cooper says Elkhart police violated his rights in a “reckless and profoundly flawed” investigation. Elkhart denies any misconduct.

Ohio
Judge pushes back date again for ­opioids trial

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge in Cleveland has again pushed back the date for a trial in some local governments’ claims against the drug industry over destruction wrought by prescription opioid painkillers.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster said in a recent order that the trial for claims made by the cities of Cleveland and Akron and Cuyahoga and Summit counties will begin Oct. 21. Cleveland.com reports it was previously set to begin in March and then in September.

Polster also pushed back other deadlines to complete expert reports and motions before trial. Attorneys for the governments and the drug companies requested the delay.

The accusations include claims that drug companies knew about problems surrounding opioid addiction but took no meaningful steps to help.

Alabama
Exhibit features U.S .Supreme Court cases

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — An exhibit at Auburn University is recognizing important U.S. Supreme Court cases linked to Alabama as the state marks its bicentennial year.

Political scientist Steve Brown says he installed the exhibit at the university’s main library to highlight cases including The New York Times v. Sullivan, which arose from Montgomery and established an important standard on libel laws.

Brown tells the Opelika-Auburn News he came to teach at Auburn in 1998 and was surprised to learn about important Supreme Court decisions that originated in Alabama.

He says the display is user-friendly for all ages. It includes information on panels and has an iPad kiosk with additional information.

Librarian Liza Weisbrod says the exhibit will travel around the state after it’s removed from the Auburn library on Thursday.

Alabama
Judge says ­execution can proceed without imam present

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday ruled that a Muslim inmate’s scheduled lethal injection can proceed next week without an imam present but said Alabama must keep a Christian prison chaplain out of the execution chamber.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins denied a stay requested by Dominique Ray, 42. Ray is scheduled to be executed Feb. 7 for the 1995 fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville.

Ray says his religious rights are being violated because Alabama has a Christian prison chaplain present at lethal injections, but will not let him have an imam in the room with him as the lethal drugs are administered.

Ray’s lawyers argued that he has the same right to religious comfort in his final moments as a Christian inmate. Watkins said for security reasons the state can limit death chamber access to prison employees.

The judge ordered the state to keep the prison chaplain out of the death chamber during Ray’s execution. The state already said it was willing to do so.

Condemned inmates in Alabama can visit with their spiritual adviser before their execution and have the person witness the procedure through the glass window of an adjoining room. However, only the prison chaplain and a correctional officer are in the room with the inmate during the lethal injection procedure.

The chaplain will sometimes kneel and pray with an inmate who is strapped to a gurney.

Court records indicate that Ray is appealing.

Ray’s lawyers are also seeking a new trial, saying prosecutors did not disclose records that showed a key witness was suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia before he testified against Ray.

Harville disappeared from her Selma home in July 1995. Her decomposing body was found in a field a month later.

Ray was convicted in 1999 after co-defendant Marcus Owden told police that they had picked the girl up for a night out on the town and then raped her. Owden said Ray cut the girl’s throat and they also took the girl’s purse, which had $6 or $7 in it.

Owden pleaded guilty to murder, testified against Ray and is serving a life sentence without parole.

Wyoming
Teen to stand trial as adult for school threats

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A 14-year-old who brought two handguns and ammunition to a Wyoming school and allegedly threatened to shoot specific students and staff members will stand trial as an adult.

A judge in Gillette ruled Friday that there was enough evidence to try the boy on nine counts of attempted first-degree murder, one for each of the people he allegedly intended to target Nov. 13.

The Gillette News Record reports the teen told police that he woke up and decided to shoot students and staff that day to honor his biological father, who had recently died and had reportedly taken a gun to school as a teenager.

His lawyer said it is a case of overcharging.

The boy’s mother said he has mental health issues and should have a psychological evaluation before a trial.

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