Courts - Court Round Up

Kentucky

Jury holds DuPont liable in chemical leak, award $9K

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A federal jury has found DuPont liable for a chemical leak that sickened and injured three people in northeastern Kentucky.

The Daily Independent in Ashland reports that the jury awarded damages totaling just over $9,000 to Arthellia Bates, Phillip Justice and Janet Senters in the second trial stemming from the October 2004 leak at the company's Wurtland plant.

The jury last week also found in favor of DuPont on the claims of five other people.

The jury awarded $9,000 to Justice and Senters and $5,000 to Bates. A different jury last year found DuPont grossly negligent in the leak.

Because of the gross negligence finding in the prior trial, the awards are multiplied times 10, giving Justice and Senters each a share of $90,317 and Bates $57,472.

Nebraska

Mutual of Omaha files another suit over calendar

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Mutual of Omaha is suing discount retailer Dollar General in a dispute over a wildlife calendar that's already spawned at least one other similar lawsuit.

The insurance company and creator of the "Wild Kingdom" television program has sued the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based retailer and its parent company in U.S. District Court in Omaha. The lawsuit accuses them of trademark infringement for selling a "Wild Kingdom of Animals" calendar.

Mutual says it has held the trademark to use the Wild Kingdom name on printed items since 2004.

A Dollar General spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company hadn't seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

Mutual filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month against Richmond, Va.-based paper products giant MeadWestvaco Corp.

Virginia

Jury acquits ex-Newport News police officer

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) -- A former Newport News police officer says he wants his job back after a jury acquitted him of abducting a woman with the intent to defile her.

Tuesday's verdict came a month after 38-year-old Christopher E. Miner was acquitted in a separate case of sexual assault charges involving another woman.

Miner says he plans to fight to win his job back. He was the Newport News Police Department's 2006 Officer of the Year.

Several jurors said there wasn't evidence to warrant a conviction.

Tennessee

Police: Drunk mom runs through school with sword

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Police say the mother of an elementary school student drank a 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor before brandishing a sword in her child's school.

Bennie Price told WMC-TV that her daughter, 32-year-old Toni Price went to Riverview Elementary School in Memphis intending to confront the parents of another child who had been in a spitting match with her child the previous day.

According to court records, an employee reported a drunk woman armed with a sword was running through the halls of the school and had threatened to cut her.

Officers who arrived on the scene retrieved a black cane that concealed the blade.

Bennie Price said her daughter would never have hurt anyone at the school.

Toni Price is charged with aggravated assault and having a weapon on school property.

Pennsylvania

Man held in graffiti threat against judge

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A western Pennsylvania man has been arrested on charges he spray-painted a threat against a judge who sentenced him to probation in an assault case.

Thirty-nine-year-old Paul Sirmons, of North Huntingdon, was awaiting arraignment Wednesday on charges of vandalism, terroristic threats and criminal mischief.

Allegheny County Sheriff's deputies arrested Sirmons after a witness identified him from surveillance video outside the courthouse Feb. 2. The video was shown on Pittsburgh TV stations Tuesday.

The words "judge" and "die" were sprayed on the county courthouse along with an illegible word that began with the letters "ma."

The suspect allegedly told investigators he was unhappy with how Judge Jeffrey Manning handled Sirmon's 1994 assault case. Sirmons doesn't have an attorney.

Alabama

25-year-old man sentenced to death in killing

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) -- A judge has sentenced a 25-year-old Dothan man to death for the fatal shooting of a convenience store clerk during a robbery.

Circuit Court Judge Lawson Little sentenced Lameco Turner on Tuesday following a sentencing hearing.

The jury that convicted Turner last month in the shooting of 54-year-old Prakash Shah at the Southeast Mini Mart in 2004 recommended the death penalty.

Attorney Tom Brantley, who represented Turner, asked the court for a life without parole sentence. He said the fatal shooting was an accident.

Iowa

Arraignment set for man accused of killing wife

WASHINGTON, Iowa (AP) -- A March 5 arraignment is scheduled for a 70-year-old eastern Iowa man accused of killing his wife.

James Blum, of Washington, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 67-year-old wife, Patricia Blum. She was found unresponsive in the couple's home on Jan. 11. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Online court records show James Blum's arraignment in Washington County District Court was scheduled on Monday.

District Attorney Doug Valeska reminded the judge that the jury had found two aggravating factors in the case.

California

Man pleads guilty in drug smuggling tunnel case

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- An Imperial County, Calif., man has pleaded guilty to renting homes on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border to serve as access points for a narcotics-smuggling tunnel.

Eduardo Araza-Leon entered his plea to conspiracy and money laundering charges in federal court in San Diego Tuesday.

Araza-Leon admitted he rented houses in Calexico and across the border in Mexicali, about 45 miles west of Yuma, in early 2006 to hide illegal drug shipments through an underground passageway he and others planned to build.

Araza-Leon, who has been in custody for more than three years, says he took part in the drug-trafficking scheme at the direction of Mexican national Saul Ontiveros-Zamora. He pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and money laundering in the case.

Arkansas

Ex-prosecutor pleads not guilty to drug counts

SHERIDAN, Ark. (AP) -- A former prosecutor who served nearly a decade in prison for drug and corruption convictions has pleaded not guilty to drug distribution charges.

Dan Harmon entered his plea Tuesday in Sheridan, where he allegedly provided hydrocodone and morphine, and was caught in an undercover operation. The 65-year-old Harmon could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. He is being held on $100,000 bond.

Harmon was prosecutor for Grant, Hot Spring and Saline counties but quit in 1996 as part of a plea deal for beating up a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for racketeering, extortion and drug convictions.

New York

Grand jury looks into upstate NY antifreeze death

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (AP) -- Authorities have scheduled a court hearing for a western New York woman accused of exacting revenge on an abusive boyfriend by lacing a jug of margarita cocktails with deadly antifreeze.

Prosecutors in Ontario County were expected to release grand jury findings at Wednesday's arraignment of Cynthia Galens, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Air Force veteran Thomas Stack.

The 51-year-old Galens, who has pleaded not guilty, told state police that Stack was emotionally and physically abusive and she decided in October to pour a shot glass of antifreeze into a margarita mix. She says she intended to sicken him but he died from complications of ethylene glycol poisoning.

If convicted, Galens could get life in prison.

About 900 criminal cases in Saline County had to be dropped because of Harmon.

Published: Thu, Feb 25, 2010

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