National Roundup

New York

Special prosecutor sought to probe crime lab

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) -- A New York district attorney is seeking a special prosecutor to investigate possible wrongdoing at a now-closed crime lab.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice says she will ask court approval to appoint Eric Dinallo to lead an investigation. Dinallo is the former state insurance superintendent.

The lab was closed last week. Authorities said they'd learned that police supervisors may have been aware since September that errors were occurring with the analysis of drug evidence.

The findings could lead to exoneration or a reduction in charges for some people convicted of drug offenses.

The lab was placed on probation by a national accrediting agency in December.

New York

Ex-Disney worker faces sentencing in trade scheme

NEW YORK (AP) -- A former executive assistant who schemed with her boyfriend to sell secrets about the Disney company's finances could be facing prison.

Bonnie Hoxie of Los Angeles pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud.

She was scheduled for sentencing Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

The plot was hatched last year while Hoxie was the secretary to Disney's head of corporate communications.

Prosecutors say she fed nonpublic information such as the company's quarterly earnings to her boyfriend, Yonni Sebbag. He tried to sell the inside tips by sending anonymous letters to 33 hedge funds and other investment companies.

Most of the firms that received the offers, including some in Manhattan, notified the FBI.

Sebbag was sentenced previously to over two years behind bars.

Pennsylvania

Suspect in Erie toddler murder won't face death

ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- A judge says an Erie man awaiting trial on charges he abducted, sexually assaulted and killed a 2-year-old girl in August can't face the death penalty because his IQ is too low.

The Erie Times-News is reporting Erie County Judge Ernest DiSantis Jr.'s decision returned Tuesday in the case of 22-year-old Aaron Noyer.

Noyer's attorneys challenged Erie District Attorney Jack Daneri's intention to seek the death penalty in the slaying of Elizabeth Neimeic.

Daneri says Noyer qualifies for the death penalty because the victim was younger than 12; the killing allegedly happened as part of another felony; and Noyer has a history of violent crime.

But defense experts testified at a hearing last year that Noyer's IQ is less than 70 and DiSantis said that exempts Noyer from execution under a Supreme Court decision barring the death penalty for developmentally disabled defendants.

Tennessee

Hearing delayed in slaying of Chattanooga pastor

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- A judge has agreed to delay a bond hearing for a teenager charged in the slaying of a pastor in Chattanooga.

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern on Monday moved Brendan Barnes' bond hearing to March 21 in response to a request by the 16-year-old defendant's attorney.

Barnes is being prosecuted as an adult, along with a 26-year-old cousin, in the slaying of St. Paul AME Church pastor David Strong.

Police found the 55-year-old pastor's battered and slashed body at his home Oct. 10.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Barnes' attorney, Jonathan Turner, requested the delay during a brief hearing to allow the defense to "look at a few more issues in the case."

Connecticut

Hospital seeks to limit testimony in abuse case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut hospital is asking a court to limit testimony in an upcoming trial about whether it did enough to protect children from a sexually abusive doctor.

Lawyers for St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford want certain photographs and details from decades-old complaints about Dr. George Reardon excluded from evidence.

Dozens of Reardon's former patients are suing the hospital, saying it should have done more to protect them.

Jury selection for the first plaintiffs' trial starts March 8. The hospital filed motions last week asking a judge to limit what can be presented as evidence.

Reardon resigned amid the molestation accusations in 1993 and died in 1998.

A hidden collection of more than 50,000 pornographic images featuring his young patients was discovered in 2007 in his former home.

California

Parole blocked for Calif man who killed ex

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A California appeals court has blocked parole for a man who shot to death his ex-wife in a Petaluma bar more than three decades ago.

The case made headlines when the state parole board determined Jimmie Sole was suitable for release and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger overruled the board in 2009. A Sonoma County judge said last year that there was no evidence for Schwarzenegger's decision and he ruled Sole should be paroled.

A San Francisco appeals court disagreed on Friday, saying the 73-year-old Sole still might be a danger if released. Sole pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1980 and was sentenced to 15 years to life for killing Joyce Williams.

Sole's lawyer Frances Ternus tells the San Francisco Chronicle that she will appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Montana

Family wins $1.7M medical negligence case

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- A jury has awarded a Billings woman and her four children $1.7 million in a medical malpractice case.

Amy Heidt filed a lawsuit against Billings Clinic and Dr. Faranak Argani over the 2005 death of her husband, Gerry Heidt.

Heidt's attorneys argued that Argani misdiagnosed chest pain Gerry Heidt was having as a torn muscle, rather than pain caused by a leaky heart valve. The lawsuit says Argani should have referred Heidt to a heart specialist. Amy Heidt's attorneys argued that Gerry Heidt died a year later because he did not receive a replacement valve. He was 42.

The Billings Gazette reports the jury returned its verdict Friday.

John Russell, the attorney for Argani and Billings Clinic, declined comment other than to say Argani is still practicing at Billings Clinic.

Published: Wed, Feb 23, 2011

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