National Roundup

Pennsylvania

Case vs. ex-task force officers split

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) -- A judge has ruled that the cases against two suspended central Pennsylvania police officers will proceed separately in court.

Thomas Ungard and Dustin Kreitz face numerous charges including tampering with public records and criminal conspiracy. A state grand jury recommended the charges in 2007, and authorities said the men used their positions on the Lycoming County Drug Task Force for personal gain. Both men were also Williamsport city police officers.

But the case has been tied up for years in the court system.

The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported Wednesday that a visiting Potter County judge granted a motion to sever the initial case into two separate cases.

Ungard is representing himself in court. He has asked for a dismissal after alleging the state violated his right to a speedy trial.

Virginia

'Granddad Bandit' sentenced to 25 years in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The graying, balding so-called "Granddad Bandit" has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for robbing banks in 13 states.

Fifty-three-year-old Michael Francis Mara pleaded guilty in February to robbing two Virginia banks. He acknowledged heists from New York to Texas from 2008 until his capture last summer.

Mara was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Richmond, Va. In addition to the prison time he must pay more than $83,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors called Mara a career criminal who had been committing crimes all over the country since he was 18.

The FBI dubbed Mara the "Granddad Bandit" and plastered bank surveillance photos of him on billboards nationwide in August. He was arrested a week later in Louisiana after a six-hour standoff.

Washington

Family of teen who died at JBLM suing Army

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) -- The family of a 16-year-old girl who fatally overdosed on drugs in a soldier's room at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is suing the Army and a security contractor, accusing them of negligence.

In the suit filed Monday in federal court in Tacoma, the family of Leah King is seeking a total of $10 million.

The News Tribune reports the Army declined to comment on the lawsuit and the contractor did not return a call. King died in February 2009 after taking drugs in the room of her 19-year-old boyfriend.

The soldier, Timothy Bennitt, was convicted at a court martial last year of drug and manslaughter charges and is serving a six-year sentence.

Louisiana

Sanity exam ord e red for man in st epdaughter death

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) -- The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal has halted jury selection for a second-degree murder trial and ordered a sanity examination of the defendant.

A psychiatrist and a psychologist testified last week that 35-year-old Wilson Locke is sane and able to stand trial over the shooting death of his stepdaughter six years ago. Defense attorney Ginger Vidrine filed a two motions for a third doctor to examine Locke to determine his present sanity.

A three-judge appeals court panel on Tuesday overruled state court Judge Clayton Davis' denials of Vidrine's requests for a third examination.

The sanity hearing is set for June 22. Locke's trial is now scheduled for Oct. 11.

The American Press reports 28-year-old Serebia Dean was found dead in Locke's Lake Charles home on May 3, 2005.

Maine

Pair sentenced in Maine for fabricating abduction

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine (AP) -- A former Old Orchard Beach couple have been sentenced for falsely accusing a mentally ill man of trying to abduct their 3-year-old son.

Thirty-six-year-old Clyde Huff III was sentenced to 30 days after pleading guilty Tuesday in Biddeford District Court to filing a false report, unsworn falsification and violating bail conditions. Thirty-two-year-old Shelly Prescott did the same last week.

Huff and Prescott, who now live in Texas, told police last June that 38-year-old Eric Auger grabbed their son and tried to run away with him outside the Pine Grove cabins in Old Orchard Beach, where they were staying.

The Portland Press Herald says Auger, who suffers from bipolar disorder, spent three weeks in jail where other inmates accused him of being a child molester and urged him to kill himself.

New Mexico

Trucker pleads guilty to ferrying immigrants

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -- A California truck driver has pleaded guilty in a New Mexico court to a charge that he transported illegal immigrants.

Federal prosecutors say 42-year-old Ulises Lluch-Valdes of Santa Clarita entered his plea Tuesday in Las Cruces.

He was arrested in March and released on a $5,000 bond. He remains on release pending his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

The charge stems from a stop at a border patrol checkpoint in southern New Mexico. During an inspection, agents found three illegal immigrants hiding inside the cab of his tractor-trailer.

Prosecutors say Lluch-Valdes admitted that he was charging the three men $800 each to transport them to California.

Lluch-Valdes faces up to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release.

Indiana

High court upholds no-knock warrants

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld police use in the state of so-called "no-knock" warrants.

The court ruled Tuesday that there are many circumstances in which police officers may enter homes without knocking, including concerns for officer safety, that a suspect may escape or that evidence may be destroyed.

The Times of Munster reports the court recommended police still ask a judge for a "no knock" warrant ahead of time if the facts of the case justify entry without knocking.

The court's decision stemmed from a Fort Wayne search where police serving a search warrant on two men suspected of unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana entered without knocking based on their prior felony records and the possibility that they were armed.

Published: Thu, May 12, 2011

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