National Roundup

New York
Closings next week in trial of banker for rape

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (AP) — Closing arguments are scheduled next week in the trial of a New York City investment banker accused of raping an Irish tourist on Long Island.

Newsday reports testimony ended Wednesday in the non-jury trial of Jason Lee. The former Goldman Sachs executive has pleaded not guilty to raping a 20-year-old woman in the bathroom of an East Hampton home he rented in the summer of 2013.

Prosecutors say Lee met the woman at a nightclub in the Hamptons while celebrating his birthday. She and her friends went to Lee’s home following a night of drinking.

Lee is accused of sexually assaulting the woman in the bathroom while her friends were in the kitchen.

The victim returned from Ireland last week to testify.

Defense attorney Andrew Lankler argues the sex was consensual.

Bra bandit robs  Victoria’s Secret store — again

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — A bra bandit has struck again at a northeast Pennsylvania mall.

Police say someone stole 25 bras Tuesday from a Victoria’s Secret store at the Wyoming Valley Mall.

That’s after nearly 150 bras were taken in three heists at the same store in February and March in Wilkes-Barre Township.

Police say 94 bras were taken from display drawers on Feb. 17, and 39 bras were stolen on Feb. 25. They say 12 more bras were taken from a rear display on March 7.

The stolen bras are valued at more than $7,700.

Police haven’t identified any suspects and say they’re not sure if the thefts are the work of a lone bandit, several people working together or random thieves.

Jury: Ex-deputy not guilty in double murder

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A jury on Thursday found a former Wisconsin sheriff’s deputy with Lou Gehrig’s disease not legally responsible in the killing of his wife and sister-in-law.

Andrew Steele, 40, will be committed for life to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which will conduct a predisposition investigation. The presiding judge, Nicholas McNamara, will then decide whether Steele, a native of Saginaw Township, Michigan, should be sent to an institution or released.

Steele showed little emotion as a judge in Dane County read the verdict early Thursday after a jury deliberated for about 10 hours through the night.

Defense attorney Jessa Nicholson was one of the lawyers who convinced jurors that Steele suffered from a neurocognitive disorder as a result of the disease.

“I’m proud that the science triumphed over the emotion, I’m proud that the jury was conscientious, that they listened to all of the evidence and they reached the right result,” Nicholson said.

Steele, a former Dane County deputy, pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the Aug. 22 deaths of his 39-year-old wife, Ashlee Steele, and her sister, 38-year-old Kacee Tollefsbol of Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

Ashlee Steele was strangled with a plastic zip tie and shot in the head at the couple’s home near Madison. Tollefsbol was beaten and shot in the lower abdomen, but managed to call 911. Steele tried to kill himself with carbon monoxide by lighting charcoal in the laundry room of the home, investigators said.

Prosecutors said Steele suffered from a depression disorder but was not insane, and that he planned the murders.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” said Assistant District Attorney Paul Barnett, “but we do respect the process and we do respect the verdict. We do disagree with it.”
Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, attacks motor neurons, cells that control muscles.

Assistant District Attorney Andrea Raymond said that the defense’s case “vilifies people with ALS,” and implied that the 10 to 20 percent of people with ALS who also have frontotemporal dementia could commit violent acts like Steele, the State Journal reported.

“Reality and common sense tells you this is nonsense,” she said.

Nicholson said she hoped that the verdict would lead to further study of the relationship between criminality and brain damage.

“Brain disorders should be looked at in the context of the legal system,” Nicholson said. “I think today does start to establish precedent that we need to take brain damage seriously and we need to look at the way that people’s functioning is affected by neurological issues rather than just traditionally psychological issues.”

The jury’s verdict was not unanimous, with two of the 12 jurors dissenting.

Judge considers recusal in case of deputy shooting

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Tulsa County judge who is assigned to the case of a volunteer deputy accused of manslaughter in the shooting of a restrained suspect has said he’s considering whether to recuse himself due to his close ties to the sheriff’s office.

District Court Judge James Caputo told the Tulsa World on Wednesday that he hopes to decide by Friday if he will step aside, in an effort to do what is best for the case and the community.

Caputo worked for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office for about seven years and has a daughter who works for the agency. He was randomly assigned to Robert Bates’ case after the 73-year-old
reserve deputy was charged with second-degree manslaughter on April 13.

Despite his connections to the office, Caputo said no one has asked for him to recuse.

“There’s a lot of perceptions out there, and I don’t want to be one of them,” he told the Tulsa World.

The Associated Press left a message with Caputo’s office seeking comment Thursday.

Bates pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the April 2 death of 44-year-old Eric Harris. Bates has said he confused his handgun and stun gun when he shot Harris, who ran from authorities after a sting investigation involving gun sales.

The case has been much scrutinized, in part due to the close relationship between Sheriff Stanley Glanz and Bates, who is the sheriff’s longtime insurance agent and who worked as his 2012
re-election campaign chairman. Bates has also donated vehicles and other equipment to the office. Questions have been raised about whether Bates was properly certified to take part in the sting operation, or to use his own revolver while on duty.

Caputo has known Glanz for 23 years, but they have only had one social engagement, according to court records obtained by the newspaper. The judge said he doesn’t have any relationship with Bates, who started with the sheriff’s office nearly a decade after Caputo left.