Court Round Up

South Dakota: Bid for adult entertainment store in Sturgis fails
STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge in Rapid City has rejected on a technicality a man’s effort to open an adult entertainment store in Sturgis.

David Eliason said his rights to free speech and due process were violated when the city refused to allow him to set up shop in a former auto dealership off Interstate 90. He was seeking a temporary restraining order so he could do business during the remainder of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Sturgis officials had said the business did not comply with state statutes, primarily one requiring an adult-oriented business to be at least one-fourth of a mile from areas such as schools and churches.

U.S. District Judge Larry Viken said the plaintiffs had failed to notify the state attorney general’s office that they were challenging the constitutionality of state law regulating adult-oriented businesses.

Louisiana: Federal judge OKs extension in Lafayette sex trial
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A federal judge has granted a continuance in the scheduled trial of a former private-school counselor accused of a federal sex crime.

The Advocate reports U.S. District Judge Richard Haik signed the order Friday, but it was not published until Monday.

The order was in response to a joint motion filed by attorneys for Allison Hargrave and the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeking additional time to conduct a mental examination to determine whether Hargrave is competent to stand trial.

Hargrave, who served as a counselor at Ascension Episcopal School, is accused by federal prosecutors of using e-mail to entice a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity. She was set to stand trial Monday.

Hargrave’s attorney filed notice in July that his client intends to use an insanity defense.

Virginia: Man sentenced to 3 years on dogfighting charge
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Richmond man convicted of dogfighting and animal cruelty will spend three years in prison.

According to court testimony, 17 of 21 pit pulls seized from 47-year-old Deano A. Jones’ home earlier this year had to be euthanized.

Jones pleaded guilty in May to animal cruelty and entered an Alford plea to the dogfighting charge. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict.

Richmond Circuit Court Substitute Judge Thomas N. Nance sentenced Jones on Monday to five years on the dogfighting charge, and then suspended two years of the term.

Connecticut: Murder suspect claims victim raped her
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Police say a 23-year-old Connecticut woman charged with murder claims the victim raped her months before he was shot to death in Bridgeport, but his family calls her a liar.

Former Stratford resident Jessica Nichols was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail during her arraignment Monday in Bridgeport Superior Court. Her case was continued to Aug. 31.

Police say Daron Green’s bleeding body was found on a city street June 22, moments after witnesses say he got out of car driven by a woman. Police charged Nichols in the killing on Friday after obtaining an arrest warrant.

Authorities say Nichols accused Green of breaking into her home in February and sexually assaulting her. But Green’s niece, Marquesha McIntosh, says Nichols is lying and her uncle wasn’t a rapist.

Massachusetts: Bullying defendants seek medical records
HADLEY, Mass. (AP) — Lawyers for two of the teenagers accused of bullying a South Hadley High School freshman before she killed herself have asked a Juvenile Court judge to allow them access to the girl’s medical records in an effort to show that she was suicidal long before her suicide.

Six former South Hadley students are charged in connection with 15-year-old Phoebe Prince’s death in January. All have pleaded not guilty.

The Republican of Springfield reports that lawyers for defendants Flannery Mullins and Sharon Velazquez filed the motion on Monday.

The motion says Prince’s medical and counseling records show “repeated patterns of cutting, negative attention seeking behavior, medication, drug use and prior suicide attempts.”

Prosecutors had no comment.

Delaware: Pediatrician abuse case: hearing set on search
GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) — A judge has scheduled an Aug. 31 hearing on claims state police illegally searched a building where they found critical computer evidence in the child sexual abuse case against pediatrician Earl B. Bradley.

Public defender Stephanie Tsantes declined comment Monday on the defense motion pending before Superior Court Judge William Carpenter, which seeks to suppress evidence seized from an outbuilding at Bradley’s medical office in the Lewes area.

The defense claims evidence seized in a search of the doctor’s office and two outbuildings last year should be thrown out because the search warrant didn’t cover the entire area.
Prosecutors haven’t yet filed a response.

Authorities have said Bradley is suspected of abusing more than 100 children over 10 years.

Kentucky: Fake agent gets 30 months in prison
COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A judge in Covington has sentenced an Ohio man who pleaded guilty to posing as a Secret Service agent.

U.S. District Court Judge Danny Reeves agreed with federal prosecutors who said 40-year-old Virdell Hicks of Cincinnati was “exceptionally brazen” in impersonating a federal agent to get a woman out of jail so she could continue cashing his counterfeit checks.

The Kentucky Enquirer reported Reeves handed Hicks a 30-month sentence on Monday, more than twice the recommended time in prison for such crimes.

The defendant asked for leniency, saying he wanted to help bring up his three sons and a fourth child expected later this year.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Dusing said Hicks’ rap sheet included 19 crimes as a juvenile and a long adult history of counterfeiting and property crimes.

Jones received a five-year suspended sentence on the animal cruelty charges.

Arizona: Guru’s attorneys ask judge to compel disclosure
CAMP VERDE, Ariz. (AP) — Attorneys for a self-help guru charged with manslaughter are asking a judge to compel the disclosure of information they say medical examiners used to determine causes of death in the case.

A judge is expected to hear the motion Tuesday that prosecutors say lacks legal merit. They further contend the information is protected by the work product doctrine.

Attorneys for James Arthur Ray argue that medical examiners relied on information provided by law enforcement at a December meeting to resolve differences in the causes of death for three people.

The attorneys say Arizona law entitles them to all information relied upon by experts and requested that prosecutors be sanctioned.

Ray has pleaded not guilty to three counts of manslaughter, stemming from a sweat lodge ceremony he led last October.

Montana: Woman gets prison for exploiting elderly man
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A 63-year-old Helena woman convicted of exploiting an elderly man and living off of his income until he was nearly destitute has been sentenced to three years in prison and must pay $100,000 in restitution.

A jury convicted Maureen Molina in May, and District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock sentenced her last week to 10 years in prison with seven years suspended.

Court records say Molina met the man in 1996 when he was about 80 years old. At the time,   he was managing his own finances, owned his home free and clear and had about $30,000 in savings.

Friends of the man brought Molina to the attention of the state Adult Protective Services agency in November 2008, and an investigation revealed that she had defrauded him of more than $110,000. The man, who died in January at the age of 95, also owed a large debt to various credit card companies.

Molina was accused of using the man’s credit card at an ATM machine beginning in September 2004 to withdraw “substantial” funds and of persuading him to take out a home equity loan that eventually totaled about $116,000 to remodel his residence. The investigation, which was joined by the Montana Department of Justice, found that it did not appear that that much money went toward the remodel.

Molina had become the man’s primary caregiver, had power of attorney and was going to inherit all he owned when he died.