National Roundup

Minnesota: Man convicted in death of infant son
ORTONVILLE, Minn. (AP) — A southwest Minnesota man has been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his infant son.

The Public Opinion newspaper reports that Judge Gerald Seibel issued the verdict Tuesday after a trial that lasted eight days over a span of nearly three weeks.

Twenty-year-old Zachary Raffety, of Ortonville, was charged in the October 2009 death of 3-month-old Avory Raffety, who died in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital. Authorities determined the baby’s death was the result of head trauma, possibly from being shaken.

The judge rejected defense arguments that physical factors such as premature birth might have led to the death. He also found Raffety not guilty of more serious first-degree murder charges.

Raffety is to be sentenced Dec. 21.

Missouri: Hearing Friday on defender’s refusal to take cases
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The public will have a chance to weigh in on the Missouri Public Defender Office’s efforts to manage caseloads by occasionally refusing new cases.

The Supreme Court has asked retired Circuit Judge Miles Sweeney to hold a public hearing Friday in Springfield to gather evidence for a report on the controversial tactic.

The refusal to take cases — and a Christian County judge’s decision to require a Springfield public defender office to take a case — has been appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Missouri Supreme Court spokeswoman Beth Riggert says the court does not take evidence but reviews evidence that has been presented somewhere else — usually at a trial.

The Springfield News Leader reports that in the public defenders’ case, little evidence exists for a court review. The public hearing Friday at the Greene County Judicial Center is designed to provide some legal records for the court to consider.

Nevada: Man re-sentenced to 10 years for luring girls
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A judge has re-sentenced a Reno man convicted of trying to lure teenage girls into his vehicle and the attempted kidnapping of a jogger to 10 years in prison.

Heydeman Armando Argueta-Godoy was initially sentenced to 11 years in January, but the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing, finding that Washoe District Judge Steven Kosach inappropriately considered the defendant’s illegal immigration status.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Argueta-Godoy is an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who had previously been deported.

He was re-sentenced on Wednesday by Judge Patrick Flanagan.

One victim said Argueta-Godoy chased her down the street with landscaping shears and ordered her into his truck while she was jogging with her dog in August 2009.

Texas: Appeals denied in Dallas schools corruption case
DALLAS (AP) — The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the appeals of two men in a Dallas schools corruption case.

A former administrator and a vendor for the Dallas Independent School District in 2008 were found guilty in the bribery investigation.

Ruben Bohuchot and Frankie Logyang Wong were convicted on 23 counts, including bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Wong was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Bohuchot received an 11-year prison term.

The New Orleans-based federal court denied the appeals Tuesday.

Wong owned Micro Systems Engineering Inc., which is a former business partner of Hewlett-Packard Co. HP this week agreed to pay $16.25 million to settle allegations that it showered Texas school officials with gifts to win contracts.

Indiana: Supreme Court ruling reinstates death sentence
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has thrown out a lower court ruling and reinstated the death sentence for convicted killer Joseph Corcoran of Fort Wayne.

The Journal Gazette reports the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had erred in January when it said the death sentence violated Indiana law. The high court said federal courts can review state cases only for violations of federal law.

The lower court had ordered a new sentence.

The now 34-year-old Corcoran was convicted in 1999 of killing the four men, including his brother and his sister’s fiance. Corcoran’s attorneys have said he was mentally ill.

Indiana attorney general spokesman Bryan Corbin says Corcoran may ask the U.S. Supreme Court review the case again.

Florida: Court upholds sentence in Mich. woman’s death
OCALA, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the murder conviction and death sentence for a man convicted of killing a retired Michigan woman in a central Florida retirement community.

The high court ruled Wednesday that Renaldo McGirth committed the murder in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner; and that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. McGirth was found guilty of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, armed robbery and felony fleeing in Diana Miller’s death in 2006.

Miller and her husband had moved to The Villages after selling their house in the Detroit suburb of Northville. Miller’s husband, James, was also shot in the attack, but he survived.

Co-defendant Jarrord Roberts has been sentenced to life in prison.

Maryland: Heroin smuggled into U.S. inside buttons
BALTIMORE (AP) — Federal authorities say drug dealers found a novel way to smuggle heroin through BWI Airport — inside large buttons sewn onto dresses.

Court documents show U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted a package containing the dresses when it arrived from the Philippines last week.

Inside the buttons, authorities found a tan, powdery substance wrapped in plastic that turned out to be $50,000 worth of heroin.

The seizure led to a sting operation at the Baltimore home of the intended recipient of the package. Fifty-year-old James Geter and 54-year-old Michael Anderson now face charges of conspiracy to import a controlled substance.

Documents show Geter and Anderson told police they were holding the package for a drug dealer who planned to pay them for it.

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