National Roundup

Ohio: School board fires teacher in crosses case
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio science teacher accused of burning the image of a cross on students’ arms has officially been fired.

The Mount Vernon school board voted 4-1 Monday night to accept a state hearing officer’s recommendation to terminate John Freshwater. The Columbus Dispatch reports the firing took effect a few hours later, at midnight.

Freshwater had appealed his earlier firing by the board. An internal investigation found he had preached Christian beliefs in class. He also was accused of using a scientific device to mark several students with a cross and of keeping a Bible on his desk.

The hearing officer’s report issued Friday said Freshwater sowed doubt and confusion in the minds of impressionable students.

Freshwater has not responded to messages for comment.

California: Defendants facing charges want city to pay legal bills
BELL, Calif. (AP) — Three present and former Bell city leaders facing public corruption charges want the cash-strapped city to pay their legal bills.

Attorneys for Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo and former Councilman George Cole have filed court documents in recent weeks saying the city should cover their legal expenses in a suit filed last year by the California attorney general’s office.

The Los Angeles Times reports Tuesday that Jacobo and Cole also want Bell to pay their criminal defense costs on charges filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors.

Rocked by scandals and sky-high salaries, state auditors reported last week that Bell is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Lawyers for the defendants say in documents filed last week that their clients did nothing legally wrong and are entitled to have Bell cover the costs.

Arizona: Iraqi charged in daughter’s killing due in court
PHOENIX (AP) — An Iraqi immigrant accused of killing his daughter because he believed she was too Westernized was due in a Phoenix court Tuesday.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys for Faleh Hassan Almaleki (Al-MAH-Leh-Key) have been in discussions about a plea deal in the case, but there’s no indication they have reached an agreement.

Police say Almaleki slammed his Jeep into his 20-year-old daughter Noor Almaleki and her boyfriend’s mother in October 2009.

The mother lived, but Noor was in a coma for two weeks before she died from her injuries

The 50-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident.

Colorado: Pot challenge turned away by state high court
DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Supreme Court won’t hear a sweeping challenge to the state’s new medical marijuana laws.

The court has turned down a request by some marijuana advocates to hear arguments on whether parts of those laws violate the constitutional amendment that made medical marijuana legal.

The patients say the pending rules violate patient privacy because of a requirement that pot shops record marijuana sales on video. The patients also argue that the laws wrongly give local cities and counties the ability to ban marijuana dispensaries.

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday not to hear the challenge doesn’t mean the court has ruled on whether the marijuana laws are constitutional. Plaintiffs say they’ll now file another lawsuit in a lower court.

Vermont: Man convicted of chasing three with machete
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A jury has found a 25-year-old Vermont man guilty of charges he brandished a machete while he chased three men through a Burlington neighborhood last summer.

Dennis Rose was convicted of aggravated assault Monday in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington after two hours of deliberations.

Court documents say Rose told police the men he chased on July 29 had been bothering him for a while.

Prosecutor Ed Sutton tells the Burlington Free Press anyone who threatens others with a machete has to be held accountable.

No sentencing date has been set for his conviction.

Rose is already in custody on federal charges he fired a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun into the air several times during an argument with another man downtown.

Nebraska: Lincoln man gets 5 years in federal marijuana case
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A 27-year-old Lincoln man involved in a marijuana operation has been given five years in federal prison.

On Friday, Justin Fisher also was ordered to serve five years of supervised release after he leaves prison.

A news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg says more than 900 marijuana plants and several pieces of gear needed for growing the pot were seized at Fisher’s Lincoln home in March.

The release says Fisher had let another man use the home to grow the marijuana. That man, Chien Nguyen (CHEEN WIN), also was charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.

Nguyen had pleaded not guilty in May. Court records say he’s due back in court Feb. 7 for a change-of-plea hearing.

Oklahoma: High Court denies appeal by former Okla auditor
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal filed by former state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan.

The Oklahoman reports the court made its ruling Monday without comment. A federal jury convicted McMahan and his wife, Lori McMahan, in June 2008 on felony counts of conspiracy and accepting bribes.

This past September, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Jeff McMahan’s conviction and sentence. In his appeal, he cited flawed jury instructions issued by a judge, that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him and that evidence of his character should have been admitted. He also asked for a lighter sentence.

He began serving his eight-year, one-month sentence in March 2009 at a Tennessee prison camp. Lori McMahan is serving a six-year, six-month sentence at a Texas prison camp.