Court Roundup

Pennsylvania

Court: Son can't touch dead Pa. parent's assets

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) -- A western Pennsylvania judge has issued a preliminary injunction that prevents a man accused of murdering his father and stepmother from accessing their estate assets.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Thursday that a Butler County judge issued the court order last week against Colin Abbott, a 40-year-old man charged with killing his father, Kenneth Abbott, and stepmother, Celeste Abbott, at their home near Slippery Rock in June.

Butler County prosecutors have suggested greed may have motivated Abbott to kill the couple, before he allegedly told relatives they had died in a fiery crash in New Jersey. He was charged after that story unraveled when relatives checked it out.

And now, the newspaper says, Celeste Abbott's daughter, Kathleen Neal, has gotten a judge to freeze the dead couple's assets temporarily.

Colin Abbott's attorney has said he's innocent.

California

Bell defense will cite state Supreme Court ruling

BELL, Calif. (AP) -- Lawyers for eight former Bell officials charged with corruption say a California Supreme Court ruling will help their defense.

The attorneys tell the Los Angeles Times that they'll cite the ruling at a hearing next month in asking for charges to be dropped.

In its ruling, the high court said prosecutors in public corruption cases have to prove that defendants knew they were breaking the law or were criminally negligent in not knowing.

Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo and the others claim they didn't know they were breaking laws when they took huge salaries and personal loans from the Los Angeles suburb.

But a Los Angeles County prosecutor, Max Huntsman, tells the Times that the high court ruling won't have a major impact on the case.

Pennsylvania

Man denies being shooter in Pa. triple-homicide

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- One of two men on trial in the shooting deaths of three people at a Pittsburgh-area birthday party tells a jury he wasn't there -- despite eyewitness testimony and cell phone records prosecutors say prove he was.

Eighteen-year-old Isaiah Hereford, of McKeesport, answered "No sir, I did not," when asked Wednesday if he shot anybody during the June 2010 robber at the Crawford Village housing complex. Hereford and 20-year-old Deanthony Kirk are charged with killing the party's host and two guests.

A man wounded in the shooting has already identified Hereford, who claims he doesn't know Kirk even though police say phone records show Hereford and Kirk called one another more than a dozen times just before and after the shooting.

Asked to explain that, Hereford testified, "Technology is crazy nowadays."

The trial continued Thursday.

South Dakota

Charges dismissed in SD landfill theft case

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) -- Prosecutors dropped charges against the former owners of a garbage company who they had accused of bilking the Rapid City landfill out of thousands of dollars, three days into their theft trial.

Pennington County State's Attorney Glenn Brenner said testimony was different than anticipated, and "sloppy negligent management of the landfill" made it impossible for him to prove his case against George Fish, 74, and his son, Clifford, 49.

"What we know occurred and what we can prove occurred are oftentimes two different things," he said.

The Rapid City Journal reported that the Fishes and former landfill scale attendant Randall Meidinger still face a lawsuit filed by the city. Brenner said the criminal case also has led to improvements in the management of the landfill.

"I'm comfortable that there is no fraud currently going on there," he said. "At least that's something."

The Fishes had been charged with theft and conspiracy for allegedly lying about the contents of Fish Garbage Service trucks to fleece the city out of thousands of dollars over a five-year span.

Defense attorney Michael Butler praised the prosecution's decision to drop the charges, but he and fellow defense attorney Patrick Duffy said the case still harmed the Fishes, who sold their business in late 2009 after the city refused to renew the company's commercial garbage hauler's license.

"Where does my client go to get his reputation back?' Duffy said.

Charges against three Fish truck drivers were dismissed previously, and a jury acquitted Meidinger of theft and forgery charges.

California

Teacher testifies in gay student murder trial

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The English teacher of a gay student who was shot by a classmate at a junior high school testified Wednesday that she told him to stop wearing eyeliner and mascara, but that he refused and the classroom disruption escalated.

Jill Ekman told jurors that 15-year-old Larry King wore even more makeup after she told him to stop drawing attention to himself, the Ventura County Star reported.

She said King told her the school's assistant vice-principal, Joy Epstein, said he could. She said she went and spoke to Epstein, and was told King had constitutional rights to do so. Later, an email message was issued telling teachers that King's attire was allowed and that they should try to teach students tolerance.

Ekman said she incorporated the message of tolerance into her lessons, but that the problem continued. She said boys complained to her that King was chasing them into the bathroom.

"I explained to him that what he was doing was inappropriate and he laughed and said that he could go into the boys' bathroom and he liked to see them squirm," she said.

Ekman said she went to Epstein to complain about King's behavior again, but the administrator told her there was nothing that could be done. Four days later, King was shot in the head in the computer classroom at E.O Green School in Oxnard.

Her testimony came after the half-brother of Brandon McInerney, who's on trial for the 2008 shooting death, told the jury that the defendant was sexually abused. James Bing testified the abuse at the hand of a cousin, coupled with physical abuse by their father, scarred McInerney.

McInerney, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, is being tried as an adult on first-degree murder and hate crime charges.

The trial was moved to Los Angeles County because of extensive media coverage in Ventura County.

Published: Fri, Aug 5, 2011