National Roundup

West Virginia

Judge, former Supreme Court justice retiring

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) -- Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht is retiring Jan. 31 but wants the state Supreme Court to name him a senior status judge.

That would let him oversee cases as needed throughout West Virginia. Senior status judges are often tapped when a judge is recused or has an overwhelming caseload.

Recht turns 74 in February and tells The Intelligencer (http://bit.ly/tTxZSh) he wants to cut back.

He's overseen many high-profile and mass litigation cases during his nearly 20 years on the bench.

Recht was appointed to the 1st Judicial Circuit in 1981 and returned to private practice two years later before serving on the Supreme Court 1995 to 1996.

He then returned to the Northern Panhandle.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will appoint a successor to serve until the next general election.

Oklahoma

Tulsa detective claims prosecutorial misconduct

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A Tulsa police detective named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a police corruption investigation is asking a federal judge to reconsider his allegations of misconduct by prosecutors.

Officer Shawn Hickey filed the motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa. It claims prosecutors violated his due process rights and grand jury rules by identifying him as an unindicted co-conspirator in documents involving officers Bill Yelton and Jeff Henderson.

The Tulsa World reports that a similar motion by Hickey in March was denied by a federal judge who said the motion could be resubmitted after the trial of Yelton and Henderson.

Henderson was convicted in August of perjury and civil rights violations and is asking for a new trial. Yelton was acquitted.

Arizona

Man sentenced for raping assisted living resident

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A Tucson man has entered into a plea agreement admitting he tried to sexually assault a 63-year-old stroke patient.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Fell sentenced 51-year-old Sidney Thomas to 3 1/2 years.

Thomas co-owned The Baker House assisted-living home. The Arizona Daily Star says Thomas was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of kidnapping in 2008.

Fell was forced to declare a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Fell could have placed Thomas on probation or sentenced him to between two and nearly nine years in prison.

During last year's trial, Deputy Pima County Attorney Jesse Navarro told jurors that Thomas forced the woman to perform a sex act and raped her.

Colorado

State Supreme Court orders hearing in 1973 case

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Supreme Court has revived a 1973 murder case, ordering the Colorado Court of Appeals to reinstate an appeal.

According to the Denver Post, the ruling means the appeals court will have to decide whether a district court judge was correct when he tossed out an alleged confession.

The ruling comes than 38 years after 45-year-old Betty Frye was beaten to death. Three years ago, Arapahoe County prosecutors dismissed charges against her husband, Herbert Frye.

California

Dumbbell killing conviction upheld

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A California appeals court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a Hercules man who used a dumbbell to beat his wife to death.

Norman McGinniss was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison for the March 2009 killing of 44-year-old Wyander "Ryan" Ricketts in their San Francisco Bay area home.

The San Francisco Chronicle says McGinniss testified that he didn't mean to kill Ricketts. He testified that she threw a dumbbell at him and he grabbed it and hit her head twice when she reached for scissors.

His lawyer says the judge improperly told jurors they could consider McGinniss' failure to explain evidence against him as a possible indication of guilt.

But the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Monday that the jury instruction was proper.

Pennsylvania

Judge weighing dueling confessions in arson

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) -- A northeastern Pennsylvania judge has an unusual question to unravel: whose confession to believe?

A woman who pleaded guilty in a 2008 arson is seeking relief after an alleged serial arsonist claimed responsibility for the same fire.

The Times-Tribune of Scranton reports Stephen Giacobbe told the court Monday that he set a roll of tar paper on fire in the basement of the Carbondale Township home on December 15, 2008.

Holly Lynn Dougher pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor charges related to the same fire. She told police she poured gasoline on the unfinished house and lit it with a match.

Dougher's petition was filed after Giacobbe claimed responsibility for the blaze in a letter to The Times-Tribune.

State police say both suspects provide plausible fire scenarios.

Dougher's attorney is seeking testimony from more witnesses.

New Jersey

Feds won't seek death penalty in fatal kidnap

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty in a kidnapping that left an Atlantic City woman dead.

New Jersey abolished capital punishment. But federal authorities could have pursued it.

Three people are accused of taking Nadirah Ruffin at gunpoint during a robbery in March because she recognized one of them. Her body was found in the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia nearly a month later.

Three others are accused of helping to cover up the crime.

Court documents obtained by The Press of Atlantic City show one of the suspects is trying to negotiate a plea deal. Ronnie Ruffin is the father of the group's alleged ringleader, 24-year-old Shamerria Smith.

Nevada

2 get prison in slaying of off-duty Vegas officer

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Two brothers have been sentenced to one to 2? years in state prison after pleading guilty as accessories in the 2009 slaying of an off-duty Las Vegas police officer.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that 27-year-old Michael Ferguson and 20-year-old Emmitt Ferguson were sentenced Monday by Clark County District Court Judge Jessie Walsh.

Prosecutors say the two helped conceal the murder weapon after the November 2009 shootout that left 30-year-old Officer Trevor Nettleton dead during a botched robbery the garage of his North Las Vegas home.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against 22-year-old Saul Williams Jr. and 20-year-old Prentice Marshall.

Trial is set to begin Feb. 6.

Co-defendants Quadrae Scott and Adrian Pena also face murder charges, but not the death penalty.

Published: Wed, Nov 16, 2011