National Roundup

Idaho

State Supreme Court to hear dairy case

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments in several cases this week, including an appeal in a lawsuit over the death of 100 dairy calves.

The lawsuit was brought in Twin Falls County by Jesus Hurtado and John Reitsma, who claimed that the Land O'Lakes milk replacer they used to feed their calves was defective and caused the death of over 100 of the animals. The jury found in their favor and awarded damages, but now Land O'Lakes is appealing. Land O'Lakes contends that the lower court improperly allowed expert testimony and that the plaintiffs failed to prove their damages and that the company had any liability.

The high court will hear the case on Wednesday.

South Carolina

Group goes to court over inm ate mental health

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- An advocacy group's lawsuit accusing South Carolina's prisons agency of violating the rights of mentally ill inmates is getting a hearing.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Baxley on Monday is expected to begin hearing arguments in a case that accuses the Corrections Department of violating inmate's constitutional rights protecting against cruel and unusual punishment.

Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities sued the agency in 2005. The group says the inmates were being severely punished for disciplinary infractions and were not given enough access to psychiatric care.

The group says as many as 4,400 of the state's inmates are mentally ill. Prison officials deny claims that mentally ill inmates' rights are being violated but acknowledge their agency needs more money.

Texas

Convicted killer still fugitive 5 years later

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Facing trial for murdering a Rio Grande Valley woman he met in an online chat room, medical billing specialist Amit Livingston took a plea bargain and was sentenced by a judge in Brownsville to 23 years in prison.

State District Judge Abe Limas gave Livingston 60 days to get his "affairs in order" and Livingston left the Cameron County Courthouse.

That was five years ago this month.

Livingston, who never showed up for imprisonment April 14, 2007, hasn't been seen since and no one knows where he is.

Cameron County authorities told The Brownsville Herald in a story published Sunday that they continue to search for the fugitive, who was from Rockport northeast of Corpus Christi. They have pursued several leads but haven't been able to locate him.

Prosecutors say they objected to the judge allowing Livingston to go free for 60 days, but court transcripts reviewed by the newspaper show no objections.

Greg Gladden, who was Livingston's lawyer, has said no one from the district attorney's office contested his client's release and reiterated that to the newspaper last week.

The judge also has said no one involved in the case balked at the plea bargain that included the 60-day reprieve.

Livingston, then 38, was convicted of slaying Hermila Hernandez, 32, a substitute teacher in Edinburg.

Hernandez's mother, Hermila Garcia, said she learned from Cameron County investigators that her daughter, who was married and the mother of three, met Livingston over the Internet. Garcia said Hernandez's marriage was troubled and Hernandez sought a relationship.

Colorado

Family of teen sues Wheat Ridge psych facility

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (AP) -- A lawsuit claims an unlicensed psychotherapist at an adolescent treatment center took 16-year-old boy off of medication while another employee likened the boy to serial killer Ted Bundy.

The Sunday Denver Post reports that the lawsuit alleges violation of Colorado's consumer protection act, false imprisonment and negligence.

The lawsuit filed last week claims Adolescent and Family Institute of Colorado workers misused and misdirected Christopher Donabedian's medical and psychiatric records to ensure confinement at the $595 a day in-patient treatment facility.

Kate Fritz, attorney for the facility, says allegations in the lawsuit reflect significant bias and fail to mention the competent care Donabedian received. Fritz says the lawsuit does not reflect the overwhelming sentiments of the parents or those treated at the facility.

"This was not a relationship of years. This was a momentary relationship," Garcia said. "We don't know where (Livingston) came from."

Texas Rangers involved in the case said the two were having an affair that ended after about four months with the woman's shooting death. Hernandez's husband reported her missing on Sept. 30, 2005, and her body was found four days later on a sand dune on a remote part of South Padre Island.

Livingston initially denied any involvement but turned himself in about two weeks later. Detectives had found at his Rockport apartment a gun similar to the one used to kill the woman.

On Feb. 13, 2007, Livingston pleaded guilty, telling Limas he killed Hernandez because she "pushed the right buttons" and insulted his manhood.

Authorities said they believed she was killed because she wanted to end the affair.

Lawyer Eddie Lucio filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2006 against Livingston on behalf of Hernandez's husband and three children.

The day before the murder trial was to start in February 2007, Livingston and his father transferred a $500,000 cash bond to the plaintiffs to settle the lawsuit and Limas ordered the money be placed in an account to be established for the woman's children.

The day after Livingston's plea bargain was accepted, records show $300,000 was deposited for the children and $200,000 was allocated for Lucio, with $25,000 of the attorney's share intended for Gladden for his legal work in the case.

Livingston, who would be 43 now, is listed by Interpol, the international police organization, as a wanted fugitive and is among the most wanted criminals in Cameron County.

Published: Tue, Feb 7, 2012