National Roundup

Maine

Sculptor known for 'LOVE' works sued by Monaco man

ROCKLAND, Maine (AP) -- An art buyer from Monaco has filed a lawsuit against Pop artist Robert Indiana, the sculptor known for his "LOVE" works.

Joao Tovar filed the lawsuit against Indiana last week in Maine's Knox County Superior Court, claiming Indiana's actions made Tovar's investment in what he thought were the artist's works worthless.

Indiana lives in the Maine town of Vinalhaven. His sculptures feature the L above the V and an off-kilter O above the E.

Tovar alleges in his suit that he purchased versions of those sculptures with the word "Prem" -- Hindi for love -- that he thought were created by Indiana and were worth $1.5 million.

When Indiana said he did not create them, the suit says the sculptures were made worthless. The Bangor Daily News reports that Tovar is seeking damages.

South Dakota

AG responds to SD death row inmate's appeal

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a death row inmate's plea to overturn his conviction for raping and killing a Sioux Falls girl 22 years ago.

Donald Moeller last month petitioned the court to overturn his conviction based on what he described as incomplete jury instructions. Moeller maintains that the jury that sentenced him to death for the 1990 rape and murder of 9-year-old Becky O'Connell should have been told he would not have been eligible for parole had jurors sentenced him to life in prison. He contends that he might have received the death penalty because jurors falsely thought he could eventually be released on parole if given a life sentence.

Jackley on Monday said that the brief filed by the state in response to Moeller's claim says jury instructions "fully comply with settled law and constitutional standards."

Moeller was convicted and sentenced to die in 1997. The state Supreme Court affirmed the sentence, and Moeller has lost appeals on both the state and federal levels.

Moeller was convicted of abducting the girl from a convenience store, driving her to a secluded area, then raping and killing her. Her body was found the next day with a slashed throat and stab wounds.

Moeller initially was convicted in 1992 but the state Supreme Court ruled that improper evidence was used at trial and overturned the conviction.

"Two juries of South Dakota citizens have heard the facts of this case and both unanimously decided that Moeller's crime warranted a death sentence," Jackley said in a statement. "Twenty-two years and seven appeals to hold Moeller accountable and to await justice for Becky and her family is clearly too long."

Georgia

State high court reviews hefty junk faxes judgment

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Georgia Supreme Court is reviewing whether a company should pay a $459 million penalty for sending more than 300,000 fax advertisements to unsuspecting consumers in metro Atlanta.

The court on Monday heard arguments involving the class-action lawsuit brought by Fastsigns, the Georgia company that received one of the faxes in October 2003 from American Home Services Inc.

Fastsigns claimed the junk faxes violated a 1991 federal law that makes it illegal to send unsolicited ads to fax machines -- and it won big. A court entered a judgment against American Home Services for $1,500 in damages for each of the 306,000 junk faxes.

The eye-popping judgment was later tossed out by an appeals court, leading to Monday's arguments before Georgia's top court.

Pennsylvania

Appeals court to review collar bomb robbery case

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A federal appeals court in Philadelphia will hear the appeal of a Pennsylvania woman convicted in a bizarre bank robbery plot that left a pizza delivery driver dead when a bomb strapped to his neck exploded.

A three-judge panel will decide before the Sept. 25 hearing if it will hear oral arguments concerning the conviction and sentencing of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong.

Diehl-Armstrong was sentenced last year to life plus 30 years in prison in the August 2003 robbery that killed pizza driver Brian Wells.

Diehl-Armstrong appealed the conviction and sentence, saying she wasn't competent to stand trial and a defense psychiatrist was wrongly kept from testifying on her behalf.

Authorities say Diehl-Armstrong instigated the plot to get money to kill her father and later killed one of her co-conspirators.

Oklahoma

OSU basketball player's rape trial delayed

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- A judge has postponed the trial of an Oklahoma State basketball player accused of inappropriately touching two women at an off-campus party.

Darrell Williams was scheduled to go on trial Monday in Payne County District Court on four counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery. The case was postponed until July 2 because a defense attorney's elderly mother fell ill.

District Judge Phillip Corley announced the postponement as he was talking to a pool of more than 120 prospective jurors. Assistant District Attorney Jill Tontz says prosecutors were ready to start the trial but understand the need for the delay.

Two women allege that Williams groped them at an off-campus party in 2010.

Prior to his suspension, Williams averaged 7.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Pennsylvania

Charged coroner submits resignation letter

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) -- A central Pennsylvania coroner accused of swiping medication during a death investigation has submitted his letter of resignation.

Cumberland County Coroner Todd Eckenrode says he'll step down at midnight Saturday.

Eckenrode was charged in January with illegally taking seized prescription medication for his own use rather than destroying it. His attorney says he plans to plead guilty.

Defense attorney Matthew Gover has said Eckenrode already had a prescription for the medication.

Eckenrode said in his May 1 resignation letter to Gov. Tom Corbett that he made "some poor decisions" and must accept the consequences of his actions.

Chief Deputy Coroner Matt Stoner will assume Eckenrode's duties on an interim basis. His next court hearing is scheduled for June 14.

Published: Tue, May 8, 2012

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