National Roundup


Jury convicts man in professor's slaying

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- A South Florida man is facing the death penalty after a jury convicted him of killing a Nova Southeastern University professor.

Jurors in Fort Lauderdale deliberated a little over five hours before returning guilty verdicts Wednesday against 45-year-old Randy Tundidor Sr. in the killing of professor Joseph Morrissey in April 2010. Morrissey was Tundidor's landlord and was stabbed to death after a break-in at his home.

The South Florida SunSentinel reports that Tundidor was also convicted of attempted murder, armed burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping and arson.

Tundidor's two sons and Morrissey's widow testified against him. One of Tundidor's sons pleaded guilty to taking part in the crime in exchange for a maximum life sentence.

Jurors will decide later whether to send Tundidor to Florida's death row.

New York

Man accused of impersonating cop, making traffic stop

DANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) -- Authorities say a northern New York man charged with impersonating a police officer has a history of such behavior in the North Country and Vermont.

State police say they received a report that a man driving a car with a spotlight on the driver's side had impersonated an officer and stopped a vehicle last week in the Clinton County town of Dannemora.

Troopers investigated and found out 23-year-old Kyle Wyman of Plattsburgh had stopped the vehicle by using of a red light and requested the driver's license and registration.

Wyman was charged with criminal impersonation. He's being held in jail on $3,000 bail pending a court appearance Thursday. It couldn't be determined if he had a lawyer.

Details of Wyman's alleged previous impersonations of police wasn't immediately available from state police Wednesday.


2 sisters go to court over $500K in jewelry

HOUMA, La. (AP) -- A feud over more than $500,000 in family jewelry has ended up in federal court.

A lawsuit was filed last month over Susan Brunet's claims that her sister, Texas resident Elizabeth Butler, had a diamond ring worth "between $400,000 and $500,000 alone," and a diamond necklace of substantial value that should be returned to her mother's estate.

The Courier reports that subsequent court papers filed on Butler's behalf say Brunet has no right to the jewelry, a claim that state District Judge Timmy Ellender denied in April. Butler also denies all claims made by her sister.

Brunet, a Schriever resident and the owner of People's Drug Store in downtown took over the store for her father, philanthropist George Picou, who died in 2008.

Brunet is looking to have the ring and necklace to be returned to the estate of her dead mother so it can be divided between the two.

The sisters' mother, Shirley Picou, first gave the ring in question to their father. After their father, who wore the ring every day for about 30 years, died, Shirley Picou gave the ring and necklace to Butler, court papers say.

Last year, Shirley Picou died. Court proceedings to divide up her possessions are still pending in state court, but Brunet is looking to receive half the value of her mother's possessions, including the jewelry currently owned by Butler, court papers say.

The case was first filed in Terrebonne District Court but was removed to federal court last month because the amount in question is more than $75,000.

Eric Derbes and Brad Cousins, attorneys who represent Brunet and Butler, respectively, declined to comment, saying they don't talk about pending litigation.

A conference is set for the case on June 19.

New Mexico

Judge banned from eatery after argument

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) -- A judge has been banned from entering a Farmington restaurant for one year after getting into a heated argument with a bartender.

State District Court Judge Thomas Hynes told The Daily Times Tuesday a bartender at the Three Rivers Brewery and Restaurant refused to serve drinks to him and his girlfriend.

Hynes says he lost his temper and got into a verbal altercation with the server and the owner.

Farmington police were called during the Friday night incident and issued Hynes a trespass warning.

Brewery owner John Silva says Hynes tried to use his position to threaten him, according to a police report. Hynes denies this.

Rather than press charges, Silva says he plans to file a complaint with the state Judicial Standards Commission.


County commission won't reinstate Christian prayer

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) -- The Reno County Commission has directed the county counselor to draft a new policy for the county to follow, despite pleas to continue a long tradition of offering mostly Christian prayer before its meeting.

Four witnesses asked the commission on Tuesday to continue having ministers offering prayers, specifically Christian prayer. But the commission declined, ordering County Counselor Joe O'Sullivan to draft a new policy.

The debate is in response to a letter the commission received last month from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which said it had received a complaint about the prayer tradition. The group said a review of commission meetings from December through March found more than 80 percent of the opening prayers invoked the name of Jesus.

The consensus of the board is to seek professionals to offer nonsectarian prayers. If no minister or other speaker is available, a commissioner would say a prayer or ask for a moment of silence, The Hutchinson News reported ( ).

A visiting minister from India and another from California were among those who asked the commission on Tuesday to allow the use of sectarian prayer, specifically Christian prayer to Jesus.

And Robert Noland of the Family Policy Council chapter in Wichita, told the commission that the U.S. Supreme Court hasn't ruled on the issue.

"Frequent reference to a deity alone is not a violation," Noland said. "Inviting only one class of speaker, only one sect, would be a problem."

Commissioner Brad Dillon, noting Noland was addressing legal rather than religious issues, asked him to explain the disadvantages of nonsectarian prayer.

"This effort is to single out Christ," Noland said. "Jesus Christ is the only target."

He said Reno County residents respect the current practice and changing it would be "a direction contrary to the where people think you should be going."

Published: Thu, May 10, 2012