National Roundup

Virginia

U.S. indicts former Colombian general on drug charge

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A federal grand jury has charged a former top general in Colombia with a drug-running conspiracy, accusing him of taking bribes to aid the drug gangs he was supposed to be fighting.

Mauricio Santoyo Velasco is a retired general with the Colombian national police. From 1996 through 2002, he was a top commander in Colombia's anti-terrorism units. He later led security for the country's then-president, Alvaro Uribe Velez.

An indictment unsealed last week in federal court in Alexandria charges that Santoyo took substantial bribes to tip off some of the country's leading drug gangs about U.S., British and Colombian investigations. It also alleges he assigned corrupt officers to his units to benefit the drug gangs.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride declined to comment on the indictment Monday.

Texas

Honduran man on death row loses court appeal

HOUSTON (AP) -- A man from Honduras on Texas death row for the rape-slaying of a 15-year-old girl in Houston has lost a federal court appeal, moving him closer to execution.

Edgardo Rafael Cubas had argued to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the trial judge in his case, Jan Crocker, was biased against him because she had prosecuted an unrelated capital murder case years earlier as an assistant district attorney in Harris County. Lawyers for Cubas contended Crocker was impartial because at the time of his trial in 2004, she sought to file an affidavit in the unrelated capital case to keep that inmate on death row.

The 5th Circuit on Friday rejected the claim.

The 33-year-old Cubas was condemned for the 2002 slaying of high school sophomore Esmeralda Alvarado.

New Jersey

Father indicted for tossing toddler into creek

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey man was indicted Monday on charges that he murdered his two-year-old daughter by tossing her into a creek while she was strapped in her car seat.

Arthur Morgan III of Eatontown has been in jail on $10 million bail since his arrest in San Diego in November.

Authorities say that after failing to return Tierra Morgan-Glover to her mother, from whom he was estranged, he tossed the child into a creek at a park in Wall Township, then fled the state.

An autopsy determined the child was alive when she hit the water.

In addition to murder charge, Morgan is charged with interference with custody and child endangerment.

California

Appeals court overturns defendant's release

RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) -- An appeals court has overturned a judge's decision to release a defendant in a Richmond sting operation on the condition that he write book reports.

The Ninth District Court of Appeals in San Francisco said last week there were significant findings in favor of keeping 23-year-old Otis Mobley behind bars while he awaits trial.

The decision overturned a May ruling by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Rogers ordered Mobley's release on the grounds that he spend an hour every day on books and at least a half an hour writing. Prosecutors had appealed the decision.

Mobley and two others are accused of trying to rob undercover federal agents in Richmond after arranging to sell them a grenade launcher. One of Mobley's co-defendants was shot and wounded during the alleged robbery.

Georgia

Man's conviction in wife's death reinstated

ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia's highest court has reversed a lower court's ruling and reinstated convictions of a man found guilty in his wife's death.

The lower court had said the state suppressed evidence and committed errors that compromised the trial for Christopher Lewis, accused of fatally stabbing his wife Cheryl in December 1996.

In a unanimous opinion released Monday, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson wrote that there was no reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have been different if the evidence in question had been disclosed to the defense. The high court also found that the lower court was wrong to grant Lewis relief on claims of misconduct by the prosecutor, including a reference to O.J. Simpson.

This was the fourth time Lewis' case had come before the Georgia Supreme Court.

Georgia

High court rules against family in alligator death

ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia's highest court has reversed a lower court ruling in the death of a Georgia woman whose partially-eaten body was found in a subdivision lagoon frequented by an alligator.

The Georgia Supreme Court's 4-3 decision means the family of 83-year-old Gwyneth Williams has lost its attempt to have a jury try their case against owners of the gated community near Savannah where she died in 2007.

Her family maintained that a homeowners' association should have removed an alligator from the lagoon.

The golf club and homeowners association argued they shouldn't be held liable for wild animals that wander onto the property.

The Supreme Court said her right foot and both forearms had been bitten off. Later, an eight-foot gator was found in the lagoon. Williams' limbs were found in its stomach.

Mississippi

Ex-inmate sues reputed Klansman, lawyer

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A former prisoner is suing reputed Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen and Killen's wife and lawyer for slander and libel related to a land transfer and book and movie rights.

James Stern was in prison with Killen last year. He filed a lawsuit Monday in Hinds County Circuit Court claiming lawyer Robert Ratliff hurt his reputation by denying that Killen gave Stern power of attorney.

Stern said last week he took control of 40 acres of Killen's land. Ratliff said Stern had no right to.

Ratliff's partner, Jon Green, says the lawsuit is frivolous and if Stern had power of attorney, he should act on Killen's behalf, not "steal his stuff."

Stern was in prison for fraud. Killen is locked up for the deaths of three civil rights workers.

Published: Tue, Jun 19, 2012