National Roundup

New York
Man who lost leg in crucifix mishap files church suit 

NEWBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — A trial has been scheduled for early next year in the lawsuit filed against an upstate New York church by a man whose leg had to be amputated after a 600-pound crucifix fell on him.
Attorney Kevin Kitson of White Plains tells The Associated Press that the case of his client, David Jimenez, is scheduled for trial in January in an Orange County court.
Kitson says Jimenez prayed to the crucifix outside St. Patrick’s Church in Newburgh after his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When she recovered, he showed his thanks by volunteering to clean the cross.
In May 2010, the crucifix fell on him, crushing his right leg. It was later amputated.
He’s suing the church for $3 million.
The church says it’s not liable for the accident.

Arkansas
Convicted killer sentenced for escaping jail

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — A convicted killer serving a 60-year prison sentence has been sentenced to an additional seven years in prison for escape from a county jail.
The Texarkana Gazette reports that Cortez Rashod Hooper was sentenced Tuesday in Miller County Circuit Court. Hooper pleaded guilty to the May 28 escape as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Hooper was being held on a murder charge when authorities say he and another inmate used a hacksaw they had been provided to cut through the bars of their cell window and escape the Miller County jail.
Both escapees were recaptured May 31 and Hooper pleaded guilty in August to the murder charge in the 2011 shooting death of a Texarkana man.

Arizona
TV traffic court concept aims to target poor attire

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona city may soon televise traffic-court hearings as a way of educating people on how to behave and how to dress while in court.
The Arizona Republic reports that Mesa city councilors are considering a proposal that would televise traffic-court hearings of people trying to wiggle out of traffic citations.
During a recent discussion of the proposal, City Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh also suggested the shows could include videos on “what not to wear in court.”
Officials say some offenders show up to court in shirts with inappropriate messages and in revealing outfits.
City court administrator Paul Thomas says the court has no plans to impose a detailed dress code, but hopes the Channel11 programs would help people know what proper courtroom attire looks like.

Alabama
Jury acquits former teacher of sex charge

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A jury has acquitted a former Alabama high school teacher who was accused of having sex with a student.
The Dothan Eagle reports that jurors in Houston County deliberated for about an hour Tuesday before finding former Northview High School teacher Calvin Bell-Tharpe not guilty.
The 31-year-old was acquitted of the felony charge of a school employee having a sex act with a student. If he had been convicted, Bell-Tharpe would have faced two to 20 years in prison.
Bell-Tharpe formerly served as an art teacher and tennis coach at Northview High School. He later resigned.
Defense lawyer Shaun McGhee said he hopes the jury’s verdict will help his client move on with his life.

Washington
Pilot gets another 10 years for sex crimes with youth

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A 52-year-old man already sentenced to 25 years in prison for possession of child pornography had 10 years added to his prison time Tuesday in Tacoma.
Weldon Marc Gilbert pleaded guilty to child molestation in Pierce County Superior Court and was sentenced to serve the time after his federal term.
Gilbert was a commercial pilot who was arrested in 2007 after investigators said he had sexually assaulted boys lured to his Lake Tapps home with money, alcohol and flying lessons.
Gilbert acted as his own lawyer during the court case and won the right to review evidence, including the child pornography he produced.

Pennsylvania
2 female ex-jail workers charged with inmate sex

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two female former employees at a county prison in western Pennsylvania have been charged with having sex with inmates.
Forty-two-year-old Melissa Ann Boggs, of Latrobe, was a part-time guard and 38-year-old Belinda Sapanara, of Donegal, was a nurse practitioner, when they each allegedly had sex with different male inmates in separate incidents in June.
County detectives say Boggs exchanged letters with one inmate and had sex with him in his cell. Sapanara is charged with having sex in her office with another inmate to whom detectives say she gave $750 and also paid $2,000 toward his fines and court costs.
Investigators say the sex was consensual, but it’s considered assault because incarcerated people can’t legally consent to sex with such workers.
Defense attorneys for the women, who were arrested Tuesday, did not immediately return calls.

Louisiana
Count upholds conviction in manslaughter 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An appellate court has affirmed a Baker man’s manslaughter conviction and 40-year prison sentence in the brutal stabbing death of his wife, lawyer Chiquita Tate, in her downtown Baton Rouge office.
The Advocate reports a three-judge panel of the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, however, said it found evidences that “would prove beyond a reasonable doubt ... all of the elements of second-degree murder.”
East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant District Attorney Prem Burns said Tuesday she felt the conviction should have been second-degree murder.
Harris’ appellate attorney said the appeals court’s decision Friday was disappointing and vowed to keep fighting.
An East Baton Rouge Parish jury found Harris guilty of manslaughter in the Feb. 20, 2009, slaying of Tate. She was stabbed 43 times.?

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