National Roundup

Examiner: Killer’s body unlikely to yield solid clues

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s chief medical examiner says he doubts toxicological tests and genetic analysis of the body of the gunman who fatally shot 20 children and six educators at an elementary school will explain his actions.
The Hearst Connecticut Media Group reported Friday that Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, who autopsied the body of the gunman Adam Lanza, said an examination of Lanza’s brain showed nothing unusual.
“It’s a fishing expedition,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll find answers. But that doesn’t mean you don’t look.”
Carver said Lanza’s brain showed no tumor or gross deformity, though he didn’t expect to find a gross deformity.
“That would be associated with very severe disabilities,” he said.
People who suffer from such deformities usually require a “custodial” setting, Carver said.
The toxicology exam, which could take several weeks, involves testing body fluids for psychiatric medications or illegal substances. Carver said the result could provide “potentially valuable information” in creating a full picture of Lanza.
Lanza fatally shot himself after the Dec. 14 shooting spree.
Lanza’s body was claimed by his father on Dec. 27 and the public may never know what happened with the remains.
While still in the possession of the medical examiner, Lanza’s body may have been the subject of interest beyond medical reasons. An employee was accused of showing the body to her husband, who is not a state employee, just days after the shooting.

New York
State looks at 800 rape cases for DNA errors

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City medical examiner is reviewing hundreds of rape cases for possible DNA evidence errors.
A lab technician may have mishandled critical DNA evidence in over 800 rape cases between 2001 and 2011, The New York Times reported Friday.
Supervisors at the medical examiner’s office have found 26 cases to date in which the technician failed to detect the DNA evidence when some actually existed.
In seven of the cases, full DNA profiles were developed, and in one the new profile matched a convicted offender’s sample, leading to an indictment a decade after the evidence was collected.
In two other instances, the new DNA evidence was linked to people already convicted or under suspicion.
“This is the first time we’ve had anything like this,” said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office which employs 48 technicians who conduct preliminary tests on rape kits that contain saliva, semen or blood collected from assailants.
The office handles about 1,500 sexual assault cases a year.
The review found that the technician sometimes overlooked stains, while at other times she identified stains but then made errors in the chemical test used to detect semen and reported not finding anything.
Dr.Mechthild Prinz, director of forensic biology at the medical examiner’s office, told the Times that the technician’s errors involved reporting false negatives, not false positives.
“We do know that nobody was wrongfully convicted,” she said.
The office has not finished reviewing 412 cases out of 843 it intends to review.
The technician was not identified. She resigned in November 2011 after working there for nine years.

Rhode Island
Judge: Don’t talk with media on synagogue case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A federal judge has told lawyers for the oldest synagogue in the United States and the nation’s oldest Jewish congregation not to speak with the media about lawsuits they’ve brought against each other.
U.S. District Judge William Smith is trying to mediate a settlement between the Touro Synagogue in Newport and Congregation Shearith (SHEE’-ah-rith) Israel in New York City. Clerk of Court David DiMarzio says on Friday that Smith is following court procedures, and the process would be undermined unless the parties maintain confidentiality.
The dispute began when the Touro Synagogue agreed to sell a set of Torah finial bells from Colonial times for $7.4 million to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Congregation Shearith Israel says it owns the bells, as well as the synagogue.

Widow of theme park’s president gets park control

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A judge has placed control of a southern Indiana theme park in the hands of the widow of the park’s late president.
The Evansville Courier & Press reports that a Vanderburgh County circuit judge has ruled that Lori Koch is majority owner of the holding company that operates Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. She’s the widow of former park president Will Koch, who died in June 2010.
Dan Koch had served as Holiday World’s president following his brother’s death, but Lori Koch fired him after the judge’s ruling.
Dan Koch is appealing the ruling. Court records show Lori Koch originally sued Dan Koch and Koch Development Co. in January 2011.
The Santa Claus, Ind., theme park has been owned and operated by the Koch family since 1946.

New York
NYC lawsuit filed over limits on Sandy storm aid

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of low-income New Yorkers affected by Sandy have filed a lawsuit against the city.
They accuse the Bloomberg administration of denying them access to food-stamp benefits designed to assist disaster survivors.
The city Human Resources Administration administers the program. In December, it said residents in 10 ZIP Codes and parts of two others would be eligible for the program. The zone was much smaller than the 82 ZIP Codes the city designated for a similar program in November.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit claims the city “limited the program to those included within some arbitrary line on the map.” It says “tens if not hundreds of thousands” of people have been excluded from the benefit.
The HRA said the city will contest the suit.