National Roundup

Mississippi
Almost $3M Biodiesel scam case draws suit

PONTOTOC, Miss. (AP) — Former biofuels business partners W. Tommy Tacker II and Janey Tyner allege they were duped by a Tennessee businessman into getting involved in a scam that defrauded a biofuels subsidy program.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Tacker and Tyner seek compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed this past week in Pontotoc County against H. Max Speight of Martin, Tenn.
Tacker and Tyner allege they were “ignorant” of Speight’s lies and misrepresentations.
Tacker and Speight were indicted in 2009 on federal charges of conspiracy and fraud totaling some $2.89 million in biodiesel subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Tacker was convicted in 2010 and was sentenced to five years in prison. Speight pleaded guilty, testified against Tacker and was sentenced to 26 months.

Virginia
Justices to hear state appeal of Va. Tech verdict

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The state Supreme Court will hear the state’s appeal of a jury’s awarding of damages to the parents of two Virginia Tech students who were slain in an April 2007 campus massacre.
A panel of three justices also rejected a bid by attorneys for the parents who want to sue Tech’s president, Charles Steger. A judge excluded him from a trial in which the state was found negligent for failing to alert the Blacksburg campus of the first shootings.
A jury ruled last March that the university botched its response to the shootings. A lone gunman and 32 students and faculty were left dead in the shooting rampage — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Missouri
Man accusing cop of excessive force arrested

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A disciplinary hearing for a St. Louis police officer has taken a new twist after the accuser was arrested following his testimony.
Jerrmaine Lacy has accused officer Charles Proctor of using excessive force during an arrest in July at Lumiere Place Casino. Lacy says the officer choked him and slammed his head into a squad car bumper.
The department’s internal affairs division has recommended the firing of Proctor, a nine-year veteran. The hearing is expected to run through Thursday.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Lacy was arrested on four outstanding warrants of trespassing and failure to appear in court. The arrest was prompted by a letter to police chief Sam Dotson from Proctor’s attorney, Chet Pleban.
Dotson says the arrest is separate from the hearing.

Louisiana
Judge fires lawyer who skipped court

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An Orleans Parish Criminal District Court judge fired an attorney for two murder defendants when the lawyer failed to show up to court for their trials.
The Times-Picayune reports attorney Martin Regan represented two accused killers, both scheduled for trial Tuesday on charges of second-degree murder. But neither Regan nor his associates appeared before Judge Ben Willard.
Assistant District Attorney John Alford asked the judge to hold Regan in contempt of court. Willard declined, and instead ordered that Regan be terminated as the attorney for both defendants. He postponed the trials, and appointed the Orleans Parish Public Defenders office to represent them.
Regan filed motions Tuesday morning with the clerk of court, requesting that the judge postpone the trials. But he did not show up in the courtroom.

Indiana
Ex-custodian gets 6 years in school meth case

PRINCETON, Ind. (AP) — A former custodian at a southern Indiana school has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to making methamphetamine inside a school.
Michael C. Shafer pleaded guilty last month to a felony charge of manufacturing meth. A Gibson County judge also sentenced Shafer Tuesday to six years of probation.
The 43-year-old was arrested in December 2011 after authorities found an explosion-prone “one-pot” method of making meth in a storage area on the main campus of the East Gibson School Corporation in Oakland City.
The Princeton Daily Clarion reports Shafer’s attorney told the court his client has struggled with addiction for years.
Attorney Jon Brinson told the judge that Shafer is “stable, regular, one of those decent people ... who happens to be addicted to methamphetamine.”

New Mexico
Court rejects appeal in 1982 killing of teen

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected the latest appeal of a man convicted in the 1982 rape and murder of a teenage girl near Carlsbad.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver says Carl Case didn’t meet the legal requirements for challenging his conviction.
Several young men were convicted in the killing of Nancy Mitchell. Her body was found near a dam outside Carlsbad.
Case had claimed there was new and previously undisclosed evidence regarding a trial witness and that two prosecution witnesses had recanted their trial testimony.
The ruling Tuesday says Case’s due process rights weren’t violated and that he received a fundamentally fair trial.

Tennessee
Supreme Court reinstated jury award in death

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court has reinstated a jury award against the parent company of an assisted living facility in Shelbyville.
The Shelbyville Times-Gazette reported Tuesday the court ruled wrongful death damages of $300,000 against Americare Systems, Inc. will stand. The justices sent the jury’s punitive award of $5 million to the Tennessee Court of Appeals for further review.
The lawsuit was filed in 2005 by the daughters of Mable Farrar over their mother’s death. It claimed Farrar died as a result of two nurses at Celebration Way failing to administer prescribed medication and the negligent administration of an enema that ruptured her colon.
It also says the newly discovered evidence doesn’t require a new trial.
Case was sentenced to life in prison plus 18 years.e

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