National Roundup

Woman is cited for calling 911 seeking divorce

GIRARD, Pa. (AP) — Police have cited a 42-year-old Pennsylvania woman for disorderly conduct after she called 911 requesting a divorce and police assistance to make her husband leave.
Troopers say the woman called just after 1 a.m. Saturday asking that officers be sent to her home in Girard Township in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Police say they explained to the woman, whom they are not identifying, that a divorce is a civil matter and that they could not make her husband leave the residence because no crime had been committed.
Instead, police have cited the woman for disorderly conduct and misusing the Erie County 911 system.

Cartel money laundering case begins in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Prosecutors in Texas are set to open their case against leaders of a violent cartel accused of buying racehorses to hide illegal drug profits.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ordered jury selection to begin Monday in Austin.
The case centers on Jose Trevino Morales, a brother of two top leaders of Los Zetas. The Nuevo Leon-based organization has expanded beyond the drug trade to become the biggest criminal group in Mexico.
Prosecutors say Morales oversaw the purchase of hundreds of quarter horses at a ranch in Oklahoma. He’s charged with conspiracy to launder drug money in a case with more than a dozen other defendants.
Morales’ wife and daughter pleaded guilty to lesser charges. His brothers remain at large.
The horses have been seized and auctioned by the government.

New York
Trial opens for aides of hopeful in race for mayor 

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors heard opening statements Monday in the conspiracy case involving political donations to a candidate seeking to become New York City’s first Asian-American mayor.
City Comptroller John Liu has not been charged and is not expected to testify at his ex-aides’ trial in federal court in Manhattan. But the trial could complicate his bid for higher office in what’s turning into a hotly contested mayoral race.
The trial also comes less than two weeks after prosecutors in Manhattan unleashed one of their broadest attacks ever on political corruption by bringing conspiracy charges against a state senator, a state assemblyman and a city councilman, among others. The assemblyman was accused of trying to bribe his way onto the mayoral ballot.
Liu’s ex-campaign treasurer, Jia “Jenny” Hou, and former Liu fundraiser Xing “Oliver” Wu Pan are facing federal charges of conspiring to break campaign finance laws. Federal prosecutors say the two circumvented a $4,950 contribution limit by using straw donors — people whose contributions are reimbursed by others — so they could boost the Democrat’s campaign war chest.
Both Hou, of Queens, and Pan, of Hudson County, N.J., have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and attempted wire fraud; Hou also has pleaded not guilty to obstructing justice and making false statements. They have claimed they were caught in the cross-hairs of an overzealous investigation of Liu’s campaign finances.
The trial, likely to last several weeks, comes as campaigning gears up in the race to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who cannot run for a fourth term. Liu is considered a longshot in a field including front-runner City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and several Republicans.
As the trial loomed, the 46-year-old Liu has not avoided the subject, sometimes joking that his nickname is “embattled comptroller.”
Each count against Hou and Pan carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Jury finds helmet manufacturer Riddell negligent

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado jury in a lawsuit brought by the family of a severely injured high school football player has found that helmet maker Riddell was negligent in failing to warn players about concussion dangers.
Saturday’s ruling comes as the company faces a similar lawsuit in Los Angeles, plus a complaint by thousands of former NFL players against the league and Riddell.
The jury awarded $11.5 million to the family of Rhett Ridolfi, who suffered a concussion during practice at Trinidad High School in 2008. Ridolfi, now 22, wasn’t immediately taken to the hospital and now has severe brain damage, as well as paralysis on his left side.
The lawsuit was originally brought against Riddell and several high school administrators and football coaches in Las Animas County, about 200 miles south of Denver near the New Mexico border. The jury assessed 27 percent of the fault for Ridolfi’s injuries to Riddell, making the company responsible for paying $3.1 million of the damages.
Three people reached confidential settlements before Saturday’s verdict, but two coaches were still defendants at the trial. Ridolfi’s lawyer, Frank Azar, said Sunday that he’ll ask a judge to find Riddell responsible for paying all $11.5 million in damages.
Riddell said it planned to appeal the verdict but was pleased that jurors rejected allegations regarding helmet design defects.
Riddell contends that the court erroneously excluded testimony from its warnings expert, though Azar disputed that.
In October, a jury in Mississippi found Riddell wasn’t responsible for an injury to a high school football player who had suffered a stroke after a practice.

Court upholds man’s conviction in dad’s death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man serving life in prison for killing his father and putting his body under a grain truck has lost an appeal of his conviction.
When the body of Walter Stevenson, 85, was found on March 13, 2008, on his farm in western Gove County wedged between the bed of a truck and its frame, authorities first believed he died in an accident. But his son, David A. Stevenson, 66, was convicted in October 2009 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Prosecutors said Stevenson struck his father several times with a hammer and placed his body in the truck in a shop on the farm. Stevenson maintained he was in Scott City when his father died and the death was an accident.
Stevenson’s attorneys claimed in an appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court that there was prosecutorial misconduct and improper jury instructions during his trial.
The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday rejected all of Stevenson’s arguments, The Hays Daily News reported.
However, a request by Stevenson for DNA testing of his father’s coveralls was granted in December and that testing is still pending.