National Roundup

California
Judge approves prosecution in cruise ship death

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A judge says Orange County authorities can prosecute a man charged with strangling his ex-wife and tossing her off a cruise ship in Italy.
The Orange County Register reports a Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that California authorities have an interest in the case because the woman lived here.
Lonnie Kocontes of Safety Harbor, Fla., was arrested in February. He’s pleaded not guilty to killing his ex-wife for financial gain.
Kocontes and Micki Kanesaki were divorced but lived together on and off in Mission Viejo and were on a cruise in 2006 when she went overboard in the Mediterranean.
Her body washed ashore the next day.
Authorities say an investigation began in 2008 when Kocontes began transferring more than $1 million from Kaneski’s bank accounts.

Connecticut
Woman arrested after calling cops on her own pimp

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A woman has been charged with prostitution in Connecticut after calling police to complain about how she was being treated by a pimp.
Police say they did not find the pimp when they arrived at a Super 8 Motel in West Haven on Sunday, but they did find 35-year-old Jennifer Lowery with a man they describe as a customer.
Police charged Lowery with prostitution and 60-year-old Richard Burford of New Haven with patronizing a prostitute.
Police say Lowery told them she thought it would take police longer to show up, so she decided to conduct some business while waiting.
Attempts to reach the pair for comment Thursday morning were unsuccessful. There was no answer at a phone number listed for Burford, and no phone listing for Lowery.

California
Worker arrested in Disneyland  dry-ice explosion

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Police arrested a Disneyland employee on suspicion of putting a so-called dry ice bomb in a theme park trash can where it exploded, authorities said Wednesday.
No one was injured in the small blast, but Disneyland briefly evacuated the Mickey’s Toontown section where the incident occurred Tuesday. The trash can did not blow up.
Christian Barnes, 22, of Long Beach was arrested for investigation of possessing a destructive device, just hours after the blast, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said in a statement.
It wasn’t immediately clear how police connected Barnes to the blast and Dunn did not return repeated calls. Police said earlier they would scrutinize social media and surveillance footage.
Barnes, who worked as an outdoor vendor for the resort, was held on $1 million bail, Dunn said.
Dunn said Barnes was cooperating with investigators, telling them the blast was an isolated incident with results he did not expect, Dunn said. Dunn did not elaborate.
Detectives found fragments of a water bottle in the trash can and believe Barnes placed dry ice inside it to create the explosion, the police spokesman said.
So-called dry ice bombs are easy to make, and on a much smaller scale, are sometimes used as classroom chemistry demonstrations, said John Goodpaster, an explosives expert at the Purdue School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
The size of the explosion, however, can vary greatly depending on the container’s size, material and the amount of dry ice used, he said.
The devices could cause injuries to those nearby if the built-up pressure was high enough, including cuts from flying bottle shards, he said.
“This is a simple device. It’s not a pipe bomb filled with gunpowder, but it definitely will generate an explosion,” Goodpaster said.
“If somebody was throwing something out, they could have been injured.”

Wisconsin
Appeals court: Voter photo ID constitutional

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is constitutional, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 4th District Court of Appeals decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters to challenge the mandate. The league argued that the law violates the Wisconsin Constitution’s explicit language on every person’s right to vote. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess sided with the league in March 2012, ruling the requirement would disenfranchise voters who lack the resources to obtain photo identification.
The appeals court reversed his decision, concluding the league failed to show the mandate amounts to an additional qualification to vote and failed to show the law is unconstitutional on its face.
The league’s attorney, Lester Pines, had no immediate comment on the decision.
Republican lawmakers passed voter photo ID requirements two years ago, saying the move was needed to combat election fraud. The league wasn’t the only group that challenged the law. The immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera and the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court, winning a permanent injunction blocking it. That injunction still stands, although the state Justice Department has asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals to review the case.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens have filed separate lawsuits challenging the law in federal court. Those suits are still pending.
Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for the state Justice Department, which brought the appeal, praised Thursday’s ruling.
“From the start, we have defended the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s voter ID law. While today’s decision is an important step toward full vindication of the law, we recognize that other challenges are still pending that address different issues. We will continue to defend the law and look forward to favorable decisions in those other cases as well,” she said.
One of the chief authors of the voter ID law, Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, began circulating a new bill last week that would let poor people opt out. That bill is aimed at allaying concerns that requirements in the original bill are too burdensome.
The law requires voters to show either a state-issued ID card, valid driver’s license, U.S. passport, a student ID that expires within two years or a military ID.

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