National Roundup

Death row inmate loses bid for funds for testing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a request from a Kentucky death row inmate for funds to pay for a MRI to be used with an expected clemency petition.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II on Friday concluded that pursuing clemency from the state is not a proper use of federal funds. The decision turned away 64-year-old David Eugene Matthews as he prepares to ask Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to spare his life.
“The court finds it a questionable exercise of its discretion to allow the expenditure of federal funds to pursue a state remedy,” Heyburn wrote.
Matthews was condemned for the murder of his estranged wife, Mary “Marlene” Matthews, and mother-in-law, Magdalene Cruse, in Louisville on June 29, 1981.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Matthews’ death sentence in 2011, saying the trial judge misinterpreted the state’s law on extreme emotional distress.
Kentucky’s law at the time Matthews went to trial required prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Matthews did not suffer from extreme emotional disturbance if the defendant produced sufficient evidence of the disorder. Such a showing meant the defendant could be found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, not murder, unless prosecutors disputed the claim.
The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence in 2012, concluding the appeals panel improperly used the case “as a vehicle to second-guess the reasonable decisions of the state courts.”
Matthews is Kentucky’s second-longest serving death row inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville. A judge is weighing whether the state’s new lethal injection method passes constitutional muster.
Kentucky has executed three men since 1976. The last person executed was Marco Allen Chapman by injection in November 2008. The state has 35 people on death row.

Rights case ruling favors transgender girl

DENVER (AP) — A 6-year-old transgender girl will be able to return to school after winning the right to use the girls’ bathroom.
The New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced the ruling in favor of Coy Mathis on Sunday.
The group filed the complaint on behalf of Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis claiming that the first-grader had been discriminated against at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, near Colorado Springs. Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 has declined to discuss the case, but Coy’s parents said they were told in December that she had to either use the bathroom in the teachers’ lounge or one in the nurse’s office after the holiday break. The Mathises feared going along with that would stigmatize Coy and open her up to bullying.
She was homeschooled for the rest of the school year as the complaint was considered.
School districts in many states, including Colorado, have enacted policies that allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Sixteen states, including Colorado, have anti-discrimination laws that include protections for transgender people.
The Mathises said Coy, a triplet, showed an early preference for things associated with girls. At 5 months, she took a pink blanket meant for her sister Lily. Later, she showed little interest in toy cars and boy clothes with pictures of sports, monsters and dinosaurs on them. She refused to leave the house if she had to wear boy clothes and became depressed and withdrawn, telling her parents at one point that she wanted to get “fixed” by a doctor.
They said they later learned she had gender identity disorder — a condition in which someone identifies as the opposite gender. The Mathises said they decided to help Coy live as a girl and she came out of her shell.

Plea postponed for man accused of cannibalism

BEL AIR, Md. (AP) — A plea hearing is postponed for a college student who told authorities he killed a man and ate his heart and parts of his brain.
Alexander Kinyua was scheduled to appear Monday in Harford County Circuit Court, but judge Stephen Waldron says the hearing was canceled because Kinyua wasn’t transported to the courthouse. The state’s attorney cited administrative reasons. Waldron says the hearing might be rescheduled for August.
No other details about why Kinyua wasn’t transported from the psychiatric hospital where he’s committed indefinitely were available.
He’s charged with killing a 37-year-old man from Ghana who was staying with Kinyua’s family outside Baltimore in 2012.
Authorities say Kinyua ranted about “human sacrifices” on Facebook before the slaying.
In a separate case, Kinyua pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible to attacking a man.

New York
Court upholds ex-billionaire’s stock conviction

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court in New York City is upholding the conviction of a onetime billionaire on insider trading charges.
Lawyers for Raj Rajaratnam had argued on appeal that the government improperly persuaded a judge in 2008 to permit a wiretap to be placed on Rajaratnam’s cellphone. The wiretap was used to record 2,200 private conversations by the founder of the Galleon group of 14 hedge funds.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that wiretaps were properly used.
Rajaratnam, arrested in 2009, is serving an 11-year prison sentence after the government said he made $75 million illegally. Prosecutors obtained more than two dozen convictions in a case they once called the biggest insider trading prosecution in history.
His lawyers declined to comment Monday.

Traffic judges want U.S. fraud case dropped

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nine indicted judges want their ticket-fixing case involving Philadelphia Traffic Court dropped because they say no money changed hands.
At a hearing Monday, defense lawyers said the loss of potential fines does not justify the federal mail and wire fraud charges.
Lawyer Henry Hockeimer Jr. says the indictment does not allege any bribes or kickbacks, but only that traffic judges helped friends get tickets dismissed.
He says that may violate judicial conduct rules, but not federal law.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek called it “very unusual” for the defense to argue that no money was lost because the tickets were fixed early on.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kelly promised to rule quickly.
The defendants include current and former traffic court judges. Some state lawmakers hope to abolish the court.g