National Roundup

 Arizona

Woman accused of attempting to poison children 
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona woman is accused of trying to poison her four children, including one who died, and of stabbing her former husband, all on Christmas.
Casa Grande police say 35-year-old Connie Villa was arrested Sunday on suspicion of one count of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.
According to police, the ex-husband called 911 after he was stabbed when he went to Villa’s residence. Officers found the body of 13-year-old Aniarael Macias, while Villa with stab wounds believed to have been self-inflicted.
Autopsy and toxicology results are pending on the girl, believed to have been poisoned.
The three other children are in good condition and are now with their father’s family.
 
New Jersey
Defense in mayor case se­eks limit on wiretap info 
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A defense attorney in the corruption case against Trenton Mayor Tony Mack wants to have wiretap evidence excluded or limited.
In a federal court filing over the weekend, attorney Robert Haney claims the wiretaps featuring admitted felon Joseph Giorgianni are the equivalent of testimony since Giorgianni knew he was being recorded and tailored his conversations to try and gain leniency in a drug case.
Giorgianni, a sandwich shop owner from Ewing, pleaded guilty this month to two extortion counts and unrelated drug and weapons charges, weeks before a scheduled trial.
Giorgianni claimed to have handled bribes from government informants in a fake land-development deal in Trenton. He said he gave Mack about $8,000 in bribes he had received from the informants.
Mack has pleaded not guilty.
 
New Mexico
Police say child who died in home had been ab­used  
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s child welfare agency had an Albuquerque family on its radar because of child abuse allegations before a 9-year-old boy was found dead at their home Friday, investigators say.
Police said the boy had suffered multiple current and past injuries, including cigarette burns to his body, The Albuquerque Journal reported.
The boy’s mother, Synthia Varela-Casaus, 38, is facing child abuse charges in his death.
A criminal complaint filed against Varela-Casaus says she initially didn’t ask about her son’s condition or seem upset during a police interview but she eventually said she kicked the boy in the stomach and he fell, hitting his head on the dresser and then again on the floor. The complaint said she then kicked him at least two more times while he was on the ground.
“I was disciplining him and I kicked him the wrong way; it was an accident,” she said as she was led by police into the Prisoner Transport Center on Saturday. “I messed up.”
Varela-Casaus called 911 Friday evening, telling arriving officers her son had fallen off a bouncing toy horse and hit his head, court documents and police said. But officers were suspicious because the boy was cold to the touch, Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said.
Medical professionals cited in the criminal complaint said the child’s current and past injuries were extensive.
Cigarette burns were found on the boy’s chest, upper lip and back; a bite mark was found on his left arm; and he was bruised above his genitals and on his back, according to the complaint.
Drobik said the family had been on the state Children, Youth and Family Department’s radar for a long time and, according to the complaint, the boy had complained of abuse in the past.
Henry Varela, a spokesman for the child welfare agency who has no relation to the family, said the agency couldn’t comment on current or previous cases, including the Varela-Casaus case. But Varela said, in general, the department can only take custody of children when ordered by law enforcement or through the courts.
According to the complaint, Varela-Casaus’ husband told police he had been on scene 30 minutes before 911 was called. He said he heard Varela-Casaus strike the boy repeatedly and said she told him that she “only hit him as she normally does, but she may have hit him too hard ‘this time.’”
Varela-Casaus’ husband is under investigation by police, Drobik said.
 
Texas
Mass shooter’s jail requests: Bible, cheese 
DALLAS (AP) — The former Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at Fort Hood made several requests of the Texas jail where he was held before he stood trial, including one for a copy of the Bible and another for the name of the company that made the cheese in his sandwiches.
Nidal Hasan was held at the Bell County Jail for nearly 4 years before his August court-martial for the 2009 attack at the Army post. Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death.
Hasan filed 21 requests with the jail while awaiting trial, KXAS-TV in Dallas reported.
In April, Hasan asked: “Please tell me the name of the company that produces the white cheese on my sandwiches; also the type of cheese i.e. mozzarella.”
Hasan is a Muslim who insisted on keeping a beard during his trial as an expression of his faith. John Galligan, his civil attorney, told the television station that Hasan was likely concerned about whether his food was being prepared according to Islamic dietary standards.
Hasan also asked the jail for a copy of the Bible and added, “Please send a knowledgeable person to answer my difficult questions as well as a paperback copy for my personal use.”
Galligan and one of Hasan’s military lawyers, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, said they thought Hasan was studying the Bible from an Islamic perspective.
Hasan also wanted a clock to track his daily prayer times as a Muslim.
The costs of jailing Hasan included a guard to watch him at least 12 hours a day and daily helicopter rides from the jail to the Fort Hood courthouse during his trial.
Galligan has accused the Army of “overkill” in trying and convicting Hasan, who is now on military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Hasan walked into a Fort Hood medical readiness building in November 2009 carrying two guns and several magazines of ammunition. He shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — and opened fire on soldiers awaiting medical tests and vaccines.
Hasan described himself at trial as a soldier who “switched sides” in a supposed war between America and Islam. Government lawyers also said Hasan did not want to go on a deployment to Afghanistan.

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