National Roundup

Colorado
Judge: Theater shooting trial could start early

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — The judge in the Colorado theater shooting case says jury selection is moving more quickly than expected and that could allow the trial to begin as early as May instead of June.

Individual questioning of potential jurors had been scheduled to last 16 weeks. The Aurora Sentinel (http://bit.ly/17hlkIZ ) reports that Judge Carlos Samour said Wednesday that it could wrap up in six weeks instead. Twelve jurors and 12 alternates would then be picked after a round of group questioning.

James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the July 20, 2012, attack at a Denver-area theater that killed 12 people and injured 70 others.

His lawyers acknowledge he was the gunman but say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode.

New Hampshire
Former executive enters guilty plea in fatal crash

NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. (AP) — A former Fortune 500 executive has admitted that he killed a pregnant woman and her fiance when he tried to kill himself by driving his pickup truck across a highway median into oncoming traffic.

Fifty-four-year old Robert Dellinger pleaded guilty Thursday to negligent homicide for the deaths of 24-year-old Amanda Murphy and 29-year-old Jason Timmons, of Wilder, Vermont. He also pleaded guilty to assault for the death of their fetus; Murphy was eight months pregnant.

Dellinger, of Sunapee, New Hampshire, was initially charged with manslaughter, but that was later upped to second-degree murder. Negligent homicide is a lesser charge. Dellinger will be sentenced later.

Dellinger, who held high-level posts at PPG Industries Inc., Sprint Corp., Delphi Corp. and General Electric Co., told investigators he was trying to kill himself on Dec. 7, 2013, when he steered his pickup across a highway median in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Georgia
Coroner: Wrong body buried after crime lab mix-up 

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A coroner says a mix-up at the state crime lab led an Augusta area family to bury the wrong body during a closed-casket funeral.

Burke County Coroner Susan Salemi says the body of Johnny Morgan Lowe III was never returned after an autopsy.
Instead, Salemi says, another body — Louie Caldwell of Clayton County — was mistakenly buried during the December graveside service for Lowe.

The Augusta Chronicle reports that officials confirmed the mix-up Wednesday.

Salemi tells the newspaper she was notified of the mistake Feb. 10, when she received a phone call from Georgia Bureau of Investigation Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kris Sperry. Salemi says Lowe’s body remains at the GBI lab.

GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

New York
Man acquitted after 24 years in prison sues NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — A man who spent 24 years in prison before being retried and acquitted in a 1989 New York City killing is suing police, saying detectives mishandled the investigation.

Derrick Deacon is seeking unspecified damages in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the city. The city Law Department had no immediate comment.

Deacon was convicted in the 1989 shooting death of a teenager during a robbery in a Flatbush apartment complex. He was granted a new trial in 2012 after one witness recanted and an FBI cooperator identified a different man as the shooter.

It took a jury nine minutes to acquit Deacon in 2013.

His lawyer, Earl Ward, says the case reflects “gross misconduct” by detectives.

Deacon also has an ongoing $25 million lawsuit against the state.

Idaho
Sheriff: Inmate uses crawl space to escape jail

WALLACE, Idaho (AP) — Authorities in north Idaho say an inmate jailed on burglary charges escaped by working his way through a ceiling crawl space in a utility room to reach the lobby.

Shoshone County Sheriff Mitch Alexander tells KXLY-TV in Spokane, Washington, that one employee and a trainee were working at the jail in Wallace, Idaho, when 48-year-old Roy Bieluch escaped Tuesday night. He says funding limitations led to the staffing levels.

Bieluch hasn’t been found, and a nationwide warrant has been issued for his arrest. Alexander says deputies arrested a woman they believe assisted Bieluch after his escape.

Video from a jail security camera shows the inmate bursting out of a closet just as a cleaning woman starts to open the door.
Bieluch had been jailed since December on charges of burglary, malicious injury to property and petty theft.

Florida
Trump sues suburb over noise ordinance

DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Just weeks after city officials in suburban Miami decided Donald Trump was worthy of having a key to the city, he’s accusing them of having an unconstitutional noise ordinance.

Trump told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that Doral needs a noise ordinance with “specific rules and regulations.” Records show that since
August, the city’s code compliance department has issued more than 100 violations to Trump’s resort, Trump National Doral. Most violations are for the resort’s lawn maintenance crews making “unreasonably loud noise.”

In a lawsuit filed Feb. 12, Trump said the ordinance “is vague and ambiguous in its definition of prohibited activity, and provides the city’s Code Enforcement Department with unfettered discretion for determining whether a violation exists.”

The city has yet to be served the paperwork, but City Attorney Daniel Espino told the Herald on Wednesday that he’s disappointed a lawsuit was filed.

“Instead of striving to resolve the residents’ noise concerns, the Trump resort has escalated this situation unnecessarily,” Espino wrote in an email. Espino says he will defend the city, its code and the public welfare.

“It is, however, my continued hope that the Resort will look to be a good neighbor and resolve this situation amicably,” Espino said.

Trump rejects the accusations against his resort.

Trump’s lawyers say each violation carries a $1,500 fine and he’s already spent $50,000 in legal fees to fight the citations. They say since buying the property out of bankruptcy in 2012, Trump has pushed the city to amend the noise ordinance.

The resort recently hosted the Miss Universe pageant.

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