National Roundup

North Carolina
Man accused of cuffing boy to porch with bird

MONROE, N.C. (AP) — The child abuse trial for a North Carolina man accused of chaining an 11-year-old boy on a porch with a dead chicken around his neck as punishment was scheduled to start Monday.
Dorian Harper and his girlfriend, Wanda Larson, both 58, were arrested after a sheriff’s deputy found the boy in November 2013. Larson was the boy’s guardian and a supervisor for the Department of Social Services in Union County.

They are charged with felony child abuse, false imprisonment and maiming.

Both the boy and Larson may testify against Harper, District Attorney Trey Robison said.

Harper and Larson each face several years in prison if they are convicted of all charges. Both have pleaded not guilty. Larson’s trial is scheduled for next month.

Authorities think Harper tied the dead chicken around the boy’s neck as punishment for killing one of the chickens on the 5-acre farm. More than 100 animals, including donkeys, dogs and geese, were later removed from the property.

Harper, who was home at the time, lost his job as an emergency room nurse at Carolinas Medical Center-Union shortly after his arrest.

Larson was fired from her job as protective services supervisor at the Division of Social Services.

Larson was the boy’s legal guardian and had adopted four other children, ages 7 to 14. They were placed under state custody outside Union County.

Pennsylvania
Professor’s body found in woods; death suspicious

STAHLSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The body of a missing college chemistry professor has been found in a wooded area about 15 miles from her western Pennsylvania campus.

The Westmoreland County coroner’s office says 36-year-old Laura Wilkinson’s death is being investigated as suspicious.

Volunteer searchers found the Saint Vincent College adjunct professor’s body around 8 a.m. Sunday in the woods off Caven Road in Cook Township.

They found Wilkinson’s car Saturday in the same wooded area, about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Wilkinson had been missing since Wednesday.

Saint Vincent College in Latrobe says Wilkinson graduated in 2002 and taught chemistry and worked as a lab manager and work-study coordinator there for nearly a decade.

Brother Norman Hipps says the 2,000-student Catholic school is sending its prayers to Wilkinson’s husband, Jay, and their family.

Florida
Man shoots self after robbery, flags down cop

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say an Orlando man panicked after robbing someone of a phone and shot himself while fleeing the scene and eventually flagged down a deputy for help.

Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Crabb says 24-year-old Lashawn Williams ran across the street after shooting himself early Sunday and jumped into a Mercedes that had its door open in the parking lot of a gentleman’s club.

The Orlando Sentinel reports Williams drove away in the stolen car when he started feeling the effects of the gunshot wound. He then flagged down a passing deputy and was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center with injuries that aren’t life-threatening.

Williams was brought to the Orange County Jail and charged with armed robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Ohio
Woman held captive says she’s overcoming fears

CLEVELAND (AP) — A young woman held captive and tortured for more than a decade in a Cleveland home says she is conquering fears these days.

Michelle Knight said she now likes reading Stephen King novels.

“I like a little scare in my life,” she explained at a Cleveland Main Library public discussion on Saturday.

She also said she plans to go skydiving to overcome a fear of heights and because “I’m adventurous.”

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported, though, that she hasn’t decided whether to watch an upcoming TV movie about the ordeal she, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus survived.

“I prefer not to put myself in a backwards spiral,” Knight, now 33, explained. “You’ve got to take the bad in life and replace it with something good.”

She said her main goal is “to keep hope alive for the missing and the voiceless.”

Knight was kidnapped at age 21 by Ariel Castro. The women escaped his house in May 2013 and Castro committed suicide in prison that September after pleading guilty to a long list of charges.

Knight was the first taken captive by Castro, in August 2002.

“When I first was outside, it felt like my eyes were being fried like eggs in a frying pan,” she said, telling the audience she needed special sunglasses after being freed.

“I don’t have pity for him,” she said of Castro. “He has hurt me for years, and now I am over that.”

The Plain Dealer reported repeated applause and cheering for Knight, whose book “Finding Me” is now in paperback.

“How could you not be moved?” asked Cleveland resident Karen Sroka, one of the many who lined up to have books signed by Knight, be photographed with her or just chat briefly. Sroka gave Knight her sweatshirt from Alaska after Knight complimented her on it.

She didn’t want to discuss her son, who was adopted while she was still missing and “locked away in hell.” She also described her relationship with Berry and DeJesus as “kind of hectic ... It’s best to deal with it in our own way.

Knight legally changed her name to Lily Rose Lee, but still goes by Michelle Knight in public appearances.

She said she recently moved into her own house and has named a puppy she adopted “Sky.”

“She’s an inspiration,” said Cindy Spiegler of Willoughby. “We’ve all had hardships, but hers is beyond anything.”

California
Man convicted of trying to kill cop gets 120 years

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A 39-year-old gang member convicted of trying to kill a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy has been sentenced to 120 years to life in state prison.

Dameyion Kennedy was found guilty in 2012 of several charges including attempted murder of a peace officer and street terrorism.

Prosecutors said he opened fire numerous times on Deputy Maria Gascon during a wild car chase following a traffic stop in 2009. At one point Kennedy stopped in the middle of a road, leaned out of the car and fired several shots at the deputy. Her squad car was struck by bullets, but Gascon was not hurt.
 

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