National Roundup

Retailer settles suit filed by Eagles member

BELLEVILLE, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin-based outdoor apparel retailer Duluth Trading Co. has settled a lawsuit from Eagles founding member Don Henley alleging trademark infringement.

The musician filed the lawsuit in federal court after the company in October used the pun "Don a Henley and Take it easy" in an advertisement selling a shirt style known as a henley - a play on Henley's name and a title of a popular song by the classic rock band.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports court documents filed this week show the Belleville-based company agreed to never again use or imply Henley's name when selling the style of shirt.

The company issued an apology to Henley on its website, saying it was inappropriate to use his name and the song title. It also made an undisclosed contribution to a nonprofit Henley founded.

Woman says she was intimidated to identify victim

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - A professor testifying in a cold-case trial in Southern California said Thursday that she was intimidated into identifying her rapist to the man now charged with killing him in 1995.

Norma Esparza, who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the case and agreed to testify, said from the stand that her ex-boyfriend, Gianni Van, now 45, was outraged when he heard about the assault and demanded that she find and point out Gonzalo Ramirez at the bar where she met him.

Van is now charged with the murder of Ramirez. Prosecutors allege Van and friends kidnapped and beat Ramirez and left him by the roadside.

"We were sitting around a booth next to an entrance or exit, and at some point I see Gonzalo Ramirez walk by," Esparza said of the night in 1995, according to the Orange County Register. "When I see him, I cringe," she said, showing how she reacted by bending her head down and putting her face in her hands. "I didn't want to see him again."

Esparza, testifying in the trial's second day, said she was "broken" by the assault, that Van was directing his anger not just at her attacker but at her, and that she did not know what Van and his friends would do once she pointed out Ramirez.

"He would just insult me," she said. "He would rant and just be explosive."

Van's lawyer, Jeremy Dolnick, said his client had no role in the murder and knew nothing of any plans to kidnap or kill Ramirez.

The case has drawn international attention since Esparza - who went on to become a psychology professor and moved to France - was arrested in 2012, provoking an outcry from advocates for sexual assault victims who say the case sends a chilling message to rape survivors.

Esparza, 40, is expected to receive a six-year sentence in exchange for testifying at the trials of Van and another defendant.

Condemned man to go free; 2nd freed in 2 weeks

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama death row inmate reached a plea deal Thursday that makes him the second prisoner to escape the death penalty in the state in less than two weeks.

William Ziegler, 39, agreed to plead guilty to aiding and abetting in the slaying of Russell Allen Baker, and a Mobile County judge gave him credit for the more than 15 years he already has served in prison, reported.

Ziegler was convicted of capital murder in 2001 and sentenced to die for Baker's killing. Circuit Judge Sarah Stewart overturned Ziegler's conviction in 2012, indicating there were numerous errors and serious doubts about his guilt.

Prosecutors had said they planned to try him again, but Ziegler instead was allowed to plead guilty to the reduced charge to resolve the case.

During a hearing, Stewart urged Ziegler to resist turning bitter and said she knew he recognized God's grace.

"I want you to appreciate that gift," she said. "You need to be very careful with your gift. ... The world is a very different place than it was 15 years ago when you went to jail."

The decision came less than two weeks after another condemned Alabama prisoner was freed after claiming he was innocent.

Anthony Ray Hinton was released April 3 after nearly 30 years on Alabama's death row for a pair of killings in Jefferson County. Prosecutors in that case dismissed charges in the 1985 gunshot deaths of two fast-food workers after new testing on the defendant's gun could not prove that it fired the fatal shots.

Baker's body was found in a wooded area in Mobile County in 2000. Authorities said Ziegler had quarreled at a party, and Ziegler was convicted along with three accomplices.

But a key witness who claimed Ziegler had threatened Baker later recanted, helping lead to Stewart's decision to overturn the case.

With his plea, Ziegler acknowledged that his conduct helped lead to Baker's death.

Parents' lawsuit over boy with autism proceeds

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A judge says a lawsuit may proceed against Lincoln Public Schools over treatment of a 12-year-old boy with autism.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the lawsuit claims the boy suffered mental health problems after being kept in a special safe room at the school dozens of times during the 2010-11 school year. The boy's parents say they not notified about their son's handling, as district policy requires. The lawsuit seeks damages for the boy's pain and suffering, and reimbursement of $1, 470 for psychological treatment and future psychological services.

The district sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the family didn't exhaust remedies available through federal special education law, and that the law protects governmental subdivisions from being sued for certain "discretionary actions."

On Feb. 8, 2011, the child's mother found her son had been placed in a 5-by-7-foot, unfurnished safe room with a small window in the door that can't be opened from the inside when her son's school asked her to bring a change of clothes for him, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the mother had participated in creating her son's individual education plan, which never mentioned the use of a safe room. According to the judge's order, the parents thought the safe room was another classroom where their son could go if he became over-stimulated.

In ruling last week, Judge Andrew Jacobsen said the boy's parents should be able to seek compensation in court because there was no remedy for them under the federal law.

"The damages sought are retroactive in nature, and, most importantly, the parties have already resolved their educational issues with respect to the use of the safe room for John Doe," the order said.

Published: Mon, Apr 20, 2015