National Roundup

Massachusetts

High court rules against Boston cab drivers

BOSTON (AP) - The state's highest court has ruled that Boston cab drivers are independent contractors and not employees, meaning they are not covered by state overtime and wage laws.

The Supreme Judicial Court said in its ruling Tuesday that cab drivers have the freedom to work the shifts they choose and transport as many or as few passengers as they choose.

Four licensed drivers had sued three fleet owners in 2012 alleging the owners were violating state law by treating drivers who lease cabs as independent contractors. One defendant corporation owns about 20 percent of the city's taxi medallions.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer for the drivers, said she was "shocked" by the ruling, saying cab drivers are "exploited."

Two of the cab companies said in a statement they were "gratified" by the ruling.

Washington

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:<t-1f$>Soldier says he stabbed soldier in self-defense

JOINT BASE-LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) - A Joint Base Lewis-McChord infantryman accused of fatally stabbing another soldier in the chest in 2013 says he acted in self-defense.

The News-Tribune reports Pvt. Jeremiah Hill took the stand at his court-martial Tuesday and told an Army jury he tried to knock a knife out of the hand of Spc. Tevin Geike. Hill says he then stabbed Geike because that soldier still had a knife and was a threat.

The 24-year-old faces life in prison if he's convicted of murder.

Officials say the slaying occurred when Hill and a group of soldiers encircled Geike and two friends on Pacific Highway in Lakewood. Testimony at the pretrial hearing revealed that both groups had been partying that night.

The court-martial is expected to finish by the end of this week.

Indiana

Man to also face rape charges in woman's death

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - A prosecutor is seeking to file additional charges against a southern Indiana man who allegedly confessed to fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend and mutilating her body.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, reports that May 4 hearing has been scheduled on Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull's request to amend the charges that 34-year-old Joseph Oberhansley faces to include rape.

Mull wants to add the rape charges as aggravated circumstances for jurors to consider in a capital punishment phase if they convict Oberhansley of murdering 46-year-old Tammy Jo Blanton.

Rape, burglary and dismemberment are among the aggravated circumstances required for jurors to consider the death penalty.

Court documents say Oberhansley told Jeffersonville police that he broke into Blanton's home last September, killed her with a knife and ate some of her organs.

Pennsylvania

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:<t-1f$>Priest to facenew charges in child-sex case

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A suspended Roman Catholic priest faces arraignment before a federal magistrate in western Pennsylvania on additional charges that he traveled to Honduras to have sex with poor street children during missionary trips.

The Rev. Joseph Maurizio Jr. has been jailed since last fall when federal prosecutors in Johnstown accused him of molesting one boy, and possessing child pornography.

Wednesday's court appearance in Johnstown stems from a new indictment adding two new alleged victims and charges the priest sent $8,000 to a charity to help facilitate the trips which ended in 2009.

Maurizio's attorney, Stephen Passarello, says his investigative team in Honduras has line up witnesses to challenge the allegations, which the 69-year-old priest denies.

The defense attorney is also expected to challenge the government's request to keep the priest in jail until he stands trial.

Wisconsin

Judge dismisses suit over illegal body searches

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that contends Milwaukee police conducted an illegal body search.

The lawsuit is one of the dozens that allege Milwaukee police went too far when searching suspects. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman decided the facts claimed by Devin Ragland could not support a judgment in his favor.

The Journal Sentinel reports police say they were looking for a gun when they pulled Ragland's pants and underwear down during a search in June 2013. Adelman ruled Monday that the officers' actions did not amount to a strip search.

Four Milwaukee officers have been convicted of crimes in connection with illegal body searches from 2008 to 2012. All four were forced to resign.

Pennsylvania

Cops say Molotov cocktail used to start fires

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania teenager is facing attempted homicide and arson charges after police say he used a Molotov cocktail and a plumber's torch to start two fires.

Allegheny County police said Tuesday 19-year-old Sean Hallam acknowledged setting both fires in Allegheny County.

The first fire began at a duplex in Harrison in the early morning hours of April 9 and caused $100,000 in damage. Investigators say they found evidence that a Molotov cocktail was used to ignite the blaze. Seven people inside were sleeping, but managed to escape.

The second fire occurred the next day about two blocks away from the first one. Detectives found a plumber's torch on a window at that blaze.

California

County officers rebuke judge for light sentence

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - The Orange County Board of Supervisors is formally calling for Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly to resign after his disputed decision to sentence a child rapist to well below the mandatory minimum.

The Orange County Register reportthat the Board voted 5-0 Tuesday to endorse a harsh rebuke of the April 3 sentencing.

At the sentencing Kelly gave Kevin Rojano-Nieto 10 years instead of 25 years to life, ruling the mandatory sentence was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. Kelly said a court-ordered examination concluded Rojano-Nieto wasn't a sexual predator and acted on impulse when he attacked a relative.

The decision has outraged victims' rights groups and sparked recall demands.

Published: Thu, Apr 23, 2015