National Roundup

Teen pleads no contest to killing girl on prom day

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — A teenager accused of stabbing a classmate to death at their high school for rejecting his invitation to the junior prom pleaded no contest to murder Monday, and prosecutors said they will seek a 25-year prison sentence.

Christopher Plaskon, 18, accepted a plea bargain during a brief appearance in Milford Superior Court. Sentencing is set for June 6.

Plaskon was charged with killing 16-year-old Maren Sanchez at Jonathan Law High School in Milford on April 25, 2014, after his family and friends said he became upset that Sanchez turned down his prom invitation.

Plaskon was held at a psychiatric hospital after the stabbing. His attorneys said he showed signs of psychosis and they were considering an insanity defense.

The attack happened in a first-floor hallway at about 7:15 a.m. on April 25, 2014, the day of the junior prom. Students described an emotional scene where people were crying as police and paramedics swarmed the school.

A witness tried to pull Plaskon off Sanchez during the attack, and another saw Plaskon discard a bloody knife, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Plaskon was taken to the principal’s office in bloody clothing and told police, “I did it. Just arrest me,” according to the affidavit.

Staff members and paramedics performed life-saving measures on Sanchez, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly afterward. The medical examiner’s office said she was stabbed in the torso and neck.

Sanchez, a member of the National Honor Society who was active in drama and other school activities, had been focused on prom in the days before she was killed. She had posted on Facebook a photograph of herself wearing a blue prom dress and was looking forward to attending with a new boyfriend.

A friend of Plaskon’s told police that Plaskon thought about hurting Sanchez because he wanted to be more than friends with her. The friend said Plaskon said he wouldn’t mind if Sanchez “was dead or hit by a bus.”

Gov. signs into law overhaul of death penalty

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is moving ahead with an overhaul of the state’s death penalty law.

Spokeswoman Jackie Schultz says Scott signed the bill on the issue into law Monday.

Last week, the Florida Legislature passed the bill. It requires at least 10 out of 12 jurors recommend execution for it be carried out. Florida previously required that a majority of jurors recommend death sentences.

The measure includes other changes that lawmakers hope will resolve lingering legal questions and open the door to the state’s resuming executions.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida’s law unconstitutional in January, saying it allows judges to reach a different decision than juries, which have only an advisory role in recommending death.

The new law prohibits judges from imposing the death penalty if the jury doesn’t recommend it.

Police say father helped daughter buy heroin

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Police say an Ohio father drove his adult daughter to buy heroin because she was becoming ill from withdrawal symptoms.

A Dayton police report says 52-year-old Jerry Roberts told police his daughter was a heroin addict and a problem.

The Dayton Daily News reports Roberts drove his 28-year-old daughter Keri Brown from New Lebanon to Dayton on Friday to buy heroin because she was “becoming ill from the withdrawal.”

The report says Brown was booked into Montgomery County Jail on charges including drug possession, possession of drug abuse instruments and tampering with evidence, and was later released.

Her father was booked on suspicion of permitting drug abuse and remained in jail Sunday night with a scheduled Monday court appearance.

It was unclear if they had attorneys.

Philip Fournier held without bail in 1980 killing

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Philip Scott Fournier is being held without bail after his first court appearance following his arrest in connection with the death of an East Millinocket girl more than 35 years ago.

State Police say the 55-year-old Fournier killed 16-year-old Joyce McLain, who had disappeared in 1980 while jogging. Her body was found two days later behind a school in her hometown.

Fournier was arraigned Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. A judge ordered him held without bail pending a hearing that was not scheduled.
Fournier did not enter a plea during the brief appearance.

He was previously identified as a person of interest in the homicide when he was sentenced in 2009 to 6½ years in prison for possession of child pornography. He was released last year.

South Dakota
Court affirms man’s sentence in daughter’s death

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A federal appeals court has affirmed a South Dakota man’s conviction and 30-year prison sentence stemming from his daughter’s 2012 death.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday issued its ruling in the case against 37-year-old Mario Contreras. A federal jury convicted the former Waubay resident of second-degree murder in 2013 for killing his 2-year-old daughter by punching her in the head.

Medical evidence presented at trial showed the girl had 18 contusions to her head. Contreras has said his daughter fell off a chair and onto the floor on Jan. 9, 2012, two days before her death at a hospital.

Contreras in his appeal said prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence to find him guilty of second-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt. The appeals court disagreed with Contreras and concluded “sufficient evidence exists to support” his conviction.

Bill to protect rape victims’ rights heads to senate

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Senate will consider a victims’ rights bill that supporters say would make it easier for victims to strip their attackers of parental rights to children conceived as a result of rape.

State law says a man convicted of rape can be stripped of parental rights to children conceived during the crime. Bill sponsor Bill Diamond says the standard of proof is too high.

The Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary endorsed the bill by a count of 10-1 last week. The next step is for an initial vote by the senate.

Diamond’s bill would allow victims to petition the court to terminate their attackers’ parental rights without a conviction by presenting “clear and convincing evidence” that the child was conceived as a result of rape.