National Roundup

Ohio
Ex-student gets life term for killing baby at sorority house

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A former college student accused of giving birth in a sorority house bathroom and killing her baby girl by disposing of her in a trash bag was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole.

Emile Weaver, 21, was found guilty by a jury last month of aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors said Weaver gave birth in a bathroom at the Delta Gamma Theta sorority at Muskingum University on April 22, 2015, then purposefully caused the death of her baby.

They said the baby girl died from asphyxiation after Weaver put her in a plastic trash bag and left it outside the sorority house.

Weaver testified at trial that she had been in denial about the pregnancy and thought the baby was already dead when she put the newborn in the trash bag. She tearfully apologized in court and said she will appeal the sentence.

Judge Mark Fleegle could have sentenced Weaver to life with a chance for parole in as little as 20 years, but said he wasn't convinced she was remorseful.

Early in the process, Weaver had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but the judge ruled that she was mentally competent.

Massachusetts
Aaron Hernandez friend set to change plea in 2013 killing

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) - A friend of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez is expected to change his not guilty plea in the 2013 shooting death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Carlos Ortiz is set to go on trial in October for first-degree murder, but now his lawyers will be in Bristol Superior Court in Connecticut on Monday for a change of plea hearing.

Hernandez, Ortiz and Ernest Wallace - all friends from Bristol, Connecticut - were all initially charged with murder.

Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole last year. Wallace was acquitted of murder earlier this year but sentenced to seven years in prison for being an accessory after the killing.

Lloyd's body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Massachusetts home.

Connecticut
Court upholds use of force to obtain DNA samples

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut prison officials can use reasonable force to obtain DNA samples from inmates who were convicted of felonies before 2011, when the state law was changed to specifically allow such force, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Justices rejected the appeals of inmates Mark Banks and Roosevelt Drakes, who challenged the state's authority to take samples of their DNA by force.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the rulings of a trial court judge and the state Appellate Court that said barring the use of force would undermine the 2003 state law requiring all convicted felons in prison to submit a DNA sample for the state's DNA databank, which police use in criminal investigations. The 2003 law was amended in 2011 to allow the use of reasonable force.

The court also ruled that prison officials can use force to collect DNA from inmates convicted of felonies before the 2003 state law.

"If we were to accept the defendant's position, those persons required to submit a DNA sample under the statute would be free to openly refuse and (the law) would be reduced to a nullity and its objectives resoundingly defeated," Justice Carmen Espinosa wrote in the Banks decision.

Banks, formerly of Bristol, was convicted of robbery in 1997 and sentenced to 15 years in prison, to run consecutively to a previous prison sentence he received. Drakes, formerly of Hartford, pleaded guilty to murder in 2005 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Both men also were convicted of refusing to provide DNA samples to prison officials. Efforts to collect their DNA were put on hold pending their appeals.

Pennsylvania
Teenager ordered to stand trial in mother's death

PALMYRA, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania teenager has been ordered to stand trial on a charge of criminal homicide in the strangulation and stabbing death of his mother.

Seventeen-year-old Jacob Taliaferro of Palmyra waived his right to preliminary hearing Friday, sending the charge to Lebanon County Court.

Police say he called 911 on June 6, saying he killed Lorrie Ann Demko at their Palmyra home and that she had been dead for some time. Palmyra is about 15 miles east of Harrisburg.

Police found Demko dead on a bedroom floor with multiple stab wounds to her chest. Authorities have not commented on any possible motive in the case.

Washington
Man accused of 2002 killing claims rights were violated

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Lawyers for a man convicted in the 2002 killing of an 18-year-old woman are seeking a mistrial in the new trial proceedings, claiming their client's rights have been violated.

The Daily Herald of Everett reports that John Alan Whitaker's lawyers argued that their client's constitutional rights had been violated during questioning of one of the final witnesses in the three-week trial.

The judge on Friday declined to rule on the defense's motion for a mistrial until after she hear closing arguments.

The motion comes after prosecutors on Thursday asked if Whitaker had invoked his right to silence when being questioned by police, which defense attorneys say unfairly prejudiced jurors.

Whitaker was convicted of killing Rachel Burkheimer in 2002, but that conviction was overturned in 2013, granting him a new trial.

Wisconsin
Woman accused in crash that killed 3 on trial

ELLSWORTH, Wis. (AP) - A woman accused of texting before a 2013 crash that killed her daughter and two nieces is on trial in western Wisconsin.

Pierce County prosecutors say 35-year-old Kari Jo Milberg, of Centuria, was sending and receiving Facebook chat messages just before she lost control of her SUV on Highway 35 near Prescott and collided with a truck.

Milberg's 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, and her two 5-year-old nieces, Laynie Jo Amos and Clara Pavek were killed.

Milberg says she remembers nothing from the December 2013 crash. She's charged with three felony counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving.

Investigators found Milberg's phone at the crash scene once the snow had melted months later. KARE-TV reports Milberg's attorney has suggested the defendant's daughter may have been the one using the phone.

Published: Tue, Jun 28, 2016

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