National Roundup

Colorado
Man says he crashed car to kill 2-year-old son

DENVER (AP) — A man has been charged with attempted murder after authorities say he told investigators in suburban Denver that he purposefully crashed his car in an effort to kill his toddler son.

Nathan Weitzel is being jailed on $500,000 bail in connection with the Aug. 21 wreck in Centennial.

KUSA-TV reports that the 2-year-old boy, who was unrestrained in the vehicle, suffered a concussion and broken leg but is expected to recover.

Court documents say Weitzel told an Arapahoe County sheriff’s investigator that he planned the crash because he didn’t “think he was man enough to raise a child.” He also reported using cocaine the day of the incident.

Weitzel allegedly told investigators that he took his son to play in a park before the crash and thought of ways he could kill him.

Massachusetts
Judge won’t review sex case for which athlete got ­probation 

BOSTON (AP) — The top district court judge in Massachusetts has denied a request to review a sexual assault case in which a former high school sports star received a sentence that some think was too lenient.

David Becker, 18, a former soccer, basketball and volleyball player at East Longmeadow High School, was sentenced to two years’ probation this month after pleading guilty to indecent assault and battery on two former classmates during an alcohol-fueled party in April. Both victims were 18.

Prosecutors requested a two-year jail sentence.

If he meets all conditions of probation, charges will be dismissed and he won’t have to register as a sex offender.

The sentence drew a national outcry and calls for the judge to be fired. It drew comparisons to the case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who got six months in jail for a sexual assault conviction, a sentence also decried as too short.
All proper legal procedures were followed in the Becker case, Paul Dawley, Massachusetts chief justice of the district court, wrote in response to the review request, according to The Boston Globe.

The sentencing judge, Thomas Estes, “exercised his sentencing discretion in accordance with the governing law” and “imposed a sentence that was within the lawful bounds established by the Legislature, within the range set forth in the relevant statute, and in accordance with our appellate case law and victim’s rights statute,” Dawley wrote in a letter dated Friday.

The review was requested by Michael Albano, a member of the Governor’s Council and former Springfield mayor who is running for sheriff of Hampden County, where East Longmeadow is located. The Governor’s Council reviews the governor’s judicial appointments.

He said that he wanted the case to be independently reviewed to ensure it was handled properly and that he is researching whether it can be reviewed through another channel.

North Carolina
Ex-con linked to murder by DNA refuses questions

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — An ex-convict linked to a slain woman through DNA testing is refusing to answer questions at a hearing that could free the man sentenced to prison 21 years ago for the killing.

Jermeck Jones was identified in 2011 by DNA tests unavailable at the time of Darryl Howard’s original trial. The tests indicate Jones had sex with Doris Washington shortly before her 1991 death. Jones refused to answer questions Tuesday, citing his constitutional right against incriminating himself.

Howard was convicted in 1995 of strangling Washington and her 13-year-old daughter. He is serving an 80-year prison sentence.

A judge is hearing testimony before deciding whether to give Howard a new trial. Howard also alleges misconduct by police and ex-district attorney Mike Nifong, who was disbarred over the Duke University lacrosse case.

Florida
Woman accused of killing husband in hospital bed

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A retired nurse from central Florida is facing a second-degree murder charge after authorities say she suffocated her husband in his hospital bed when he suffered life-threatening complications and became unresponsive following surgery.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood told news outlets that Jan Sochalski, 61, of Palm Coast was arrested Monday following the May 19 death of Henry Sochalski, 64.

According to an arrest report, Jan Sochalski had been complaining about her husband’s care after he went into respiratory and cardiac arrest April 9 after elective back surgery at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the retired Trenton, New Jersey, policeman was unresponsive and placed in a specialized medical care unit for people with serious illness.

Investigators noted in an arrest report that Jan Sochalski was so upset about her husband’s treatment that on April 28, she threatened to go home and get his firearm and “shoot the people on the seventh floor” of the hospital. Police were called to the hospital that day, but a nurse calmed the woman down and she wasn’t arrested.

A nurse told investigators that on one occasion, she had asked for medication to “decrease his respiratory status.”

On May 19, a nurse told investigators she walked into the man’s room and found his wife lying across his chest. According to the police report, the nurse said the woman had one hand around her husband’s chest and the other across his mouth and nose. A second nurse in the room said it appeared she was “pinching the victim’s nose.”

He died about 30 minutes later.

Nurses called police, and an investigation began.

Detective Dave Dinardi said Sochalski died of asphyxia of the mouth, nose and trachea.

On Monday, Jan Sochalski denied killing her husband, Dinardi said.

Massachusetts
Lawyer: Don’t punish client for buying car from drug dealer

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A lawyer for a Massachusetts man found with 95 packets of heroin in his car says his client shouldn’t be punished for unknowingly buying a vehicle from a drug dealer.

The Republican newspaper reports that a lawyer for Sean Deglis said in court Monday that his client had no idea heroin was stashed in a hidden compartment of the car he bought over the weekend.

Attorney Tony LaCasse says it was unfair to expect Deglis to “hire a drug-sniffing dog to inspect a car before purchasing it.”

Prosecutors say narcotics detectives, acting on a tip from a confidential informant, arrested the 29-year-old Southwick man Saturday night.

Deglis pleaded not guilty and was held on $10,000 bail.

Prosecutors say Deglis has a long criminal record, including drug possession convictions.

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