National Roundup

West Virginia
Appeals court won't rehear coal CEO appeal in deadly blast

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A federal appeals court has refused to rehear the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the order Friday.

In January, a three-judge panel of the court found no error in trial rulings.

Those judges rejected his argument that jury instructions made it too easy to conclude that he willfully violated safety rules at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine before the 2010 explosion that killed 29 men.

He was convicted in 2015 of a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to willfully violate safety standards.

The 66-year-old Blankenship is scheduled for release May 10 from a California federal prison where he's serving a one-year sentence.

Ex-inmates freed after 20 years sue cops, ­prosecutors

CLEVELAND (AP) - Two Ohio men who spent 20 years in prison for a man's death in 1995 before their murder convictions were overturned are suing prosecutors and East Cleveland detectives.

Thirty-eight-year-old Laurese Glover and 39-year-old Derrick Wheatt allege that detectives manipulated a 14-year-old girl into identifying them as suspects in the shooting death of 19-year-old Clifton Hudson; they say detectives also withheld potentially exonerating information, reported.

A third person convicted in Hudson's death, Eugene Johnson, said he will probably file his own lawsuit.

The three men, who all denied killing Hudson, were convicted as teenagers. They were freed in 2015 after Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo ordered a new trial when attorneys working for the Ohio Innocence Project found that evidence was suppressed in the case.

"Had the Defendant Officers disclosed their misconduct, including but not limited to their withholding of exculpatory evidence and fabrication of evidence to prosecutors, Plaintiffs, or their counsel, the prosecution would not have been pursued and Plaintiffs would not have been convicted," the lawsuit says.

The complaint seeks dismissal of the criminal case "with prejudice," meaning the state could not prosecute the two men again for the crime. It also seeks unspecified damages.

"They're still young, relatively speaking, but they lost a lot and are still trying to move on the best they can," said Elizabeth Wang, an attorney for Glover and Wheatt.

A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor said the prosecutor doesn't intend to re-file charges against them. He said the office is reviewing the complaint; East Cleveland's law director said she hadn't yet seen it.

Jury: Prison company violated rights, but no need to pay

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A federal jury says private prison company CoreCivic had a longstanding custom of understaffing an Idaho prison, and that the company was deliberately indifferent to the risk of serious harm that posed to inmates.

But jurors also found that the company, formerly called Corrections Corporation of America, doesn't have to pay damages for the problem because the inmates who sued failed to prove that the understaffing happened in the hours before they were attacked by a prison gang.

The verdict came late Thursday evening in Boise. Afterward, attorneys on both sides claimed victory.

The inmates brought the lawsuit in 2012, contending that CCA deliberately understaffed the prison to boost profits, and that the understaffing allowed a prison gang to hide in a janitorial closet for several hours before jumping out to beat and stab the inmates.

Man gets jail for fatally shooting horse with arrow

BARRE, Vt. (AP) - A 21-year-old Vermont man who pleaded guilty to a charge that he shot and killed a horse with a bow and arrow is going to spend six months in jail.

Quinton Clayton entered the plea Thursday in Vermont Superior Court in Barre to a felony count of unlawful mischief and other charges. He was also ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.

Police say that on Oct. 5, Clayton used a stolen bow and arrow to shoot a 24-year-old quarter horse named Bunny.

The Times Argus reported that Clayton apologized to the horse's owner Regan Howard and her family. He said he had used drugs the night the horse was shot and he didn't remember what happened.

Cab driver who tried to help IS gets 11 years

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A taxi driver caught helping a friend try to join the Islamic State group during an FBI sting has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Twenty-six-year-old Mahmoud Elhassan of Woodbridge, Virginia, was arrested last year after he drove Joseph Farrokh to the Richmond airport, where he planned to begin a trip to join the Islamic State in Syria.

Prosecutors say Elhassan, who started a prayer table outside the Verizon Center in Washington seeking to proselytize others to Islam, offered himself online as a "sleeper cell" to overseas radicals.

The government sought a term closer to the 28-year maximum at a hearing Friday in Alexandria, Virginia.

Elhassan's lawyers asked for a term of four to six years.

Farrokh was previously sentenced to 8½ years in prison.

Attempted robbers apologize after victim rebuffs crime

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Milwaukee woman held up at gunpoint by two men rebuffed their attempt to rob her and got an apology before they fled.

Kristy Welch was returning home Monday following a ceramics class when the two men approached her while she was still in her car. Welch told them she just had surgery and didn't have any money. That's when the two men apologized and said "God bless you" before taking off.

The encounter was caught on video surveillance.

Welch's husband, Alfred, tells WTMJ-TV he installed a motion-activated camera outside their home many years ago.

Welch says that without the video, no one would have believed that someone put a gun to her face then blessed her and left without causing any harm.

Published: Mon, Feb 27, 2017