National Roundup

New Jersey
Family sues town to demolish house after creepy letters

WESTFIELD, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey family that wants to demolish their home after they say they were stalked by an anonymous creepy-letter writer known as “The Watcher” has filed a lawsuit against their town.

Derek and Maria Broaddus filed the suit against the town of Westfield after its planning board rejected their plan to raze the house and subdivide the land, so they could build two houses.

A lawyer for the town told she cannot comment on the lawsuit.

The couple, who have children, say that after buying the six-bedroom house for nearly $1.4 million in 2014, they received three threatening letters from a stalker calling himself “The Watcher.”

Their attorney says they are good people caught in a situation they didn’t ask for.

Confession parts thrown out in case of slaying

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — A judge has thrown out some statements a former Virginia Tech student charged in the killing of a 13-year-old girl made to police because of improper interrogation techniques.

The Roanoke Times reports a judge ruled Monday that parts of Natalie Keepers’ confession cannot be used at trial. He said officers should have read Keepers her Miranda rights and told her she had the right to talk to an attorney once it was clear she would be charged in Nicole Lovell’s death.

Keepers has been charged with being an accessory to first-degree murder and with concealing a body. Her co-defendant, David Eisenhauer, has been charged with first-degree murder, abduction and concealing a body.

WDBJ-TV reports that the judge Monday also set a trial date for Keepers in February 2018.

New Jersey
Arrest made in shooting involving hip-hop star

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) — Authorities have made an arrest stemming from a shooting involving hip-hop star Fetty Wap in his New Jersey hometown that left three people wounded.

The shooting happened outside a 24-hour deli in Paterson at about 5 a.m. Sunday.

Authorities on Monday charged Raheem Thomas with assault and weapons offenses.

It wasn’t known if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf and an email sent to an account believed to be his wasn’t immediately returned.

Investigators say the rapper, whose real name is Willie Maxwell, and several friends, became involved in a heated altercation with another group.

Officials say the rapper was not hurt and the three victims were taken to a hospital.

There was no immediate word on the extent of the injuries to the shooting victims. The investigation is ongoing.

ACLU sues over toddler’s last name of ‘Allah’

ATLANTA (AP) — A civil rights group is suing Georgia over the state’s refusal to allow a couple to officially name its 22-month-old child “Allah.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed the lawsuit recently in Fulton County Superior Court on behalf of the couple, Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk.

At issue is the child’s proposed last name of Allah.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia Department of Public Health lawyers say state law requires a baby’s surname to be either that of the father of the mother for the initial birth record.

State officials say the child’s name — ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah — should either be Handy, Walk or a combination of the two.

State bans sex with animals

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It’s now illegal in Ohio for people to engage in sexual conduct or related acts with animals; the state didn’t have anti-bestiality laws until the change took effect last week.

The measure gained enough votes to pass in December when it was incorporated into a bill that bars local jurisdictions from raising the minimum wage or regulating pet stores, The Dayton Daily News reported.

Offenders could face up to 90 days in jail and have the animal seized and impounded. They also could be ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or counseling.

“It’s a crime that defies explanation to the rational person,” said Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. “We’re dealing with a different species.”

Most states have laws prohibiting sexual conduct with animals. Eight states don’t, along with Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jim Hughes, from Upper Arlington, who sponsored the anti-bestiality measure with fellow Republican Sen. Jay Hottinger, has described bestiality as “sickening and perverse.”

“We don’t want Ohio to be the place you can come and have sex with an animal,” he said.

There’s also some concern among law enforcement about links between such acts and other crimes.

A Virginia police detective who has spent years focused on internet crimes against children said he’s seen links between bestiality and child sex abuse.

“I found that people who were engaged in crimes against children were also engaged in sexual crimes against animals,” Fairfax County Detective Jeremy Hoffman said. “It was people from everyday walks of life. There was no stereotype that you could pin to any of them.”

Fugitive wanted in Mississippi killing arrested

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Mississippi man wanted in the strangulation death of his roommate has been arrested in Portland, Oregon.

U.S. Marshals and Portland police took 40-year-old Thomas Elliott Stafford into custody near downtown. He was booked into jail shortly before noon Saturday and is awaiting extradition.

Investigators in Jackson County, Mississippi, believe Stafford killed 65-year-old Jerry Floyd Kirkendall sometime around March 3, when a landlord last saw Kirkendall.

Alerted by the smell, the landlord found Kirkendall’s body in an unplugged freezer on March 20. Sheriff Mike Ezell said Stafford also stole the victim’s Cadillac.

Investigators found the Cadillac at the home of Stafford’s cousin in Alabama. The sheriff said the cousin told investigators he gave Stafford money and a gun in exchange for the car.
Oregon court records show Stafford was in Portland last year. He pleaded no contest to methamphetamine possession and was sentenced to probation.