National Roundup

Judge: Hit-and-run case against ‘Bachelor’ star can proceed

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge says the felony prosecution of former “The Bachelor” star Chris Soules for allegedly leaving the scene of a fatal accident can proceed.

Judge Kellyann Lekar approved a charging document known as a “trial information” Sunday and scheduled Soules’ arraignment for May 23. The move is expected to cancel a preliminary hearing set for Wednesday.

Prosecutors didn’t add new charges against Soules in the April 24 accident that killed 66-year-old farmer Kenneth Mosher. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Police say Soules rear-ended Mosher’s tractor and left the scene after calling 911 and seeking help for Mosher. He was arrested later at his home.

A prosecutor says Soules was seen purchasing alcohol shortly before the accident, and that open beverages were found around his vehicle.

New York
ACLU sues for documents in Yemen raid that killed Navy SEAL

NEW YORK (AP) — A civil rights group wants to force the U.S. government to divulge more information about a January raid in Yemen that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and Yemeni civilians.

A lawsuit was filed Monday in Manhattan federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is seeking to learn the legal basis and decision-making process used in the raid after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Central Intelligence Agency and the departments of defense, justice and state.

The ACLU said more information is needed in part because of conflicting facts that emerged after the raid. The ACLU said the military has claimed between four and 12 civilians were killed, while others say as many as 25 died.

Court rejects request for review of cold-case conviction

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The Washington State Supreme Court has rejected a request to review the case of a man convicted of murder in the stabbing death of a woman who disappeared after work in 1995.

The court on Tuesday unanimously agreed not to take up 49-year-old Danny Ross Giles’ case, The Daily Herald reported.

Prosecutors brought charges against Giles two decades after DNA evidence tied him to the crime. He was sentenced in 2014 to nearly 48 years in prison for Patti Berry’s death. Her body was found in a wooded area of Everett.
The state Court of Appeals in November rejected Giles’ request to have his murder conviction tossed, and he appealed to the higher court.

“We are just very gratified that this apparently is done for Patti and her family,” said Craig Matheson, Snohomish County’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor. “The sheriff’s office got it right. The jury got it right. The Court of Appeals got it right. And now state Supreme Court has got it right.”

“He’s where he’s supposed to be,” Berry’s mother, Nancy Stensrud, told the newspaper on Friday.

Berry was a single mother who worked as a nude dancer. She was killed after leaving work one night to go home.

When DNA evidence not available at the time of the killing linked Giles, he told detectives his DNA might have been on the steering wheel of Berry’s car and her clothing because he possibly had sex with her.

He appealed his conviction by contending Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss didn’t allow jurors to hear about other people the defense thought could be possible suspects. The appeals court ruled that the evidence Giles wanted to present was legally insufficient.

Giles was also a suspect in the 1995 disappearance of 22-year-old hair stylist Tracey Brazzel, who went missing a few months before Berry’s killing. He was charged with Brazzel’s killing after genetic tests turned up his DNA in a blood-like spot that was collected from the exterior of her car.

But her body has never been found, and charges against Giles in the case were dropped. Officials say Giles could be charged again if Brazzel’s body is found.

Court issues final ruling reinstating Skakel conviction

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court has finalized a ruling that reinstated the murder conviction of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel.

The court on Monday released a final, edited version of a decision announced in December. Skakel’s request for justices to reconsider that decision remains pending.

Skakel was convicted in 2002 of murder in the bludgeoning of Martha Moxley in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood in 1975, when they were both teenagers. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, but was freed on bail in 2013 after a lower court granted him a new trial because of mistakes made by his trial lawyer.

The state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in December that Skakel’s trial lawyer, Michael Sherman, provided an adequate defense and overturned the lower court.
Skakel remains free on bail.

Court upholds police refusal to let Hawaii man own firearms

HONOLULU (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the Honolulu Police Department’s refusal to let a man who had been convicted of misdemeanor harassment own firearms.

Of the three judges on the panel Friday in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one criticized state law for imposing a lifetime ban on the right to bear arms for committing a misdemeanor, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Kirk Fisher had been attempting to again possess a firearm after surrendering his because of a 1997 arrest for harassing his wife and daughter.

Hawaii law prohibits anybody convicted of a crime of violence, or misdemeanor domestic violence, from ever again owning a firearm.

Fisher pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment and had been sentenced to six months of probation. He had been given his firearms back after serving his sentence. But when he tried to possess another gun in 2009, the police department refused and made him get rid of the guns that were given back to him.

Fisher filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in 2011 against the department and the city. In 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the city, so Fisher appealed.

All three appeals court judges ruled against Fisher, but judge Alex Kozinski criticized state law. He wrote that while federal law affords people four different ways of getting back their right to keep and bear arms, Hawaii law affords them only a pardon.