National Roundup

Texas
Woman accused of beating teens, locking them up

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A 38-year-old San Antonio woman has been arrested on charges alleging that she used an aluminum bat to beat two teenage brothers in her home and locked them in a garage.

Authorities say Marissa Monica Cano was arrested Sunday and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

An arrest affidavit obtained by KSAT-TV says a 15-year-old boy escaped from the house Saturday and went to a fast-food restaurant where police were called.

The teen had severe injuries and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar told the station he was emaciated, weighing only about 70 pounds (32 kilograms).

Authorities say the teens’ parents don’t live in the area and they’re often left with Cano.

Cano was no longer being held Monday and it’s not clear if she has an attorney.

Delaware
Dismissal of lawsuit over prison loaf stands

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to consider a ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed by a Delaware inmate over his treatment in prison, including repeatedly being fed an unpalatable food loaf given to unruly inmates.

The judge’s ruling last week follows a federal appeals court decision in June upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Kevin Dickens in 2010.

Dickens alleged among other things that he was “constructively starved” when placed on a “nutraloaf” diet for five consecutive weeks in 2009. Dickens said he lost about 60 pounds and suffered from frequent blackouts and low blood pressure.

State attorneys asked the judge last year to dismiss the suit for failure to prosecute, noting that Dickens had not filed any court papers since May 2015.

Florida
Police: Man kills girlfriend’s son, then robs her

HOLMES BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Police say a man killed his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son and stole her car stereo and laptop while she was in the hospital with her dying child.

The Bradenton Herald reports that 31-year-old David Vickers is being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

Authorities say Vickers was taking care of Luca Sholey while the child’s mother was at work. Vickers claims he put the boy to bed and found him unresponsive when he checked on him an hour later.

An autopsy determined Sholey’s death to be from blunt-force trauma to his brain. The toddler also had bruises on his chest and six broken ribs.

Vickers is also charged with theft after police say he pawned a car stereo and computer owned by Sholey’s mother.

Arizona
Switch to deaths database creates backup of bodies

PHOENIX (AP) — Funeral directors, physicians and government officials are struggling to implement Arizona’s new online system to register deaths and generate death certificates, creating a backlog of bodies at funeral homes that prompted one health official to warn that the county could be forced to use refrigerated-truck storage.

Some funeral directors have had to delay burying and cremating the deceased because of confusion and technical problems since the state Department of Health Services’ new database went live Oct. 2, The Arizona Republic reported. The database replaced a fax-based system.

The department acknowledged there have been problems and delays, and it has temporarily allowed the counties that include Phoenix and Tucson and a third county, Cochise, to use paper records to obtain processing permits for burials and cremations.
“You know there are going to be bumps with a new IT (information technology) system,” said Dr. Cara Christ, the department’s director. “We knew there were some issues. The vendors have responded very quickly.”

Dr. Bob England, Maricopa County’s public health director, told state officials in an Oct. 8 email there were fears that funeral homes could exceed capacity and that the county might have to activate a mass-fatality plan to use refrigerator-truck storage in a vacant lot across the street from the medical examiner’s office.

“That would be highly visible. We’ll be wheeling bodies back and forth across 8th Avenue, need to re-route the Juror Parking, and it will become a national news story,” England said in the email.

While a survey completed Tuesday by Maricopa County officials found more than 200 delayed burials and cremations and indicated 20 of 54 funeral homes weren’t accepting additional bodies, state officials said they only found six of 183 funeral homes statewide at capacity and 12 families who experienced delays involving a dead loved one.

State officials said they sought the new system to make it easier for people to order vital records, including birth and death certificates. The plan is to allow the vital records to be ordered online rather than in person at a government office.

Implementation of the new system changed how physicians certify deaths and the way funeral homes obtain permits for burials and cremations.

The state held online training sessions such as webinars and hands-on training on Sept. 11.

State officials said they tested the system before the Oct. 2 launch. But they decided against a pre-launch trial run with funeral homes because that would have imposed technical challenges of running two systems.

Sam Bueler, funeral director of Wyman Cremation and Burial Chapel in Mesa, said the state’s training for funeral directors, doctors and others has been inadequate.

Mark Vining, owner of Vining Funeral Home in Safford, said mock funerals with empty caskets or urns have been held in Arizona when mortuaries weren’t able to obtain timely permits.

“It’s been nothing short of a chaotic mess,” Vining said. “The state wasn’t prepared.”


New Hampshire
Attorney says juror who hugged family member could be biased

BERLIN, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire county attorney wants to reconvene and question jurors over concerns that a member of the jury hugged a man acquitted of negligent homicide.

The jury acquitted Randy Baillargeon on Sept. 22 on charges such as negligent homicide involving the 2016 death of Berlin resident Kristen Black.

WMUR-TV reports Coos County Attorney John McCormick said a juror was seen hugging Baillargeon and his family in the parking lot of the courthouse after the acquittal.

McCormick called the hug a “spectacle” and said it shows the jury could have been tainted or biased.

Baillargeon’s attorney is fighting McCormick’s motion and said it’s based on pure speculation.

Police said Baillargeon drove erratically as Black clung to his truck, causing her to fall or jump off the vehicle.

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