National Roundup

New York
Soldier indicted  in slayings of wife, trooper

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — A grand jury has indicted a soldier on 55 counts including murder in the slayings of his wife and a New York state trooper last summer outside Fort Drum.

WWNY-TV in Watertown reports a Jefferson County grand jury returned the indictment on Tuesday against 33-year-old Staff Sgt. Justin Walters, who was on active duty with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division at the time of the July 9 attack.

Authorities say Walters killed his wife, 27-year-old Nicole Walters, shooting her multiple times at their home in Theresa, and then fatally shot Trooper Joel Davis as he responded to reports of shots fired. Walters also is charged with wounding his wife’s friend. He’s being held in jail without bail and without military pay.

Police: Boy tied to minivan’s roof to hold down plastic pool

SAUKVILLE, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin woman is facing charges after her 9-year-old son was tied to the roof of their minivan to help hold down a plastic pool.

Prosecutors allege 28-year-old Amber Schmunk had her son hold down the molded pool they’d just purchased because it wouldn’t fit inside the van. WISN-TV reports a witness called police after seeing the incident on Sept. 9 in Saukville, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Milwaukee.

Police documents allege Schmunk told an officer she thought it was OK because her father allowed her to do similar things when she was young.

Schmunk is charged with recklessly endangering safety, which is a felony. She’s due in Ozaukee County Circuit Court on Nov. 11.

Court records don’t list an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

New York
Woman admits posing as lawyer, bilking inmates

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Officials say a 48-year-old woman has admitted to passing herself off as a lawyer while bilking hundreds of New York prison inmates out of more than $20,000.

The state Attorney General’s Office says Antonia Barrone pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud and will serve 16 months to 3 years in state prison. She has also been ordered to pay nearly $270,000 in restitution and fines.

Officials say Barrone created a fake persona as a parole attorney named Mario Vredenburg and swindled $23,000 from 400 state inmates and their families through a business called the NYS Prisoner Assistance Center, which purported to specialize in parole cases.

Authorities say Barrone tricked customers into believing the office was staffed with attorneys.

Last year, Barrone crashed her car at 90 mph while trying to elude police on an Albany highway.

Mom gets prison in vodka death of disabled child

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont woman accused of killing her disabled son after pouring vodka into his feeding tube has been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

WCAX-TV reports 41-year-old Melissa Robitille, of Hardwick, was sentenced Tuesday to four to 12 years in prison. Robitille had previously been found guilty of manslaughter in the 2014 alcohol poisoning death of her 13-year-old son, Isaac.

Prosecutors say Robitille and her boyfriend, Walter Richters, poured vodka in her son’s feeding tube to keep him quiet. The boy later died.

An attorney representing the woman had argued the death was a “tragic mistake.”

Richters was sentenced to three years in prison last year for his role in Isaac’s death.

New Jersey
Ex-police chief accused of hate crime, use of excessive force

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a white police chief in New Jersey used excessive force against a handcuffed young African-American man all because of the color of his skin.

Authorities on Wednesday are announcing civil rights and hate crime charges against Frank Nucera. Nucera retired as Bordentown Township police chief while under FBI investigation in January.

According to court documents, Nucera approached the 18-year-old African-American from behind and slammed his head into a doorjamb while the suspect was being escorted by two officers from a hotel.

Prosecutors say Nucera had a history of making racist comments and used police dogs to intimidate African-Americans.

One of his police officers secretly recorded Nucera’s comments.

It’s not known if Nucera has been arrested and officials will provide more details during a news conference.

White juvenile accused of burning down black church

MONROE, La. (AP) — Authorities say a young white man is accused of setting fire to the sanctuary of a predominantly black church in Louisiana.

The News-Star of Monroe reports the fire at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday burned down its new sanctuary but spared the century-old church community’s older building.

Witnesses said they talked to the driver of an Entergy Corp. truck leaving the scene shortly before smoke began rising from the church. Authorities found the vehicle with the suspect, confirmed the juvenile is connected to a second Entergy theft, and believe he used one of the utility trucks to ram vehicles at Caldwell Parish High School.

Richland Parish Sheriff Gary Gilley says the juvenile will be facing arson in his parish; Charges in other counties weren’t immediately available.

Court upholds conviction in DA’s slayings case

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas’ highest criminal court has upheld a former North Texas justice of the peace’s conviction and death sentence for killing a district attorney’s wife in what prosecutors said was a revenge plot that left three people dead.

Eric Williams argued to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that there were 40 errors at his December 2014 trial for the slaying of Cynthia McLelland. She and her husband, Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, were killed in their home east of Dallas in 2013.

Williams has been charged but not tried for the deaths of Mike McLelland and prosecutor Mark Hasse. Hasse was fatally shot two months earlier outside the Kaufman County courthouse.

Williams’ wife, Kim, pleaded guilty to her role in the slayings. She’s serving 40 years in prison.