National Roundup

Columbus police creating digital forensic unit

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio’s capital city of Columbus are creating a new digital forensics unit for officers to analyze and download information from cellphones taken during investigations.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the new unit is expected to be fully staffed by year’s end.

Police Chief Kim Jacobs says there’s a big need for the digital unit, pointing out that 20 cellphones were taken from a house in one homicide case, leaving the analysis to one detective who covers all three homicide shifts.

Detective James Howe says location information extracted from phones can sometimes put killers near crime scenes. He says it typically takes him three to four hours to search a phone.

Jacobs says the unit will be funded with money exchanged for the department’s help with federal task force cases.

Woman says hospital fired her over pumping breast milk

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut woman says in lawsuit filed in state court that she was fired from her job at a hospital because she pumped breast milk in her office.

The New Haven Register reports that Jill Grewcock, a clinical bed manager at Yale New Haven Hospital, has sued the hospital’s parent corporation for wrongful termination. Grewcock also says her First Amendment free speech rights were violated.

The 37-year-old Oxford woman lost a federal lawsuit in March that alleged sexual discrimination. She filed the state wrongful termination suit, based in part on testimony in the federal trial she claims was false.
Yale New Haven Health Services says she was fired because she violated federal medical privacy laws. The hospital says “We do not believe this lawsuit has merit” and will “vigorously defend it.”

Judge: ­Boardwalk ­performer restrictions are unconstitutional

OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) — Some restrictions on boardwalk performers in a Maryland beach town have been deemed unconstitutional.

The Daily Times of Salisbury reports U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett ruled performers on the Ocean City Boardwalk will no longer have to sign up for spaces a week in advance. Performers are also no longer restricted to certain dedicated areas and performances before 10 a.m. and advertising are now permitted.

The decision says Ocean City’s restrictions placed a “substantial burden” on harmless speech. Ocean City can still ban performances after 1 a.m., items bigger than 6 feet and performances on certain streets.
Ocean City Town Solicitor Guy Ayres says the town hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

Electric violinist Lucian Ionescu lauded the decision, likening the boardwalk under the restrictions to “the Gaza Strip.”

West Virginia
Court: Kids can’t inherit from parents with no will, rights

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s Supreme Court says children cannot inherit from a biological parent’s estate if that parent has no will and had their rights terminated.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the justices ruled 3-2 Friday to uphold a decision by a Mercer County circuit judge to deny an inheritance for the daughter of a man who died in 2011. That man had no will and his parental rights were terminated for alleged sexual abuse against her. He died before the criminal case was resolved.

The majority opinion said the state’s inheritance laws do not provide clear support or define children’s rights in such cases.

The opinion said the Legislature must make any change in the law and it can’t come through legal precedent.

The man’s parental rights were terminated in Mercer County Circuit Court in 2008 amid an investigation by Child Protective Services. He and his wife divorced that year.

“While we are sympathetic to (the daughter’s) circumstances, the decision of this court must be guided by the law and not our sympathies,” Justice Robin Davis wrote in the majority opinion.

Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Menis Ketchum dissented.

Workman said the court’s ruling was “wrong, wrong, wrong, both from a legal and human perspective.”

She said the lack of a clear definition in state law does not negate the fact that the girl is the man’s “child, descendant, and sole beneficiary under West Virginia Code.”

“Even though his parental rights were legally terminated, her rights as his child and decedent remain intact,” she said.

Workman wrote the justices in the majority effectively established a new law extinguishing the right of a child to inherit from a parent without a will and whose rights had been terminated.

Father of teen who died in van poses multiple questions

CINCINNATI (AP) — The father of a 16-year-old Ohio boy who died after being trapped in a minivan asked authorities Monday why responding officers didn’t get out of their cruiser.

Ron Plush also asked at a Cincinnati City Council meeting whether exact GPS coordinates existed for his son’s location.

Plush promised to help improve the city 911 system but also said he would be asking difficult questions.

Plush found the body of his son, Kyle Plush, on April 10 inside the 2004 Honda Odyssey in a parking lot near his school nearly six hours after Kyle’s first 911 call. A coroner says he died of asphyxiation from his chest being compressed. It is suspected that the foldaway rear seat flipped over as he reached for tennis gear in the back.

Mayor John Cranley told Plush he would receive written responses to every question and called the police report on the case incomplete.

Cranley opened Monday’s meeting by saying the city failed in its response to the 911 call.

“In all cases we can do better, we should do better, we must do better,” Cranley said.

Cincinnati police chief Eliot Isaac presented the results of an internal investigation before the City Council’s law and safety committee, providing details of the 911 call and the police response. Among those:
• The city’s computer assisted-dispatching system experienced difficulties throughout the call.

• Kyle’s phone was in his pocket as he called, and he was using “Siri” caller technology to call 911. Kyle was not able to give back and forth answers to a dispatcher, and the phone disconnected his call.

• Officers initially believed they were searching for a woman locked in her vehicle needing help.