National Roundup

West Virginia
Attorney says justice ‘owned up to’ mistakes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An attorney for the first West Virginia Supreme Court justice to go on trial in an impeachment scandal says his client didn’t engage in conduct that justifies her removal from office.

Mike Hissam gave his opening remarks Monday to the state Senate in the trial of Justice Beth Walker.

The House of Delegates impeached Walker and three other justices on a charge of abusing their authority. It says they failed to control office expenses, including more than $1 million in renovations to their individual offices, and not maintain policies over matters such as working lunches and the use of state vehicles and office computers at home.

Hissam says Walker made mistakes and has owned up to them, including reimbursing the state for taxpayer-paid lunches for the justices.

It’s the only impeachment count Walker faces. The House chose not to impeach her for spending $131,000 on office renovations, far less than what some other justices spent.

Whereabouts of 100s of sex offenders unknown

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Police don’t know the whereabouts of nearly 1,300 registered sex offenders in Missouri, including hundreds who fall into the most dangerous category, according to state audit released Monday.

Missouri law requires convicted sex offenders to register their names, addresses and other information with their county law enforcement, most often the sheriff’s department. The Missouri State Highway Patrol maintains a publicly available database.

Offenders must keep their information up-to-date and notify law enforcement when they move.

The audit released by state Auditor Nicole Galloway says 1,259 sex offenders are unaccounted for — about 8 percent of the nearly 16,000 registered sex offenders in Missouri — and it blames inadequate enforcement of the registration requirement at the local level. In 14 counties and the city of St. Louis, the whereabouts of more than 10 percent of sex offenders is unknown.

Galloway said the findings are troubling.

“The law requiring sex offenders to register has been on the books for more than 20 years to help keep our communities, and especially our children, safe,” Galloway said in a statement.

“But if the law isn’t enforced, it’s not effective and public safety is compromised,” she added.

The law took effect in 1995 and was updated this year to classify sex offenders into three tiers.

The most dangerous sex offenders are listed in Tier III for offenses that include rape, sodomy or first- or second-degree child molestation. Those offenders must register with local police every 90 days for the rest of their lives.

Galloway said the audit found that at least 794 of the non-compliant offenders met the criteria for Tier III.

Failure to comply with registration requirements is a felony. The audit found that less than 10 percent of noncompliant offenders had an active arrest warrant against them.

In addition to urging strong control at the local level, the audit cites a need for the highway patrol to improve procedures for maintaining the database and for helping local police enforce registration requirements.

Galloway also encouraged the Legislature to strengthen the state law to require background checks for school volunteers, and to allow her office to access all court records.

Pizza delivery driver credited with thwarting kidnapping

WALDO, Wis. (AP) — A pizza delivery driver in southeastern Wisconsin who saw a woman with a black eye mouthing “help me” at a delivery address is credited with alerting police to a kidnapping.

The sheriff’s office says a man was paying for the pizza Thursday at the home in Waldo, when the woman in the background also mouthed for the driver to call the police.

The Sheboygan Press reports that the driver dialed 911, leading to the arrest of a 55-year-old man at the home.

Authorities say the man had entered the woman’s home earlier in the day, punched her, tied her up with a power cord and tried to convince her to get back into a relationship with him.

Waldo is 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of Milwaukee.

State high court to hear suicide texting appeal

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts’ highest court will soon hear the case of a young woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter for sending text messages to her suicidal boyfriend urging him to kill himself.

The Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments Thursday in Michelle Carter’s case.

The Plainville woman was convicted in June in Conrad Roy’s 2014 death and later was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

A judge found that Carter caused Roy’s death when she told him to “get back in” his truck as it was filling with carbon monoxide in Fairhaven.

Prosecutors are urging the court to let the conviction stand.

Carter’s attorneys say in court documents that the case will set precedent “for who may be prosecuted for encouraging suicide with words alone.” Carter was 17 when Roy died.

St. Louis-area lawyer guilty in fatal street ­racing crash

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A jury has found a personal injury lawyer in suburban St. Louis guilty of causing a woman’s 2016 death by street racing another car.

The St. Louis Post-Distpatch reports that a jury found 45-year-old Scott Bailey guilty Friday of second-degree manslaughter in the death of 73-year-old Kathleen Koutroubis. Prosecutors said Bailey had been racing his Ford Mustang GT against a black BMW on Lindbergh Boulevard on the night of July 8, 2016, when the BMW slammed into the back of Koutroubis’ SUV, which was then hit by Bailey’s car.

Police say the black boxes of the cars showed they were traveling between 114 mph and 121 mph in the seconds before the crash.

Bailey’s attorneys had argued he was simply trying to pass the BMW when the crash happened.

Bailey faces up to seven years in prison when he’s sentenced in November. Bailey plans to appeal.