National Roundup

Florida
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for rapper YNW Melly

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors in Florida are seeking the death penalty against rapper YNW Melly in the deaths of his two friends, who were aspiring rappers.

The SunSentinel reports Broward State Attorney's Office filed intent to seek the death penalty last Thursday in a notice that also accuses the rapper of being a gang member. YNW Melly's real name is Jamell Demons. He's accused of killing 21-year-old Anthony Williams and 19-year-old Christopher Thomas Jr. on Oct. 26 after leaving a recording studio in Fort Lauderdale.

Demons' 20-year-old friend Cortlen Henry is also charged with murder, but authorities believe Demons shot the pair.

Henry's lawyer Fred Haddad says he hasn't heard whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty against his client.

Demons' attorney Bradford Cohen says his client is not guilty.

Minnesota
League settles suit, allows boys to dance competitively

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota State High School League has agreed to a legal settlement that will allow boys to compete on high school dance teams beginning next school year.

The Star Tribune says the settlement comes after a ruling last month by a federal appeals court that it must allow two high school boys in Roseville and Hopkins to be a part of their schools' competitive dance teams.

Juniors Dmitri Moua and Zachary Greenwald sued last July saying the league's girls-only bylaws violate a federal law that bars sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds. A federal judge denied the request, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month reversed the judge's ruling and remanded the case to the lower court to issue the boys' injunction.

Texas
Couple get 7 years each for ­enslaving Guinean girl

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A suburban Fort Worth couple has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison each for enslaving a Guinean woman for 16 years.

A federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, sentenced Mohamed Touré and Denise Cros-Touré each to two seven-year terms and one five-year term, all sentences to be served concurrently. The 58-year-old Southlake, Texas, couple must also serve three years of supervised released upon completion of their prison terms and pay their victim $288,000 in restitution. They also will be deported to Guinea.

The couple and defense attorneys are exploring an appeal, said Scott Palmer, attorney for Cros-Touré.

Trial evidence showed the Tourés brought the girl, then aged at least 5 years but perhaps as old as 13, from her rural Guinean village in 2000. They forced her to work without pay in their home as a housekeeper, cook and nanny until she fled and alerted authorities.

The Tourés are the son and daughter-in-law of the late Guinean President Ahmed Sekou Touré, who helped lead Guinea to independence from French rule in 1958. Sekou Toure was the country's first president, a role he held until his death in 1984.

The Tourés were convicted in January, and prosecutors had sought the full 20-year prison sentences allowed by law. However, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Conner tempered the sentence request.

"Forced labor trafficking cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute - in part because victims are often afraid to speak out," said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. "It took tremendous courage for this young woman to share her story at trial."

However, Palmer said the judge's decision to temper the sentence suggests the trial judge did not believe the pair were as evil as portrayed by prosecutors.

"I think he saw through the exaggerations and lies of the prosecution," he said.

Louisiana
Appeals court ­overturns man's iPhone killing ­conviction

HOUMA, La. (AP) - A Louisiana appeals court has overturned a 22-year-old man's murder conviction and life sentence for a shooting during a holdup for an iPhone.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal says Leron Calloway of Houma must get a new trial on charges accusing him of shooting 66-year-old Connely Duplantis while robbing him of an iPhone 5 in 2013.

The Courier reports that the appeal court ruled on April 12 that prosecutors should not have been allowed to present evidence about two unrelated holdups. The court's opinion says that evidence might have prejudiced jurors, leading them to consider the prior acts rather than the strength of the evidence in the shooting on Nov. 24, 2013.

Prosecutors say they will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the case.

Texas
Soldier who stole, resold shell ­casings gets prison

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Prosecutors say a soldier who stole tons of used brass shell casings from a South Texas reserve unit and sold the items to a recycler must serve nearly three years in federal prison.

Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Darryle Robert Bankhead was sentenced Monday in San Antonio to 33 months and must repay nearly $118,000. Bankhead in December pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal government property.

Investigators say Bankhead, during 2017 and 2018, stole expended brass shell casings from Camp Bullis in San Antonio and forged documents authorizing the sale.

Prosecutors say Bankhead told reserve officials that he planned to recycle the brass at another military facility, but instead used a commercial recycler and kept the cash. One transaction involved about 2½ tons (1.81 metric tons) of stolen shell brass.

Arkansas
Attorneys cite porn dispute in Arkansas murder trial

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) - Prosecutors told jurors that an Arkansas woman "flew into a rage" and fatally shot her 65-year-old husband after seeing a satellite television bill that showed a pornography channel had been added.

Testimony continues Tuesday in the capital murder trial for 69-year-old Patricia Hill. She's accused of killing her husband, Frank Hill, last July at their Pine Bluff home, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock.

According to the Pine Bluff Commercial , deputy prosecutor Holden Raines told jurors Monday that Patricia Hill had previously canceled the pornography channel but that she shot her husband twice after seeing a bill that showed the channel had been added again.

Defense attorney Bill James says doctors will testify to Patricia Hill's mental state and that she viewed pornography as a "personal affront."

Published: Wed, Apr 24, 2019

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