National Roundup

Judge appoints AG’s office to handle exoneration case

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge doesn’t want St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office to handle the exoneration claim of a man serving a life sentence for murder, finding that she may have a conflict in the case.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Gardner has pledged to challenge Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan’s decision Thursday to appoint the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to represent the state in the call for a new trial for Lamar Allen Johnson. Gardner’s office found that authorities fabricated evidence and paid a key witness in the 1994 murder case.

Hogan said the issue is that Gardner is accusing her own office of misconduct by declaring that she believes Johnson was wrongly convicted. Hogan gave Gardner’s office and Johnson’s lawyers up to two weeks to file arguments.

Teen tired of sharing name with accused killer Nikolas Cruz

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida teenager wants to change his name because he shares it with the defendant charged in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.

The mother of Nikolas Marciel Cruz told the South Florida Sun Sentinel her 18-year-old son got tired of being confused with Nikolas Jacob Cruz, the 20-year-old accused of killing 17 people.

Ivonne Moran said reporters called their house after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting thinking her son was the killer — they live in Sunrise, which neighbors Parkland where Stoneman Douglas is located. She kept her son out of his school the day after the shooting, fearing how other students and parents would react.

The final straw came when a man recoiled, pulled back his hand and exclaimed “Oh my god!” after Nikolas introduced himself. He has applied with the courts to change his name to Nikolas Rene Moran. He should have a hearing before a judge within 90 days.

Moran said Nikolas has high-functioning autism and wants a different name when he soon goes to college, where he plans to study history.

“He’s not proud of his name anymore,” his mother said.

Moran said she named her son after the actor Nicolas Cage, tweaking the spelling of the first name because she thought no one else would spell it with a “k.”

Judge finds man legally insane in attack on family

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Attempted murder and assault charges against a 22-year-old Battle Ground man have been dropped after a judge found he was legally insane at the time of the alleged crimes.

The Columbian reports Clark County Superior Court Judge Daniel Stahnke also agreed Thursday to dismiss no-contact orders that prevented Colin Dixon from communicating with his family.

Stahnke committed Dixon to the state’s largest psychiatric facility, Western State Hospital, for treatment.

Dixon was arrested Jan. 17, 2018, at his family’s home. Officers responded to a call about a stabbing and a family member told officers her brother stabbed her father.

The officers found Christian Dixon suffering from stab wounds.

Prosecutors say Colin Dixon attacked his father, who was sleeping on a couch, with a knife. Prosecutors say Colin Dixon’s mother and sister were attacked when they intervened.

South Carolina
$450 Girl Scout cookie buyer also wanted prosecutor dead

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man praised on social media for spending $450 to buy Girl Scouts cookies has pleaded guilty to plotting to kill a prosecutor and witnesses in his drug case.

Federal prosecutors said 46-year-old Detric McGowan offered his cellmate $10,000 to arrange the killing. He pleaded guilty Thursday to obstruction of justice and drug charges involving cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.

Prosecutors say McGowan was indicted in February, around the same time a Greenville mother posted McGowan’s picture on Facebook, saying he bought all her Girl Scout’s cookies so they could get out of the cold.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement police seized more than 44 pounds (20 kilograms) of heroin and about $1 million in cash.

He faces 25 years to life in prison when sentenced.

Former doctor imprisoned as serial rapist is denied parole

CLEVELAND (AP) — A former doctor sentenced to hundreds of years in prison for raping three dozen women has lost his latest bid to be freed.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says the Ohio Parole Board on Thursday denied parole for 75-year-old Edward F. Jackson Jr.

O’Brien had pushed to keep Jackson behind bars, describing him as a serial rapist who wore a ski mask, used rope to tie up Columbus women, and knew them by name.

Authorities say a list of 60 suspected victims was found in Jackson’s car when he was arrested in 1982, but some of the women weren’t included in the charges because they hoped to avoid having to publicly recount the attacks.

Jackson won’t be eligible to pursue parole again until 2029.

Man indicted in 4 slayings, could face death penalty

CINCINNATI (AP) — A man has been indicted on four counts of aggravated murder in the slayings of his wife, her parents and her aunt in an apartment home in southwest Ohio, court records showed Friday.

Grand jurors also specified in each count that Gurpreet Singh used a firearm and killed more than one person, meaning he would face the death penalty if convicted.

Butler County Jail records show that Singh, 37, was booked into the jail early Friday morning after his return from Connecticut. The grand jury indictments were made public nearly eight hours later.

Singh had been arrested July 2 in a Walmart parking lot in Branford, Connecticut.

He had called 911 on April 28 to say he found the four “on the ground and bleeding” in a West Chester apartment where he also lived. Each of the four killed had at least two gunshot wounds in the head.

Police said there was food left on the stove, indicating the family was preparing dinner that evening when they were shot.

West Chester Township Police Chief Joel Herzog called the slayings a “heinous crime” but didn’t discuss details or possible motive when announcing the arrest.