National Roundup

North Carolina
Court upholds murder conviction for missing woman’s death

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A state Court of Appeals panel upheld on Tuesday the first-degree murder conviction of a southeastern North Carolina man in the death of his girlfriend, whose body was found in a shallow grave on property owned by his employer.

The three judges rejected arguments by James Opleton Bradley, who is serving life without parole for the killing of Elisha Tucker.

Tucker’s body was discovered in April 2014 in Pender County while Wilmington police investigated the disappearance of a Bradley co-worker and another romantic interest.

Police initially believed that they had recovered the body of the other missing woman, Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk, but determined it was Tucker, who was reported missing six months earlier. Tucker’s body was found inside trash bags and her legs bound with duct tape consistent with tape found in Bradley’s apartment.

While Rippy Van Newkirk’s body has yet to be found, a jury convicted Bradley in 2017 of second-degree murder for her death.

Tuesday’s ruling  declared Bradley received a fair trial in 2019 in Tucker’s death. His attorney had argued the trial judge was wrong to let jurors hear “substantial evidence” about the investigation into Rippy Van Newkirk’s disappearance and had failed to address adequately “improper” closing arguments by prosecutors.

3 charged in assisted living death of woman with Alzheimer’s

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — Three workers are being prosecuted in the death of an 86-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease at an assisted living facility in western Colorado after allegedly leaving her outside in the heat for six hours.

The workers each have been charged with negligent death of an at risk person and criminally negligent homicide, both felonies, in the death of Hazel Place at Cappella Assisted Living and Memory in Grand Junction on June 14, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Tuesday. Two of them have also been charged with second-degree forgery, a misdemeanor, for allegedly forging patient records, according to court documents,  The Daily Sentinel reported.

Weiser’s office did not provide details about how Place died. National Weather Service data shows that the high temperature in Grand Junction that day was 102 degrees.

In a statement, Cappella said it reported the circumstances surrounding Place’s death to regulators and conducted an internal investigation which led to the dismissal of two of the workers. The third has been placed on “investigatory leave”, it said.

“We are very saddened by the passing of this beloved resident, and we continue to send our sincerest sympathy to this resident’s family and friends,” it said.

Nurse who found bodies of businessman, wife sues for damages

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A home health nurse who discovered the bodies of a prominent Minnesota businessman and his wife in a murder-suicide case is suing their estate and seeking damages for emotional trauma.

Lisa Ann Hayes walked in on a grisly scene in April 2019 at the Lake Minnetonka mansion of Irwin and Alexandra Jacobs. Irwin Jacobs had fatally shot his wife and then himself amid health and financial troubles, according to investigators.

Irwin once held a stake in the Minnesota Vikings and was a nationally known investor who made a fortune as a corporate raider in the 1980s and 1990s.

Hayes is seeking unspecified damages in her lawsuit, claiming Irwin Jacobs’ actions  were injurious to her health and “constituted willful, wanton and malicious conduct.”

Jacobs family lawyer Steven Sitek called the lawsuit “a grotesque betrayal” by a once trusted caregiver who was treated like family. Sitek plans to seek dismissal of the lawsuit, the Star Tribune reported.

“This is simply the latest baseless effort to extort the Jacobs family and Irwin’s estate,” Sitek said in a statement. “Ms. Hayes threatened to publicly file her lawsuit filled with unnecessarily lurid and sensationalized details unless the estate paid her $12.5?million.”

Hayes’ attorney, Brian Stofferahn said Hayes has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by two doctors and has been unable to work since the incident.

Stofferahn declined to comment on whether Hayes had asked for $12.5 million, but said there has been a demand against the insurance company.

“And hopefully at some point (the company) will make a good-faith offer. And they have not to date,” he said.

State police union sues over governor’s vaccination mandate

BOSTON (AP) — The union that represents about 1,800 Massachusetts State Police troopers has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to delay Gov. Charlie Baker’s state employee coronavirus vaccine mandate so it can negotiate its terms.
A hearing on the suit filed Friday is scheduled for Wednesday.

The suit asks for the delay so the union can “negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment.”

The union also asks that troopers who choose not to get vaccinated, or who have already had COVID-19, be allowed to instead undergo weekly coronavirus testing.

The union is also asking for “presumptive protection” for troopers who get sick from COVID-19 or the vaccine, according to the suit.

The union wants any coronavirus-related injury or death “automatically be considered a line-of-duty injury,” which would come with additional benefits for members.

Baker announced last month that 42,000 state workers and contractors in the executive branch are required to be vaccinated, or be granted a legitimate exemption, by Oct. 17 or face disciplinary action up to and including termination.
A spokesperson for Baker said the administration does not comment on pending lawsuits.