Court Digest

Sheriff seeks homicide charges in crash that killed 3 teens

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Dane County Sheriff’s Department has recommended prosecutors file homicide charges in connection with a two-car crash that left three teenagers dead.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday that the sheriff’s department has recommended charges of second-degree reckless homicide, homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle and second-degree reckless endangerment against a 30-year-old Madison man.

A sheriff’s spokeswoman said the man was speeding in his Jaguar when he rear-ended the teenagers’ Chevrolet Cruze in the town of Middleton on the evening of Oct. 2. The impact sent the teenagers’ car into a field, where it caught fire. Killed were Madison West High School senior Simon Bilessi and Middleton High School seniors Evan Kartochwill and Jack Miller.

Former deputy sheriff pleads guilty to child porn charge

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky deputy sheriff has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor he met while responding to a call at the victim’s home.

Joshua Preece, of Morehead, Kentucky, entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Lexington. His plea was for the charge of enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce child pornography. Preece sexually assaulted the minor victim, according to a media release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Lexington.

Preece, 40, was working as a Bath County deputy sheriff in November 2018 when he was “answering a call about a minor victim who was acting out of control at her residence,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Preece transported the minor to a remote area in Bath County, then sexually assaulted the victim and asked for photos via Snapchat, the U.S. Attorney said.

Peece faces a range of 15 to 30 years in prison for the charge.

Woman gets 40 years in prison for boyfriend’s killing

DILLON, Mont. (AP) — A Montana woman was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Tuesday for strangling her boyfriend with a rope during an argument after she said he threatened to call child protective services on a family member.

Sandy Rose Moore pleaded guilty in June to mitigated deliberate homicide for the January 2000 death of Larry Coon at a rental home they shared in Dillon. She said she knew what she was doing, but was under extreme duress because of the argument.

District Judge Luke Berger said he had no doubt that Moore, 21, had gone through tough times in her life and needed extensive mental-health treatment. But, he said, “you can’t snap and kill someone,” The Montana Standard  reported.

Moore, who was 19 at the time of the killing, was initially charged with deliberate homicide. Under the plea agreement, Moore was charged with committing the offense “under the influence of extreme mental or emotional stress for which there is a reasonable explanation or excuse.”

Man who beat wife while kids hid in closet gets 10 years in prison

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A man who admitted beating his estranged wife while their three children hid in a closet has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The oldest child, a 10-year-old boy, called 911 — and the beating was still going on when Shreveport police kicked in a bedroom door on Feb. 24, 2020, according to a news release from the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office.
Christopher Michael Rapp, 30, of Shreveport was sentenced Monday on two abuse charges. He got two years for abuse with child endangerment and the maximum eight years for domestic abuse battery with serious injury.

Judge Donald E. Hathaway Jr. also signed permanent orders forbidding Rapp any contact with his estranged wife and their oldest child.

The woman was so afraid of Rapp that she refused to cooperate with prosecutors, who brought the case against her wishes, the news release said.

“Domestic violence threatens our ability to keep families and communities safe,” said Caddo Parish District Attorney James E. Stewart Sr. “We will continue to do all that we can to protect our victims and hold these abusers accountable.”

In a statement to the judge on Monday, Rapp admitted going to his estranged wife’s home, locking her in the master bedroom and beating her.

The younger children were 8 and 4 years old. The 10-year-old talked to the emergency dispatcher for 14 minutes, saying his father was hurting his mother and had done so before. Police kicked in the bedroom door and arrested Rapp.

Woman enters plea for hiding son’s body in trunk of car

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin woman has entered a plea agreement for neglecting her 5-year-son until he died and hiding his body in the trunk of her car for months.

Sagal Hussein, 26, pleaded no contest Tuesday in Brown County Circuit Court to charges including child neglect resulting in death, hiding a child’s corpse and neglect, WLUK-TV reported. Prosecutors dropped five other charges in exchange for her plea and her sentencing is set for Dec. 7.

The most serious offense, child neglect resulting in death, carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

According to court documents, Hussein’s son, Josias Marquez, had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He used a wheelchair, was blind and depended on others to eat. He wasn’t getting proper medical attention and Hussein wasn’t giving him his seizure medication.

He was last seen Nov. 25, 2019. An investigation began after a neighbor reported seeing Hussein’s other two children outside unsupervised. Investigators discovered his body in a duffel bag in the trunk of Hussein’s car in March 2020. The boy was mummified and significantly undernourished, according to the medical examiner.

University settles DOJ claims of grant fraud

SEATTLE (AP) — The University of Washington has agreed to pay more than $800,000 to settle Justice Department allegations that a professor submitted false documentation relating to a highly competitive grant.

The grant documents were submitted to the National Science Foundation by Mehmet Sarikaya, a professor in the university’s Materials Science and Engineering Department, according to NSF records and the settlement agreement, which was made public by the Seattle U.S. Attorney’s Office on Tuesday.

The documents misrepresented the involvement of two researchers who in reality were not involved in the work, the university said in an emailed statement.

That could have made the grant application more attractive. The university was awarded about $1.4 million for the work, which concerned how biology interacts with man-made solids at the molecular level, according to NSF records.

“The UW takes very seriously the responsibility of stewarding public funding of scientific research,” university spokesman Victor Balta said in an email. “We are grateful this issue was brought to light and pleased to have it resolved.”

Sarikaya did not immediately respond to an email sent after business hours Tuesday.

The university declined to say whether he had been disciplined in connection with the case. He remains a professor.

The settlement includes about $400,000 in restitution and $400,000 in penalties.

“Academic integrity demands accurate reports to grant funders,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas Brown said in a news release. “This is an expensive, but critical, lesson that researchers must accurately report who worked on a project, as well as the results from their research.”

The issue was first raised by a whistleblower who expressed concerns about the grant application and work performed under it.

The grant was issued under the NSF’s “Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future” program.

North Carolina
Woman charged for stabbing 1-year-old in front of officer

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina woman who stabbed her 1-year-old daughter in front of an officer has been charged with attempted murder, police said.

Cierra Dyer, 21, was immediately arrested Monday afternoon, according to a news release from the Greenville Police Department. Her child was taken to a hospital for treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

Officers responded to a Greenville apartment where Dyer was arguing with a family member over the custody of the 1-year-old. Police said Dyer was actively stabbing the child in the back when an officer walked in and confronted her. She then dropped the knife.

Dyer was also charged with felony child abuse. She was booked into the Pitt County Detention Center on a $1.5 million bond, news outlets reported. It wasn’t immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.

Granddaughter, boyfriend charged in 88-year-old’s death

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) — A granddaughter and her boyfriend have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of an 88-year-old Virginia woman, authorities said.

Danville police said Lindsey Mae Johnson, 24, and Nicasio Antonio Guzman, 22, are charged in the death of Elizabeth Morris Adkins, who was found dead in her home on Sunday morning, The Danville Register & Bee reported. Johnson and Guzman are both from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Police discovered Adkins dead shortly after 10:45 a.m. Sunday after officers responded to a 911 call indicating someone found the woman unresponsive inside her home. Adkins was pronounced dead at the scene, and evidence led police to investigate the case as a homicide. A news release provided no further details.

A statement from police said the department couldn’t comment on a possible motive because the investigation is ongoing.

Johnson and Guzman are being held in the Danville City jail without bond, and it’s not known if either has an attorney.

Runner sues ex-coach, Nike for millions over alleged abuse

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Distance runner Mary Cain, whose career fizzled after what she has called four miserable years at the Nike Oregon Project, has filed a $20 million lawsuit against her former coach, Alberto Salazar, and their employer, Nike.

Cain accused Salazar of emotionally abusing her when she joined the team in 2012 at age 16, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The lawsuit portrays Salazar as an angry control freak who was obsessed with Cain’s weight and publicly humiliated her about it.

That, she said, took a toll on her physical and mental health. Nike was aware but failed to intervene, according to the lawsuit.

Nike did not return messages from the newspaper seeking comment. Salazar could not be reached but has previously denied abuse allegations, and has said neither Cain nor her parents raised concerns while she was part of the program.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Cain alleges Salazar on several occasions required her to get on a scale in front of others and would then criticize her. Salazar also policed Cain’s food intake, she said. At times, Cain was so hungry, she said, she stole energy bars from teammates.

Cain went to her parents for support and alleges Salazar eventually tired of the parental interference. By 2019, Cain says she was depressed, had an eating disorder, generalized anxiety and was cutting herself.

“Nike was letting Alberto weight-shame women, objectify their bodies, and ignore their health and wellbeing as part of its culture,” said Kristen West McCall, a Portland lawyer representing Cain. “This was a systemic and pervasive issue. And they did it for their own gratification and profit.”

In 2019, Cain told The New York Times in a video essay that she was emotionally and physically abused while in the program. Nike at the time called the allegations deeply troubling and said it would look into them.

Salazar helped found the Nike Oregon Project to make American distance runners competitive with the rest of the world.

The Nike Oregon Project was disbanded in 2019 after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused Salazar of three violations. The agency banned him from the sport for four years.

Salazar appealed to the Court for Arbitration for Sport. Last month, the court upheld Salazar’s four-year ban from the sport and some of USADA’s findings. It ruled that Salazar attempted an “intentional and orchestrated scheme to mislead” anti-doping investigators when he tampered with evidence.