National Roundup

Murder suspect asks trial judge to preside over wedding

YORK, Pa. (AP) — Love was on the court docket when a man accused of murder in Pennsylvania made an unusual request of the judge who will preside over his trial.

Kashawn Flowers’ lawyer on Tuesday asked York County Judge Harry Ness whether he’d consider marrying Flowers and his girlfriend. Attorney Brian Perry acknowledged it was the first time he had ever made such a request.

Flowers is accused of gunning down a man in York in August 2014. His girlfriend would not be a witness at the trial, his attorney said.

Prosecutors did not object and neither did the judge. But the marriage is on hold until after the trial.

“We’ll take care of it next week,” the judge said.

Flowers remains held in the county jail without bail.

Woman pleads guilty to fake cancer scheme

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California woman who raised more than $100,000 by claiming she had cancer and needed treatment pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud.

Amanda Riley, 36, entered the plea before a federal judge in San Jose and could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced in February, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

In her plea agreement, the San Jose woman acknowledged that between 2012 and 2019, she raised money by falsely claiming she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and solicited donations on social media.

“She posted photos of medications, photos of herself at hospitals, and photos of herself allegedly suffering the side effects of chemotherapy” and even shaved her head to make it appear she had lost it from treatment, the U.S. attorney’s statement said.

Riley also organized several in-person fundraisers, prosecutors said.

She acknowledged receiving more than 400 donations.

Man charged in beating death of 3-year-old boy

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A 3-year-old boy who was beaten to death last week died about a month after being returned to the care of a man accused of prior child abuse involving the boy and his siblings, police and St. Louis County prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have charged Tevin Branom, 21, of St. Louis, with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of Eli Taylor.

Police and paramedics were called to the boy’s home Oct. 7 for reports of a child not breathing and found Eli unresponsive. While performing CPR, paramedics noted the boy had broken ribs and bruising to his body. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy found the cause of death to be abdominal trauma.

Prosecutors have said Eli was injured while in the care of Branom, who was implicated in prior abuse allegations which resulted in Eli and his siblings being removed from the home for about 18 months.

Physician arrested on murder charge

LAKE VILLAGE, Ark. (AP) — An Oklahoma physician has been jailed on a first-degree murder charge in the death of a woman who was found lying next to a parked vehicle in southeastern Arkansas.

Dr. Tyler Tait, 34, of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, was arrested Monday night by Arkansas State Police special agents in Lake Village, a city in far southeast Arkansas on the state’s border with Mississippi.

State police say Tait is suspected in the death of Moria Kinsey, 37, of Tahlequah. Kinsey was found Monday afternoon outside of a parked vehicle along U.S. 65 about 2 miles north of Lake Village, state police said. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead a day later.

 An autopsy will determine how Kinsey died, but state police said agents found “evidence of a physical altercation” inside the vehicle.

Tait is being held in the Chicot County jail, and it wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. He worked for Cherokee Nation Health Services but is on administrative leave pending an investigation, the Tahlequah Daily Press reported.

Texan charged with threatening vaccine advocate

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Texas man will have to appear in Baltimore to answer a charge of threatening a Maryland doctor who has been a prominent advocate for COVID-19 vaccines, federal prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore announced that Scott Eli Harris, 51, of Aubrey, Texas, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of sending a threat across state lines. He was expected in court in Plano, Texas, on Wednesday ahead of an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore at a later date, according to the news release.

The one-count indictment alleges that on July 12, Harris sent a threat from his cell phone to the doctor, identified in court documents only as “Dr. L. W., who had been a vocal proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The message crudely referred to the doctor as Chinese and included violent statements such as “Never going to take your wonder drug. My 12 gauge promises I won’t. ... I can’t wait for the shooting to start,” according to the indictment.

If convicted, Harris faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, the news release said. No attorney is listed for Harris in online court records.

West Virginia
Ex-mayor sentenced for pocketing relief funds

RICHWOOD, W.Va. (AP) — A former mayor in West Virginia was sentenced to one to 10 years in prison Tuesday for stealing federal relief funds meant to rebuild his city after a massive 2016 flood.

Ex-Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber was sentenced in Nicholas County Circuit Court for his August guilty plea to one count of obtaining money, property or services by false pretenses, news outlets reported.

Baber also will have to pay back more than $2,400, the amount he was accused of pocketing from the city of Richwood.

In June 2016, thunderstorms caused major flooding in the region, including a river that runs alongside Richwood. Baber led Richwood in the wake of the flood.

According to the state auditor’s office, the city had received more than $3.1 million in federal flood recovery money from 2016 to 2018, and a portion of that was diverted by city officials for personal use.

In 2018 a three-judge panel approved the city council’s request to remove Baber from office.