National Roundup

Louisiana

Inmate formally sentenced in guard's death

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (AP) -- A state district judge has formally sentenced Jeffrey Cameron Clark to die for murdering a prison security officer, while lawyers later clashed over funding for the next Angola 5 trial.

A jury chosen in St. Tammany Parish last week convicted Clark, 50, of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death in the Dec. 28, 1999, beating and stabbing death of Louisiana State Penitentiary Capt. David C. Knapps.

Clark, who represented himself during much of the 10-day trial, told presiding Judge Jerome M. Winsberg on Monday that he waived his right for a 24-hour delay in sentencing and thanked his court-appointed lawyers, Tommy Damico and Joe Lotwick, before Angola officers escorted Clark from the courtroom.

Clark is one of five Angola inmates -- known as the Angola 5 -- indicted in Knapps' death, and prosecutors from Jefferson and Caddo parishes are pushing to try co-defendant Robert G. Carley, 43, as soon as possible.

Carley is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder from St. Bernard Parish.

Carley's attorneys, Tommy Thompson and Clayton M. Perkins, argued last week and again Monday that the state's budget problems are preventing them from engaging experts in several fields they contend are needed to properly defend Carley.

The experts either have not been paid or are not willing to work without a guarantee of being paid, Thompson said.

Lead prosecutor Tommy Block, visibly angered by the defense arguments, told Winsberg that the opposing attorneys' aim is "as transparent as a pane of glass."

"There is no way this defense (team) want this case to go to trial," Block said.

Thompson replied that he took "umbrage" at Block's remarks.

"We're perfectly willing to go to trial when we believe we're effective," Thompson said.

Block of Jefferson Parish, wanted to try Carley in November, but Winsberg set the trial for March 20.

In February, however, Winsberg granted a delay in the case after hearing testimony from a Kansas City, Mo., lawyer, Cynthia Short, that more investigation is needed for possible mitigating evidence to present to jurors, who would be called on to decide whether Carley, if convicted, should get a life sentence or the death penalty.

Last week, Winsberg set the trial for Aug. 8, but pushed it back over Block's objections Monday when the judge said jury selection would begin Aug. 29.

"It's disingenuous for them to say they want to go to trial," Block said, calling Short's Feb. 18 testimony "a sham" and predicting a "constant flurry of motions" to block a trial.

Thompson said Short and another expert have stopped work, but Winsberg told the attorneys to use their work product to continue trial preparations.

The state Office of Corrections Services has run out of money in this fiscal year to fund the Angola 5 cases, Chief Fiscal Officer Susan Poche testified, but a supplemental appropriations bill for the fiscal year that ends June 30 moved out of the House Appropriations Committee on Monday morning.

The bill includes $530,000 for corrections' legal services, and additional money will be appropriated in the budget for next fiscal year, Poche said.

Poche said she is holding $123,135 in bills from Carley's defense team until funds are available, but, she said, none has been outstanding more than the 90 days state law allows before payment.

Mississippi

2 indicted on capital murder charges

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) -- Two men have been indicted on capital murder charges in the August 2010 shooting death of professional dog handler and groomer Johnny M. Bullock.

The Sun Herald reports a Jackson County grand jury determined there was enough evidence to indict 28-year-old Daniel Lamont Hatten and 19-year-old Rodney Phillip McKenzie Jr. in the shooting death of 67-year-old Bullock during an armed robbery.

An Aug. 28 trial date has been tentatively set. Capital murder is a murder committed during the commission of another felony, in this case robbery.

Pascagoula police arrested McKenzie and Hatten within 48 hours of the shooting based on witness testimony and video-surveillance footage that showed the two men running from the crime scene.

New York

Gym owner convicted in 1994 killings

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) -- A 42-year-old Long Island gym owner has been convicted of murdering an armored van driver during a 1994 heist and another man to cover up the first shooting.

Federal prosecutors say Christian Tarantino was convicted Monday of murdering the driver, 47-year-old Julius Baumgardt, of Lindenhurst, and 30-year-old Louis Dorval, Tarantino's associate and alleged shooter.

Prosecutors say Tarantino killed Dorval because he thought he would tell authorities about the $100,000 heist in Syosset.

The jury deadlocked on charges alleging Tarantino arranged the 2003 killing of another potential witness and associate, 34-year-old Vincent Gargiulo, whose sister is married to rock star Dee Snider.

Tarantino's attorney, Michael Rosen, told Newsday that neither the defendant nor his family members would comment.

Tarantino faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Nevada

Las Vegas police to pay $1M to dead man's family

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Las Vegas police have agreed to pay $1 million to the family of a 29-year-old man dead after an officer used a neck hold to subdue him in November 2009.

The Las Vegas Sun reports a departmental fiscal committee approved the agreement Monday with three relatives of Dustin Boone.

Boone lost consciousness and died after police Officer Kevin Koval applied neck pressure that officers say cuts blood flow to the brain.

Koval had responded to Boone's home on a call from a social worker that Boone hadn't taken required medication and was behaving erratically.

Koval and others testified at a coroner's inquest in December 2009 that they wanted to get Boone to a hospital so he wouldn't hurt himself.

An inquest jury ruled the death "excusable."

Published: Wed, May 25, 2011