National Roundup

California

Black CA student says he was bullied with noose

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) -- A black student claiming he was racially bullied at a Southern California high school says his wrestling teammates tied a noose around a wrestling dummy, chained him to his locker and made racist comments.

The Santa Monica High School students have been suspended. The number of students involved hasn't been disclosed.

Police are investigating. Sgt. Richard Lewis says the students could face assault and hate-crime charges.

Investigators say the incident occurred more than a month ago but the student and his mother didn't report it to police until June 21.

The mother of the alleged victim tells the Los Angeles Times she was never notified by the school and didn't find out about the incident until she heard about it from a parent she did not know.

Principal Hugo Pedroza sent a June 16 e-mail to parents announcing the suspensions.

Connecticut

Convicted killer on run since '89 returns to Conn.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A convicted killer who fled Connecticut and set up a new life in Mexico is returning to his home state for the first time in two decades to finally begin serving a 60-year prison sentence.

West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci says town detectives and U.S. marshals are bringing Adam Zachs back to the state Wednesday. Zachs is expected to appear Thursday in Hartford Superior Court.

Zachs was convicted of the 1987 murder of Peter Carone outside a West Hartford restaurant, during an argument over a joke made at the bar. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison but posted a $250,000 bond to be released during his appeal and disappeared in 1989.

Zachs was caught in Leon Guanajuato (gwahn-uh-HAH'-toh), Mexico, in February after authorities received a tip.

Massachusetts

Hearing set on Bulger's bid for public defender

BOSTON (AP) -- James "Whitey" Bulger is headed back to court in Boston to ask for a taxpayer-funded attorney.

The former leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang has a hearing scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court. Bulger was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., last week after 16 years on the run. He is accused of participating in 19 murders.

Bulger was in court on Tuesday, when his provisional lawyer had been expected to argue that Bulger is indigent and entitled to a court-appointed attorney.

But the hearing was postponed after prosecutors moved to drop a 1994 racketeering indictment against Bulger. The government is focusing on a later indictment charging him in the murders.

Prosecutors are objecting to the request for a public defender.

Nebraska

Court of Appeals reverses ruling in drug case

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The Nebraska Court of Appeals says a state trooper was right to stop a recreational vehicle -- later found to be hauling drugs -- after the vehicle's wheels briefly drifted onto the shoulder of a road.

The appeals court's finding Tuesday came in the case of 41-year-old Francisco Medina of Turlock, Calif., who was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver for the stop Oct. 2 west of Lincoln.

The finding reverses a lower court's ruling that said the trooper was wrong to stop Medina, because Medina's right tires only briefly drifted onto the shoulder. A Lancaster County District judge said that did not constitute driving on the shoulder and, therefore, the drugs found in the RV could not be allowed into evidence.

New York

New lawyer for man who claims Facebook stake

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- A New York man who's suing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for a stake in the social media giant has a new lawyer.

A filing in U.S. District Court in Buffalo says San Diego attorney Jeffrey Lake is now representing Paul Ceglia (SEGG'-lee-uh), of Wellsville, N.Y.

Lake replaces the New York firm of DLA Piper and the Buffalo firm of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman. Dennis Vacco, a partner in the Buffalo firm, declined to comment Wednesday on the switch.

Lawyers for Ceglia and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook are due in court Thursday for a hearing on the case.

Ceglia claims a contract he and Zuckerberg signed in 2003 entitles him to half ownership of Facebook. Zuckerberg calls the document a fraud.

Minnesota

Teen accused in triple homicide tried as adult

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Supreme Court says the teenager accused of killing three people at a Minneapolis convenience store should stand trial as an adult.

The court has upheld a district court ruling that Mahdi Hassan Ali was 17 when the shooting at Seward Market took place on Jan. 6, 2010. Ali's attorney, Frederick Goetz, has argued that the defendant was 15 at the time of the shooting.

The Supreme Court upheld a district court ruling that followed an age verification hearing last year. Ali was born in Somalia and doesn't have a birth certificate.

A criminal complaint says Ali entered the store with another teen, ordered two employees to the ground and demanded money. The complaint says Ali fatally shot a customer who walked in the door and one of the employees. Minnesota Public Radio News reports prosecutors say both teens then left the store, but Ali returned and shot the other employee.

Montana

Inmate says rig hts violated at pr e-release center

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) -- A Billings man who was convicted of hitting a girl while driving a school bus while intoxicated has filed a lawsuit claiming his constitutional right to religious expression was violated while he was being held at the Butte pre-release center.

The Montana Standard reports former state legislator Timothy Whalen filed a lawsuit Monday against Community Counseling and Correctional Services, which oversees the center.

The complaint alleges a CCCS counselor told Whalen "he was sick" because of his religious beliefs and ordered him to read books contrary to his religious beliefs. He also claims he was written up for refusing to participate in choir, which was singing a song that violated his religious beliefs.

Whalen was ultimately sent to the Montana State Prison.

CCCS chief executive Mike Thatcher said he wasn't aware of the lawsuit.

Published: Thu, Jun 30, 2011