National Roundup

New York
Exonera­ted NYC man dies from asthma attack

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York City man freed after serving 23 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit died over the weekend.

His lawyer tells the New York Post William Lopez died suddenly Saturday from an asthma attack.

Lopez's $124 million federal civil lawsuit against the city for false imprisonment was set to begin Tuesday.

The 55-year-old Bronx man was freed in January 2013 after a judge called the case "rotten from Day 1" and threw out the conviction.

The case dated back to 1989. Prosecutors said two men shot a drug dealer with a double-barreled shotgun. Although no murder weapon or forensic evidence was found at the scene, prosecutors relied on two witnesses.

Attorney Jeffrey Deskovic says Lopez had hoped to travel and go to law school.

North Carolina
Man pleads guilty in wife's death

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A man awaiting a new trial in the death of his wife six years ago has pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Multiple media outlets reported that Brad Cooper, 40, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday in court in Raleigh.

Cooper responded "yes" when Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner asked him if he had killed Nancy Cooper in 2008 and dumped her body near their home in Cary. Cooper had told authorities his wife had gone jogging and never returned when he reported her missing.

Nancy Cooper died of strangulation.

Gessner sentenced Cooper to at least 12 years in prison. He will be given credit for the five years he has served.

Cooper had been convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 in a trial that included 36 days of testimony from nearly 100 witnesses.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned Cooper's conviction last year. The North Carolina Supreme Court refused the attorney general's request to review the case.

Under the plea agreement, Cooper had to agree to the adoption of his daughters, now 8 and 10. They are living with Nancy Cooper's sister.

The evidence in the case was largely circumstantial. The Court of Appeals said the evidence connecting Cooper to the crime "was primarily potential motive, opportunity, and testimony of suspicious behavior."

The Appeals Court also said Cooper should have been allowed to have his own experts testify about some of the evidence.

Denver deputies on trial in jail death of preacher

DENVER (AP) - Jury selection is underway in the civil trial of five Denver sheriff's deputies accused of causing the death of a homeless street preacher in jail.

Potential jurors reported to federal court on Monday for questioning in the case.

Marvin Booker died in 2010 after deputies shocked him with a Taser after he was handcuffed, put him in a sleeper hold and lay on top of him.

The FBI and the district attorney declined to pursue charges against the deputies, stirring public outrage.

The rare civil trial comes amid calls for a federal investigation of the department over other abuse cases and after the largest jail-abuse settlement in the city's history.

Kagan pe­rforms her fir­st s­ame-sex wedding

WASHINGTON (AP) - Justice Elena Kagan has officiated for the first time at a same-sex wedding, a Maryland ceremony for her former law clerk and his husband.

Kagan presided on Sunday over the wedding of former clerk Mitchell Reich and Patrick Pearsall in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Monday that the same-sex ceremony was the first at which Kagan officiated.

Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have previously officiated at the wedding of gay and lesbian couples, including at the Supreme Court. Ginsburg most recently performed the wedding of Washington theater director Molly Smith.

The court could decide in its upcoming term whether same-sex couples nationwide have the right to marry under the Constitution.

Mental exam so­u­ght for mom in baby's death

DANVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Defense attorneys are seeking a mental evaluation for an Arkansas woman charged with manslaughter in the death of her infant son.

Brooke Floyd is charged in the July death of her 10-month-old son, Harper. The baby and his father were found dead after a four-day search in a rural area of the Ouachita Mountains. Authorities have said the baby died from "exposure and abandonment."

Floyd was not charged in the death of her husband.

In a court filing Friday, Floyd's defense attorney said a mental evaluation is needed because Floyd "may not fully understand the proceedings against her." A judge hasn't yet ruled on the request. Her attorney has previously said there is no evidence Floyd endangered her child.

Floyd's trial is now set for Oct. 6 in Danville.

Neighbors file suit to block 2,000-hog facility

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) - A central Indiana farmer faces a lawsuit from neighbors who want to block plans for a facility where some 2,000 hogs would be raised.

The lawsuit filed by Robert and Vickie Thayer asks a Bartholomew County court to reverse a county zoning board's decision in July to give farmer Jeff Shoaf permission to build the confined feeding operation a couple of miles from the town of Hope.

The lawsuit maintains that the board wrongly allowed the hog facility within a half-mile of the small crossroads community of Old St. Louis, violating a buffer zone from residential areas set by county ordinances, The Republic reported.

Shoaf's attorney, Kristin Whittington, said he properly received permission from the zoning board.

"We followed the process to be able to construct a new (CFO), just like any other livestock producer across the state of Indiana would have to do in their county," she said.

The zoning board voted 3-1 to approve Shoaf's proposal despite the objections of some nearby residents, who raised worries that the hog facility would lower the water table, cause odors and increase truck traffic near their homes in the rural area about 30 miles south of Indianapolis.