Judge overturns life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

Judge overturns life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

May 27, 2017

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday tossed out life prison terms for one of two men convicted in a deadly Washington, D.C. area shooting spree, saying he must be re-sentenced in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Washington Post reported.

Lee Boyd Malvo, 32, was one of two men found guilty in the series of sniper shootings in the fall of 2002 that killed 10 people, wounded three others and left residents of Washington, D.C. suburbs traumatized.

His co-defendant, John Allen Muhammad, was sentenced to death and executed in 2009.

Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such sentences unconstitutional for juveniles and later found that the ruling should be applied retroactively.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson cited that Supreme Court decision in ordering that Malvo be re-sentenced, the Post reported.

The ruling does not affect Malvo’s convictions or the six life sentences that he was given in Maryland, the paper reported, although his attorneys are appealing those as well.

In the years following his conviction Malvo said he was sexually abused by Muhammad from the age of 15 until the time they embarked on the shooting spree from inside a blue Chevrolet Caprice.

They were arrested in October, 2002 after police discovered the pair sleeping in the car at a rest stop in Maryland.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Texas ‘angel of death’ nurse charged again in baby killing spree

Texas ‘angel of death’ nurse charged again in baby killing spree

May 27, 2017

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – A former Texas nurse known as the “angel of death” for allegedly having killed up to 60 babies was served a new murder warrant linking her to the death of an infant boy more than 30 years ago, a district attorney said on Friday.

Genene Jones, 66, was sentenced to 99 years in prison after being convicted of giving a fatal overdose to 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan in 1982. She was suspected by prosecutors of having given fatal injections to between 40 to 60 infants and toddlers.

“She has been suspected in dozens of infant deaths, she has only been held accountable for one,” Bexar County District Attorney Nicholas LaHood told reporters on Friday.

LaHood said new evidence has been found to bring the new indictment charging her with the murder of then 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer in 1981.

When Jones was sentenced, she had the benefit of a 1977 mandatory release parole law. The law was changed in 1987, but did not apply retroactively, thus setting a March 2018 release date, LaHood said.

He gave no details of the new evidence but the new indictment could keep her behind bars and thwart next year’s mandatory release.

“The possibility of this individual suspected of killing several dozen infants being set free, was shocking to many, including the victims’ families,” LaHood said.

In 1983, prosecutors in Bexar County, which contains San Antonio, said they were investigating 47 suspicious infant deaths at a county hospital where Jones had worked.

Since then, law enforcement have said she may have been linked to as many as 60 deaths of babies and toddlers. Many of the deaths involved drugs that are difficult to trace. She has only been convicted of killing one baby.

LaHood said Jones was emotional when served with the new indictment on Thursday night. She is imprisoned at the Murray Unit in Gatesville, Texas, and is set for release on March 1, 2018, according to online prison records.

Jones worked as a pediatric nurse in several Texas hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices in the late 1970s and early 80s.

The baby named in the latest indictment, Sawyer, died amid a surge of pediatric deaths that occurred when Jones was working as a pediatric intensive care unit of a San Antonio hospital.

Witnesses at Jones’ murder trial more than three decades ago testified that several babies at a clinic had to be saved from life threatening emergencies when Jones worked there.

Jones was driven by a desire to be seen as the heroic nurse who rescued dying children, expert witnesses said at the trial.

But later, she became intoxicated with the power of life and death she wielded over children, they said.

Jones did not testify at her trial and her lawyers contended the injection was not the cause of death.

She was later convicted in San Antonio of injecting a then four-week-old boy with a potentially fatal dose of a blood thinner. That baby survived.

(Reporting by Jim Forsyth and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Grant McCool and Sandra Maler)

Sponsors abandon Puerto Rican parade in NY after nationalist honored

Sponsors abandon Puerto Rican parade in NY after nationalist honored

May 26, 2017

By Timothy Mclaughlin

(Reuters) – Sponsors have been fleeing next month’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City since organizers decided to honor an activist recently freed after more than three decades in prison for ties to a nationalist group that carried out more than 100 bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.

Oscar Lopez Rivera, 74, was convicted in 1981 of numerous charges, along with other members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), who sought to secure Puerto Rican independence from the United States.

Rivera’s sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama, and the prisoner was freed this month. He is to be honored as “National Freedom Hero” at the June 11 parade, which makes its way up Fifth Avenue and draws millions of onlookers.

However, some view Rivera as a terrorist. Several sponsors this week pulled financial support for the parade.

“It became clear that the debate about this year’s parade was dividing the community,” JetBlue Airways Corp said in a statement on Monday. “Out of respect for the many different points of view, we will be redirecting our funds.”

JetBlue, like some others who have pulled their support, did not specifically cite Rivera as the reason for its exit. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc and telecommunications company AT&T Inc also backed away.

Univision, which had three radio and television stations sponsoring the event, said it would still provide news coverage of the parade and it and the other sponsors said they would donate funds for student scholarships.

The New York Daily News and the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, New York’s largest police union, have been more direct in their criticisms of organizers.

The newspaper said on Wednesday it was pulling its sponsorship, while the police union said in a statement last week that this year’s parade honors a “remorseless terrorist” and its members will not participate.

The board of the parade said on Tuesday it was “saddened and disappointed” by the decision of sponsors pulling out from the parade, but added it was committed to representing a broad number of Puerto Rican voices.

In 1981, Rivera was sentenced to 55 years in prison for charges including seditious conspiracy. An additional 15 years were added to his sentence in 1988 after law enforcement foiled a plot to break him out of prison.

Rivera rejected clemency from former President Bill Clinton in 1999 because it was not extended to another imprisoned FALN member.

After his sentence was commuted by Obama, Rivera spent the final months of his incarceration in Puerto Rico. He was previously held in Indiana. He was freed earlier this month and returned to Chicago to a hero’s welcome.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

Alabama executes 75-year-old inmate convicted of 1982 murder

Alabama executes 75-year-old inmate convicted of 1982 murder

May 26, 2017

By David Beasley

(Reuters) – Alabama executed on Friday a 75-year-old inmate who had spent more than three decades on death row and faced seven previous execution dates after he was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s husband in 1982.

Tommy Arthur was put to death by lethal injection at 12:15 a.m. (0515 GMT) in Atmore, Alabama, prison spokesman Bob Horton said, adding there were no complications during the execution.

Arthur said goodbye to his children before his execution, Horton said.

“I’m sorry I failed you as a father. I love you more than anything on earth,” Arthur said, according to Horton.

Arthur was executed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay on his execution as it considered arguments from his attorneys.

Arthur’s lawyers argued that the use of the drug midazolam during the lethal injection was unconstitutional and questioned the legality of the state prohibiting a witness from having a cell phone to make a call if the execution went awry.

“When Thomas Arthur enters the execution chamber tonight, he will leave his constitutional rights at the door,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissent against the order to lift the stay.

Arthur had maintained his innocence for the 1982 murder of his girlfriend’s husband.

Three juries had found him guilty of shooting Troy Wicker to death as he slept. Two convictions were overturned on constitutional grounds. After his third conviction in 1991, Arthur asked the jury to sentence him to death.

He fought his punishment since.

“Until I take my last breath, I’ll have hope,” Arthur told NBC News in an interview last week.

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Arthur’s previous scheduled execution after he argued Alabama’s lethal injection procedures amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

In February, the court declined to hear Arthur’s appeal, which focused on Alabama’s use of the sedative midazolam. Examples of the drug’s inability to render executions painless are increasing, Sotomayor said in a dissent.

In new appeals, Arthur said Alabama in December injected inmate Ronald Smith with painful execution drugs while Smith was still conscious.

State attorneys said evidence backs the drug protocol.

No physical evidence links Arthur to the murder, and Alabama has refused to allow DNA testing of a wig worn by the killer, his lawyers have noted.

Arthur was the 12th person executed this year in the United States and the first in Alabama, the Death Penalty Information Center said.

(Reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Lisa Shumaker and Nick Macfie)

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Before the White House, Kennedy was a high-school prankster

Before the White House, Kennedy was a high-school prankster

May 26, 2017

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) – Years before he captained the torpedo boat PT-109, ran for office or set the United States on a path to put a man on the moon, President John F. Kennedy was a troublesome teen whose hijinks nearly got him kicked out of his prestigious boarding school.

The scion of a wealthy Boston family, Kennedy spent his mid-teens at Connecticut’s elite Choate Rosemary Hall, where he excelled at history and literature – but infuriated the school’s headmaster by organizing pranks as a member of an unofficial school club known as “The Muckers.”

Those details of the early life of the 35th president, whose term was cut short by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas in 1963, emerge in a new exhibit at Boston’s John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, timed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth on May 29, 1917.

Pages from a high school scrapbook, diligently filled out by the man who would go on to become the first Roman Catholic president, show he loved ancient history, music and football, as well as “beefing,” slang for complaining or arguing. Despite his later fame as an orator, he never got higher than the middling grade of C+ in public speaking, according to the school.

“Got shot at today for calling an old farmer a bad name,” reads an entry written by a 17-year-old Kennedy on Oct. 19, 1934. “Almost got hit.”

The scrapbook pages are among 40 Kennedy relics never before publicly exhibited, with notes extending to his years at Harvard University and the London School of Economics, before his World War Two service aboard torpedo boats and well before his first successful run for Congress in 1947.

Kennedy went on the serve in the Senate before being elected president in 1960, at the start of one of the most tumultuous decades in U.S. history.

“That’s why I so love this scrapbook, because it is so revealing about who he was at the time,” said Stacey Bredhoff, the museum’s curator.

Kennedy and his prankster friends went head-to-head with Choate’s headmaster, George St. John, in his years at the school. The “Muckers” club took its name from a speech in which St. John excoriated pranksters, using the label applied to Irish immigrants whose only work was shoveling up horse manure.

The group took the idea and ran with it, commissioning gold shovel pins and hatching a plot to pile horse manure in the school gymnasium.

“George St. John got wind of it and even though the prank never was actualized, it was enough that they would even consider such a thing, so he threatened to expel them all,” but eventually relented, said Judy Donald, the school’s archivist.

The details of the group’s successful pranks may be lost to time. But Donald said an oft-told tale that a young Kennedy blew up a school toilet with a powerful firecracker known as a cherry bomb is not true – while that incident did occur, it was the work of another student a decade later.

“St. John was understandably angry,” Donald said. “But JFK was not responsible for that one.”

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

May 26, 2017

(Reuters) – A federal judge ordered United Parcel Service Inc to pay nearly $247 million in damages and penalties for “illegally shipping” large volumes of untaxed cigarettes in New York state and City, a court filing showed on Thursday.

UPS said it was extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling and would appeal the decision.

“The court’s monetary award is excessive and far out of the bounds of constitutional limits, particularly given that the shipments at issue generated around $1 million in revenue,” UPS said in an emailed statement.

The ruling by District Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan justified the amount saying the court was convinced “modest penalties” will not make a “sufficient corporate impact” on UPS.

In total, New York state is awarded $165.8 million and plaintiff New York City is awarded $81.2 million.

The parties had to file certain required information to the court before April 7 in which UPS’ court submissions showed a “lack of cooperation” and “odd abrasiveness,” according to the court ruling.

The ruling said the court was “troubled” by the UPS’ “consistent unwillingness to acknowledge its errors”.

The federal judge in March held UPS liable for having illegally shipped hundreds of thousands of cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York, depriving the state and New York City of millions of dollars of taxes.

Judge Forrest then said the state and city were entitled to compensatory damages and fines, and that UPS’ “high degree of culpability” meant “significant penalties” were appropriate.

The state and city had sought more than $872 million.

“We are pleased that the award of nearly $247 million to the city and state reflects the serious nature of the offenses at issue. Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and the city and the state will continue in their efforts to protect the public health,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter.

UPS was accused of having shipped since 2010 more than 683,000 cartons of untaxed “contraband” cigarettes to unlicensed wholesalers, unlicensed retailers and residences, often from smoke shops on Indian reservations.

The case is the State Of New York and the City Of New York v United Parcel Service Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southerrn District of New York, Case 1:15-cv-01136-KBF.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

May 26, 2017

(Reuters) – A federal judge ordered United Parcel Service Inc to pay nearly $247 million in damages and penalties for “illegally shipping” large volumes of untaxed cigarettes in New York state and City, a court filing showed on Thursday.

UPS said it was extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling and would appeal the decision.

“The court’s monetary award is excessive and far out of the bounds of constitutional limits, particularly given that the shipments at issue generated around $1 million in revenue,” UPS said in an emailed statement.

The ruling by District Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan justified the amount saying the court was convinced “modest penalties” will not make a “sufficient corporate impact” on UPS.

In total, New York state is awarded $165.8 million and plaintiff New York City is awarded $81.2 million.

The parties had to file certain required information to the court before April 7 in which UPS’ court submissions showed a “lack of cooperation” and “odd abrasiveness,” according to the court ruling.

The ruling said the court was “troubled” by the UPS’ “consistent unwillingness to acknowledge its errors”.

The federal judge in March held UPS liable for having illegally shipped hundreds of thousands of cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York, depriving the state and New York City of millions of dollars of taxes.

Judge Forrest then said the state and city were entitled to compensatory damages and fines, and that UPS’ “high degree of culpability” meant “significant penalties” were appropriate.

The state and city had sought more than $872 million.

“We are pleased that the award of nearly $247 million to the city and state reflects the serious nature of the offenses at issue. Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and the city and the state will continue in their efforts to protect the public health,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter.

UPS was accused of having shipped since 2010 more than 683,000 cartons of untaxed “contraband” cigarettes to unlicensed wholesalers, unlicensed retailers and residences, often from smoke shops on Indian reservations.

The case is the State Of New York and the City Of New York v United Parcel Service Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southerrn District of New York, Case 1:15-cv-01136-KBF.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

May 26, 2017

(Reuters) – A federal judge ordered United Parcel Service Inc to pay nearly $247 million in damages and penalties for “illegally shipping” large volumes of untaxed cigarettes in New York state and City, a court filing showed on Thursday.

UPS said it was extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling and would appeal the decision.

“The court’s monetary award is excessive and far out of the bounds of constitutional limits, particularly given that the shipments at issue generated around $1 million in revenue,” UPS said in an emailed statement.

The ruling by District Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan justified the amount saying the court was convinced “modest penalties” will not make a “sufficient corporate impact” on UPS.

In total, New York state is awarded $165.8 million and plaintiff New York City is awarded $81.2 million.

The parties had to file certain required information to the court before April 7 in which UPS’ court submissions showed a “lack of cooperation” and “odd abrasiveness,” according to the court ruling.

The ruling said the court was “troubled” by the UPS’ “consistent unwillingness to acknowledge its errors”.

The federal judge in March held UPS liable for having illegally shipped hundreds of thousands of cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York, depriving the state and New York City of millions of dollars of taxes.

Judge Forrest then said the state and city were entitled to compensatory damages and fines, and that UPS’ “high degree of culpability” meant “significant penalties” were appropriate.

The state and city had sought more than $872 million.

“We are pleased that the award of nearly $247 million to the city and state reflects the serious nature of the offenses at issue. Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and the city and the state will continue in their efforts to protect the public health,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter.

UPS was accused of having shipped since 2010 more than 683,000 cartons of untaxed “contraband” cigarettes to unlicensed wholesalers, unlicensed retailers and residences, often from smoke shops on Indian reservations.

The case is the State Of New York and the City Of New York v United Parcel Service Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southerrn District of New York, Case 1:15-cv-01136-KBF.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

U.S. court fines UPS $247 million over illegal cigarette shipments

May 26, 2017

(Reuters) – A federal judge ordered United Parcel Service Inc to pay nearly $247 million in damages and penalties for “illegally shipping” large volumes of untaxed cigarettes in New York state and City, a court filing showed on Thursday.

UPS said it was extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling and would appeal the decision.

“The court’s monetary award is excessive and far out of the bounds of constitutional limits, particularly given that the shipments at issue generated around $1 million in revenue,” UPS said in an emailed statement.

The ruling by District Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan justified the amount saying the court was convinced “modest penalties” will not make a “sufficient corporate impact” on UPS.

In total, New York state is awarded $165.8 million and plaintiff New York City is awarded $81.2 million.

The parties had to file certain required information to the court before April 7 in which UPS’ court submissions showed a “lack of cooperation” and “odd abrasiveness,” according to the court ruling.

The ruling said the court was “troubled” by the UPS’ “consistent unwillingness to acknowledge its errors”.

The federal judge in March held UPS liable for having illegally shipped hundreds of thousands of cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York, depriving the state and New York City of millions of dollars of taxes.

Judge Forrest then said the state and city were entitled to compensatory damages and fines, and that UPS’ “high degree of culpability” meant “significant penalties” were appropriate.

The state and city had sought more than $872 million.

“We are pleased that the award of nearly $247 million to the city and state reflects the serious nature of the offenses at issue. Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and the city and the state will continue in their efforts to protect the public health,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter.

UPS was accused of having shipped since 2010 more than 683,000 cartons of untaxed “contraband” cigarettes to unlicensed wholesalers, unlicensed retailers and residences, often from smoke shops on Indian reservations.

The case is the State Of New York and the City Of New York v United Parcel Service Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southerrn District of New York, Case 1:15-cv-01136-KBF.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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Up to 600,000 immigrants in U.S. South may have path to legal status: analysis

Up to 600,000 immigrants in U.S. South may have path to legal status: analysis

May 26, 2017

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – As many as 600,000 illegal immigrants in several U.S. states could have a path to legally remain in the country, according to an analysis released on Thursday by a legal aid group.

A statistical review of immigrant screenings done by Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) determined that around 15 percent of the 4 million illegal immigrants in seven southern U.S. states had grounds to apply for legal status based on fears of persecution in their homeland, family ties or other factors.

The percentage of the 11 million illegal immigrants across the country who might be eligible to stay in the United States could be even higher, according to University of California at San Diego political scientist Tom Wong, who conducted the analysis for CLINIC.

“As we ramp up immigration enforcement in the United States, we should take this figure and remind ourselves that we shouldn’t deport first and then ask questions,” Wong said in a telephone interview.

His analysis supports the contention by immigrant rights groups that with assistance from lawyers, significant numbers of illegal immigrants could be allowed to remain in the United States.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Danielle Bennett said the agency could delay a deportation if an immigrant has a pending appeal or application for legal status.

“Before carrying out a removal, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducts a thorough review of each case to determine whether there are any reasons the removal order issued by the immigration court should not be executed at that time,” she said in an email.

President Donald Trump’s administration has warned that the vast majority of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States could be subject to deportation.

CLINIC, one of the largest U.S. providers of legal aid to immigrants, and its affiliates interviewed more than 2,700 immigrants in seven southern states, including Florida, Georgia, Virginia and Texas.

The largest portion of those screened who might attain legal status were those who had a credible fear of persecution in their home country that could form the basis for an asylum claim.

But a majority of applications for U.S. asylum are denied.

Other categories included victims of serious crimes, such as domestic violence or extortion, who cooperated with law enforcement, and immigrants with family ties to U.S. citizens.

“There isn’t a line for a person to get legal status in the country,” said Sarah Pierce, an analyst with the Migration Policy Institute. “There’s a bunch of small pigeon-hole categories. So the first step is to see if someone fits into one of those categories.”

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; editing by Patrick Enright, G Crosse)

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