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Texas man accused in fatal I-70 pileup appears in court
Court Issues | 2019/04/27 04:56
Court documents say that a speeding semitruck passed a runaway truck ramp before plowing into other vehicles on a crowded highway near Denver, killing four people and injuring at least six others.

The truck driver, 23-year-old Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, of Houston, made his first court appearance Saturday after being arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide.

State District Judge Chris Zenisek set $400,000 bond. Aguilera-Mederos, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, didn't speak during the hearing. He was represented by Denver attorney Robert Corry, who couldn't be reached for comment afterward.

His next court hearing is set for May 3 when prosecutors are expected to file charges against Aguilera-Mederos, who remains in the Jefferson County jail.

The crash happened Thursday on Interstate 70 where the highway descends from the Rocky Mountains.



Ohio top court to hear arguments in TV news defamation case
Court Issues | 2019/04/23 16:03
Ohio's Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in an appeal involving a defamation lawsuit that alleged a television station falsely labeled three siblings as "robbers."

A Columbus family sued WBNS-TV in 2016 after the station reported on a hover board robbery at Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark in Columbus and included a surveillance photo showing the faces of three unnamed individuals. Police had released the photo, asking for the public's help in identifying the three individuals they said may have been involved.

The television's website story was headlined, "Robbers Put Gun to Child's Head and Steal Hoverboard," and underneath was the photo of the three individuals.

Nanita Williams saw the broadcast story and realized it was her three children in the photo, the family's lawsuit said. She took them to a Columbus police station where they told investigators they had gone to the park that day to deliver Thanksgiving dinner to someone who worked there.

Columbus police then issued a second news release saying the three individuals in the surveillance photo weren't the robbery suspects and asked news outlets to stop using the photo. WBNS stopped broadcasting stories about the robbery and removed the photo from its website, but kept the story about the incident online.


Myanmar court rejects appeal of jailed Reuters reporters
Court Issues | 2019/04/21 23:04
Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the final appeal of two Reuters journalists and upheld seven-year prison sentences for their reporting on the military’s brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo earlier this month shared with their colleagues the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, one of journalism’s highest honors. The reporters were arrested in December 2017 and sentenced last September after being accused of illegally possessing official documents, a violation of a colonial-era law.

The court did not given a reason for its decision, which was quickly decried by rights advocates.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should never have been arrested, much less prosecuted, for doing their jobs as investigative journalists,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Sadly, when it comes to media freedom, both Myanmar’s military and the civilian government seem equally determined to extinguish any ability to question their misrule and rights violations.”

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are being held in a prison in Yangon, were not present for the ruling, but their wives were. Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su, broke down in tears when the ruling was read.

“Both he and I hoped for the best,” Chit Su told reporters. “I am terribly sad for this decision.”

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had denied the charges against them and contended they were framed by police. International rights groups, media freedom organizations, U.N experts and several governments condemned their conviction as an injustice and an attack on freedom of the press.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did,” Gail Gove, Reuters chief counsel, said in a statement after the ruling. “Instead, they were victims of a police setup to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible.”

Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for the two, said the pair could still seek their freedom by petitioning the president’s office or the legislature.

President Win Myint could reduce the sentence, order a retrial or have them released. Legislative action for a retrial would be a lengthier, more complicated process.



Arkansas faces new court fight over sedative for executions
Court Issues | 2019/04/20 23:08
A federal lawsuit filed by death row inmates has renewed a court fight over whether the sedative Arkansas uses for lethal injections causes torturous executions, two years after the state raced to put eight convicted killers to death in 11 days before a previous batch of the drug expired.

Arkansas recently expanded the secrecy surrounding its lethal injection drug sources, and the case heading to trial Tuesday could impact its efforts to restart executions that have been on hold due to a lack of the drugs. It’ll also be the latest in a series of legal battles over midazolam, a sedative that other states have moved away from using amid claims it doesn’t render inmates fully unconscious during lethal injections.

States that want to avoid unnecessarily inhumane executions will be watching closely, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which has criticized the way states carry out the death penalty.

But, Dunham added, “states that are watching because they want to figure out how to just execute people will be looking to see what Arkansas is able to get away with.”

Only four of the eight executions scheduled in Arkansas over 11 days in 2017 actually happened, with courts halting the others. The state currently doesn’t have any executions scheduled, and Arkansas’ supply of the three drugs used in its lethal injection process has expired. Another round of multiple executions is unlikely if Arkansas finds more drugs, since only one death row inmate has exhausted all his appeals.

This time, Arkansas isn’t racing against the clock to execute inmates before a drug expires. The state currently doesn’t have any execution drugs available, but officials believe they’ll be able to get more once the secrecy law takes effect this summer.

State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says the inmates in the case have a very high burden to meet and cites a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month against a Missouri death row inmate. Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority in that case, wrote that the U.S. Constitution “does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death.” Rutledge called the federal case in Arkansas the latest attempt by death row inmates to delay their sentences from being carried out.


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