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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A judge has denied a new trial for a young Missouri woman who pleaded guilty to murder for the slaying of a 9-year-old neighbor girl.
 
Alyssa Bustamante was 15 years old in 2009 when she killed Elizabeth Olten and buried her in a wooded area near Jefferson City. Bustamante wrote in her diary that it was an "ahmazing" and "pretty enjoyable" experience.
 
Bustamante originally was charged with first-degree murder. That would have carried a mandatory life sentence without parole. She pleaded guilty to a second degree murder and was sentenced to life with the chance of parole.
 
Several months after her plea, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled juveniles cannot face automatic life sentences.
 
Bustamante claimed she would not have pleaded guilty if she had known that case was pending.
Published in Local News
   NEW YORK (AP) — Imprisoned Ponzi king Bernard Madoff's longtime secretary plans to defend herself from the witness stand at her trial on charges she aided the historic fraud, her lawyer says.
   Attorney Roland Riopelle told the trial judge in a letter Saturday that Annette Bongiorno expects to testify, though he noted that she could change her mind at the last minute. He notified the judge because Bongiorno's defense presentation is expected to begin Monday.
   It will follow several days of testimony by another defendant, Daniel Bonventre, Madoff's former director of operations. Bonventre, Bongiorno and three other Madoff ex-employees are accused of assisting Madoff in a fraud that cheated thousands of investors out of nearly $20 billion.
   The fraud was revealed in December 2008 when Madoff ran out of money and confessed that he had been running a Ponzi scheme for decades.
   The defendants say they were all duped by Madoff, just the same as federal regulators and sophisticated investors who say they had no idea he was operating a massive fraud.
   In his letter to the judge presiding over a trial that has lasted several months, Riopelle said he wanted to notify the court and other lawyers in the case that "Mrs. Bongiorno wishes to exercise her right to testify in her own defense."
   However, he added that his client "will reserve the right to change her mind any time before the end of her case, and I intend to call her as the last witness in her case. But her intention at present is to testify."
   Prosecutors have said fictitious trades and phantom accounts were created with help from Bongiorno, who was a supervisor in Madoff's private investment business.
   During his testimony, Bonventre said he was unaware of Madoff's crimes as they were happening. He said he ran the legitimate side of Madoff's business.
Published in National News

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A white software developer is about to go on trial in Florida in the death of a black teenager — in a case that raises comparisons to the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of 47-year-old Michael Dunn.

Police say Dunn fatally shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis in 2012 outside a Jacksonville convenience store after arguing over loud music that Davis and his friends were playing from their SUV.

Dunn says he fired multiple shots into the SUV after the teens threatened him and one raised a shotgun. Dunn was arrested the next day.

Zimmerman, a Hispanic, was acquitted of second-degree murder last year in the death of Martin, a 17-year-old black teen.

Published in National News

   CAIRO (AP) - Egypt's state TV says the judge in the trial of the country's deposed Islamist president and 14 others has adjourned the hearing soon after it started because the defendants' chants were disrupting the proceedings.

   The adjournment - likely to last till later on Monday - came after a two-hours delay in the start of the proceedings.

   Security officials inside the courtroom says the delay was caused by Mohammed Morsi's insistence not to change into the prison uniform customarily worn by defendants, part of his refusal to recognize the trial's legitimacy.

   The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

   Morsi and the others are charged with inciting murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

   

Published in National News

   A federal judge from outside the Southern District of Illinois will preside over the drug trial of former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook.  That after U.S. District Court Judge William Stiehl recused himself on Wednesday.  

   Chief Judge David Herndon told the Belleville News Democrat that he's requested that the chief judge for the federal 7th Circuit in Illinois assign a new judge after determining that all of the judges in the Southern District would recuse themselves.  

   Cook has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor heroine charges and felony weapons charges.  His trial is scheduled to begin October 1st.

Published in Local News
Saturday, 10 August 2013 08:02

Sentencing delaying in corruption trial

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge has again delayed the sentencing of a former Madison County treasurer to allow him to continue cooperating with a federal corruption investigation.

U.S. District Judge David Herndon on Friday delayed Fred Bathon's sentencing from August 30th until December 6th. Earlier this year the judge delayed Bathon's sentencing from May until August.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Bathon's attorney filed a motion requesting the delay. Prosecutors didn't object.

Bathon pleaded guilty in February to rigging 2005-2008 tax lien auctions so that his political donors profited from inflated penalties paid by property owners.

Bathon could receive a prison sentence of between 31 and 40 months, though his sentence could be reduced because of his cooperation with investigators.

Published in Local News

A St. Charles County man has been found guilty of breaking into an ex-girlfriend's house and beating her dog.

Charles Zidek broke into the woman's home in late 2011. Once inside the house, Zidek attacked her greyhound dog named Vinny. Vinny's injuries were so bad he had to be euthanized.

Zidek was convicted on two felony charges including animal abuse.

 
Published in Local News

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Jurors have left the courtroom to resume their deliberations in George Zimmerman's murder trial.

Jurors reconvened in the courtroom at 9 a.m. Saturday and will continue discussing whether Zimmerman committed second-degree murder when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.

Jurors deliberated for three and a half hours Friday and decided to stop in the evening. About two hours into their discussions, they asked for a list of the evidence.

Zimmerman claims he shot Martin in self-defense last year.

On Friday, as the jury began their discussions, police and civic leaders in this Orlando suburb went on national television to plead for calm in Sanford and across the country, no matter what the verdict.

Published in National News

   SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - The lead police detective who investigated Trayvon Martin's fatal shooting last year is returning to the witness stand.

   Sanford Police detective Chris Serino testifies for a second day Tuesday about his investigation into the fatal shooting of the Miami teenager by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.

   The 29 year old Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder. He claims he acted in self-defense.

   Jurors on Monday heard a series of recorded police interviews of detectives questioning Zimmerman about his confrontation with Martin in a gated community in central Florida.

 
Published in National News

CHESTER, Ill. (AP) - A southern Illinois judge has ordered a mental evaluation of a man accused of setting a house fire that killed four children.

The mental fitness examination for 33-year-old Derrick Twardoski was requested Monday by James Kelley, his Randolph County public defender.

A hearing on the testing's outcome is scheduled for June 20.

Twardoski has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder in the May 10 deaths in Percy, a village about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis. The fire killed siblings ages 12, 9 and 5-year-old twins.

The county's state's attorney, Jeremy Walker, has said he doesn't consider the fire random. Although he's declined to say why authorities suspect Twardoski set it or whether Twardoski knew anyone who lived in the home.

 
Published in Local News
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