News Roundup

Yesterday a jury in Wake County convicted Markeith Council, a former detention officer at the Wake County jail, of involuntary manslaughter for killing inmate Shon McClain, who was jailed on misdemeanor charges, after McClain fought the guard.  A video shown at the trial shows the much larger Council slamming McClain twice on the concrete floor. The State prosecuted Council for the more serious charge of voluntary manslaughter, a Class D felony, but the jury convicted of him of the lesser offense, a Class F felony.  Council will now serve 90 days in the jail that he used to guard.

In other news,

Lawrence v. Texas?  Only in Bollywood. The Supreme Court of India earlier this week ruled that a lower court erred in striking down an 1861 law that banned gay sex.  The New York Times has the story here.  While the law apparently was rarely enforced even before the lower court ruling, it reportedly was used by corrupt police to harass and intimidate gay men and women.

The Downside of an Improving Economy. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that the number of traffic fatalities and alcohol-related deaths rose in North Carolina and across the country last year. Experts say the increase is likely due to the improving economy.  More driving leads to more accidents and more fatalities.  While the number of fatalities is up, the fatality rate as a percentage of miles traveled continues to decline.

Tax Troubles. Former NCSU basketball coach Sidney Lowe resolved his tax troubles this week, pleading guilty to failing to file his North Carolina tax returns for three years.  Lowe was placed on three years of probation.  His attorney said the crime resulted from a “mix-up with his accountants.” While Lowes’ problems wrapped up, State Representative Deborah McManus’ ramped up.  She was arrested Wednesday on three counts of embezzlement arising from her alleged misappropriation of more than $47,00 in state income tax withholding from a medical practice where she worked as a bookkeeper. McManus, a Democrat from Chatham County, resigned following her arrest.

The Affluenza Defense. A psychologist testified in a Forth Worth juvenile court proceeding this week that a 16-year old’s role in an alcohol-related crash that killed four people resulted from “affluenza,” and that he should not receive the 20-year prison sentence that the State sought. The judge reportedly decided that the Texas juvenile justice system might not be able to provide the sort of intensive therapy the teen’s parents were willing to pay for, and the boy was sentenced to ten years of probation. You can read more about the case and the public’s reaction here.

Until Death Do Us Part. The murder trial of Montana newlywed Jordan Linn Graham ended abruptly yesterday when Graham elected to plead guilty to second-degree murder for pushing Cody Johnson, her husband of 8 days, over a cliff at Glacier National Park. Graham faces a sentence of up to life in prison.  Graham told the judge that “[i]t was a reckless act,” and she “just pushed.”

‘Tis the Season. Shopping is on the mind of many this time of year, including shoplifters.  There were a couple of bizarre tales in that genre this week, including this one about the man who concealed a samurai sword by stuffing it down his pants in a Virginia Beach store, and this New York Daily News report about a teenage girl who allegedly attempted to take a pair of “skinny jeans” from Victoria’s Secret while carrying a dead fetus in a shopping bag. Finally, law-abiding holiday shoppers at the Streets of Southpoint in Durham have lost their opportunity to spot this exotic ram, whose time on the lam ended Tuesday when he was captured by animal control officials.

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