- - Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Charges dismissed in fatal Lexus crash

LOS ANGELES | Prosecutors dismissed charges of reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter against a Southern California woman who blamed her deadly Lexus crash on a mechanical malfunction.

Safety recalls by Toyota Motor Corp., which manufactures Lexus cars, would make it difficult to win a conviction against Unmi Suk Chung, 62, Los Angeles County district attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said Wednesday.

Mrs. Chung claimed her Lexus RX330 sport utility vehicle suddenly sped out of control and the brakes failed before she crashed on Interstate 10 in West Los Angeles two years ago.

The crash killed Mrs. Chung’s sister-in-law, Esook Synn, 69, who was in the back seat. A surviving passenger told investigators that Mrs. Chung had screamed “No brakes” several times before the crash.

She faced up to six years in state prison if convicted. The charges were dismissed on Oct. 19 before trial.

MARYLAND

Instructor charged in husband’s death

BALTIMORE | A University of Maryland writing instructor has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband at their southern Maryland home.

Joanna J. Findlay, 40, a native of Scotland, was teaching two classes this fall at the university’s College Park campus.

She was being held without bail. According to the county sheriff’s office, Ms. Findlay shot her husband, Gary A. Trogdon, 55, during a domestic dispute Saturday night at their home in Hollywood.

Ms. Findlay called 911 first to report the dispute, said Cindy Allen, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. Mr. Trogdon then called to report that his wife had shot him, and the final call from him was abruptly disconnected, Ms. Allen said.

Deputies responded and found Mr. Trogdon dead from a gunshot wound. Ms. Findlay reported that she had taken several antidepressant pills and wanted to commit suicide, Ms. Allen said.

MISSOURI

3 accused in plot to finance terrorists

ST. LOUIS | A Missouri man and a Minnesotan are among three people facing charges that they plotted to funnel money to a terrorist group in Somalia.

An indictment returned Oct. 21 and unsealed Wednesday accuses Mohamud Abdi Yusuf of St. Louis of providing material support to al-Shabab. Mr. Yusuf and Abdi Hussein of Minneapolis also are accused of conspiring to structure financial transactions.

The U.S. government suspects Mr. Yusuf of using aliases in wiring funds to al-Shabab supporters in Somalia from 2008 through at least July 2009. Mr. Hussein supposedly worked at a money-transferring businesses.

MONTANA

Execution date set for Canadian

DEER LODGE | A Montana judge has scheduled a Jan. 31 execution date for the only known Canadian on death row in the United States.

District Judge John Larson in Deer Lodge decided Wednesday on the date for the lethal injection of Ronald Allen Smith, 53, of Red Deer, Alberta.

On Monday, a Helena judge issued an order staying the execution. Smith is seeking a court ruling on whether the state’s method of carrying out the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The Missoulian reported that Judge Larson will ask the state Supreme Court to look at the apparently conflicting orders and clear up the issue before January.

Smith faces the death penalty for the 1982 murders of Browning cousins Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit.

The Canadian government has asked Montana officials to grant clemency.

NORTH CAROLINA

Facebook user admits posting bomb data

GREENSBORO | A North Carolina man who used his Facebook page to urge violence against abortion clinics is pleading guilty to federal charges of passing bomb-making instructions to an informant.

Justin Carl Moose, 26, signed a plea bargain with prosecutors. Documents filed in federal court show that Mr. Moose will plead guilty to distributing information on making and using explosives.

Court documents say Mr. Moose posted links and instructions on making bombs to his Facebook page. In other Facebook posts, he called himself a “freedom fighter” and said he wanted to end abortion by any means necessary.

Mr. Moose faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

VIRGINIA

Military buildings shot from same gun

A shooting at a Coast Guard recruiting station in Northern Virginia is connected to a string of similar incidents at military-related buildings, the FBI said Wednesday.

FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin said ballistics tests concluded that the same gun was used in the first four shootings, and preliminary test results also link the latest shooting. The Coast Guard incident was reported Tuesday. No one has been injured in any of the shootings.

No details about the type or caliber of weapon have been released, but investigators previously said it appeared that the shots were fired from a high-powered rifle.

An unknown gunman first took aim on the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., in mid-October. At least 10 rounds hit the building.

A few days later, five to seven shots were fired at the Pentagon. The gunman next shot at a Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, before again targeting the museum, which is associated with the Quantico Marine Base.

Last week, the FBI said investigators suspected one shooter was responsible for all of the incidents and may have a grievance with the Marine Corps.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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