- - Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Janitor arrested in school shooting

PLACERVILLE | A janitor was arrested Wednesday after an administrator was shot while in the office of a Northern California elementary school, authorities said.

John Leubbers is suspected of shooting the administrator at Louisiana Schnell School in Placerville, police said.

Mr. Leubbers was arrested at his home about an hour after authorities began a manhunt, Placerville police Capt. Mike Scott told KCRA-TV.

No children were hurt, and the school was locked down, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Byers said.

The motive for the shooting was not clear, he said.

The unidentified administrator was in “very serious condition,” according to a hospital statement.

DISTRICT

New trial sought in Levy case

Lawyers for the man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy are asking for a new trial by claiming juror misconduct and an inappropriate closing argument by prosecutors.

Lawyers for Ingmar Guandique filed the motion for a new trial Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court. The filing says that one juror improperly used the notes of others in reaching a verdict during Guandique’s trial late last year. In addition, prosecutors improperly appealed to the jury’s emotions and facts that weren’t part of trial evidence in making a graphic final statement, the lawyers contend.

“It was as if the prosecutor were narrating a horror movie, with its tricks of foreshadowing to whip up fear in the audience. But this was not a movie; it was supposed to be a trial during which the jury clinically evaluated the facts,” Guandique’s lawyers wrote.

The 17-page document says that at the outset of the trial, jurors were told they could take notes if they wished but that jurors who did not should rely on their memory and “should not be influenced by another juror’s notes.” A similar instruction was given at the trial’s end.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Farmer wins early freedom in gun case

CONCORD | A New Hampshire farmer who became a folk hero to gun rights activists after he was imprisoned for pointing a handgun at a trespasser on his property won early release Wednesday.

he New Hampshire Executive Council voted unanimously to free Ward Bird, just two months into his three-year sentence.

Bird, 49, of Moultonborough, had sought a full pardon to clear his name. The council voted in his favor, but Gov. John Lynch vetoed the pardon. They then immediately voted to commute his sentence, and Mr. Lynch let that vote stand.

Bird’s felony conviction for criminal threatening with a firearm remains on his record. He can no longer possess guns.

Corrections officials said Bird will be released from the Carroll County jail as soon as they have the official paperwork in hand, even if it’s after the close of business hours.

Bird’s case has become a cause celebre since he was sent to prison Nov. 17, much to the discomfort of the farmer and Scout leader whose 18-year-old daughter saw him wearing a suit for the first time at Tuesday’s hearing.

NEW YORK

Hedge boss’ brother cited in trading probe

NEW YORK | The government has identified the brother of onetime billionaire hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam as a co-conspirator in what authorities have called the biggest hedge fund insider trading case in history, a person familiar with the probe said Wednesday.

The person told the Associated Press that Ragakanthan Rajaratnam is the person identified in court papers filed last week only as “CC-1.” That means co-conspirator No. 1.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the younger brother of the hedge fund founder is not identified publicly by the government. The comments came after the Wall Street Journal first reported the development.

The Galleon fund’s founder has pleaded not guilty to securities fraud charges in a case that prosecutors say has generated more than $50 million in profits. He remains free on $100 million bail.

OHIO

Court: Judge must remove Commandments

CINCINNATI | A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has upheld a ruling that says an Ohio judge violated the U.S. Constitution by displaying a poster containing the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed a federal district court’s decision that Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese violated the constitutional separation of church and state by hanging the poster.

The judge hung the poster in 2006 after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower-court rulings that another poster he hung in 2000 violated the separation of church and state. The later poster includes the Ten Commandments as one of two sets of what Judge DeWeese described as contrasting law philosophies that affect the handling of criminal cases.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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