- - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

KANSAS

TOPEKA — A Kansas judge declared a mistrial in a murder trial Wednesday after a newspaper reporter tweeted a photo that included the grainy profile of a juror.

The Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office said it plans to reschedule Austin Tabor’s trial for June or July in the wake of the abrupt halt to proceedings in Topeka one day after attorneys presented opening statements.

“One of the photos apparently showed one or more of the jurors,” said Lee McGowan, spokesman for the district attorney’s office. “It was brought to the court’s attention and ultimately a mistrial was declared.”

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Mr. Tabor, 20, is accused of fatally shooting Matthew Mitchell, 20, near Topeka West High School in 2010.

Mr. McGowan said the judge had agreed to allow camera phones in the courtroom, but said no photos were to be taken of jurors. That corresponds with rules established by the Kansas Supreme Court for cameras in courtrooms, including that individual jurors are not to be photographed.

“In courtrooms where photography is impossible without including the jury as part of the unavoidable background, the photography is permitted, but close-ups which identify individual jurors are not permitted,” the court has stated.

The picture, taken and tweeted by reporter Ann Marie Bush, includes the profile of a juror set against a brightly lit window.

Capital-Journal Managing Editor Tomari Quinn responded to comments on the newspaper’s website by saying the photo was a mistake and the “reporter is miserable about it.”

“The juror was seated next to a window and, on the reporter’s smartphone, wasn’t seen against the incoming light,” Mr. Quinn wrote.

Publisher Gregg Ireland said the reporter was aware of the rules.

RHODE ISLAND

Rare Revere print found in book at university

PROVIDENCE — A rare engraved print created by Paul Revere has been found in a 19th century book at Brown University.

A university preservationist discovered the print while studying the 1811 book once owned by a 1773 graduate of Brown. The graduate’s descendants donated the book to the Rhode Island school.

The print shows Jesus and John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Revere’s name is featured on the bottom. Only five copies of the print are known to exist. Richard Noble, who catalogs rare items at Brown, said he has some unanswered questions, including Revere’s reason for making the print.

The Boston silversmith and skilled engraver was a leading patriot before the Revolutionary War. He is best known for his midnight ride to warn colonists of approaching British troops.

OHIO

Teen gets 4 years in stop sign prank deaths

CIRCLEVILLE — An Ohio teen has been sentenced to serve four years behind bars in a fatal traffic crash caused by the concealment of a stop sign with petroleum jelly and plastic wrap.

Nineteen-year-old Seth Stonerock of Stoutsville was sentenced Wednesday in Pickaway County after making a tearful apology to families of the two women who died.

He had pleaded guilty in February to two reckless homicide charges.

Authorities said 85-year-old Mary Spangler died in the Aug. 17 crash when her 81-year-old sister, Jeanne Shea, drove past the stop sign and collided with another vehicle. Ms. Shea died Sept. 6.

Defense attorney Bill Meeks said Stonerock has been contrite and remorseful since the crash and feels the penalty is justified. He plans to ask the judge to consider early release in several months.

ALABAMA

Judge sends man to jail for wearing saggy pants

PRATTVILLE — Authorities in central Alabama say a man has been given a three-day jail sentence for contempt of court for wearing saggy pants.

LaMarcus D. Ramsey, 20, was in Autauga County Circuit Court on Tuesday to enter a plea on a charge of receiving stolen property.

Circuit Judge John Bush told Mr. Ramsey his blue jeans were sagging too low and gave him the three-day stint. The judge told Mr. Ramsey to buy pants that fit or a belt when he gets out of the county jail.

The judge said he found it disrespectful and a disruption when people wore pants below their waistline in his chambers.

Calls to Mr. Ramsey’s public defender were not immediately returned.

KENTUCKY

Triangle law changed, vindicating Amish

FRANKFORT — Amish people in Kentucky will no longer have to use a bright orange reflective triangle on their horse-drawn buggies.

Gov. Steve Beshear signed a law Wednesday that lets them use gray or reflective tape instead to make sure other vehicles can see them at night.

The law was passed for members of the more conservative Schwartzentruber sect, who claim the triangle violates their religious rules because it represents the Holy Trinity and its flashy color calls attention to them.

Several Amish farmers in western Kentucky had served jail time for refusing to use the emblems.

Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania have allowed exemptions for the Swartzentrubers and courts in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan have sided with them in opposing the triangles.

GEORGIA

Aquarium expecting rare birth of beluga whale

ATLANTA — The world’s largest aquarium is expecting a really big baby.

The Georgia Aquarium has reported a rare beluga whale pregnancy, the first mammal to conceive at the downtown Atlanta attraction since it opened in 2005. And the mother, Maris, conceived naturally, which is rare for belugas in captivity.

Maris is being monitored round-the-clock as she gets closer to the end of her 14-month pregnancy. She is expected to give birth by June to a calf that could be up to 50 pounds.

Just six North American facilities house belugas and few are born each year. Newborn calves often don’t survive with first-time mothers, but aquarium officials are working to train Maris on how to nurse and care for her baby.

ARKANSAS

DNA links inmate to teen’s ‘00 death

FORREST CITY — DNA samples link an Indiana inmate to the rape and murder of a 19-year-old mother in eastern Arkansas more than a decade ago, police said Wednesday.

Authorities plan to extradite Anthony Johnson to Arkansas, where he is expected to face charges of capital murder, rape and kidnapping in the death of Tawana Blunt, said Forrest City Police Chief E.P. Reynolds.

Blunt had been residing at her Forrest City apartment about two weeks in September 2000 when her body was found, Chief Reynolds said at a news conference. She had been raped, tortured and strangled, he said.

The teenager had a 2-year-old daughter who was staying with relatives the night Blunt was killed, her family said.

Blunt got off work at a restaurant about 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 15. She went with some friends to the south end of town, where she hung out until about 3 a.m. Then she headed back to her apartment, where her body was found the next night.

Authorities in the small Arkansas city tried to find her killer but the case went cold. Nearly 12 years later, police said they have found her murderer thanks to a DNA database. An initial match in the database tied Johnson to Blunt’s murder, then officials in Indiana collected more DNA samples from him in prison, where he was sent for beating his girlfriend. Details of that conviction were not immediately available.

At some point, Johnson asked why officials were taking more samples.

“When they told him, ‘This is for Forrest City,’ they said it looked like he had seen a ghost, because this rascal thought he had gotten away with murder,” Mr. Reynolds said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports