Carjack killer says mother has affair with his lawyer
TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) -- A carjack killer whose mother allegedly had an affair with the killer's married lawyer is entitled to a hearing on whether the relationship undermined his defense, an appellate panel ruled.
The decision came in a request by Michael LaSane, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1996 carjacking and killing of Kathleen Stanfield Weinstein, 45.
Weinstein, a middle school teacher, recorded herself crying, pleading for her life and trying to counsel LaSane on a microcassette recorder that she had in her coat pocket. Police believe LaSane used the coat to smother her.
LaSane, 22, murdered Weinstein the day before his 17th birthday. He claimed his guilty plea was "a product of coercion and ineffective counsel" by his lawyer, Kevin Daniels.
LaSane claimed Daniels persuaded his mother, Vera Thomas, to pressure him into pleading guilty because Daniels wanted to end their affair before his wife discovered it. LaSane said he did not learn of the affair until after he pleaded guilty to felony murder.
Daniels did not immediately return a call Tuesday.
Man, son wanted in slaying of two hunters captured
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A father and son suspected of shooting two hunters to death were captured Tuesday, authorities said.
Lewis Heffelfinger, 53, and his son Michael Heffelfinger, 23, both of Albuquerque, N.M., were found hiding in a shed near a highway in central Utah. They surrendered without incident, a Carbon County dispatcher said.
The suspects had allegedly stolen the hunters' pickup truck and fled after the shooting Sunday near the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area on the Utah-Wyoming state line.
The bodies of the victims, Brad Goss, who was in his 20s, and Kelly Carter, 27, were discovered by the third member of their hunting party, Sage McCormick.
Police did not speculate on a motive for the shootings, nor did they offer details on how the suspects were identified.
Officers with dogs searched the woods Monday night after a man reported he had given the suspects food. The man told police the suspects appeared tired and unarmed.
The Heffelfingers were being held in Carbon County Jail pending the filing of charges.
Officer's trial in death of black man begins
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Prosecutors told a jury Tuesday that a white police officer was too aggressive while taking an unarmed black man into custody and caused his death with a choke hold.
But defense attorneys said Officer Robert Jorg didn't choke Roger Owensby Jr., who was stopped by police Nov. 7 for questioning about drug trafficking.
Both sides gave opening statements in Jorg's trial on a misdemeanor assault charge.
Jorg, 30, is the first on-duty Cincinnati police officer ever charged with a felony offense in a killing.
"You will hear testimony that, for a few minutes, he went too far," said Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier.
But Jorg's attorney, R. Scott Croswell, told jurors that his client did not mean to hurt Owensby, 29.
"(Jorg) secured Mr. Owensby's head for the purpose of protecting him from being hurt as he lay face-down on the pavement," he said.
Jorg could be sentenced up to five years in jail if convicted.
Election workers opening mail offered masks, gloves
DENVER (AP) -- City election workers are being offered masks and gloves to help deal with any possible biological contamination as they open thousands of mail-in ballots between now and Nov. 6.
"The chances of anything happening are pretty slim, but we still need to take precautions," said Carrie Kellogg, logistics director for the Denver Election Commission.
The city decided to hold its first all-mail election months before media and government offices on the East Coast began receiving anthrax-tainted mail. Election judges began opening the first returned ballots Monday.
"I don't think it's a problem," election judge Janet Mills said. "If we were in New York and Washington, I might be worried."
Voters are electing school board members and deciding whether to approve proposals for a new city jail and a bond issue to buy open space, among other things.