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North Carolina's highest court is reviewing whether justice means the death penalty for a survivor of El Salvador's blood-soaked civil war of the 1980s who strangled and then decapitated his estranged wife.

The state's Supreme Court hears oral arguments Monday on whether the state can execute 41-year-old Juan Carlos Rodriguez of Winston-Salem for the 2010 murder of his wife, Maria. The high court automatically reviews death cases.

North Carolina is rare among southern states in that it hasn't had an execution in more than a decade because of various legal challenges. While the state has continued to suffer 500 to 600 murders a year, prosecutors have sought the death penalty only a handful of times each year and juries have condemned killers in only a fraction of those cases.

Rodriguez's children told investigators their father beat and bloodied Maria Rodriguez after she told them she was leaving in November 2010. He tossed the woman's still-breathing body over his shoulder, placed her in his vehicle, and said he was taking her to a hospital. Maria's body and severed head were found at different locations three weeks later, after Juan was already jailed for her kidnapping.

Justices are holding hearings in the case for the second time in almost exactly a year. Monday's hearing comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this spring that states needed to use current medical standards in deciding whether a killer is so mentally disabled he can't be executed. The U.S. constitution bans "cruel and unusual punishments," and that has been interpreted to prohibit executing people with severe mental shortcomings.

Rodriguez's IQ was estimated several times at below 70, a threshold for significantly impaired intellectual functioning. But accused killers in North Carolina also must show significant inability to adapt to daily life and that their mental handicaps were evident before adulthood.


A petition is asking the highest court in Massachusetts to dismiss every case connected to a former state chemist who authorities say was high almost every day she went to work at a state drug lab for eight years.

The state's public defender agency is a party to the petition filed Wednesday before the Supreme Judicial Court by two women whose drug possession convictions are tied to evidence handled by chemist Sonja Farak.

Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing cocaine from the state crime lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She worked at the lab between 2005 and 2013.

The women say the state failed to notify them of Farak's misconduct even after her conviction, depriving them of the opportunity to challenge their convictions.




A man suspected in the fatal shooting of a police officer in Indianapolis is due in court as prosecutors weigh formal charges in the case.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jason Brown remains held without bond on suspicion of murder in Thursday's killing of Southport police Lt. Aaron Allan.

Indianapolis police spokesman Sgt. Kendale Adams says Brown was expected to be moved from a hospital to Marion County's jail for his initial hearing Tuesday.

Brown was hospitalized after another officer shot him following Allan's shooting. He has not been formally charged.

An affidavit filed Friday says Brown was "hysterical" and dangling upside down in his overturned car as Allan approached to help after Brown's speeding car overturned. It says Brown opened fire on Allen, who suffered 14 gunshot wounds.


A homeless man charged with beating an El Cajon police officer unconscious has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, robbery and drug charges. Daniel Moses Cook entered pleas Thursday.

Police say Cook was high on methamphetamine when he allegedly robbed a Dollar Tree store on Monday and then stole soda at a KFC restaurant. Police say when Officer Jose Sioson arrived to investigate, Cook knocked him down and kept punching him after he lost consciousness.

A bus driver used the officer's radio to call for help. Cook was later found, subdued with a Taser and arrested.
Sioson, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, is recovering at home. Cook, who has previous convictions for violent crimes, recently was released from prison. He could face 62 years to life in prison if convicted.



The case of a New York man charged with killing a Maine couple on Christmas Day 2015 is scheduled to return to court in Portland.

Police charged David Marble Jr. of Rochester with shooting 35-year-old Eric Williams and 26-year-old Bonnie Royer in Manchester. His case is scheduled for a court conference on Thursday.

A judge granted a request from Marble's attorney in April to move the trial from Kennebec County to Cumberland County due to the publicity the case has received.

A court spokeswoman says the trial has not yet been scheduled. Marble's attorney made the case that finding an impartial jury in Kennebec County would be difficult. Marble has pleaded not guilty to the charges.



Michael McCarthy has been convicted of 2nd-degree murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl dubbed Baby Doe after her remains washed up on Boston Harbor island.

The verdict was announced in Suffolk Superior Court on Monday.

Michael McCarthy is charged with first-degree murder in the 2015 death of the girl who was later identified as Bella Bond.

Man facing life in prison after being found guilty of murder

A North Carolina man has been found guilty in the death of his fiancée and will serve the rest of his life in prison.

Local media outlets report an Onslow County jury found 59-year-old Timothy Noble guilty on Thursday of first-degree murder in the 2014 death of 58-year-old Debra Holden.

Deputies responding to the scene on Oct. 31, 2014, said Holden was found at a residence with a gunshot wound to her temple. Her death was originally ruled a suicide, but Noble was arrested eight months later after the medical examiner ruled the case a homicide. Noble will get credit for time spent in prison while awaiting trial.


The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against a Boston man seeking to overturn his murder conviction because his lawyer failed to object when the trial judge closed the courtroom during jury selection.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the 7-2 ruling that the error Kentel Weaver's lawyer committed did not appear to affect the outcome of the case. Weaver was found guilty in the 2003 murder of a 15-year-old boy.

The lawyer's failure to object prevented Weaver's mother and others from watching what should have been a public jury selection process. The judge had closed the courtroom because it was overcrowded.

Weaver's lawyer later testified that he mistakenly believed closing the court for jury selection was permitted. In fact, it violates the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

But Kennedy said Weaver did not show a "reasonable probability of a different outcome but for counsel's failure to object." He said the lawyer's shortcomings did not lead to a "fundamentally unfair trial."

Weaver was only 16 years old at the time of murder. Prosecutors said the victim, Germaine Rucker, was attacked by a group of men and boys after selling some jewelry to a woman, and was shot twice.

Witnesses saw a boy wearing a baseball cap pull a pistol from his pants leg. The cap fell off and was recovered by police, who discovered Weaver's DNA on it. Weaver confessed to his mother, and later, to police when his mother brought him to the police station.

Before trial, the judge ordered the courtroom closed because it was overcrowded with 90 prospective jurors, forcing some to stand in the hallway. Weaver's mother and a friend tried to get in but were refused entry.

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