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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that a man convicted of third-degree murder in a Thanksgiving Day 2016 crash that killed three people following a police chase can be sentenced to a mandatory life prison term.

The Tribune-Review reports that the state’s highest court cited what it called the “clear and unambiguous language” of the statute in siding with an appeals court that ordered a new sentencing hearing for 28-year-old Demetrius Coleman of Homewood, who is serving a 70- to 140-year term.

Prosecutors said Coleman reached speeds of 100 mph while fleeing a traffic stop on Nov. 24, 2016 before he collided with a car that burst into flames in North Versailles, killing the driver, his fiancée and their toddler daughter.

Coleman was convicted of three counts of third-degree murder as well as vehicular homicide and aggravated assault, among other charges, in the deaths of Kaylie Meininger, 21; her fiancé, David Bianco, 29; and their 2-year-old daughter, Annika, who were on their way to a holiday dinner.

Prosecutors sought a mandatory life term even though state law sets a mandatory 20- to 40-year term for third-degree murder, citing another statue allowing such a penalty for anyone “who has previously been convicted at any time of murder or voluntary manslaughter.”

The trial judge said that would be “illogical and ludicrous” since Coleman’s convictions occurred simultaneously. Prosecutors appealed after Coleman was sentenced to 70 to 140 years, and the Pennsylvania Superior Court sided with them in February of last year.


A Texas inmate seeking to stop his execution over claims of religious freedom violations and indifference to his medical needs is scheduled to die Wednesday evening for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old son more than 17 years ago.

Stephen Barbee, 55, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was condemned for the February 2005 deaths of Lisa Underwood, 34, and her son Jayden. Both were suffocated at their home in Fort Worth. They were later found buried in a shallow grave in nearby Denton County.

Barbee’s attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his execution, arguing his religious rights are being violated because the state prison system, in the wake of a ruling by the high court on what spiritual advisers can do while in the execution chamber, did not create a written policy on the issue.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court said states must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who want to have their faith leaders pray and touch them during their executions. Texas prison officials didn’t formally update their policy but said they would review inmates’ petitions on a case-by-case basis and would grant most reasonable requests.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt in Houston issued a preliminary injunction, saying the state could only execute Barbee after it had published a clear policy on spiritual advisers that protects an inmate’s religious rights. Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Hoyt’s injunction, saying it was overbroad.


Three men accused of supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor were convicted of all charges Wednesday, a triumph for state prosecutors after months of mixed results in the main case in federal court.

Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico, and Paul Bellar were found guilty of providing “material support” for a terrorist act as members of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen.

They held gun drills in rural Jackson County with a leader of the scheme, Adam Fox, who was disgusted with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other officials in 2020 and said he wanted to kidnap her.

Jurors read and heard violent, anti-government screeds as well as support for the “boogaloo,” a civil war that might be triggered by a shocking abduction. Prosecutors said COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Whitmer turned out to be fruit to recruit more people to the Watchmen.

“The facts drip out slowly,” state Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin told jurors in Jackson, Michigan, “and you begin to see — wow — there were things that happened that people knew about. ... When you see how close Adam Fox got to the governor, you can see how a very bad event was thwarted.”

Morrison, 28, Musico, 44, and Bellar, 24, were also convicted of a gun crime and membership in a gang. Prosecutors said the Wolverine Watchmen was a criminal enterprise.

Morrison, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, and Musico were emotional as they watched the verdicts by video away from the courtroom. Judge Thomas Wilson ordered all three to jail while they await sentencing on Dec. 15.


A judge on Friday denied bond for a well-connected Atlanta man who’s awaiting a second trial in the killing of his wife after Georgia’s highest court overturned his murder conviction earlier this year.

Claud “Tex” McIver, 79, was convicted in 2018 on charges including felony murder in the September 2016 death of 64-year-old Diane McIver and was sentenced to serve life in prison. The Georgia Supreme Court in June reversed the murder conviction, saying the jury should have had the option to give him a misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter charge.

When reversing his other convictions, the high court affirmed his conviction for influencing a witness. But McIver finished serving his sentence for that conviction last month. Prosecutors said in a court filing in July that they plan to retry McIver on charges of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

“He’s now serving time for nothing he’s been convicted of,” defense attorney Don Samuel told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney during a hearing Friday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Samuel asked for a $220,000 bond and asked that McIver be allowed to live with his sister near Dallas, Texas, the newspaper reported.

Prosecutor Adam Abbate urged the judge to deny bond.

“He’s 80 years old,” Abbate said. “After being convicted of murder he’s less likely to return to court because he has less to lose.”

After hearing from four witnesses called by the state who all asked the judge not to let McIver go free, McBurney denied the request for bond.

“I have before me a man who has heard a jury say you are guilty of felony murder and will spend the rest of your natural life in prison,” McBurney said. “That is a powerful incentive for you, Mr. McIver, not to come back to court and face some of the same evidence.”

The McIvers were wealthy and well-connected. He had been a partner at a prominent labor and employment law firm and served on the state election board. She was president of U.S. Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Corey Airport Services, where she had worked for 43 years.

At the time of the shooting, Tex McIver was no longer a partner at his firm and his income had dropped significantly. He and his wife kept separate finances and prosecutors alleged he killed his wife because he needed her money to cover his expenses. Defense attorneys disputed that, saying McIver deeply loved his wife and her death was a tragic accident.


A bench trial is scheduled to begin Monday for a man accused of sexually attacking and fatally stabbing two young women in separate killings nearly 30 years ago near a metro Phoenix canal system.

Bryan Patrick Miller, 49, is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted sexual assault. Prosecutors said the state is seeking the death penalty if Miller is convicted.

He waived his right to a jury trial so a Maricopa County Superior Court judge will decide Miller’s fate. Miller is accused of killing 22-year-old Angela Brosso in November 1992 and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas in September 1993.

Brosso and Bernas both disappeared while riding their bicycles along the Arizona Canal in north Phoenix. Authorities said Brosso’s body was found nude and decapitated in a field near a bike path that’s adjacent to the canal.

Ten months later, Bernas’ body was discovered floating in the canal. Authorities said DNA evidence collected in the aftermath of both crimes showed the attacks were linked to the same suspect.

Miller was arrested for the murders in 2015, but denied any involvement although he acknowledged living in the vicinity of the killings at the time and said he rode his bike on paths in the area, according to Phoenix police.

It wasn’t until nine months ago that Miller wasn’t found mentally competent to stand trial.


A former engineering company executive has been sentenced to one year and six months in prison for his role in a bid-rigging scheme to defraud the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Brent Brewbaker, who worked for Contech Engineered Solutions, also was sentenced on Thursday to two years of supervised release after his prison term, court records show. U.S. District Judge Louise Wood Flanagan in New Bern, North Carolina, ordered Brewbaker to pay a $111,000 fine and report to prison in approximately three months.

A federal jury convicted Brewbaker of conspiracy and fraud charges in January after a weeklong trial. Brewbaker conspired to rig bids for aluminum structure projects funded by the state of North Carolina between 2009 and 2018, according to prosecutors.

Contech agreed to pay a $7 million fine plus more than $1.5 million in restitution to the state transportation department after the company pleaded guilty to charges of bid rigging and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, a Justice Department news release says.


A Wisconsin man has been found guilty of killing his step-grandfather with an ax and severely injuring two others.

The jury in Monroe County Circuit Court on Thursday convicted Thomas Aspseter, 38, of first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of aggravated battery involving a dangerous weapon.

Eighty-seven-year-old Bernard Waite was killed in the June 2021 attack at his home in Sparta that also wounded Waite’s brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Margaret Waite of Exeland.

Authorities say Aspseter had previously lived in Waite’s home, but had been asked to leave. A criminal complaint said the Waites returned to the home after a trip to Waukesha and found Aspseter on the property.

Bernard Waite again told Aspseter to leave and the attack took place a short time later.

According to the complaint, Aspseter shot himself in the throat with a rifle after the attack, called 911 and confessed to killing Waite.

A date for Aspseter’s sentencing has not been set yet.

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