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News in Brief
AZ: Robert Wayne Vickers, sentenced to death for killing fellow death row prisoner Wilman Holsinger in 1982, was executed May 5, 1999. Vickers had torched Holsinger's cell after Holsinger made rude comments about his niece.
FL: On Jan. 15, 1999 the city of Longboat Key agreed to a $1.7 million settlement with the husband and son of Elizabeth Veltmann to end a lawsuit claiming that a botched investigation of her death led to the men's wrongful convictions on arson charges. Carl and Christopher Veltmann spent five years in prison before being acquitted at a second trial in Sept. 1996. They accused police and fire dept. officials of losing evidence, conducting warrantless searches, misleading a grand jury and concealing information that indicated Elizabeth's death was a suicide.
MO: Roy Roberts, 46, sentenced to death for participating in the murder of prison guard Tom Jackson during a 1983 riot was executed on March 10, 1999.
MS: Tunica Co. Sheriff John J. Pickett III resigned and pleaded guilty to federal extortion charges on March 1, 1999. Pickett, 39, admitted he had extorted weekly payments from a bail bondsman over a two-year period. Chief Deputy Willie Lee Starks and Michael Hardy, the second and third in command at the Tunica Co. Sheriff's Department were arrested in October 1998 for extorting payments to protect local drug dealers.
NJ: Fort Dix prisoner Erwin Koti, serving two years for fraud, was charged in April 1999 with impersonating Attorney General Janet Reno in a forged letter seeking his release. Koti wrote the letter on a prison computer.
NJ: Federal prisoner George Davis filed a lawsuit in Feb., 1999 claiming a sleep disorder that causes him to snore loudly is causing problems with other prisoners. Davis, 58, accuses officials at the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix of ignoring a medical condition that has put him in danger because it disturbs others' sleep. A prison spokesman said the facility tries to place prisoners who snore loudly in the same cell block.
OH: Delaware Municipal Court Judge Michael Hoague, 44, went to trial in Feb. 1999 on charges of menacing and coercion stemming from a road rage incident in which he contacted two people and threatened to punish them for driving aggressively.
OH: On Feb. 2, 1999 Mahoning Co. Sheriff Philip A. Chance was indicted on federal extortion and racketeering charges. He is accused of soliciting and accepting bribes from a reputed mob boss and extorting campaign contributions from a local businessman John Chicase, a former Sheriff's Dept. supervisor who implicated Chance, has plead guilty to racketeering charges.
OK: A trusty at the Comanche Co. jail used a long barbecue fork to threaten a jail guard, then freed eight other prisoners in an early-morning escape on March 11, 1999.
Russia: On Feb. 2, 1999 Russia's highest court banned all death sentences until the jury system is adopted throughout the country. The Constitutional Court ruling effectively abolished capital punishment; only 9 of the country's 89 regions have adopted the jury system. Russia promised to abolish the death penalty when it joined the Council of Europe in 1996.
Switzerland: Walter Stuerm was arrested March 10, 1999 on bank robbery charges and returned to prison, from where he has escaped 8 times. Stuerm has achieved near cult status in Switzerland and is known as the "jail break king."
TX: The family of Archie White Jr., a state prisoner who died in June 1998 as a result of heat exposure, has filed a $1.5 million wrongful death suit. White collapsed after being transported in an unairconditioned bus from a prison near Lubbock to one near Abilene; he was forced to remain on the bus for an hour in direct sunlight after it arrived. Prison doctors had said he should avoid extreme heat due to medication he was taking.
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