National briefs (10/11/13)

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Cell death report cites autoerotism

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro's death by hanging in his prison cell may not have been suicide after all but an ill-fated attempt to choke himself for a sexual thrill, authorities said in a report issued Thursday.

The report also said two guards falsified logs documenting the number of times they checked on Castro before he died.

Castro, 53, was found hanging from a bedsheet Sept. 3 -- his pants and underwear around his ankles -- just weeks into a life sentence after pleading guilty in August to kidnapping three women off the streets, imprisoning them in his home for a decade and repeatedly raping and beating them.

Told he's still legally dead

FINDLAY, Ohio -- A judge rejected a man's request to reverse a 1994 ruling that declared him legally dead after he had vanished from his home eight years earlier.

Judge Allan Davis of Hancock County Probate Court this week cited a three-year time limit for changing a death ruling.

Donald Miller Jr., 61, told the judge that he disappeared in the 1980s because he had lost his job, owed child support payments and was an alcoholic. He lived in Florida and Georgia before returning to Ohio around 2005, when he went to court so that he could get a driver's license and reinstate his Social Security number.

Naval Academy rape case

WASHINGTON -- Two former Naval Academy football players accused of raping a female midshipman at an off-campus party last year will face court-martial proceedings.

The superintendent of the academy, Vice Adm. Michael Miller, acting on the legal advice of those who oversaw the initial hearing on the case, known as an Article 32 hearing, referred Midshipman Eric Graham and Midshipman Joshua Tate to general court-martial.

Survey: Cities struggling

WASHINGTON -- Pressure from soaring costs for health care and pensions, coupled with cuts in state and federal aid, are undermining the improving but still shaky financial health of the nation's cities, according to a report released Thursday.

The National League of Cities, which advocates on behalf of 1,700 member cities, said its annual survey of local finance officers reflects a slowly brightening financial picture in many cities. Still, the survey found that cities continue to suffer the effects of the recent economic downturn, as well as structural problems that are making it difficult for them to pay for core services such as public safety.

Jewish divorce coercion

NEWARK, N.J. -- The two rabbis offered an unusual service to Jewish women who could not get their husbands to agree to a divorce, according to the FBI. For a fee, they would convene a rabbinical court and authorize the use of violence to get the recalcitrant husband to agree to a religious divorce document known as a get, the FBI said.

Two men whom the authorities describe as rabbis -- Martin Wolmark and Mendel Epstein -- as well as a third man, Ariel Potash, have been charged according to court papers unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Also in the nation ...

A New Jersey judge on Thursday cleared the way for same-sex marriages to start in two weeks, dismissing the state's request to prevent the weddings until after a legal appeal of the court decision allowing them is completed. ... A federal judge on Thursday sentenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, 43, to 28 years in prison for widespread corruption that prosecutors say deepened the city's financial crisis.

-- Compiled from news services


First Published October 10, 2013 8:00 PM


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