Nation Briefs 03-12-14 Defense will attempt to negotiate plea deal as general's case delayed

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The trial of an Army general accused of sexual assault moved into uncharted legal territory Tuesday when the judge dismissed the jury to allow the defense time to hammer out a new plea deal with the military.

While the highly unusual decision gives Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair a second chance to negotiate the dismissal of the most serious charges, he appears certain to face an inglorious end to a nearly 30-year career spanning service in three wars. His lawyers said it could take weeks to finalize an agreement.

Experts in military law said Judge Col. James Pohl is seeking a just and innovative solution for a courtroom situation that doesn't fit prior case law.

"No one has ever seen anything like this before, but it seems like the right thing to do," said retired Maj. Gen. Walt Huffman, a Texas Tech University law professor who previously served as the Army's top lawyer. "This case was already unusual in so many respects."

Judge Pohl reviewed newly disclosed emails Monday and said he found the appearance of "unlawful command influence" in Fort Bragg officials' rejection of a plea bargain with the general in January. He declined to dismiss the charges outright, but allowed Sinclair's lawyers to negotiate with Army officials not previously involved with the case.

Free from death row: Glenn Ford, who spent nearly 26 years on death row in Louisiana, walked free of prison Tuesday in Angola, hours after a judge approved the state's motion to vacate the man's murder conviction in the 1983 killing of a jeweler. Ford, 64, had been on death row since August 1988 in connection with the death of 56-year-old Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker for whom Ford had done occasional yard work. Ford had always denied killing Rozeman. Ford walked out the maximum security prison on Tuesday afternoon, said Pam Laborde, a spokesman for Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

Ex-DC teacher gets 25 years: Eric Justin Toth, a former Washington elementary school teacher, who became one of the FBI's most-wanted criminals after taking hidden video of his students using the bathroom and then eluded law enforcement officials by assuming fake identities and escaping to Nicaragua has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. Toth spent five years on the run, living in Arizona and Texas before escaping the country. In 2012, the FBI put him on its "Ten Most Wanted" list, where he filled a vacancy created by Osama bin Laden's death.Before sentencing him Tuesday a judge noted his skill at evading law enforcement and the large number of victims in the case, 17 in all.

Republican Jolly wins in Florida: Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink on Tuesday in a Tampa-area House district where President Barack Obama's health care overhaul got its first test ahead of November's midterm elections and both sides spent millions auditioning national strategies. With almost 100 percent of the vote counted, Jolly had 48.5 percent of the vote to Sink's 46.7 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.8 percent. The election was to replace 42-year Republican Rep. CW Bill Young, who died in October of cancer, and the evenly divided district had been considered a toss-up.

How investors may be getting fooled: If you're puzzled why the U.S. stock market has risen so fast in a slow-growing economy, consider the stock buyback.

Companies are increasingly engaged in massive stock buyback programs, which reduce the number of its shares in circulation by purchasing them from investors. Spreading earnings over fewer shares translates into higher earnings per share. It's a common practice but is one that has exaggerated the health of many companies. Critics say the obsessive focus on buybacks has led companies to put off replacing plant and equipment, funding research and development, and generally doing the kind of spending needed to produce long-term profits.

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