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News Scan

Judge Refuses Killer's Guilty Plea:  A California judge has refused to allow a California man to plead guilty to capital charges, reports the AP.  Howard Smith is charged with shooting to death an 84-year-old father and his 48-year-old son while robbing their rural San Joaquin county property last month.  Smith refused a lawyer on Monday and attempted to plead guilty, even if the plea resulted in a death sentence.  The judge said she couldn't allow him to do so and assigned him a public defender.

Growing Body Count as Police Continue Search for Missing Woman Along Long Island Shore:   Long Island investigators discovered the remains of three more bodies on Monday, leaving a total of eight bodies that have been discovered on a several-mile stretch of Long Island shore.  (See previous post here.)  The search of the area began when investigators were looking for missing prostitute Shannan Gilbert, whose whereabouts are still unknown.  Chief of detectives of the Suffolk County Police Dominick Varrone said it was too soon to tell if any of the newest victims were connected to the earlier murders that were discovered in December, but that the four latest victims had been left there at least as long as the earlier victims.  Nearby residents are fearful and report that property values in the area have dropped significantly.  New York Times reporters Manny Fernandez and Al Baker have this story.

L.A. 'Grim Sleeper' Serial Killer May Have 8 Additional Victims:  Christina Hoag of the AP reports Los Angeles detectives believe the suspected "Grim Sleeper" serial killer may be responsible for up to eight additional killings, but the likelihood is strongest for three women whose photos and IDs were found in a secret stash in the killer's refrigerator.  Suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested last July and indicted earlier this month on ten counts of murder and one attempted murder in connection with a string of slayings that started in the 1980s and extended into the 2000s.  Police are now focusing on the three women whose photos were found in Franklin's fridge along with a picture of another woman Franklin is charged with killing - Janecia Peters. The recently discovered photos were found separate from hundreds of other sexually explicit pictures of other women throughout Franklin's house.  Because Peters was found murdered, detectives fear the other women in the photos met the same fate.  Franklin has pleaded not guilty and is in jail awaiting trial.

House Approves Murder Registry Bill:  Todd Wilson of the Chicago Tribune reports the Illinois House approved legislation for a registry tracking convicted first-degree murderers for ten years after their release from prison.  "Andrea's Law," was inspired by the killing of Patricia Rosenberg's daughter, whose killer served only 10 years of a 24-year sentence.  The House vote was 97-1 and the bill will now move to the Senate.

New Jersey Governor Seeks to End Mandatory Parole Hearings:  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is seeking to end mandatory parole hearings for inmates, reports Kibret Markos of NorthJersey.com.  In response to a bill that would widen the interval for mandatory parole hearings from three years to ten, Christie issued a conditional veto to eliminate mandatory hearings at any interval, noting that the bill as it stands "does not provide sufficient reform" to the current parole process.  Christie's move is receiving support so far from law enforcement and victims' families.  The New Jersey Senate may accept or reject Christie's conditional veto.

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