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News Scan

Two South Dakota Inmates Kill Prison Guard for Uniform in Attempt to Escape:  AP writer Dirk Lammers reports two South Dakota inmates attacked correctional officer Ronald Johnson, 63, wrapped his head in plastic shrink wrap and left him to die before using his uniform to sneak past security in a failed escape attempt Tuesday.  Eric Robert and Rodney Berget, both 48, are charged with first-degree and felony murder.  Robert is currently serving an 80-year sentence for a kidnapping conviction and Berget is serving life sentences for attempted murder and kidnapping.  Berget had two previous attempts to escape the penitentiary, one in 1984 and the other in 1987.  Robert was dressed in Johnson's uniform while pushing a cart with boxes in which Berget was hiding.  One officer became suspicious of Robert when he failed to show his electronic ID card.  Robert immediately began kicking and beating the officer and Berget jumped out of the box to join.  Fellow officers arrived and both inmates were apprehended and taken to a jail in Sioux Falls.  Johnson worked at the penitentiary for more than 23 years.  He was a father of two and grandfather of six.  Tuesday was his birthday.

States on Search for Execution Drug:  John Schwartz of The New York Times has this article on the efforts of death penalty states to find the increasingly hard-to-get drug sodium thiopental.  Faced with shortages of the execution drug, several states have looked to international manufacturers or borrowed supplies of the drug from other states.  These alternative methods have triggered new legal challenges and scrutiny from the federal government.  CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger is quoted in the article, stating the recent challenges "seem to be accelerating the switch to pentobarbital," which is more readily available.

"Woman Sues Online Dating Site Over Alleged Sexual Assault":
  A Los Angeles entertainment executive says she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on Match.com and has filed a lawsuit demanding the dating website start screening its members for sexual predators.  The woman admits things went well on their first date but claims that after the second date, he allegedly followed her home and sexually assaulted her.  The woman later learned online that her assailant had been convicted of several counts of sexual battery.  "This horrific ordeal completely blindsided me because I had considered myself savvy about online dating safety," the woman said in a statement released through her attorney last week. "Things quickly turned into a nightmare, beyond my control."  The woman is asking Match.com to check members' names against public sex offender registries.  Charges against Match.com are pending.  The Los Angeles Times has this story.

California Law Enforcement Organizations Cave in for More Money:
  California's major law enforcement organizations and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca rallied Wednesday in support of Gov. Jerry Brown's decision to extend tax increases to pay for a new law that shifts responsibility for thousands of criminals from the state to local governments.  Baca, whose county accounts for 30 percent of state prison inmates, said local law enforcement can do a better and cheaper job of punishing and rehabilitating offenders than the state as long as the proper funding is given to the jails and education programs.  Once angered by Gov. Brown's plan, several law enforcement organizations are now allying with Brown after learning $5.9 billion will fund the realignment.  Assemblyman Jim Nielsen predicts the realignment will overwhelm courts, jails, and rehabilitative programs, eventually leading to early releases and minimal punishments.  "That puts it way over the top, when you are going to compromise the personal safety of our families and you are going to compromise justice," Nielsen said.  AP writer Don Thompson has this story.

Inmate Set to be Released Today Gets Nailed for Cold Case Murder/Rape:  Richard Stanley Sandoval, 57, of Santa Ana was scheduled to be released today after serving a prison sentence for a 1985 rape conviction until authorities arrested him yesterday in connection with the 1984 murder and rape of an 84-year-old Southern California woman.  Prosecutors say recent DNA testing linked Sandoval the 1984 killing and rape.  Sandoval will be arraigned Thursday in Orange County Superior Court.  The San Francisco Chronicle has this story.

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