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News Scan

Murderer Pleads Guilty in 1978 New Jersey Cold Case:  The AP reports Philander Hampton, 54, pleaded guilty today in a one of New Jersey's longest-running cold cases.  Hampton admitted three years ago to police that he and a cousin lured five teens to an abandoned house in Newark in 1978, locked them inside, and set the house on fire.  Hampton has been battling to suppress his confession, but a state judge earlier this year found his statements admissible in court.  Hampton's co-defendant, Lee Evans, is scheduled to go to trial this fall. 

Ninth Circuit to Hear Arguments Over Forced Medication of Tucson Shooter:  A panel of the Ninth Circuit heard argument today over a request to ban prison officials from forcibly medicating accused Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner, reports the AP.  Loughner's defense team says a judge should decide whether such medication is appropriate, while prosecutors claim the decision is up to prison officials.  Loughner was forcibly medicated from June 21 to July 1 while at a federal prison facility in Missouri after prison doctors found he posed a danger.  

Rapist Thought 69-Year-Old Victim was Gang Member:  Larry Altman of the Daily Breeze (CA) reports a Southern California man accused of raping and beating a 69-year-old woman told jurors during closing argument that he acted in self defense because he feared the elderly woman was a gang member.  Gary DeVaughn LaBon was charged with attacking the woman in her neighborhood, raping her, and beating her into a three-week coma.  During his closing argument, LaBon told jurors that there is a war in the streets and that he believed the victim was a Latino gang member because she was clothed in a dark jacket with a hood.  The trial judge ordered jurors to disregard most of what LaBon said.  Jurors convicted LaBon after five hours of deliberation, saying LaBon's decision to represent himself did not help his case. 

California Bill Seeks to Raise Bar for Early Release:  Marisa Lagos of the SF Chronicle has this piece on a California parole reform bill that seeks to make it more difficult for inmates to receive early release.  The bill, which was authored by Senator Ted Gaines and is receiving bipartisan support, would allow the state parole board to deny early release based solely on the circumstances of the inmate's underlying offense.  

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