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September 19, 2018 - 12:00 am


Man arrested on hate crime charge freed from Louisiana jail

(Information from: WAFB-TV,

GONZALEZ, La. (AP) — A man accused of telling a woman to "go back to Mexico" and attacking her parents in a boot store has been released from jail in Louisiana.

WAFB-TV reports 60-year-old Robert Ray was released Monday after his arrest Friday on several charges including a hate crime. Ascension Parish Judge Marilyn Lambert says in a statement that she had no choice but to free Ray on his own recognizance because of an unrelated federal lawsuit against her and Sheriff Jeff Wiley.

As part of the lawsuit's settlement, she agreed to release defendants held solely on misdemeanors unless they were one of 12 charges listed in the suit. The hate crime charge Ray was arrested on was not among those listed.

It is unclear if Ray has a lawyer who could comment.



Louisiana automobile insurance rate hikes lower this year

(Information from: The Advocate,

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's insurance commissioner says the state's auto insurance market may be stabilizing, with a smaller rise in premiums expected this year compared with prior years.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says Louisiana's auto market has seen a 2.1 percent average increase in rates this year. The Advocate reports that he said that's about half the amount of increase midway through last year.

In 2017, rates climbed by 8.7 percent for the full year.

Louisiana has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country, with sharp upticks in premium costs for the past five years.

Donelon says rates have risen because of increases in crashes and insurance claims, along with greater expense in repairing vehicles as technology gets more sophisticated. He also cited high litigation rates involving auto accidents.



Suspect in Maryland shooting deaths arrested in Louisiana

(Information from: The Baltimore Sun,

DUNDALK, Md. (AP) — A man suspected in a Maryland homicide has been arrested in Louisiana, around three weeks after the bodies were found.

The Baltimore Sun reports 37-year-old Tavon Powell is charged in the shooting deaths of 26-year-old Gabrielle Marie Paugh and 34-year-old Aaron Michael Wearins.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Milton Ramirez says marshals in New Orleans received a Baltimore County police warrant, and an investigation led to a home in Kenner, Louisiana on Tuesday. Ramirez says a SWAT team was deployed after Powell refused to come out, and he eventually peacefully surrendered.

It's unclear what Powell's connection to the Louisiana address was.

Baltimore County police spokeswoman Jennifer Peach says a detective will be sent to Louisiana to determine Powell's ties to the area.

It's unclear whether Powell has a lawyer to comment.



New Orleans store employee killed during robbery

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Police are looking for two people in the shooting death of a gas station and convenience store employee in New Orleans.

News outlets reported the shooting happened around 1 a.m. Tuesday. The victim's name has not been released yet.

Investigators think two suspects fired several shots, killing the 58-year-old man.

No other details were immediately available.


Louisiana university collects Florence disaster supplies

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) — Students at a university in Louisiana are helping residents of the Carolinas as they begin cleanup after Hurricane Florence.

Northwestern State University biology professor Dr. Curt Phifer is spearheading an effort to collect supplies for cleanup buckets. The buckets will then be taken to affected disaster areas through the United Methodist Center on Relief in Baldwin. Phifer says he's asking every campus group to put together at least one bucket to donate to the relief effort.

Empty buckets are available to each organization in the Student Government Association office on the first floor of the Student Union. Each bucket has a list of specific items totaling about $75 that says how to assemble the bucket. Assembled buckets can be returned to the SGA office by Sept. 24.


Sheriff: 2-year-old kills self with gun left on counter

(Information from: The Advocate,

LIVINGSTON, La. (AP) — A Louisiana sheriff says a 2-year-old has fatally shot himself with a handgun that was left on a counter in a Livingston Parish home.

The Advocate quotes Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard as saying the boy was found with a gunshot wound to the face Monday and declared dead at a hospital. Ard says in a release that a preliminary investigation indicates the toddler climbed onto a stool, grabbed the handgun off the counter and pulled the trigger.

Authorities haven't released the child's name. Authorities also haven't released information about who owned the gun or who was home at the time of the shooting, citing an ongoing investigation. The newspaper says this is one of several fatal shootings involving Louisiana children and unattended guns this year.



Lawyer: Move trial from courthouse with Confederate monument

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A legal argument has been revived in Louisiana over whether a black defendant can get a fair trial in a courthouse where a Confederate monument is displayed.

Niles Haymer, a lawyer for defendant Ronnie Anderson, says the answer is no.

Haymer says he filed a motion Tuesday to have Anderson's case moved out of state court in East Feliciana Parish, where a Confederate monument stands outside the courthouse.

A judge rejected a similar motion in August, saying Haymer filed too late. But the district attorney has since filed a new charge against Anderson — illegal possession of a stolen weapon.

That gives Haymer an opportunity to renew his argument: He says the monument sends a message that black defendants cannot get a fair trial in East Feliciana Parish.


Proposed medical school breaks ground at university

(Information from: The News-Star,

MONROE, La. (AP) — The University of Louisiana Monroe has hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a proposed medical school.

The News-Star of Monroe reports that the university held the ceremony for the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine on Tuesday. VCOM already has campuses in Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama.

John G. Rocovich Jr. started the college to bring medical care to low-income, rural areas in the southeastern U.S. and solve the problem of underrepresented physicians where they're needed most.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says the medical school will help raise the quality of life and have an economic impact of somewhere between $60 million and $77 million a year.

VCOM is seeking national accreditation from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and could open as early as fall 2020.


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