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November 21, 2018 - 12:00 am


US judge: Mississippi 15-week abortion ban unconstitutional

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has struck down a Mississippi abortion law that is one of the most restrictive in the United States.

The Mississippi law bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled Tuesday that it "unequivocally" violates women's constitutional rights.

The only abortion clinic in Mississippi sued when Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law March 19, and Reeves issued a temporary restraining order the next day to keep the state from enforcing the law.

The law and the responding lawsuit set up a confrontation sought by abortion opponents, who are hoping federal courts will ultimately prohibit abortions before a fetus is viable. Current federal law does not.

An Iowa law, also challenged in court, bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.


Louisiana's 15-week abortion ban remains unenforceable

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's law banning abortions after 15 weeks remains on hold after a federal judge struck down a similar prohibition in neighboring Mississippi.

The law passed by the Louisiana Legislature and signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards earlier this year contains language that it will only take effect if a federal court upholds the law in Mississippi.

And U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in Mississippi ruled Tuesday that the law there "unequivocally" violates women's constitutional rights. It wasn't immediately clear if the state's governor would appeal the decision.

If it ever took effect, Louisiana's law would allow the imposition of a prison sentence of up to two years for someone who performs an abortion after 15 weeks. The measure was sponsored by Democratic Sen. John Milkovich of Keithville.


Mississippi agency probes school district accused of fraud

(Information from: The Sun Herald,

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi State Auditor's Office is investigating the Biloxi School District over reports of fraud in a child nutrition program.

The Sun Herald reported Monday that it has obtained documents indicating the investigation involves complaints by district employee and whistleblower Victoria Moon Conway. A November letter by Conway to the school board accuses the district of illegal activity and the board of identifying her when providing schools with the complaints.

Complaint details are scarce. Conway has been the administrative assistant for the district's child nutrition program for more than 10 years. She says her complaints included information that only she, her boss and the director of school dining services would know.

The district confirmed the investigation. The newspaper couldn't reach Superintendent Arthur McMillan or Personnel Director David Nichols for comment.



Mississippi priest says he informed about another priest

(Information from: The Clarion Ledger,

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi priest says he was an informant for the federal fraud investigation of another priest.

The Clarion Ledger reported The Rev. John Bohn told the weekend services at St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson that he was an informant in the case involving a priest in Starkville.

Bohn previously served in Starkville.

A federal affidavit says there were four informants as they investigated the priest, whom The Associated Press is not naming because he has not been charged.

The affidavit says the Starkville priest announced from the pulpit numerous times that he had cancer and was going to Canada for treatment. He received donations from parishioners.

The affidavit says the priest actually had been diagnosed with HIV. The diocese said it could not talk about the priest's medical condition.



Soldier accused of killing another soldier in Colorado

(Information from: The Gazette,

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — An Army soldier has been arrested in the shooting death of another soldier in Colorado.

Twenty-year-old Pfc. Isaiah Towns of Batesville, Mississippi, was being held on suspicion of second-degree murder in the Saturday death of Spc. Shakir D. Cook-Troynel.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports Towns was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. Jail records didn't indicate whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Citing a court document, KRDO-TV reports Towns told police he found his wife and Cook-Troynel together in a bedroom. Towns told officers he and his wife struggled, and Towns' pistol discharged, striking Cook-Troynel.

The 23-year-old Cook-Troynel was from Homestead, Florida. The Army says he received several commendations including the Army Achievement Medal.

Cook-Troynel and Towns were assigned to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.



Murder conviction stands in 1962 cold case killing

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's Supreme Court won't hear arguments for a man sentenced two years ago to life in prison for killing his first wife in 1962.

Monday's rejection lets stand the second-degree murder conviction of William Felix Vail, who said Mary Vail fell out of his boat and drowned.

Louisiana's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal refused earlier to hear the case.

Defense arguments included objections to testimony about the disappearances of Vail's girlfriend in 1973 and his second wife in 1984. He was living in Mississippi and hasn't been charged in either case.

The appeal court said another appeals panel ruled before trial that the evidence was within bounds, and appellate attorney Chad Ikerd did not bring up any new argument.

The Supreme Court refused the case without comment.

Ikerd said Tuesday in an email that attorneys will review all legal options.

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