FLAWED ARSON SCIENCE
1990 arson-murder rap tossed, man is set free
HOUTZDALE, Pa. (AP) -- A former New York businessman whose arson-murder conviction was overturned in the death of his daughter has been freed from prison after 24 years behind bars.
Officials at the state prison in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, say 79-year-old Han Tak Lee was released midmorning today. He is headed to a federal court hearing to determine the conditions of his release.
A federal judge this month threw out his conviction in the death of his mentally ill daughter after finding it was based on now-discredited arson science.
Prosecutors have said they will probably appeal the judge's decision, claiming other evidence still points to his guilt.
Longtime supporter Kyung Sohn was at the prison to pick Lee up. He calls the day's events "great news for everybody."
Labor council blocks unions' invite to Corbett
PITTSBURGH (AP) - An umbrella group for Pittsburgh-area labor unions has told Gov. Tom Corbett he can't march in the city's Labor Day parade, despite an invitation from at least two individual unions.
Jack Shea, the president of the Allegheny County Labor Council which sponsors the parade, tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Corbett isn't invited.
Boilermakers Local 154 and the Laborers District Council of Western Pennsylvania had invited Corbett.
To avoid a confrontation, unions supporting Corbett hope to invite him to another event on or near Labor Day. Phil Ameris, the president and business manager of the Laborer's District Council says, "We're 150 percent behind the governor."
Corbett's campaign spokesman, Billy Pittman, says the governor "is proud to have the support" of unions who support his "Less Taxes, More Jobs" policies.
Trolley catches fire in Pennsylvania
DELAWARE WATER GAP, Pa. (AP) - Officials say a trolley with more than a score of tourists aboard caught fire in northeastern Pennsylvania, but no injuries were reported.
The Pocono Record reports that more than 20 people were on the Water Gap Trolley when it caught fire Thursday afternoon in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Passengers told the newspaper that the vehicle, a bus converted into a trolley, was engulfed within minutes. The driver quickly evacuated passengers and no injuries were reported.
WNEP-TV reports that smoke could be seen more than a mile away.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Passengers said they noticed an odor of smoke after the driver's microphone stopped working.
Flood waters breach Pennsylvania resort
HAWLEY, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania resort is cleaning up after an inundation by floodwaters overnight.
A resort official says flash floods rushed through the Pocono region's Woodloch Pines Resort Thursday evening as more than 1,000 people were staying at the hotel.
Marketing Director Rory O'Fee says the water flowed through the first floor and basement of the resort. About 20 guest rooms were affected and floodwaters went into one of the swimming pools. Guests had been moved to other rooms beforehand.
O'Fee says more than six feet of water collected in the hotel's basement. No injuries were reported.
O'Fee had no damage estimate but said the resort will remain open as it cleans up.
ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE-BISHOP
Pittsburgh bishop taking ALS challenge for priest
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh's Roman Catholic bishop plans to take the ice bucket challenge to support a diocesan priest who has Lou Gehrig's disease, but will donate his money to a charity that doesn't use embryonic stem cells for its research on the disease.
Bishop David Zubik's announcement comes as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati discouraged its schools from raising money for organizations that conduct research on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, using cells taken from human embryos.
The Pittsburgh diocese agrees with Cincinnati officials that such research violates the Catholic church's teachings on abortion.
Bishop Zubik plans to take the challenge Saturday with the Rev. Dennis Colamarino, pastor of a church in Duquesne, who was diagnosed with the disease last year.
Zubik says he's donating to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, which uses only adult stem cells.
APARTMENT COMPLEX SHOOTING
Appeal vowed after NE Pa. murder conviction
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A man facing a mandatory term of life in prison without parole is maintaining his innocence in the shooting death of a woman in a car at a northeastern Pennsylvania apartment complex.
Jurors in Luzerne County deliberated for less than two hours Thursday before convicting 22-year-old Kenneth Evans III of first-degree murder in the November 2013 slaying of Shantique Goodson at the Sherman Hills complex.
Authorities alleged that Evans ran up and fired at the victim at close range as she sat in the passenger seat of a sport utility vehicle outside the complex.
Defense attorney John Pike questioned the credibility of witnesses and the forensic evidence in the case. He said his client would appeal.
Evans, who was visibly distraught after the verdict, will be sentenced Oct. 20.
Sentence in 2011 western Pa. slaying upheld
EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - An appeals court has upheld the 25- to 50-year sentence of a man convicted in a 2011 shooting death outside a western Pennsylvania housing project.
The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat reports that the state Superior Court ruled that a Cambria County judge's sentence in the case of 32-year-old Marquis Neal was appropriate.
Neal was convicted of third-degree murder in the October 2011 slaying of 21-year-old J-Quan Lewis outside the Oakhurst Homes in Johnstown. His cousin, 31-year-old Anthony Harvey, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. Authorities said Lewis had been involved in a fight with Harvey the night before.
The appeals court cited testimony that "the final shots were fired at point-blank range as Lewis lay prone on the ground" in upholding the judge's consecutive term imposed on a firearms count.
BOTCHED ROBBERY SLAYING
Pa. man convicted in botched parking lot robbery
READING, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania man faces life in prison without parole following his conviction in the murder of a man shot twice during a botched robbery in a parking lot last fall.
The Reading Eagle reports that jurors in Berks County convicted 21-year-old Leonardo Mojica-Carrion of Reading of first-degree murder and related offenses on Thursday.
A teenager also charged in the case testified that the defendant asked him for help in robbing someone. He said the pair followed Galdino Rama-Aguilar into a Reading parking lot and Mojica-Carrion shot him as he tried to flee.
Detectives testified that the defendant told them a similar story but said the robbery had been the teenager's idea. Defense attorney Daniel Nevins argued that the youth's testimony couldn't be trusted.
CORRECTIONS OFFICER-SEX CHARGE
Ex-guard pleads no contest to touching Pa. inmate
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A former suburban Philadelphia prison guard has pleaded no contest to criminal charges alleging that he inappropriately touched a female inmate and intimidated a witness last fall.
Thirty-two-year-old Brendan Triplett of Harleysville entered the plea Thursday to charges of official oppression and witness intimidation. Under a no contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction.
Prosecutors say a female inmate told them that Triplett had sexual contact with her at the Doylestown jail and another female inmate told them that she witnessed the offenses.
Defense attorney Nino Tinari told The (Lansdale) Reporter that the plea deal was accepted so his client could move on with his life. Triplett told the judge that he is pursuing a degree in criminal justice.
CHILD ABUSE LAWSUIT
NE Pa. couple contests ban on hosting foster kids
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania couple whose adult adopted son was convicted of abusing a 7-year-old Scranton boy placed in their care has appealed a state agency's decision to bar them from hosting foster children.
The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reports that the Wilkes-Barre couple is arguing in state court that no one from the Lackawanna County child welfare agency told them that their adopted son had any history of abuse before they adopted him or placed foster children in their care.
The state Department of Public Welfare banned the couple from having foster children in April. The mother of the 7-year-old boy filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the county agency. The county Department of Human Services has vowed an investigation.
The son pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Luzerne County.
Animal shelter to close, won't appeal violations
UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A southwestern Pennsylvania animal shelter has closed after the agency that ran it decided not to appeal a license revocation.
That happened Aug. 12, after a dog law officer found numerous sick dogs and multiple health violations during two inspections.
The inspection prompted more than two dozen citations against the Fayette County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, including failing to provide sanitary and humane conditions and failing to vaccinate an animal within 10 days.
Inspectors who visited the Uniontown shelter on July 16 and Aug. 7 found sick dogs, piles of feces and an insect infestation. A state Agriculture Department spokeswoman says the shelter's license was revoked pending appeal.
Fayette SPCA president Sam Hunt says the facility has spent $15,000 on improvements, but has decided just to close.
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