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Archive for Thursday, March 13, 2003

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March 13, 2003

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Indiana

Mother videotaped beating daughter regains custody

A woman who pleaded guilty last month to battery for repeatedly striking her 5-year-old daughter in an attack that was broadcast on national television has been reunited with the girl.

A judge on Wednesday agreed to allow Martha Toogood to be returned to her mother, Madelyne Toogood.

"The judge recognized Ms. Toogood has done a good job with parenting skills," her attorney, Fred Hains, told the South Bend Tribune. Madelyne Toogood underwent court-ordered parenting and anger management counseling.

Martha, who was 4 at the time, was placed in temporary foster care on Sept. 21 after Toogood, 26, turned herself in to police. Television stations nationwide broadcast videotape of the beating, which took place in a parking lot and was captured by a department-store surveillance camera.

Toogood left the courthouse without talking to reporters.

Toogood pleaded guilty last month to a felony battery charge and was given a one-year suspended sentence, a year of probation and a $500 fine.

Virginia

Sniper suspect plans challenge of jury choice

Lawyers for sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo say they will challenge a recent change in jury selection that experts say will make it tougher for Malvo to find poor, less-educated, minority jurors who may be more sympathetic.

Earlier this year, the court clerk in Fairfax County, where the 18-year-old Malvo will be tried, began using voter registration lists as the sole source of potential jurors. Before that, the county used both voter rolls and motor vehicle records.

Court Clerk John T. Frey said he made the change to improve efficiency and save money. The motor vehicle lists are often outdated and include many people who cannot serve as jurors, such as noncitizens and felons, he said.

Malvo and his alleged accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, 42, have been linked to 20 shootings, including 13 deaths, in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama and Washington, D.C. Both face the death penalty. Malvo's trial is set for Nov. 10.

Washington, D.C.

Lawmaker called to leave for comments about Jews

Six Democratic House members called on Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., not to seek re-election in 2004 in the wake of controversial comments about Jews and the possibility of war with Iraq.

Moran's comments are "not merely wrong, offensive and ignorant," the six, all Jewish lawmakers, wrote in a letter Wednesday, "they are grossly irresponsible, and were given at a sensitive time when inflammatory comments -- regardless of outrageous factual flaws -- can unleash unintended and dangerous consequences."

Moran's office had no immediate comments Wednesday.

The Virginia lawmaker sparked a controversy several days ago when he said, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. ... The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going and I think they should."

Moran apologized for his comments on Tuesday.

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