Nation roundup for August 20
Girl’s grandma to get killer’s money
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A man who died in a shootout with FBI agents after kidnapping a 16-year-old girl and killing her mother and brother named a member of the victims’ family as his life insurance beneficiary, a spokesman for the man’s family said Monday.
James Lee DiMaggio left $112,000 to Hannah Anderson’s paternal grandmother, said Andrew Spanswick. He didn’t know why but believes it was for the benefit of Hannah, the girl he abducted.
Hannah was rescued in the FBI shootout on Aug. 10 in the Idaho wilderness and returned home to San Diego.
DiMaggio, 40, had been like an uncle to the Anderson children and the father’s best friend.
DiMaggio named Bernice Anderson as the beneficiary of his employer-issued life insurance policy in 2011, substituting her for his sister Lora Robinson, the lone survivor of his immediate family, Spanswick said. DiMaggio once lived with Bernice Anderson, he said.
DiMaggio worked as a telecommunications technician at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. Spokeswoman Jan Coury declined to comment.
Steven Weisbart, chief economist at the industry-backed Insurance Information Institute, said insurers generally won’t challenge a claim unless the beneficiary is suspected of involvement in the death.
Investigators have given no indication that DiMaggio had any accomplices.
“Pretty much as long you’re dead, the insurance company has very little opportunity to deny the claim,” Weisbart said.
Lora Robinson has taken possession of her brother’s cat, Princess, from Hannah Anderson, Spanswick said. DiMaggio, a cat-lover, took Princess while on the run, and the cat was reunited with Hannah after the rescue.
Widow who lost home has hope
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A western Pennsylvania woman whose $280,000 home was sold at auction over $6.30 in unpaid interest won a court decision Monday allowing her a fresh opportunity to argue she should not lose her home.
Commonwealth Court ruled it was a mistake for a Beaver County judge to rule against Eileen Battisti without first holding an evidentiary hearing.
“This was particularly inappropriate because the outstanding liability was small and the value of the home was far greater than the amount paid by (the) purchaser,” wrote Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt.
Leavitt said the state Supreme Court has “emphasized that due process under both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions must be satisfied whenever the government subjects a citizen’s property to forfeiture for nonpayment of taxes.”
Battisti’s lawyer says she still lives in her Aliquippa home, even though it was sold nearly two years ago to S.P. Lewis of Imperial for about $116,000. Messages seeking comment weren’t returned on Monday by Lewis and his lawyer, or by the Beaver County solicitor’s office.
Battisti purchased the home outside Pittsburgh in 1999 with her husband, who managed their finances. She paid off the property after he died in 2004 with proceeds from his life insurance policy.
The opinion by Leavitt said Battisti had difficulty taking over the financial matters, in part because of a series of personal setbacks. She fell behind on various tax bills, but believed she had paid them all off, even though some were late.
WikiLeaks case is wrapping up
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — A military judge is hearing closing arguments in Bradley Manning’s sentencing hearing in the WikiLeaks case.
Col. Denise Lind heard the summations Monday at Maryland’s Fort Meade before deliberating on the soldier’s sentence for giving a mountain of classified information to the anti-secrecy group.
Manning faces up to 90 years in prison for his convictions on 20 counts, including six violations of the federal Espionage Act.
Prosecutors presented evidence that the leaked information put an undisclosed number of people overseas at risk of harm. The State Department helped some of them move, even to other countries, for their safety.
Manning says he’s sorry his actions caused harm. His attorneys presented witnesses who said he was under great stress, due largely to his gender identity confusion in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era.
Md. man accused of cannibalism
BEL AIR, Md. (AP) — A former Maryland college student who told authorities he killed a man and ate his heart and parts of his brain pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible Monday.
Alexander Kinyua, 22, entered the plea to first-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie last year. The former Morgan State University student spoke softly as he responded to questions from the judge, saying he had agreed to the plea and that medications he had been taking were helping him. He declined an opportunity to address the court.
Judge Stephen Waldron said he had concerns about agreeing to the plea, but had to accept determinations by psychiatrists for the defense and prosecution that Kinyua could not be held criminally responsible. He expressed condolences to family and friends of the Agyei-Kodie.
“My heart breaks for you,” Waldron said. “I am very, very sorry.”
Kinyua has been held at the state’s maximum-security psychiatric hospital and returned there after the hearing.
Percess Veronica Mattison, a longtime family friend who knew Agyei-Kodie, told the judge the murder has devastated the victim’s family.
“We all could see him soaring to great heights in the world. This was not to be,” Mattison said. “He was slaughtered in the most brutal, inhumane fashion by Alexander Kinyua. This is an irreplaceable loss accompanied by much pain.”
She also noted that Kinyua carefully tried to conceal evidence.
“Someone acting with such care to conceal evidence, and demonstrating the capacity to cover his tracks so competently does not appear to be experiencing a mental deficiency,” Mattison said. “Alexander did not impulsively commit the crime, he prepared Kujoe for consumption.”
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