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In a rare step, the California Supreme Court has blocked Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt to issue a pardon to a 37-year-old Cambodian refugee who killed a woman when he was 14 years old.

The court gave no reason for the rejection, but earlier noted it only had the authority to do so in the case of an “abuse of power.” Brown’s pardon would have effectively stopped Borey Ai’s deportation to Cambodia, a nation where his mother was born but he has never seen.

The governor in the last 10 months has pardoned seven ex-convicts who otherwise faced the threat of deportation to Cambodia, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, whose administration has stepped up efforts to deport immigrants with criminal convictions.

It takes at least four votes of the seven justices to block pardons. The unsigned ruling Wednesday didn’t say how many justices voted to block the pardon. The governor is required to obtain the court’s approval for pardons and sentence commutations for twice-convicted felons.

Appellate lawyer David Ettinger said it appears the last time the court rejected a governor’s pardon occurred in 1930.

A spokesman for the governor, Brian Ferguson, declined comment.

Ai was charged as an adult and convicted in Santa Clara County 1997 of second-degree murder and also of a separate robbery. He was sentenced to 25-years-to-life in prison.


A Minnesota man accused of faking his own death seven years ago to collect a $2 million life insurance policy arranged for a stand-in corpse to be dressed in his clothes in Moldova, according to a judge’s detention order.

Igor Vorotinov, 54, also planted his identification on the body before placing the corpse along a road in the Eastern European country, a U.S. judge said in rejecting Vorotinov’s request to be freed pending trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine M. Menendez ruled Wednesday that Vorotinov posed too great a flight risk. In her ruling, Menendez said Vorotinov showed “substantial resourcefulness and cunning.”

Vorotinov was indicted in 2015 on one count of mail fraud. He was arrested this month and returned to the U.S.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that Vorotinov took out the life insurance policy in spring 2010 and designated then-wife Irina Vorotinov as the primary beneficiary. The couple divorced later that year.

In 2011, Irina Vorotinov, 51, identified a corpse in Moldova as her husband’s, prosecutors allege. She then returned to the U.S. with a death certificate and cremated remains and received the life insurance payment. Money was then transferred to her son, and to accounts in Switzerland and Moldova.

She has pleaded guilty to her role and is serving a three-year sentence. Alkon Vorotinov, 28, pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to probation.

After the insurance payout was made, prosecutors spoke by phone in May 2016 with Igor Vorotinov in hopes of persuading him to return to the U.S. But he told investigators he would rather live with his new love interest on an apple farm, according to the judge’s filing.

The identity of the corpse is still unclear, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported . The scheme also included a 2011 funeral service at a Minneapolis cemetery, where an urn was placed in a niche. Tests later determined the remains were not Vorotinov’s.

Vorotinov pleaded not guilty Tuesday. He was returned to jail and awaits trial, tentatively planned for January.


The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected the latest appeal by a man convicted of killing a University of Nebraska at Omaha student whose body has never been found.

The high court Friday upheld a lower court's denial of Christopher Edwards' second motion for post-conviction relief. The court found that Edwards' appeal saying the lower court should have held an evidentiary hearing on his claim that his attorney was ineffective was filed too late.

Edwards was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2006 disappearance of 19-year-old Jessica O'Grady, whose body was never found. Edwards was sentenced to 100 years to life.

The high court rejected Edwards' first post-conviction relief motion in 2012. In that motion, Edwards argued that a corrupt Douglas County crime scene investigator planted blood evidence to frame him.



A lawyer representing one of two women who have accused Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan of raping them in France says a court has approved Ramadan's release from jail.

Lawyer Francis Szpiner said a French court granted the 56-year-old Oxford University professor's release Thursday on condition he pay 300,000 euros ($340,000) bail, surrender his Swiss passport and remain in France.

Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, was jailed in February and handed preliminary rape charges 9 1/2 months ago over two alleged assaults in France, one in 2009 and another in 2012. A third woman filed a rape complaint against him in March.

The outspoken scholar denies any wrongdoing and filed a lawsuit claiming the allegations are false. The allegations surfaced as the #Metoo movement took hold in France.


When a 10-year-old Wisconsin girl was charged with homicide this week in the death of an infant, it was a rare — but not unprecedented — case of adult charges being filed against someone so young.

The girl told investigators she panicked after dropping the baby at a home day care and then stomped on his head when he began crying. She sobbed during a court appearance in Chippewa County, where she was led away in handcuffs and a restraint.

The age at which children get moved to adult court varies by state and can be discretionary in some cases.

Wisconsin is an outlier in that state law requires homicide or attempted homicide charges to be initially filed in adult court if the suspect is at least 10 years old, according to Marcy Mistrett, chief executive at the Campaign for Youth Justice.

Wisconsin is among 28 states that allow juveniles to be automatically tried in adult court for certain crimes, including murder. For most states, the age at which that is triggered is 15 or 16 years old — while some states have decided 10 is even too young for a child to be held responsible in the juvenile justice system, Mistrett said.

Moving a case to juvenile court depends on establishing certain factors, such as whether the child would get needed services in the adult system, said Eric Nelson, a defense attorney who practices in Wisconsin.

For example, prosecutors in an attempted murder case involving a 12-year-old schizophrenic girl who stabbed a classmate said she belonged in adult court, where she could be monitored for years for a disease that isn’t curable. Defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued against those claims.

Homicide cases involving 10-year-old defendants are extremely rare. From 2007 through 2016, 44 children aged 10 or younger were believed to be responsible for homicides in the U.S., according to data compiled by Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. Only seven of those children were girls.

In 2003, two 12-year-old boys fatally beat and stabbed 13-year-old Craig Sorger after they invited him to play in Washington state. Evan Savoie and Jake Eakin ultimately pleaded guilty in adult court and were sentenced to 20 years and 14 years in prison, respectively.


The man accused in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was released from a hospital and turned over to federal authorities for a court appearance Monday on charges he killed 11 people in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Robert Gregory Bowers, 46, who was shot and wounded in a gun battle with police, arrived at the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh less than two hours after his release from Allegheny General Hospital, according to U.S. marshals. A government car with a wheelchair visible inside could be seen arriving earlier.

Federal prosecutors set in motion plans to seek the death penalty against Bowers, who authorities say expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and later told police that "I just want to kill Jews" and that "all these Jews need to die."

The first funeral — for Cecil Rosenthal and his younger brother, David — was set for Tuesday. Survivors, meanwhile, began offering harrowing accounts of the mass shooting Saturday inside Tree of Life Synagogue. Barry Werber said he found himself hiding in a dark storage closet as the gunman tore through the building and opened fire.



A San Francisco court has made it easier for suspects released from the city jail to get back their legally obtained marijuana along with items like keys, money and other property confiscated from them when they are placed under arrest and detained.

The San Francisco Superior Court decision made public Monday said police, judges and law enforcement officials are shielded from federal prosecution when they return less than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana to released suspects who ask to get back their seized property.

San Francisco police had refused to return to Robert T. Smith 21 grams of marijuana seized from his backpack during a January disturbing the peace arrest.

Charges were dropped and Proposition 64 in November 2016 made possession of less than an ounce of marijuana legal in California. Possession of medical marijuana obtained with a doctor's recommendation has been legal in California since 1996. Marijuana in all forms remains illegal under federal law.

Smith's attorney, University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon, said she has represented three people who have had trouble getting their legally obtained marijuana returned by San Francisco police.

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