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A man who confessed to a string of rapes and murders with his brother and now wants to be released from an Ohio prison is due back in court.

Attorneys for Nathaniel Cook say a plea deal signed nearly 20 years ago forces the court to order his release this year. A judge plans to hold a hearing Thursday in Toledo, when she could decide whether to free Cook.

The judge has ordered Cook to undergo evaluations, but she said last month that more information was needed before she could make a decision about his release.

An agreement with prosecutors two decades ago forced Nathaniel Cook to admit he killed three people while his brother confessed to killing five others in the 1980s. His brother is serving two life sentences.



A Southern California man who was arrested on an explosives charge after a blast killed his former girlfriend last week at her day spa is scheduled to appear in court.

Fifty-nine-year-old Stephen Beal is set to appear in federal court in Santa Ana Monday afternoon.

Beal is charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device that the FBI says was found at his home.

He has not been charged with the blast that killed 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak (IL-di-koh KRY-nyak) on May 15 when she opened up a cardboard box at the spa in the city of Aliso Viejo south of Los Angeles.

Beal and Krajnyak dated until recently and remained business partners.

Beal did not enter a plea during a court appearance last week and his public defender would not comment.


The man suspected of fatally stabbing the co-owner of a Massachusetts bakery is heading to court to face a murder charge.

Prosecutors say 47-year-old Franklin Conza is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

The Springfield man was arrested after police responded to the Ludlow Central Bakery just before 7 p.m. Friday and found 70-year-old Carlos Santos suffering from multiple stab wounds. He died at the hospit

Conza, who was being restrained by a bystander, struggled with police before being taken into custody.

He was held over the weekend on $1 million bail. It could not immediately be determined if he has a lawyer.

Authorities have not disclosed a motive.

The bakery said on Facebook that staff are heartbroken by the loss of "our dear Carlos Santos" and will be temporarily closed.



A Maryland court has adopted the “mailbox rule” for prison inmates, setting the filing date of petitions for post-conviction relief based on when papers are submitted to the prison mailroom.

The Daily Record reports that the Court of Appeals unanimously ruled last week to revive a convicted murderer’s petition that both the Baltimore City Circuit Court and the Court of Special Appeals had rejected for reaching the circuit court clerk’s office a day late.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Thoyt Hackney had indeed met the 10-year filing deadline because he handed the papers to the prison mailroom three days before the deadline. Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera noted in the opinion that inmates are dependent on prison officials and the postal system for court correspondence.




The Ohio Supreme Court won't reconsider its decision upholding the death sentence for a man convicted of killing three down-and-out men lured by fake Craigslist job offers.

Death row inmate Richard Beasley was convicted of partnering with a teenage boy in 2011 to lure victims with promises of jobs on an Ohio farm.

The court in February upheld Beasley's death sentence. On Wednesday the court unanimously rejected Beasley's arguments that Justice Patrick DeWine should have excused himself because his father is Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Justice Pat Fischer said Beasley lost the chance to argue over the DeWine family connection by failing to raise it initially. Fischer also said the connection wouldn't violate current judicial codes of conduct.

Beasley's attorney plans an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.


A Rapid City contractor has tested positive for drugs while in a Pierre court pleading guilty to assault.

The Capital Journal reports that 30-year-old Jesse Lange pleaded guilty to felony assault of a worker for the grain bin business Lange operates with his father. His attorney, Brad Schreiber, says there was an element of self-defense in the motel room altercation last year.

But state Judge Mark Barnett, watching Lange, asked a court official to get a urine test kit and said Lange appeared high. An official said the test was positive for meth and ecstasy.

Lange's guilty plea couldn't be accepted, and he was jailed for violating the conditions of his bond for the assault charge. Barnett says another arraignment could be held once the drugs have left Lange's system.


Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz is due back in court for a hearing designed to get the death penalty case moving forward.

The hearing Friday afternoon is expected to deal with several procedural issues, possibly including the setting of an initial trial date.

Cruz's public defender also is likely to ask to waive Florida's speedy trial rule. The rule generally requires that a felony defendant go to trial within 175 days of arrest unless it's waived.

The 19-year-old Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

His lawyer says Cruz would plead guilty if guaranteed a sentence of life without parole, but prosecutors seek the death penalty.


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