National Digest: A roundup of news from across the nation

February 7
MONTANA
Lieutenant governor to fill seat in Senate

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced Friday that Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) will fill the seat of departing Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

Baucus was confirmed Thursday as the next ambassador to China.

The White House tapped him for the job late last year, months after he announced he would retire at the end of his term.

Walsh is the Democratic front-runner in the race to replace Baucus this November. Walsh will face another former lieutenant governor, John Bohlinger, in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Walsh, 53, is a former adjutant general in the Montana National Guard. He ran for and won his first political office in 2012, running on the same ticket as Bullock.

— Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake

OHIO
Condemned killer
receives reprieve

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) granted an eight-month reprieve to a condemned killer Friday following last month’s execution of an inmate who repeatedly gasped in the state’s longest lethal-injection procedure.

The ruling by Kasich delays until Nov. 19 the execution of Gregory Lott, who was sentenced to death for setting an 82-year-old man on fire during a break-in and leaving him to die.

Attorneys for Lott have sued in federal court to stop his execution, arguing that Ohio’s new two-drug combination puts him at risk of unnecessary suffering.

Inmate Dennis McGuire, during his 26-minute execution Jan. 16, made repeated snorting sounds and opened and shut his mouth several times. His family sued the state, saying the execution was cruel and inhumane.

— Associated Press

ILLINOIS
Three men convicted of mob action, arson

Three men accused of plotting to attack high-profile targets during a 2012 NATO summit in Chicago were convicted by a jury Friday on mob action and arson charges but were acquitted on terrorism-related charges.

Brian Jacob Church, 22, and Brent Betterly, 25, both of Florida, and Jared Chase, 29, of New Hampshire, had faced seven charges each, including conspiracy to commit terrorism under a state anti-terrorism law adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The men, known by the nickname the “NATO 3,” were convicted of two counts each of mob action and two counts of arson. Sentencing will be Feb. 28.

— Reuters

Judge orders sentencing retrial for Arias: Convicted murderer Jodi Arias, 33, again will face a potential death sentence after a judge’s ruling released Friday cleared the way for a second penalty phase in the case. Judge Sherry Stephens rejected the defense claim that the Arizona law allowing a retrial of the penalty phase is unconstitutional. Her retrial is March 17. She was convicted of first-degree murder in May 2013, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on her sentence.

Trenton mayor guilty of extortion: Trenton, N.J., Mayor Tony Mack (D) was found guilty of federal extortion and bribery charges Friday after being ensnared in a 2010 sting operation involving the development of a parking garage on city-owned property in New Jersey’s capital city. The mayor’s brother Ralphiel was also found guilty of similar charges.

Theater shooting suspect denied bail: A Florida judge denied bail on Friday for Curtis Reeves, 71, a retired police captain facing charges of second-degree murder in the Jan. 13 shooting of fellow moviegoer Chad Oulson, 43, in an argument over texting.

— From news services

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