Appeals panel backs a hold on abortion law

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a judge’s decision to put on hold an Ohio law prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

The 2-to-1 ruling from a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati said the law signed in 2017 by then-Gov. John Kasich (R) is likely unconstitutional but didn’t make such a declaration outright.

The attorney general’s office said the state will seek a review by the full 6th Circuit.

The ruling is a disappointment for abortion opponents, who had promoted the law as an anti-discrimination measure.

The Ohio law specifically outlawed abortions in cases where there was a positive test result or prenatal diagnosis indicating Down syndrome. Under that law, physicians convicted of performing an abortion under such circumstances could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, stripped of their medical license and held liable for legal damages.

The pregnant woman faced no criminal liability under the law, but it still fell into a category of restriction that abortion rights groups label “reason bans” because they attempt to get into the mind of the pregnant woman as she is deciding whether to continue a pregnancy.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Ohio Department of Health, the state medical board and county prosecutors over the law on behalf of Planned Parenthood and several abortion providers.

A federal judge placed the state law on temporary hold last year, saying federal law is clear that states can’t limit a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy before viability. The state appealed, leading to Friday’s decision.

— Associated Press


Five sentenced in mistaken gang killing

Five men were sentenced to prison on Friday for the brutal stabbing death of a teenager who was mistakenly targeted as a gang rival.

State Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary pronounced the sentences for the June 2018 killing of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15.

The victim, known as “Junior,” was followed into a Bronx bodega, dragged onto the street and stabbed with knives and machetes.

The crime triggered protests demanding “Justice for Junior.”

Guzman-Feliz, who lived about a block from where he was slain, wanted to become a police officer.

A video of the attack showed a bread knife piercing his neck and delivering the fatal blow.

The judge sentenced Jonaiki Martinez Estrella to life without parole. Jose Muniz, Elvin Garcia and Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago got 25 years to life, and Manuel Rivera got 23 years to life.

Eight other defendants are scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 22.

— Associated Press


House expels member who failed to pay taxes

The Arkansas House voted Friday to expel a member accused of not paying his state income taxes for several years, making him the first person to be kicked out of that chamber since the 1800s.

Lawmakers voted 88 to 4 to expel state Rep. Mickey Gates (R), easily eclipsing the two-thirds minimum needed to oust one of their own.

Gates, who was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017, pleaded no contest in July to one count of not filing or paying income taxes and was sentenced to six months of probation.

Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R) sought Gates’s removal after Gates refused to resign. Gates has said he would seek reelection even if he were expelled.

The last time the Arkansas House removed a member was in 1837, when its speaker was expelled after stabbing another member on the House floor during a debate.

— Associated Press


Dog reunited with family after 12 years

A toy fox terrier that disappeared from its family’s South Florida home in 2007 was found this week over a thousand miles away in Pittsburgh and reunited with its owner on Friday.

The 14-year-old named Dutchess was found hungry, shivering and in serious need of a nail trim under a shed on Monday, according to Humane Animal Rescue.

The property owner took the dog to a Humane Animal Rescue location, where staffers were able to locate a microchip and trace the dog back to its owners in Boca Raton, Fla.

The dog’s owner, Katheryn Strang, drove all the way to Pittsburgh — about 1,130 miles — for an emotional reunion with Dutchess.

Strang said her son opened the door after school one day and Dutchess got out and they never saw her again. They were living in Orlando at the time near a very busy street, and she assumed the dog was either hit or scooped up by someone.

She checked shelters daily in the weeks after Dutchess went missing, and continued to pay the annual fee on the microchip, as well as update her contact information whenever she moved.

“They are like your babies. You don’t give up hope,” Strang said.

— Associated Press