Trial underway for bin Laden son-in-law

Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, went on trial in New York on Monday on charges that he conspired to kill Americans and support terrorists in his role as al-Qaeda’s spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan asked Kuwaiti-born Abu Ghaith, 48, to turn and face potential jurors before asking if any of them knew him. None did. The judge drew silence as well when he asked whether anyone had never heard of al-Qaeda.

Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaeda figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks, was brought to the United States a year ago following his capture in Jordan.

Opening statements are expected Wednesday after jury selection is completed. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

— From news services

A man identified as Suleiman Abu Ghaith appears in this still image taken from an undated video. Abu Ghaith, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons-in-law and a former spokesman for al Qaeda, heads to trial next week in New York on terror-related charges. (Handout/Reuters)
Freeway shooter sentenced to prison

A man who kept a swath of southeastern Michigan on edge for weeks in 2012 by shooting at two-dozen vehicles along a busy highway corridor was sentenced Monday to 18 to 40 years in prison on a combination of terrorism and weapons convictions.

Raulie Casteel learned his fate in Livingston County Circuit Court, where a jury in January found him guilty of terrorism, rejecting his claim that the shootings were the impulsive result of uncontrolled delusions and paranoia.

Casteel, 44, already is serving a six-year-plus sentence that stemmed from a related case in neighboring Oakland County. The judge sentenced him to a minimum of 16 years on the terrorism charge and two additional years on felony firearms charges.

Casteel shot at motorists on Interstate 96 and nearby roads between Lansing and Detroit over a three-day period in October 2012. No one was injured. He was arrested in November 2012.

— From news services

Magistrate censured for ‘Messiah’ ruling

A former Tennessee magistrate who changed a baby’s first name from Messiah to Martin was censured Monday. Lu Ann Ballew said at the time that “Messiah” was a title held only by Jesus Christ.

Board of Judicial Conduct Disciplinary Counsel Tim Discenza said a panel voted unanimously in Dandridge for public censure. He said public censure was probably the most serious sanction the board could take against Ballew because she had already lost her position as a magistrate.

The decision for which Ballew was censured came in August, when Jalessa Martin and Jawaan McCullough appeared before Ballew at a child-support hearing in Newport about their 7-month-old son, Messiah Martin. As part of the hearing, the father requested the baby’s last name be changed to McCullough.

Ballew surprised both parents by ordering that the baby’s name be changed to Martin McCullough. Ballew’s decision was overturned in chancery court a month later, and both parents agreed to name the baby Messiah McCullough.

— Associated Press

Woman gets jail term for buying gun for killer: A woman who pleaded guilty to purchasing the handgun used to kill the director of Colorado’s prisons was sentenced Monday to more than two years in prison and three years supervision. Federal prosecutors said Stevie Marie Anne Vigil bought the handgun for Evan Ebel, a parolee and member of a white supremacist prison gang, who used the gun in the killings of prison chief Tom Clements and Nathan Leon, a Denver computer technician, and to wound a sheriff’s deputy in Texas, where Ebel fled. He was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities.

— Associated Press