Dog focus of custody fight

This undated photo provided by Jessica Sardina shows Honey, a boxer-lab mix, and herself in Bangor, Maine. A custody battle in Maine Supreme Judicial Court focuses on the dog. Maine law allows a judge to order married couples to share custody of animals, but that standard doesn't apply to unmarried couples splitting up. Jessica Sardina is challenging a ruling that her former boyfriend is Honey's sole owner because his signature appeared on adoption papers. (Samantha Sardina via AP)

AUGUSTA, Maine — The cute, cuddly, bundle of joy at the center of a bitter custody battle wasn’t present as lawyers argued her fate before the Maine supreme court. Dogs, after all, aren’t allowed in court. A woman who’s seeking custody of Honey, the Lab-boxer mix she shared with her former boyfriend, asked the Supreme Judicial Court to declare her the rightful owner and to provide updated guidance to judges for the pet custody. Maine law allows a judge to order married couples to share custody of pets, but that standard doesn’t apply to unmarried couples splitting up. The appeal by Jessica Sardina, 25, of Bangor, challenges the notion that pets should be treated simply as property when a relationship terminates. She contends she’s the one who cared for the dog and said the dog “means the world” to her. It’s no frivolous matter for animal lovers. “Most of us who’ve had animals consider them to be family. The legal system has been slow to catch up with that idea,” said Marcia Kramer, of the animal advocacy group National Anti-Vivisection Society, based in Chicago. Pets are considered property in all 50 states, and only three states — Alaska, Illinois and California — have specific laws that address pet custody when a marriage dissolves, she said. None has a statute dealing with pets when an unmarried couple breaks up. A lower-court judge ruled Sardina’s former boyfriend, Kelvin Liriano, also 25, is Honey’s sole owner because his signature appeared on adoption papers. Sullivan said it’s a worthwhile time investment. “Hey, this is not a toaster. This is not a blender. This is a living, breathing animal that these parties, especially my client, grew an attachment to,” he said afterward.

Explorer recounts deepest dive

NEW YORK — Taking the hours-long journey to what is believed to be the deepest point mankind has visited in any ocean was a complicated one, and for Victor Vescovo, it meant being constantly on the alert as he monitored his state-of-the-art vessel. But when he reached 10,928 meters into the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench of the Pacific Ocean, Vescovo took the advice of the man whose record he just broke — Oscar-winning director James Cameron — and took 15 uninterrupted minutes to take in the view and the enormity of the moment. Cameron told him he’d be busy, of course, but noted that “few if any people have seen what you’ve seen” so “deeply appreciate how fortunate you are to see it,'” Vescovo recalled in an interview. Last month’s groundbreaking mission was filmed as part of an upcoming Discovery Channel documentary series. The entire journey took nearly 12 hours — four hours to descend, four hours spent at the bottom, and then about four hours to ascend again. For his journey, Vescovo traveled in a vessel called the SDV Limiting Factor, a titanium craft that is billed as the “ultimate submersible” and the only one able to travel to such depths. It was outfitted with high definition cameras that documented everything, including creatures unknown to man. “There’ve been numerous new species thought found on this expedition. The scientific group is thrilled with the things that have been brought back for additional analysis. It’s really great,” he said. He saw a very unusual jellyfish in the Indian Ocean but there was also an unsettling find — trash, particularly plastic, in the deepest part of the water.

Dive team probes Alaska waters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Dive teams plunged into the icy cold waters of a southeast Alaska inlet Tuesday, searching an area the size of 24 football fields for two cruise ship passengers missing after two sightseeing planes collided. The Coast Guard has confirmed four fatalities in the collision Monday afternoon near Ketchikan, a popular destination for cruise ships in Alaska. Ten people, all Americans, were injured. The missing passengers were from Canada and Australia, Princess Cruises said. The larger plane, a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 with 10 passengers and the pilot, was returning from Misty Fjord when it collided with another sightseeing plane, carrying four passengers from the same cruise ship and a pilot.

Carnival worker accused

Two missing women and a missing teenage girl were shot to death by a carnival worker who met them through the traveling show, authorities in Virginia say. James Michael Wright, 23, is accused of killing the women in February and March near his home in a far western corner of rural Virginia. “Basically, this individual killed three women within about an 18-day period,” Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman said at a news conference Monday. Newman said the killings stopped shortly after Wright’s truck was damaged in an accident. He said Wright could be classified as a serial killer. Wright became acquainted with two of the victims through working as a subcontractor for the James H. Drew Carnival, the sheriff said. The 17-year-old was the daughter of one of Wright’s co-workers. Newman identified the victims as 25-year-old Athina Hopson of Johnson City, Tennessee; 22-year-old Elizabeth Marie Vanmeter of Carter County, Tennessee; and 17-year-old Joslyn M. Alsup of Cobb County, Georgia. All three had been reported missing in March. “We have plans of contacting jurisdictions where that carnival very well may have been to see if they have missing persons,” Newman said.

‘Broadway Bandit’ still at it

NEW YORK — A dying New Yorker dubbed the “Broadway Bandit” was arrested Tuesday on charges stemming from a bank robbery that occurred only nine days following his release from prison after serving time for robbing five banks. Jamie Frierson, 49, of Manhattan, was back in federal custody, charged with robbing a Bronx bank last Wednesday. William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York’s FBI office, said in a release that Frierson “clearly did not learn his lesson.” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman called it a “repeat performance.” The bank robbery that led to Frierson’s arrest came nine days after an April 29 sentencing that featured a passionate defense argument for leniency based on Frierson’s need for liver-cancer treatment after receiving a prognosis that he was likely to live only two more years. The sentencing came after Frierson was convicted by a jury last August of collecting over $10,000 by robbing five banks in less than two weeks a year earlier.

Border wall will go up

PHOENIX — The U.S. government plans on replacing barriers through 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the southern border in California and Arizona, including through a national monument and a wildlife refuge, according to documents and environmental advocates. The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday once again waived environmental and dozens of other laws to build more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Funding will come from the Defense Department following the emergency declaration that President Donald Trump signed this year after Congress refused to approve the amount of border wall funding that he wanted. Barriers will go up at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a vast park named after the unique cactus breed that decorates it, and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which is largely a designed wilderness home to 275 wildlife species. The government will also build new roads and lighting in those areas.

CBD oil user demands apology

ORLANDO, Fla. — A 69-year-old woman is demanding an apology for her arrest at a Walt Disney World security checkpoint last month after a guard found CBD oil while searching her purse. Hester Burkhalter has hired high-profile attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin’s family. Crump said Tuesday that Disney World and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office “need to take responsibility for their actions” or he will file a lawsuit on the North Carolina woman’s behalf, alleging violations of her civil rights. The sheriff’s office said in an emailed statement that the arrest was lawful. Disney said in an emailed statement the incident was a law enforcement matter. Prosecutors dropped a drug charge against Burkhalter, saying it wasn’t suitable for prosecution. The oil is extracted from marijuana plants but doesn’t produce a high.

Coach pleads to admissions scam

BOSTON — A former assistant soccer coach at the University of Southern California switched her plea to guilty Tuesday in the college admissions scam, admitting to creating fake athletic profiles for the children of wealthy parents, including actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli. Laura Janke, 36, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and could be called to testify against others, including “Full House” star Loughlin and Giannulli, who have pleaded not guilty. Janke had initially pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering in March She has also agreed to pay a nearly $135,000 forfeiture judgment, which prosecutors said equals the amount she benefited from in the scheme. Prosecutors said Tuesday that they are seeking a sentence of 27 to 33 months in prison, though the charge carries a maximum of 20 years. The Los Angeles resident will be sentenced Oct. 17. Janke spoke in court only to answer the judge’s yes or no questions and declined through her lawyer to comment after the hearing. Janke is the fourth coach to plead guilty in what authorities say is the biggest college admissions scheme ever prosecuted in the U.S. She accepted bribes and helped make bogus athletic profiles to get applicants admitted to universities as recruits for sports they didn’t play, authorities said.

Crash suspect termed insane

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Vermont man on trial for driving the wrong-way on an interstate and crashing into an oncoming vehicle, killing five teenagers, was legally insane at the time, a psychiatrist for the defense testified on Tuesday. Dr. David Rosmarin continued his testimony in the trial of Steven Bourgoin, 38, who has pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the October 2016 crash on Interstate 89 in Williston. Bourgoin’s attorneys acknowledge he caused the crash, but say he was insane at the time. In the days leading up to the crash, he believed he was in danger and thought he was getting inferences from lights, radios, television static, about what to do, said Dr. David Rosmarin. “He did not intend to go the wrong direction and kill people or kill himself,” said Rosmarin, who diagnosed him as having bipolar disorder with psychotic features. “He had been doing the same thing he had been doing for two days, which was driving around frantically trying to preserve his life, trying to understand what he had to do next to be safe.” Prosecutors allege that Bourgoin left his home that night, got onto the interstate going south and then turned around, heading north at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour in the southbound lane and colliding with the car that carried the five teenagers.

Lewis and Clark trail expands

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. — A historic site in southern Indiana is now part of a new 1,200-mile expansion of the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail. National, state and local leaders gathered Monday at the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center in Clarksville to officially recognize the trail’s expansion. Sen. Todd Young, who sponsored legislation about the designation, called it “a magnificent day.” The expanded recognition includes areas in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and new portions of trail in Illinois and Missouri. The expedition across the western U.S. by explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark officially started in 1804, but Lewis and Clark met up a year earlier in Clarksville, Indiana, as they prepared for the journey. One new sign notes that meeting.

New Jersey sports bets thrive

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The anniversary of New Jersey’s victory in a U.S. Supreme Court case clearing the way for legal sports betting across the nation was a happy one for the state’s casinos and racetracks, which reported taking in more than $300 million worth of sports bets for the sixth month in a row. Figures released Tuesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement shows the casinos and tracks took nearly $314 million worth of sports bets in April. So far, since sports betting began in New Jersey in June, nearly $2.64 billion has been wagered in the state on sports. FanDuel, which operates the sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, just outside New York City, said it had another great month. The extra money from sports wagers, along with another stellar month for internet gambling, helped the state post an overall increase in gambling revenue of nearly 24 percent compared with a year ago, at over $265 million.

Lee’s former manager charged

LOS ANGELES — A former business manager of Stan Lee has been charged in California with five counts of elder abuse involving the late Marvel Comics mastermind. A request for a restraining order filed last year by Lee’s daughter alleged Keya Morgan was manipulating the mentally declining Lee, preventing him from seeing family and friends, and trying to take control of his money and business affairs. The felony charges filed Friday by Los Angeles County prosecutors against the 43-year-old Morgan include theft, embezzlement, forgery or fraud against an elder adult, and false imprisonment of an elder adult. A misdemeanor count also alleges elder abuse. The charges date to June, when Morgan was working closely with Lee, who died in November.

Man pleads to stealing wine

BALTIMORE — A Maryland man pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling up to $1.5 million in upscale wine from customers who paid him to store the bottles, which he sold without their knowledge. A plea agreement calls for William Lamont Holder, 54, of Hanover, to be sentenced to 18 months in prison for his guilty plea to a wire fraud charge. A federal judge in Baltimore must decide whether to accept the plea deal’s terms. Holder owned and operated Safe Harbour Wine Storage LLC. Private collectors and businesses paid him monthly fees and pick-up charges to store cases of wine in a climate-controlled warehouse in Glen Burnie, a court filing says. From January 2013 through December 2017, Holder’s customers lost between $550,000 and $1.5 million worth of wine that he sold to retailers and brokers without their consent, according to the filing. Holder didn’t have a license to sell wine in Maryland. Holder kept the proceeds from the wine sales and spent all of it on personal expenses, the filing says.

Disney takes over Hulu

NEW YORK — Disney is taking full control of Hulu from Comcast, as both companies prepare to launch their own streaming services in response to declining audiences for traditional TV. The companies said Tuesday that Comcast, which owns a third of Hulu, can sell its stake to Disney starting in 2024, for a minimum of $5.8 billion. Until then, Comcast will be a silent investor. Hulu launched more than a decade ago as the major entertainment companies dealt with the rise of digital media. While YouTube became a home for digital video, Netflix built up a streaming library of back seasons of popular TV shows and movies, and Hulu made TV episodes from networks such as ABC, NBC and Fox available online after they aired on TV. Hulu today still shows network TV episodes and original series for $6 a month. It has a newer, cable-like service with live TV channels for $45 a month.

Dodger arrested in domestic

LOS ANGELES — Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias was placed on administrative leave Tuesday by Major League Baseball following his arrest for investigation of misdemeanor domestic battery. Urias was taken into custody Monday night in the parking lot of a shopping mall, Los Angeles police spokeswoman Norma Eisenman said Tuesday. No details were released.

Wetteland maintains innocence

DENTON, Texas — John Wetteland is stunned by and innocent of charges accusing him of child sex abuse. Attorney Derek Adame commented Monday after Wetteland attended an arraignment hearing in Denton County, Texas. Wetteland and his wife didn’t speak to reporters. The Texas Rangers Hall of Famer is staying strong in the face of the charges accusing him of abusing a child for two years starting in 2004 when the alleged victim was 4 years old, Adame said. “Think about someone you think the world of, who you trust,” he added. “That’s John Wetteland, for a lot of people.” Bartonville police charged the 52-year-old in January with continuous sex abuse of a child, and a Texas grand jury indicted him in March on three counts of the same charge.

Ex-bishop gets out of prison

BALTIMORE — A former Episcopal bishop who fatally struck a bicyclist while drunk and texting behind the wheel was released Tuesday from a Maryland prison after spending more than three years behind bars. Heather Cook was the second-highest-ranking Episcopal leader in the state when the fatal crash occurred two days after Christmas 2014. Thomas Palermo, a software engineer and a married father of two, was fatally struck by Cook’s vehicle as he rode his bicycle in Baltimore. She served just over half of the seven-year sentence she originally received for Palermo’s death, according to corrections spokesman Gerard Shields. She had earned good behavior credits and authorities have described her as a “model inmate” at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women. Cook pleaded guilty to manslaughter, drunken driving and leaving the scene, and resigned from the church in May 2015. The church deposed her from the ministry the day she resigned. Following the fatal crash, Cook left the scene for 30 minutes before returning, and her blood alcohol level was 0.22 — far higher than Maryland’s legal limit of 0.08. She was also texting when she struck Palermo.

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