News Briefing: Mar. 27-Apr. 2, 2015

News Briefing: Mar. 27-Apr. 2, 2015

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Discovery continues in Williams case

The Diamond Williams homicide case remains in its discovery phase, and a pre-trial conference has been set for April.

Charles N. Sargent is accused of stabbing Williams to death in July 2013, then dismembering her body with an ax.

Defense attorneys are reviewing discovery materials provided by the District Attorney’s Office, which will provide additional materials as they become available.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner will preside over a pre-trial conference 10 a.m. April 21 in Courtroom 1105 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert St.

Sargent allegedly invited Williams to his Strawberry Mansion residence July 14, 2013. He allegedly told police he stabbed Williams in self-defense after she demanded a pre-arranged payment of $40 for performing oral sex, which he said he refused to pay because she had a penis.

But Sargent seeks suppression of his police statement, contending it was obtained under duress.

Sargent, 45, remains incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Activist continues opposition to marriage equality

Anti-LGBT activist James D. Schneller continues to challenge marriage equality in Pennsylvania.

In May 2014, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones 3d declared Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, thus establishing marriage equality in the state.

Last month, Schneller submitted a 55-page brief with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the reversal of Jones’ ruling, which he says conflicts with religious-freedom rights, and the right of states to ban same-sex marriages.

Jeff Sheridan, a spokesperson for Gov. Tom Wolf, had no comment.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage.

Attorney Michael L. Banks, who handled a local marriage-recognition case, doubts Schneller’s challenge will be successful.

“It’s highly unlikely that any decision by the courts will be overturned as a result of Schneller’s petitions and appeals,” Banks told PGN. “Of course, the big question is what the Supreme Court will do with the case it has decided to hear. But that has nothing to do with Schneller’s maneuvers.”

— Timothy Cwiek

Temple alum groups to meet

Alumni of Temple University are invited to a social next week to learn more about the university’s alumni groups.

The Temple LGBTQ Alumni Society is among the host groups of the event, 6-8 p.m. March 31 at The Ritz-Carlton, 10 Avenue of the Arts. In addition to the LGBT group, guests can learn about Temple’s Women’s Network, Black Alumni Alliance, Ambler Campus Alumni and Young Alumni groups.

Admission is $10; register at

— Jen Colletta

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