Newark Mayor Cory Booker won the Democratic nomination for a vacant U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey on Tuesday.
Booker, a strong proponent of marriage equality, came out on top of three other Democratic contenders. Republic activist Steve Lonegan won the Republican primary.
The race is to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat, who was also a strong LGBT ally.
Booker has called marriage equality a “legal right” and has participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s Americans for Marriage Equality campaign.
He has come out against Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to put marriage equality to a public vote and has refused to perform wedding ceremonies at Newark City Hall because of marriage inequality.
He and Lonegan will square off in an Oct. 16 special election.
— Jen Colletta No new trial in Milano case
Bucks County Common Pleas Judge Rea B. Boylan has denied Richard R. Laird’s request for a new trial in the grisly slashing death of gay artist Anthony Milano.
Laird and Frank R. Chester murdered Milano in December 1987 after escorting him out of a tavern in Tullytown.
Both men were convicted of first-degree murder in 1988 and sentenced to death.
Laird was granted a retrial in 2007, and another Bucks County jury convicted him of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death.
But Laird is seeking another trial, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel during his retrial.
Laird also claims jurors didn’t receive enough information about his father’s alleged abusiveness and about head injuries he sustained as a youth.
But in an eight-page ruling issued Aug. 7, Boylan denied Laird’s request.
“[Laird] has not set forth a claim which would justify relief under the law,” Boylan wrote.
Laird’s request had been pending with Boylan since March 2011.
Billy H. Nolas, an attorney for Laird, had no comment for this story.
In a prior interview, Stephen B. Harris, chief of appeals for the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, said Laird received a proper retrial in 2007.
“It’s the commonwealth’s position that Mr. Laird had very good legal representation, and that he had a fair trial,” Harris said. “Mr.Laird was properly convicted and re-sentenced to death.”
Laird, 49, remains on death row at a state prison in Greene County.
Chester’s appeal for a new trial remains pending in federal court.
Chester, 44, remains on death row at state prison in Graterford.
Assault victim will remain in state custody
David H. Chapman, a state inmate in Frackville who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a prison guard, will remain in state custody, despite his appeals to be transferred to federal custody.
Marlin Freeman, 54, repeatedly orally raped Chapman inside the chapel of a state prison in Bellefont from 2010-12.
According to court papers, Chapman fears for his life, after filing a civil suit against state Department of Corrections officials for allegedly failing to stop the assaults.
“Pennsylvania state officials continue to threaten my life as well as threaten to have other inmates beat me up if I do not drop my civil complaint against them,” Chapman wrote to U.S. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick.
But on Aug. 9, Mehalchick denied Chapman’s request, noting that state officials could possibly do more to ensure Chapman’s safety.
Barry H. Dyller, an attorney for Chapman, said he’s exploring ways of ensuring Chapman’s safety, but didn’t go into details.
“We’re exploring alternate avenues to ensure my client’s safety,” Dyller told PGN.
In June, Centre County Common Pleas Judge Pamela A. Ruest sentenced Freeman to 11-1/2 months to 23-1/2 months in the Centre County Correctional Facility.
Freeman’s employment with the state Department of Corrections was terminated July 2, said DOC spokesperson Susan McNaughton.
— Timothy Cwiek