WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – A scandal surrounding evidence tampering at Delaware’s drug-testing lab is also affecting homicide prosecutions. At a court hearing Wednesday, defense attorneys in a negligent homicide case challenged the autopsy conducted by Delaware’s then-Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Callery. He was fired earlier this month on allegations of misconduct in his role overseeing the office. The problems at the drug-testing lab have endangered thousands of drug convictions. The News Journal of Wilmington reports Thursday that at least five homicide cases could be in jeopardy as well because Callery’s autopsy findings might not hold up at trial.
COPLAY, (AP) – Fire officials say they have not yet determined the cause of a blaze in an eastern Pennsylvania apartment building that killed scores of animals, but it appears to have been accidental. The fire in Lehigh County’s North Whitehall Township was reported shortly after noon Tuesday. Fire chief Ron Stahley said 61 cats and two dogs were killed in the blaze, which began in the kitchen of the unit. Stahley said the fire didn’t appear suspicious in origin and also didn’t appear to have been related to cooking. Officials said seven people from three families were displaced and were aided by the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Officials said one firefighter was taken to a hospital for treatment of what appeared to be heat exhaustion.
READING, (AP) – State prosecutors are investigating allegations of campaign finance violations by the mayor of Pennsylvania’s fifth-largest city, Reading. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Kathleen Kane told the Reading Eagle on Tuesday that an investigation into alleged violations by Mayor Vaughn Spencer is underway. She declined to elaborate. The allegations were made in a report commissioned by Berks County officials. They revolve around a $30,000 donation to Spencer by Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The same day, Spencer reported donating $10,000 to each of two Philadelphia City Council candidates. The union already had given the maximum amount under Philadelphia laws to one candidate and nearly the maximum to the other.
A Spencer campaign lawyer declined comment. Spencer was elected in 2011.
YORK, (AP) – A man accused of the rape of two children who was also one of Pennsylvania’s 10 most wanted fugitives is in custody after a three-year search. The U.S. Marshals Service said Wednesday that the man, Shawn Kevin Fake, was arrested in Warren, Ohio, and transported back to York, where he was being held. The 45-year-old Fake had been charged in York in 2011 with 28 criminal counts, including forcible rape, rape of a person less than 13 years old, and other charges. The state police list his last known address as Dover, Pennsylvania, and say he was believed to be homeless. Court records do not list a lawyer for Fake.
HARRISBURG, (AP) – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Pennsylvania to headline a fundraiser for his fellow Republican governor, Tom Corbett. Corbett campaign officials said they expected the Wednesday evening event in suburban Allentown to raise more than $250,000. Spokesman Chris Pack says that would be Corbett’s biggest fundraising haul ever in the Lehigh Valley. The fundraiser is at the home of David Jaindl, the third-generation owner of his family’s turkey breeding and processing business. Corbett’s re-election bid is being challenged by Democrat Tom Wolf, who chairs a building-products distributor begun by his family in 1843 and served briefly as revenue secretary under former Gov. Ed Rendell. The two candidates have reported spending $26 million on the race since last year began, and could spend another $20 million before the Nov. 4 election.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is working to find temporary shelter in Maryland to help immigrant children who have been crossing the border from Central America without due process. The Maryland Department of Human Services issued a statement of need on Monday to locate licensed providers who could care for unaccompanied children. It will be published on July 25 in the Maryland Register. That’s an official state government publication that is issued every two weeks to temporarily supplement the state’s code of regulations. O’Malley, a Democrat who is considering running for president in 2016, was outspoken about the issue at the National Governors Association meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. O’Malley told reporters there Friday: “We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death.”
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Three former Pennsylvania state House speakers and one former Senate president pro tempore each have new information on the plaques beneath their official portraits hanging in the Capitol’s corridors: details about their criminal convictions. The new plaques were hung Tuesday. Aides to House Speaker Sam Smith and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati say they ordered the new plaques to respond to criticism from lawmakers that the portraits of convicted former House and Senate leaders should not be displayed. The lawmakers are former House speakers John Perzel, Bill DeWeese and Herbert Fineman, and former Senate president pro tempore Robert Mellow. Mellow and Perzel last served in 2010, DeWeese in 2012 and Fineman in 1977. All four went to prison on corruption-related charges.
HARRISBURG – State Sen. Scott Wagner today said he supports the addition of plaques detailing the crimes each individual committed. Wagner had previously called for the removal of the portraits of the disgraced officials. “While these plaques do not achieve the ultimate goal of my proposed legislation, at least something is being done to acknowledge the wrongdoing of these individuals who continue to be hung in high regard,” said Wagner.
JACOBUS (AP) – Authorities say a York County mother and her teenage son were found dead in their home, possibly of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a car left running in the garage. York Area Regional Police say a relative found the bodies of the 44-year-old woman and 14-year-old youth in their beds in the Jacobus home this morning. Coroner Pam Gay said the deaths are not considered suspicious. Two dogs were also found dead, one next to each of the victims. Gay said it appears that the woman accidentally left a vehicle running in the home’s attached garage. The names of the victims haven’t been released. Officials said the relative who found the bodies was taken to York Hospital for treatment.
FRACKVILLE (AP) – A 12-year-old eastern Pennsylvania girl is home from the hospital with bumps and bruises after being swept several hundred yards through a flooded drainpipe. Taylor Russell, of Frackville, says she was checking out flooding at the drainpipe late Monday. She didn’t notice a drop in the ground and got pulled under. She tells WNEP-TV it was “just scary, dark, scary.” She says she held her breath the whole time, afraid she would drown. Police and public works officials told The Republican-Herald in Pottsville the girl was underground in the pipe for about 200 yards before emerging into Little Mahanoy Creek. She was washed several hundred more yards downstream before her rescue. The girl says she came out of the pipe thinking, “somebody pinch me, I’m still alive.”
CARPENTERS POINT, MD (AP) – Searchers have found the body of a Lancaster County teen who was lost in the water Sunday on a family boating outing. WBAL-TV reports that authorities recovered the body Tuesday of 18-year-old Daniel Isaac Lugo of Quarryville at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Lugo was swimming with family in the Susquehanna flats when the family’s boat drifted away. Lugo began to struggle as he tried to return to the boat. Officials said Lugo’s stepfather jumped into the water and tried to grab him, but could not hold on. Lugo’s death is the third since Sunday in Maryland waters. Two other boaters died and another remains missing in two separate boating accidents in recent days in the Baltimore area.